The Show! Delivers Memorable Films and Comedy
By Sara Grauerholz
Going into The Show! I didn’t exactly know what to expect, but after reading that the evening would be filled with stand-up comedy, sketch comedy and short films, I knew I'd have to check it out.
Austin comedian Ramin Nazer acted as emcee throughout the night, which started with some stand-up comedy, and also introduced sketch team Spirit Desire. Several Spirit Desire video clips played on a large screen, and the group also performed live sketches. The group did some fake advertisements, including a reimagining of the characters from Peanuts in their adult years, living on the streets with Pig-Pen, the local drug dealer. Another bit imagined what it would be like if Ray Romano had a dinosaur for a child. These, of course, were all extremely funny, but let’s get into what we want to know more about: the films.
After all of the comedy that started the show, I assumed the films would be in the same style, but they were surprisingly serious. The first one up was Benny, which was a finalist in the Student Academy Awards this year and screened at a number of fests, including Austin Film Festival. Huay Bing Law shot the film while a student at The University of Texas at Austin.
Benny tells the story of an overweight young man struggling with his weight and his unhelpful father. While at a gym, he runs into an old female friend who becomes his new trainer. They spend the day together and it leads somewhere unexpected. Benny is an extremely believable character, and Alex Poncio does a great job portraying his emotions with little dialogue. Through his exchanges with others, you see how and why he has become the person he is. Check out the trailer below.
The next film was the Austin-shot short The Man Who Never Cried, which centers around a birthday party entertainer unable to express his emotions, even when his father passes away. This story was told brilliantly and had a great balance of quirky comedy and truthful seriousness. The acting was wonderful, but what really struck me were the visuals. Throughout the film, there is great use of color and camerawork, and they both really help direct the story along. Check out Debbie's review and set visit for more details. Watch the trailer below:
The closing film was Clowns Never Lie, from Austin filmmaker Mario Troncoso, which screened at Cannes earlier this year. The fantastical, dreamy film centers around a performer working on the streets but dreaming of stardom. Clowns Never Lie used a much more romanticized form of storytelling than the others, calling on imagery and sensory perception rather than clear-cut conversation to develop its characters. Watch the trailer below:
All three of the evening's films prove you can impart a lot of information about your characters without going heavy on dialogue and exposition.
Another great thing about The Show! was the Q&A session at the end of each short film. We were lucky enough to have some of the cast and crew members from each film in attendance, and they each had a short interview with the emcee and took a few questions from the audience. There were discussions about the evolution of the script for Benny, insights into what the DP for The Man Who Never Cried is like on set, and even some stories from the cast of Clowns Never Lie about their trip to Cannes.
It’s not often that the events of one single night -- or rather, three hours of a single night -- makes you feel the entire spectrum of emotions. It's especially rare to be so emotionally affected by events that took place outside of your own life, onstage and on screen. All of the performances and films of the captivating evening managed to make a lasting impact on the audience, quite an achievement.
Sara Grauerholz is an intern at the Austin Film Society.
[Photo credit: Menelaos Prokos Photography]