"Misery Loves Comedy," a documentary whose producers include Baltimore's Becky Newhall, was screened last week at the Sundance Film Festival and purchased for distribution by Tribeca Film.
The documentary, directed by actor Kevin Pollak, features dozens of comedians discussing whether one needs to be miserable to be funny. The film includes Jimmy Fallon, Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Short, Judd Apatow, Kevin Smith, Jim Jefferies, Penn Gillette and Towson University alumna Amy Schumer among its 50-plus interview subjects.
"What might have turned out to be a movie about comedy only for comedians is instead a funny and engaging look at the most twisted and naked branch of the entertainment world," Jordan Riefe writes in his review of the film in The Hollywood Reporter.
"Misery Loves Comedy" screened Jan. 23 at the festival in Park City, Utah. It was co-produced by Newhall, Burton Ritchie and Barry Katz.
Newhall, 41, is a Towson University grad (she studied film production) and mother of three girls who lives in Owings Mills. Speaking Thursday as she was getting ready to board a plane out of Utah, she said she spent about three years working on "Misery Loves Comedy," her first film as a producer.
Newhall said she got the idea for the film while listening to a "friend in the comedy world" talk about all his anxieties.
"I thought, 'That would be a great idea for a film,'" she said.
Pollak became involved, she said, after playing in a poker game with one of her producing partners. "Misery Loves Comedy" was shot over three weeks in the spring and summer of 2013.
Newhall also served as co-executive producer on a second documentary, "Prophet's Prey," that also was shown at Sundance. That film, about the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, is destined for the Showtime premium cable channel.