There’s no question about it: What worked on screen in regards to comedy a few years ago, isn’t clicking anymore as the genre makes its way to the exits for a place on streaming or cable.
A majority of major studio comedies over the last two years, with the exception of Girls Trip, Bad Moms, and Sausage Party, haven’t worked. This summer alone three comedies didn’t find a wide audience: New Line’s Life of the Party ($52.8M) and Lionsgate’s Uncle Drew ($41.8M) and The Spy Who Dumped Me (which didn’t open at $12.1M last weekend).
At the Cannes Film Festival last year, Ben Stiller expounded on the challenges of the genre, the catch 22 of going streaming over the big screen, and how hard it would be in the current climate to launch some of his iconic titles like Tropic Thunder.
Today at TCA, Jim Carrey, blockbuster comedy star of such pics like Liar Liar, was showing off his new fall Showtime TV series to the press, Kidding, directed by his Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry. In the show —which strongly echoes Carrey’s Eternal Sunshine and The Truman Show — the comedic star plays kid show host Mr. Pickles, a Mr. Rogers-type whose personal life is collapsing. With Adam Sandler taking a hike from Sony over to Netflix to deliver his brand directly to his fans sans any B.O. hiccups, is Carrey doing the same?
When asked what his thoughts were on the state of big-screen comedy and whether it’s strictly destined for in-home portals, Carrey wasn’t so pessimistic.
Says the comedian, “There are so many choices, so many ways and forms to do things in now, it’s just take your pick of the litter in regards to where you want to go. The hardest thing is cutting through the clutter. The only hope of cutting through the clutter these days; you have to go bigger than everyone else or you’re lopping ten heads off per episode or you hit a nerve and touch people in a place that’s real. Because nothing gets to the back row like the truth. If the truth is in there, people will be interested. They want to see themselves, they want to see their own truth.”
Carrey agrees Kidding isn’t that far from The Truman Show: Both protagonists deal with real life by putting up facades.
“The idea of identity, the search for identity of who you are; what’s an authentic person has always been attractive to me,” says Carrey, “The idea of being hit by a freight train in life and hanging on to the idea of yourself, that’s really attractive.
A personal truth for Carrey of late: His President Donald Trump protest paintings which he shares frequently on social. The stand-up, who doesn’t see himself as a cartoonist in The Observer or New Yorker sense of the word, said he doesn’t plan such pieces of art.
“It’s not a choice, it’s just happening. It’s reflex to what I don’t like. It’s a civilized way of dealing with it, to express and get on board with as many voices as possible that are shouting from the rooftops,” says the comedic actor.
“You can tweet all you want, but there is something about a picture, a creation,” says Carrey. When he posted his rendition of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, “I drew her essence. The ugly is an inside job.”
What does Trump think of them?
“He probably loves them on some level. I’m sure it’s insulting and it pisses him off at the same time,” says Carrey, “We’re dealing with a narcissist.”
“You can do something really horrible to him, but because he’s getting a lot of attention, horrible is alright for him,” he continues.
In terms of Carrey’s next movie, it’s Paramount’s feature take on Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog. He plays the villain Dr. Ivo ‘Eggman’ Robotnik.
“It will be live-action,” says Carrey about the character.
How will the stand-up-of-a-thousand-faces create him?
“Magic!” shouted Carrey to the TCA crowd, “mixed with desperation.”