Local filmmaker Sean Patrick Shaul premieres comedy doc Alone Up There
Blame Werner Herzog for documentary filmmakers going the extra mile these days to get their point across. Take Sean Patrick Shaul (please!), who recently ended up debuting five minutes of original material on-stage at a North Hollywood comedy club for his film Alone Up There. You can see the results when the doc debuts at the RIO Theatre next Thursday (September 20) as part of the Olio Festival.
“It didn’t go very well, which is to be expected,” Shaul told the Straight. “I have a crippling fear of the stage. That’s why I’m behind the camera. I’m absolutely terrified, and it shows.”
The original plan was to put a more willing volunteer through what Shaul called “a kind of comedy boot camp”. But upon interviewing some 40 comedians for the film—including heavyweights like Marc Maron, Bobby Slayton, and Eddie Pepitone—Shaul was repeatedly advised to just do it himself. “My parents, friends—everyone was like, ‘It’s gotta be you,’ ” he said. “It just became the best way to end the film. I go on this journey to understand standup comedy, and the end is me doing it.”
Fortunately (or not), Rick Overton offered to coach the filmmaker through his material, which took four months to write. “And it was not very good. I can’t imagine how long it takes to write good material,” Shaul remarked. “Rick gave me a bunch of tips and made me do my set at a breakfast table, and then he critiqued it. He wasn’t in stitches, but he was encouraging.”
The filmmaker will hit the stage again when the film plays at the RIO, but only to say a quick hello. Local comedians Simon King and Donovan Patrick Mahoney (who both appear in the film) will also be there to show us how it’s really done.
Watch the trailer for Alone Up There.