CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: Portrait of a Cynical Genius in ‘The Bitter Buddha’
CHICAGO – We live in such a cynical world that when a film critic tells you a stand-up comedian is damn funny, it might not hold as much weight as it did in a universe before everyone had an opinion on everything online. So how can I convince you that Eddie Pepitone, the subject of Stephen Feinartz’s “The Bitter Buddha,” opening this weekend at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, is damn funny? Do you like Marc Maron, Sarah Silverman, Dana Gould, or the amazing Patton Oswalt? They think he’s hilarious. And if that doesn’t do it, the movie will. Just trust us.
Eddie Pepitone is a comedian’s comedian, a guy who other funny people know and respect but who simply hasn’t broken out beyond the critical and comedic communities. Someone compares the record sales of REO Speedwagon to that of Elvis Costello, noting that the former sold many more copies but almost everyone would admit the latter is better artistically. I’m not sure Eddie Pepitone is the Elvis Costello of comedy but the comparison is apt when one sees the variety of respectable, successful comics who took time for a documentary about this cynical genius.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “The Bitter Buddha” in our reviews section.|
Pepitone’s act is hard to put a finger on (which is why widespread success has eluded him as I think producers and even comic club bookers don’t know how to sell him). At first, he seems like an angry preacher type like Sam Kinison but he doesn’t have Kinison’s ego. He has echoes of Lewis Black but not as politically angry. And there’s certainly some Rodney Dangerfield in him with his noted lack of respect from the world. Whomever one compares him to, Eddie Pepitone has his own rhythm and his own unique, multi-layered approach. Few comics with this degree of rage have been this self-aware and comical about it. He’s a fascinating blend of NYC anger and L.A. trends. He’s a wannabe vegan with road rage. ‘Nuff said.
The Bitter Buddha
Photo credit: Bitter Buddha Movie, LLC