Erstwhile standup comic Jordan Brady taps a roll call of stellar comedians — plus lesser-known, aspiring ones — to explore the agonies and ecstasies of their particular showbiz life in “I Am Comic.” Following recent docs “Comedian” (Jerry Seinfeld), “Heckler” (Jamie Kennedy) and “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” it likewise reveals the punishing ratio of workaday perspiration to inspiration among even established comedy stars. Fascinating survey opened Aug. 20 in limited release, but primary exposure will lie in cable and home-format sales.

While offering a glimpse of stage routines, pic consists mostly of lively shop talk. Interviewees discuss the mechanics of joke structuring as well as club-circuit road perils, audience hazards (from hecklers to projectiles), industry trends (like the ’90s sink-or-swim emphasis on sitcom success), ever-shifting thematic taboos, booking divisions based on race or sexuality and the reasons some talented folk simply give up the game — or remain addicted, in spite of it all. Eighties standup hit Ritch Shydner’s attempted comeback provides some narrative arc. Brief animations accentuate thematic chapter divisions in a brisk, slick package likely to ward off wannabes in a profession whose winners are few and seldom satisfied.

I Am Comic

  • Production: A Monterey Media release of a Mickelson/Shydner/Brady and Uber Content production. Produced by Robert Mickelson. Executive producers, Preston Lee, Phyllis Koenig. Co-producer, Jennette MacLachlan. Directed by Jordan Brady.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Jeanne Lipsey, Joe Maxwell; editor, Karoliina Tuovinen; music, David Reynolds. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Aug. 19. 2010. Running time: 97 MIN.
  • With: With: Ritch Shydner, Sarah Silverman, Tim Allen, Jeff Foxworthy, Kathy Griffin, Jim Gaffigan, Chris Hardwick, Ritch Shydner, Louis C.K., Janeane Garofalo, Andy Kindler, Carrot Top, Nick Kroll, Larry Miller, Lewis Black, Margaret Cho, Rosanne Barr, Bobcat Goldthwait, Dana Gould, Tom Arnold, Phyllis Diller, Dave Attell.