All Joking Aside (2020)

A woman with a dream finds an unlikely mentor in this comedy-drama from filmmaker Shannon Kohli.

Charlene “Charlie” Murray is attempting to live a dream to become a stand-up comedian. Her father was once an aspiring comic who has passed away. However, one night while on stage, she is heckled by the drunkard Bob, who is promptly kicked out of the building. Soon enough, Charlie learns that Bob was once a stand-up comic himself, considered a one-time legend. However, when his family fell apart as a result of the job, Bob has been a bit miserable and turned to the bottle.

Bob sees something in Charlie and he decides to take her under his wing. A major contest is coming up and Charlie intends to go for the win. As Bob shows Charlie the ropes of comedy, Charlie gives herself the courage to not only be funny, but also confront her mother, who she blames for her father’s demise. Soon enough, mother and daughter reconcile as Charlie continues her rise on the stand-up circuit, which prompts Bob to eventually make a decision about his life that could even change him forever. Will Charlie have what it takes to win the contest?

The story of a dreamer and an unlikely ally have been around for a long time. This film is about turning around heartbreak and misery into something positive as we see the lives of two people change throughout the course of the film. Writer James Pickering and director Shannon Kohli do amazingly well at bringing to life the story of an aspiring comic and the veteran mentor whose lost his way but seeks redemption through teaching the dreamer.

Raylene Harewood and Brian Markinson are excellent in their roles of Charlie and Bob, the former attempting to live her late father’s dream of becoming a stand-up comedian and the latter, a drunken heckler who lost his way during his days as a stand-up comic. At first glance, we see Bob as a heckler, making Charlie extremely nervous and upset. However, it is apparent that Bob sees something in Charlie and as a means to make himself a better person, takes her under his wing. What’s great is the bond they share as they both suffered heartbreak through loss and death. This only makes Charlie more determined to live her dream and not let anyone tell her otherwise.

A great part of the film is how both Charlie and Bob use their newfound bond to give themselves the confidence to confront those who have hindered them. In Charlie’s case, it is about confronting her mother, who she blames for her father’s death due to stress caused by an affair. As for Bob, it is more about confronting himself and his alcoholism as he reminisces about the good ol’ days when he was a comic and uses it to his advantage, making himself a better man in the process.

All Joking Aside is a really good film about aspirations and confronting those who attempt to hinder you from your dreams. Excellent performances by Raylene Harewood and Brian Markinson make this one to check out.

WFG RATING: B+

Quiver Distribution presents an Animal Mother Films production. Director: Shannon Kohli. Producer: Jon Ornoy. Writer: James Pickering. Cinematography: Chris Oben. Editing: Elad Tzadok.

Cast: Raylene Harewood, Brian Markinson, Tanya Jade, Richard Lett, Larke Miller, Katrina Reynolds, Anthony Joseph, Cedric Ducharme, Kirk M. Wilson.

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