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Kevin Pollak has appeared in a bunch of classic movies, including The Usual Suspects.

He’s one of the best mimics alive.

Comedy Central voted him one of the top stand-up comedians ever.

Now Pollak wants to shoot a star-studded documentary exploring one of the great paradoxes of Western culture — the sad clown:

If you’re a fan of stand-up comedy, and those who perform it, you’re no doubt aware that a staggering percentage are truly miserable. We’ve lost number of great comedians to drugs, alcohol and suicide. How can they be so entertaining to strangers and so filled with sadness and/or rage with family and friends…? The main goal of this film is to shed extensive light on this bizarre dichotomy. … It’s gonna be a hoot!

Yes, all those drugs don’t help.

But before Lenny Bruce became the “Bird” of comedy and inspired too many stand-ups to shoot up, funny men had reputations as either twisted, self-destructive misanthropes or inconsolable Pagliaccii, too fragile and wounded to survive in a harsh, shallow world.

It’s a theme that runs through Always Leave Them Laughing (1949) and HBO’s Louie, and through The Comic (1969) to the Marc Maron “WTF” podcast.

The difference between those older pieces and contemporary ones is that, sometime in the 1960s, professional comedians no longer felt obligated to “turn their frowns upside down” when they went on stage, lest they disillusion their audiences.

That brand of artifice (and self-control) went out with the cheap tux and the Catskills.

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