Stand-up Shlumps

Running Time 100 minutes
Directed by Ari Sandel
Starring Vince Vaughn, Bret Ernst, Ahmed Ahmed

Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights—Hollywood to the Heartland is the impossible title of a film by a first-time documentary filmmaker named Ari Sandel that says it all. In the fall of 2005, pudgy, baggy-eyed actor and self-proclaimed American renegade Vince Vaughn channeled the spirit of legendary frontier showman Buffalo Bill of Annie Get Your Gun fame. Result: He was inspired to assemble a freaky rock-country-cowboy revue in the style of the old “Wild West” shows and recruited a team of alleged, not-so-funny “comics” for a 30-day stand-up tour of 30 performances he called “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show.” The jerky assembly took to the open roads in a couple of tour buses, jackknifing across the American Exxon maps from Los Angeles to Chicago and many stops in between. Featuring the man himself as emcee and comedians Bret Ernst, Ahmed Ahmed, Sebastian Maniscalco, John Caparulo and some special guests picked up along the way, the shows were a giddy gimlet of raunchy stand-up filth, rowdy musical corn pone and nasty self-parody in the form of sketches lancing Vaughn’s most notorious movie roles (the dismal Psycho remake could provide enough material for another year on the road).

Mr. Sandel’s cameras kept rolling around the clock, and the leading players were not always thrilled to see them turn. Sometimes they were roused from sleep in the pain of hangovers by harsh lights and rude mike booms. If you are one of those rarefied Vince Vaughn stalkers, this might be translated as good news, since his special brand of weary wiseass humor is often caught off-guard. And it must be admitted that to my amazement these boozing, bawdy, overage frat-house jokers do bring down the house in one hick town after another, ranting about everything from their sex lives to political hypocrisy to apple martinis. Mr. Ahmed is an Egyptian-American who gets laughs by making jokes about terrorism. Mr. Ernst goes physically ballistic doing the kind of pratfalls that used to pass the time on The Ed Sullivan Show. Mr. Maniscalco is the cast’s pretty boy, willing to do just about anything to keep from returning to his old job of waiting on tables. Mr. Caparulo appears nightly in jeans, a hat and oversize white T-shirt to curse a filthy blue streak with the kind of X-rated jabber that nobody used to hear on Ed Sullivan. Their humor is in the same need of electroshock therapy as their brain-dead country music. Hovering about backstage is Mr. Vaughn’s groupie and best friend, former child star Peter Billingsley, who once played Ralphie, the owl-faced kid who prayed for an air rifle from Santa in A Christmas Story. Simply awful.