If comedy equals tragedy plus time, then Barry Crimmins is living and breathing proof. A man closely resembling Fidel Castro, he was at the pinnacle of the ‘80s and ‘90s Chicago comedy scene. Crimmins literally opened the door for his fellow funnymen, including director Bobcat Goldthwait, as we see in this shocking and stunning portrayal of a comic’s comic and political satirist. Goldthwait, at the suggestion of his best friend, the late Robin Williams, traces Crimmins’ roots and his quest to tell the truth, including the social injustices he witnessed and his own painful past.
Call Me Lucky weaves interviews with Crimmins, his childhood friends, family members, and comedians including Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Steven Wright, Margaret Cho and Lenny Clarke, and footage from Crimmins’ involvement in political protests during the Reagan and Bush Sr. eras. Fiery and intimidating at first, we witness an almost metamorphosis of someone who seems to have “extra knowledge,” an arbiter of those in power. While making fun of societal ills at a regular show at Stitches, a comedy club he founded, he dropped a bomb—Crimmins said that he had been raped repeatedly as a child by a babysitter’s friend. This led him on a personal crusade against other abusers and AOL, who were knowingly hosting child pornographers in their chat rooms.He aggressively spoke out against the company at a U.S. Senate hearing and won, resulting in a zero-tolerance policy against child pornography traffickers.
Poignant and bittersweet, Call Me Lucky will make you laugh and move you to cry. Crimmins realized that the only way to work through his past was “to go through it, not around it. Through is a goal.” His courage, expertly told in Goldthwait’s documentary, reminds us that we can survive just about anything with humor, honesty, kindness and friends.
From a capacity crowd, literary agent Liza Dawson said, “it took me 24 hours to realize just how subtly and firmly it had implanted itself in my psyche. There’s such intimacy, love and generosity here.”
During the Q&A, audience members were curious about the making of the film, including the animation of the Pope that is sprinkled throughout, to the reaction from residents of Skaneateles, New York, the picturesque town where Crimmins grew up. Director Goldthwait also talked about the difficult scene in which Crimmins walks into the basement of his old house where the abuse took place. Crimmins, shaken as the memories flood him, said he couldn’t recall his reaction inside that basement, but afterward, felt he wanted to refer to it not as a shrine to the devil, but rather a house now where children can laugh and play and be treated the way kids ought to be treated.
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Written by MFF Blogger Alison Stockley