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All Joking Aside - Movie Review

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All Joking Aside

The first time is always the hardest.  That’s what everyone says, isn’t it?  And it is true, especially when you are staring into the void of darkness on a stage and all you hear is a lone voice telling you to go someplace else.

"the comedic coming of age story we never knew we needed"

For budding comedian, Charlene Murray (Raylene Harewood) that’s EXACTLY what happens when she takes the stage.  Her jokes are stale.  Her confidence is missing and, allowing a heckler to silence her, Charlie’s open mic night debut sets off a chain of unexpected events which, unbeknownst to her as they fall into place, has her returning - stronger than ever - to the stage to do what she loves to do.

From acclaimed director Shannon Kohli, All Joking Aside is the comedic coming of age story we never knew we needed as this young stand-up comedian - refusing to give in thanks to her father’s wishes - learns the ropes of writing and performing jokes.  It’s an emotional roller coaster that she puts herself on, but thanks to some wise words from the manager of one of New York’s faded comedic hot spots, and Bob (Brian Markinson), the drunk heckler who sent her off the stage at the open mic night on her debut, she finds some light in the dark of her eternally NYC night. All Joking Aside

You read that correctly.  Her inspiration to get better comes from what she learns from her heckler.  It turns out that he’s - while grizzled and rough around the edges - an underground comedy legend, who walked away from the craft . . . for good reasons.  Burned out as he may appear, Bob has a lot of truth to tell her about comedy and, as she has to work to get his trust and agreement, it turns out to be well worth it.  Bob becomes a hero of sorts in her story as there are some tough - but touching - lessons Charlie needs to learn about the craft of comedy.

But what can she teach him about life?

All Joking Aside is hilarious and heartwarming and, with help from all the solid performances, we have James Pickering’s screenplay to keep us engaged with a story that is also life-affirming.  Doors slam in both their faces endlessly, but through helping Charlie, Bob learns that even his time as an urban legend can be rewarding . . . if they will both just listen.  Arriving On Demand November 13 from Quiver Distribution and Animal Mother Films, All Joking Aside co-stars David Lewis, Tanya Jade, Larke Miller, and celebrated comedian Richard Lett as Dennis.  

Dive deep into the world of stand-up comedy as seen through the eyes of a young and hungry woman who deserves her chance to hold the microphone!  All Joking Aside is now streaming!

4/5 stars

All Joking Aside


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All Joking Aside

MPAA Rating: unrated.
83 mins
: Shannon Kohli
James Pickering
Brian Markinson, David Lewis, Raylene Harewood
: Drama
It only hurst till you laugh.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I just think women suck at comedy."
Quiver Distribution and Animal Mother Films
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 13, 2020.
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: CHARLENE MURRAY (Charlie to her friends) isn’t your average twenty-one year old.  Inspired by her late father’s unrealized ambitions, she wants nothing more in life than to be a stand-up comic, and is equal parts thrilled and terrified by the fact that she’s finally old enough to get into a comedy club and actually try her material in front of paying customers. So with a fistful of jokes, and her stalwart friend KIM there to get her back, she heads to the LAUGHING HYENA, one of New York’s faded comedic hot spots, to hit her first ever open mic night.  Glued to his barstool at the back of the room, with his fourth whiskey of the night in hand is BOB CARPENTER, and he’s not going to stop heckling until Charlie gives up the microphone.  It doesn’t take long before he gets exactly what he wants, and Charlie, chastened, flees the club with Kim on her tail. When she later returns to the Hyena to talk to the manager DENNIS, he tells Charlie that if she really wants to learn the craft, then she’s got to be writing all the time, and studying people who know what they’re doing; people like Bob who, before his marriage and career collapsed and he became an alcoholic heckler, used to be one of the top touring comics in the country.  He pulls out some old VHS tapes of the young and energetic performer, first showing him own the crowd with his raw, edgy material, and then in a different clip from his final performance a few years later, literally attacking them.  Impressed by this new side of him, and with Dennis’ encouragement, Charlie decides that Bob is going to be her mentor whether he likes it or not, and sets about winning him over.   As the two slowly feel each other out, what develops is an unlikely friendship based on broken families, a healthy appreciation of sarcasm, and the undeniable rush of making a whole room full of people laugh.

All Joking Aside

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