Stand-up comedian Steve Byrne’s diverse career includes creating and starring in Sullivan & Son and directing the 2018 documentary Always Amazing. His latest feature The Opening Act, which he directed and penned, is an engaging and insightful tale headlined by Jimmy O. Yang and a slew of revered comics. Check out the interview and see why he set out to make “the best f**king film about stand-up comedy.”
The Opening Act centers on Will (Jimmy O. Yang), a guy who works a dead end job (Bill Burr, always funny, is his unsympathetic boss) and dreams of making it in stand-up comedy. When his close buddy Quinn (Ken Jeong) helps Will land a weekend emcee gig opening for Billy G. (Cedric the Entertainer), Will’s fortunes take a turn for the better. Saturday Night Live cast member Alex Moffat co-stars as Chris, an unpredictable comic who also provides, in his own way, some mentorship to Will.
As writer/director Steve Byrne states in our interview, “comedy is a marathon,” and The Opening Act focuses on the harsh yet valuable lessons Will learns during his emcee gig. The filmmaker has proclaimed The Opening Act as the best movie about stand-up comedy, and I asked him to briefly give a capsule review of his own film.
“What I would tell people if I were to review is it’s the most authentic, grounded, realistic version what a comic truly (goes through) when you go out professionally as a comic,” said Byrne. “You’ve been to a comedy club (but) you’ve never been on the road and this film f**king nails it (laughs).”
If the inside baseball aspects of The Opening Act is not immediately alluring, the film is downright funny and the scenes between Cedric the Entertainer and Jimmy O. Yang are simply worth the price of admisison. The finding one’s voice aspect of the feature also drew me in, and thankfully Byrne infused his tale with an even handed, realistic (and not saccharine) tone.
“Everybody dreams of doing something,” said Byrne on the story’s universal appeal. “Everybody is stuck in an office or whatever it might be, and you have that dream. You’ve got to go for it, if you don’t you’ll regret it the rest of your life. That was kind of the theme of that film. Certainly once you take the plunge and (say) ‘I’m all in on this,’ you’ve got to find your voice. That’s the difference.”
Since the feature is directed by an Asian American and features Asian American actors (Jimmy O. Yang and Ken Jeong), The Opening Act must be getting tons of coverage!! Think again!!!
The Opening Act, co-starring Debby Ryan as Will’s supportive girlfriend and Russell Peters as an éclair loving radio host, hits theaters, Digital, and VOD on October 16.
The Opening Act hits theaters, VOD and Digital October 16. I will be posting the full audio of the Byrne interview later this week on CinemAddicts (full Zoom video is up on Patreon).
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