Film finds indie auteur Alex Karpovsky moving assuredly from mock documentaries to the real thing.

Even as its title suggests a playful ambiguity, “Trust Us, This Is All Made Up” finds indie auteur Alex Karpovsky (“Woodpecker”) moving assuredly from mock documentaries to the real thing with a concert film-cum-biography of Second City-schooled performance artists David Pasquesi and TJ Jagodowski, billed as TJ & Dave. Karpovsky, a funny actor himself in Andrew Bujalski’s recent “Beeswax,” does for comedic improvisation what “The Aristocrats” did for the dirty joke: He offers a loosely sociological study of the form while milking the material for sizable laughs. Continued fest play will be deserved.

Regular-guy types Pasquesi and Jagodowski have earned acclaim for their imaginatively character-driven hourlong shows, one of which — taped at Gotham’s Barrow Street Theater — is the main event here. Three seats onstage allow the duo to shift between a multitude of bickering characters, including a sports fan, a secretary and a bartender. For the shooting of pre- and post-show action, Karpovsky mirrors the comics’ ping-pong style via split-screen effects that make ordinary conversation resemble another elaborate improv riff. Tech credits are weak, but hipster songs, most memorably by the Ike Reilly Assassination, help keep the offstage scenes humming.

Trust Us, This Is All Made Up


Produced by Adam Roffman, Rick Edrich, Jessica Wolfson, Asaf Ronen, Alex Karpovsky. Executive producer, John Andres. Directed, edited by Alex Karpovsky.


Camera (color, DV), Ari Boles. Reviewed at Minneapolis/St. Paul Film Festival, April 19, 2009. (Also in SXSW Film Festival.) Running time: 80 MIN.


David Pasquesi, TJ Jagodowski.
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