Review by James Lindorf
From the 80s to the mid-90s, Lou DiMaggio (no relation to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio) was a regular in comedy clubs and on television. He worked for 4 years at the iconic Catch A Rising Star comedy club in New York City and made lasting friendships with some of the best in the business. Larry David, Colin Quinn, Suzie Essman, Joy Behar, Jeff Garlin, Ray Romano and Howie Mandel are just a few of the friends Lou turns to when he decides 20 years is enough and it’s time to get back on stage. After moving to Los Angeles in 1989 to pursue acting, it was just a few years before Lou stopped doing stand-up comedy forever. Today Lou is an Emmy-winning writer who makes a modest living but can no longer fight the urge to get back to his roots and back to what made him the happiest as a professional. WHERE HAVE YOU GONE LOU DIMAGGIO? is the directorial debut of Brad Kuhlman and will be available in theaters March 9th and on demand March 13th.
The documentary has three distinct parts. The first is a flashback to Lou’s glory days where he was killing it on stage and interacting with some of the most famous people in the world. The second part is him getting advice from his friends and trying to find out what kind of comedian he will be at this point in his life. The third and final section is his return to the stage and the pitfalls that come with 20 years of rust. I enjoyed the second and third portions of the film but it is the first portion that is truly special. While I really like Lou and root for him as he goes on his journey, reliving the heyday of Lou and Catch a Rising Star is amazing. I wish it was the focus of the whole film, looking at the classic footage of comedy icons and seeing them hobnob with rock stars, tv and film executives and the regular fans who made it past the velvet rope into the Studio 54 of comedy.
This is an easy documentary to recommend. With a runtime of 75 minutes, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, and Lou is very likable and easy to cheer for. I think my biggest complaints are that I would have liked more of Lou refining his new set of jokes and that the stark white room some of the interviews took place in was hard on my eyes. I think it will find its following and give Kuhlman the opportunity to make another film on any topic he would like. I hope he chooses something like the first section of this film or the recent Canon Film or National Lampoon documentaries that explored the genius and typically cocaine-fueled craziness of those two companies.