You might not know Wayne Federman by name, but you've seen his face, we're sure of it. Mr. Federman has been in such movies as Legally Blonde, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Step Brothers, 50 First Dates, and Funny People, and played Garry Shandling's brother Stan on the seminal 90's series The Larry Sanders Show. Wayne Federman knows comedy, and he knows a lot of other comedians, which was sort of the germ of inspiration for The 1st Annual Wayne Federman International Film Festival, which kicks off this weekend at Cinefamily in Hollywood, featuring some of the world's greatest comedians curating some of their favorite films, apropos of nothing except for the fact that they really love them.
The idea, Federman says, came to him when a friend (and former Simpsons writer) Rob Cohen rented a movie theater and showed the 1966 classic Batman, featuring the original Caped Crusader, Adam West, just because he really loved the movie. A couple years later, Patton Oswalt showed off The Fist Foot Way in similar fashion, and Wayne was attracted to the idea of comedians talking about and showing movies they'd had nothing to do with personally. So, he decided on a festival experience during which he would curate the comedians and they would curate the films.
"Every comedian I talked to immediately thought it was a great idea," according to Federman, who finally settled on a lineup of Garry Shandling, Margaret Cho, Kevin Pollack, Paul F. Tompkins, Doug Benson, and Andy Kindler over three nights, January 12-14th. The shows will be all-inclusive experiences including performances by Federman and the comedians, each of whom will do a brief set before introducing their film, and will take questions about the movies after the fact.
The films themselves run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous, Tompkins will present Topsy-Turvy, the story of Gilbert & Sullivan writing 'The Mikado,' while Shandling will show off Martin Scorsese's love letter to psychopaths, comedians, and Jerry Lewis, 1983's The King of Comedy. Wayne is very excited about the eclectic programming.
"The movie Margaret (Cho) picked [Darling], I've never seen," he mused. "Julie Christie won Best Actress for it in 1965, and I've never seen it. And it's Margaret's favorite movie of all time."
Doug Benson, of course, will be doing something a little different, taking on the 1988 classic Cocktail ("When he pours, he reigns," Federman reminds me, calling forth from the ether the overblown marketing message from the film's original release.) as part of Doug Benson's Movie Interruption!, during which he and a group of hand-picked comedians will pick the film apart, Mystery Science Theater 3000-style.
Considering the positive response he's received from the comics he's spoken with, Wayne thinks it'll be no problem getting a second batch to sign off for next year's festival, the continuation of what he plans as an annual event. With the lineup for this year's edition, and the fact that you get to see these classics in the presence of genuinely funny people who will also perform for the price of only $10 a show (except for Cocktail, which is still a very reasonable $12), it seems like a slam dunk, and the sort of thing that's going to be a Hollywood hot ticket right from the get-go. If you're in the Los Angeles area this weekend, get your tickets now. You won't want to miss it.
Here's the schedule of the films, and the people who are presenting them.
Thursday, January 12th -
- 7:30PM - The King of Comedy presented by Garry Shandling
- 10:45PM - Darling presented by Margaret Cho
Friday, January 13th -
- 7:30PM - Topsy-Turvy presented by Paul F. Tompkins
- 11:00PM - Cocktail presented by Doug Benson
Saturday, January 14th -
- 7:30PM - The In-Laws presented by Kevin Pollack
- 10:30PM - Modern Romance presented by Andy Kindler