The sad realities of life as a comedian have been riffed on ad nauseum in recent years on both big and small screens, from Louie to Maron to Top Five. With Entertainment, director Rick Alverson and star Gregg Turkington propel the trope towards more surreal and existential territory. This unsettling oddity is perhaps more accurately described as an “anti-entertainment” which explores the otherworldliness of show business by casting a grotesque spotlight over the lonely life of the struggling comic on tour. The film follows Turkington through a string of dive bars in the California desert as he performs as his alter ego, Neil Hamburger. Turkington’s act (one he’s been performing since the early 1990s) consists of dressing up in a tuxedo and novelty glasses, spitting crude question/answer gags at the audience and hoping to get a rise. Alverson’s approach can be portentous at times (Tye Sheridan’s crowd-pleasing warm up act is treated with complete disdain), but Turkington’s flair for and love of his craft always shines through.
Entertainment | Directed by Rick Alverson (USA 2015) with Gregg Turkington. Starts September 15