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The Bitter Buddha

Posted by martinteller on December 6, 2013

Chances are you’ve never heard of Eddie Pepitone, unless you’re really into comedy.  Specifically, comedy podcasts.  Over the past five years ago, Pepitone’s stature as a comedian to watch has grown due to appearances on shows like WTF, Comedy Bang Bang, The Dana Gould Hour, and The Long Shot (a roundtable chat with Pepitone, Sean Conroy, Amber Kenny, Jamie Flam and usually a guest).  Eddie seemed to emerge, middle-aged, out of nowhere as a “comedian’s comedian”, one who is virtually unknown to the general public but revered among his peers.  Besides podcasts and standups, Pepitone is also very active on Twitter and is the star of the web series “Puddin'”.

He earned his nickname for his idiosyncratic mixture of raging annoyance at just about everything and heartfelt philosophy about how to achieve inner peace.  The documentary explores his duality to some degree… Pepitone’s dogmatic promotion of veganism while being unable to stick with it himself, his moments of unbridled rage followed by calm acceptance.  There are accolades from other comics, including some of my favorites like Dana Gould, Andy Kindler, Jen Kirkman, Patton Oswalt, Scott Aukerman, Todd Glass and Sarah Silverman (Paul F. Tompkins and Todd Barry also make brief appearances) but for the most part, director Steven Feinartz just follows Pepitone and lets him speak for himself.  The film is roughly structured as leading up to a performance in Manhattan, and Pepitone’s feelings about his father (who rarely leaves Staten Island and may not even come to the show, despite not having seen his son perform in seven years) provide some of the most interesting material.  Eddie wavers between indifference about his father’s own indifference, and seeking the approval he craves.

On the whole, it’s about what you would expect a comedian profile to be.  It’ll be fun for fans, might pick up a few new ones, but is unlikely to change anyone’s mind about him.  As for myself, although I wouldn’t rank him among my top comedians, I have liked Pepitone since I first heard him.  I had to stop listening to his podcast because I could no longer stand Flam’s inability to say anything funny, or Conroy’s smug dickishness.  But the movie did make me think perhaps I should resubscribe to The Long Shot and see what it’s like these days.  It’s good to get an Eddie Pepitone fix every now and then, a voice of frustrated sanity in a frustratingly insane world.  Rating: Good (76)


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