Emily Mody - All Joking Aside

Posted on Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 06:00 PM

All Joking Aside

Review by Emily Mody x CalgaryMovies.com

All Joking Aside is a Canadian feature length drama film directed by Shannon Kohli. The story follows a twenty-something woman named Charlene (played by Raylene Harewood) who is pursuing her dream of being a stand-up comedian in New York City. After being heckled off the stage of her first performance she falls under the mentorship of the very man who heckled her, Bob (played by Brian Markinson). While Charlene looks to Bob for guidance, she discovers the aspects of herself that she thought she could avoid. The best comedians in the world are often the people who are the most haunted — these are the people who have learned to laugh because it helps them manage the pain.

I really enjoyed this film. I was surprised to see a movie about a stand-up comic that did not focus on making the audience laugh. I still laughed but not nearly as much as I was expecting I would. All Joking Aside spotlighted on telling Charlene’s story. She was a complex and mature character who had experienced many difficult things in her life. Further, I really liked the relationship between Charlene and Bob. They had contrasting views and were very different in how they expressed themselves but it was beautiful how they connected over comedy and could communicate with each other through that medium.

The acting was very good, and I was also very impressed with the writing. All Joking Aside captured my attention early on and held it. It made me remember what it is I love about film, its ability to gently engage the audience.

All Joking Aside is similar to many underdog films with the exception that Charlene being the underdog was not the point of this story. The emphasis was not on the fact that Charlene was overcoming the obvious, trying to make a name for herself in a white male dominated field, even though that was a part of the story. The real focus was on how Charlene learns about and accepts the aspects of herself that she has avoided. It is in this way that she truly overcomes. This is what I loved the most about this story and what makes it unique to the genre — the obstacle was not external. Charlene wore her trauma and shame like heavy luggage that weighed her down from the inside. The message was a valuable one: we can be our own worst enemy and when we finally accept the things that we cannot change we will be able to move past them.

This film has been nominated for three awards at the 2020 Leo Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and best Lead Actor (Brian Markinson). While seemingly standardized in its conceptual understanding, All Joking Aside gave a refreshing spin to a genre that has seen a lot of mileage. It is this uniqueness that makes it stand out in my mind and inspires me to suggest that you see it as well.

All Joking Aside runs a total of 83 minutes. This film is not rated but it does include strong language, as well as references to drugs and sex. Available for purchase online and coming to ITUNES/AMAZON/GOOGLE PLAY on November 14th, 2020.

Calgary Showtimes: All Joking Aside >


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