The Sundance Film Festival kicked off last in Park City, Utah and director Bobcat Goldthwait’s documentary titled Call Me Lucky is among the 118 films that will make its debut. With a focus on the life and career of comedian Barry Crimmins, it also happens to be one of only a few featured films with a Boston tie.
The film promises to be much more than a mere autobiography. It documents how Crimmins made a living being a funny person who was also the victim of child abuse growing up. The writer and comedian told Cleveland.com that the title of the film was influenced by his experience becoming both a political satirist and an “empathetic human rights activist rather than a basket case, or worse, a perpetrator of abuse.”
So, who exactly is Barry Crimmins?
He may not be the household name of other funny folks in film or television, but for those unaware, he is extremely influential in the world of comedy, especially here in Boston. The founder of comedy clubs Ding Ho and Stitches, Crimmins moved to the Hub in 1979 and is one of the pioneers who ignited this city’s comedy scene in the ’80s. Crimmins’ credentials are endless, from penning the popular book Never Shake Hands With a War Criminal to receiving several awards for his endeavors in activism. He discusses many of his Boston comedy roots in a recent episode of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast.
The new documentary, which premieres February 27 at Sundance, looks at all sides of Barry Crimmins.
Filmed in Boston, Los Angeles and upstate New York, Call Me Lucky aims to bring a variety of layers that piece together Crimmins’s life in what hopes to be an entertaining and funny way. According to Goldthwait, the feature was originally inspired by his good friend, the late Robin Williams, who suggested it should be a documentary and provided funding to help jumpstart it.
Goldthwait — who also wrote and directed World’s Greatest Dad and Willow Creek, says he typically wants his audience to walk into his films not knowing what they’re about so that they can enjoy the turns and twists. But Call Me Lucky was different in that he wanted people to know the premise so that they can be surprised by the light-hearted moments that come along.
The director, with the help of other famous comedians such as David Cross and Patton Oswalt, paints the evolving and inspiring picture of Barry Crimmins, and with it, dissects the many layers of his personality and work.
“I hope I do both my friends proud,” the director says. “I hope it works.”