OPENING ACT, THE
(director/writer: Steve Byrne; cinematographer: Eric Alan Edwards; editor: Sandra Granovsky; music: David Kuschner/Amy Marie Beauchamp/Jose Cansuela; cast: Jimmy O. Yang (Will Chu), Alex Moffat (Chris), Cedric the Entertainer (Billy G), Debby Ryan (Jen), Bill Burr (Barry), Ken Jeong (Quinn), Neal Brennan (Chip); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Vince Vaughn/Sefton Fincham/Peter Billingsley; RLJE Films; 2020)
“Far too lightweight of a indie.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Steve Byrne (“Always Amazing”), who is part Korean, is the comedian writer-director of this far too lightweight of a indie. It’s a semi-autobiographical story of an aspiring stand-up comedian trying to see if he has what it takes to make it as a professional.
The squarish but affable Chinese-American Will Chu (Jimmy O. Yang) watched stand-up comedy acts when raised by his dad in Ohio and now tries to do it for a career as an adult, while working at a dull insurance job during the day. Will has a supportive girlfriend (Deb Ryan). But he’s frustrated after having reached a dead-end, not going beyond doing open mic nights. Just as he’s about to call it quits, his close comedian friend Quinn (Ken Jeong) offers him an emcee job at a respectable show in Pennsylvania and he without a thought quits his day job. The show headliner is Billy G (Cedric the Entertainer), who Will is a fanboy of. Instead the kid gets paired with the weekend warm-up act Chris (Alex Moffat), someone who likes partying and is not a good example for him to follow.
The cast is filled with comedians in cameos, such as Bill Burr, Alex Moffat, Whitney Cummings, Iliza Shlesinger and Felipe Esparza.
Cedric the Entertainer plays the popular performer still willing to work in dives to eke out a living. The film’s only sparkles comes from Billy’s brief time mentoring the kid. The established comedian reminds the impressionable kid he needs to — hone a voice! — if he expects an audience to flock to him. “But the thing about stand-up, son, you listening? Is that you have the chance to be better today than you was yesterday.”
REVIEWED ON 1/17/2021 GRADE: C+