‘The Unbookables’ and the Dark, Not Entirely Pleasant Side of Touring Comics

Elise Czajkowski of SplitSider.com reviews The Unbookables

There are two things to know when watching the The Unbookables: this is a look at a side of the comedy world that’s not often shown, and it’s not going to be particularly pleasant.

The Unbookables Tour is the punk rock version of a comedy tour, founded by Doug Stanhope (an executive producer on the film). The documentary follows the current lineup of James Inman, Andy Andrist, Sean Rouse, Brendon Walsh, Norm Wilkerson, Travis Lipski, Brett Erickson and Kristine Levine on a van tour of Texas, Kansas, and Illinois.

The shows are bad, the lifestyle is crazy, and the comics aren’t particularly sympathetic. Watching the film the first time, my notes include the phrase “unequivocally terrible human beings.”

If there’s a somewhat accidental protagonist of the story, it’s Inman. At the beginning of the film, he’s stealing hydrocodone from a gout-ridden one-night stand. Half an hour later, he’s the grown-up of the group, as they get in trouble with a club owner for their material and their behavior.

The movie has a gritty, fly-on-the-wall-style, but the film has a subtle narrative. The beginning seems like over-stressed people yelling at each other for no reason, but a genuine and compelling drama builds between the comics as the tour continues.



George T. Mortimer is the author of three books: 'Bothy Culture', 'The Probationer's Handbook' and 'Magick Without Fear: The Gerald Suster Letters'. He spends most of his free time writing and wandering around remote parts of Scotland seeking out blissful isolation. Mortimer can be found at www.media-underground.net

8 Comments on "‘The Unbookables’ and the Dark, Not Entirely Pleasant Side of Touring Comics"

  1. BuzzCoastin | Feb 18, 2013 at 9:10 pm |

    there is nothing sadder than professional comedians
    the court jesters of the Titanic

    • "Big" Richard Johnson | Feb 18, 2013 at 10:23 pm |

      It’s better than snarking on the internet for free.

      • BuzzCoastin | Feb 18, 2013 at 10:31 pm |

        the converse of that statement is true

        “Tradition and heritage are all dead people’s baggage, stop carrying it. Move forward.”

    • VaudeVillain | Feb 18, 2013 at 11:42 pm |

      “Laugh to keep from crying” might as well be the tagline of modern comedy.

    • Joe Rogan seems happy

      • BuzzCoastin | Feb 19, 2013 at 9:31 pm |

        I’m not saying comedians in general are sad or morose
        though some are
        I’m saying the whole stand-up thing is sadly depressing
        both for the comedians & the audience

        “Good evening, my name is Bill Hicks. I’ve been on the road now doing comedy 12 years, so, uh, bear with me while I plaster on a fake smile and plow through this shit one more time. … I’m kinda tired of traveling, kinda tired of doing comedy, kinda tired of staring out at your blank faces looking back at me, wanting me to fill your empty lives with humor you couldn’t possibly think of yourselves.”

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