By: Addison Wylie
Delivery isn’t funny ha-ha, which you would think would be problematic in a documentary showcasing four levelheaded guys challenging themselves to take a one-night stab at stand-up comedy. However, the film itself is more amusing in an endearing way.
Sean Menard, Shane Cunningham, Bert van Lierop, and Mark Myers (who also serves as the film’s writer/director, and may be familiarized by his former Much Music title ‘Mark the Temp’) make a pact to face their fears at Toronto’s Yuk Yuk comedy club. While the documentary is affirming for all four friends, it’s a film that was initiated by Myers, who is also leading up to being a first-time father. One of his other dreams besides getting married to the woman of his dreams, eventually becoming a father, and overcoming his nervous public speaking, was to make a movie. Delivery kills a bunch of birds with one stone.
Menard, Cunningham, Lierop, and Myers are all likeable. All four are somewhat relatable, and are all nice dudes you’d want to go out and have a beer with. They provide support and feedback for each other leading up to the big night, but it’s easy to tell they’re each others’ biggest fans. How else can you explain one of the fellas receiving huge laughter in their group, yet they bomb on the stage? As much as I would like to tell you who that person is, that would be unfair to Myers’ doc to which he’s worked very hard to make.
Since Delivery is Myers’ first film, I’ll try to go easy on his personal endeavour. Then again, he’s had long-time experience in television and music videos, which means he knows well enough how to properly structure a story. So, maybe he can take a bit of constructive sternness.
Delivery has “action beats” or rather “cinematic checkpoints”. All films should ideally have these points. They help move a story along, and frame the overall finished product. Each milestone (the birth of Mark’s child and the pivotal Yuk Yuk’s amateur hour) has a determined time as to when they are going to happen, but Myers has a hard time getting to each milestone.
He knows how to handle each event with genuine honesty, respect, and sensitivity. He also knows how to handle another’s struggles, such as Sean’s relationship to his father who has been diagnosed with cancer. He cares for and understands the gravity of each situation, as well as the pang that comes with having personal concerns. It’s here where the film finds the humour and sincerity in life.
However, everything in between reads as restless filler that hopes to make the audience laugh and root for a contrived underdog story. We quickly find out that Myers is an anxious guy. When movie goers watch Delivery, we can see the art reflecting the artist – mostly to a fault.
The in-between is filled with the would-be comics riffing and practicing their sets. The film doesn’t dress anything up. Watching these segments of the guys fine tuning their shabby, crass material is not as funny as they think it is. The results amount to a lot of cringing and groans, and us hoping that the men will be okay come the night of their performances.
A flurry of comedians are interviewed as well, and are utilized through cropped snippets to either reflect what’s going on in the movie or reinforce that the friends are on the right path to becoming confident. Some comedians – like Marc Maron, Pete Zedlacher, and Bryan Callen – are able to input great insight, while others know perfectly well they’re here to be providing the deep, first-hand advice. It only gets to be distracting when their ego eclipses their own opinion.
The film is also edited in a frenzied manner. Myers sets up sequences to tell stories about talks he once had with someone prior to the film being made, while rapid animations and random B-roll swoop in to provide a certain style. Perhaps this pace was chosen to mirror Myers’ jittery personality, but it has poor longevity. It’s exhausting watching a movie that seems as if its been inspired by that eurotrip in The Rules of Attraction.
Delivery is a hyper handful, but the earnest doc isn’t without some bright spots scattered here and there. Just like his experience on stage, Myers shows he has potential as a filmmaker, but he has a lot of room for growth.