Forget all the superhero movies, the one movie I cannot wait to see this year is Call Me Lucky, a documentary produced by Bobcat Goldthwait about his old friend, and a true comedy legend, Barry Crimmins. Crimmins is not well known outside of the comedy world; I can only hope this documentary changes that. Here’s the trailer:
I love that Marc Maron called him this “great, mythical force” and David Cross said that “he was a guy that you heard about before you actually saw him.” I first heard of him from a cassette tape I bought in the late 80s called Strange Bedfellows, featuring four political comedians — Jimmy Tingle, Randy Credico, Will Durst and Crimmins, who was far and away the best of the four. I was an instant fan. It was only later, when I began doing comedy myself, that I heard the stories.
He is revered among stand up comics for many reasons: the role he played in creating the infamous Boston comedy scene of the late 70s and early 80s, the searing intelligence and brutal honesty of his comedy and his total fearlessness on stage. That Boston scene, started in the back of a Chinese restaurant called the Ding Ho, helped launch, among others, Goldthwait, Paula Poundstone, Steven Wright, Dennis Leary, Lenny Clarke, and Kevin Meaney. There’s a great documentary about that scene called When Stand Up Stood Out, which is also a must-see film.
When Bill Hicks died, Jim Lahr lauded him for having done “the only kind of comedy that matters,” comedy that was outspoken and aimed at ignorance and injustice. Crimmins was in that league as well. I was very lucky about 5 or 6 years ago to get to interview Crimmins on my radio show, an opportunity that came about because he saw something I’d written about him and emailed me to express his appreciation. My co-host, Jeremy Beahan, said it was one of the very few interviews he ever heard me do in which I fanboyed over a guest. I couldn’t help myself. I don’t have many heroes, but he’s one of them.
I’m very glad to see someone telling his story, and even more glad that it’s Goldthwait, for whom Crimmins has long been a mentor and a friend. And it was Robin Williams who gave Goldthwait the money to make the movie, which makes it even more poignant.