Stand up comedy is a tough profession to find success in. Many brave souls have tried and many have failed. For many, it’s just a job but for some, it’s a career and those who can find success in it, well all the more power to them. Adam Carolla is one such individual and he has been in the game for over two decades now. In addition to his stand up, he has had numerous television shows including The Man Show and Loveline. He has made it big on radio and in podcasting. He’s even authored a few books. But for purposes of this review, we will be focusing on his new film Road Hard, which isn’t a straight up autobiopic but a bittersweet look at the lifestyle of many stand up comedians. It is a film that doesn’t just present comics in a goofy light but strips away the fame and money to reveal a more personal and humanistic story.
Carolla stars as Bruce Madsen, a middle-aged comedian whose career has taken a bit of a nosedive. He had a hit TV program years ago called The Bro Show. His cohost and partner, Jack Taylor (Jay Mohr) went on to become a huge late night talk show host and Bruce is stuck living out of his suitcase. Fed up with the way things are going and tired of performing on the road, Jack tries to better himself by digging deep to attempt to start a happier life. This includes the help of a beautiful woman (Diane Farr) who is very much grounded in reality. Together, they form a strong bond and Bruce embarks on a profound journey of self discovery.
Road Hard is one of those movies that is just fun to watch. There is a slew if famous comedians in the film including but not limited to Howie Mandel, David Koechner, Larry Miller, David Alan Grier and Philip Rosenthal. They all play friends and colleagues to Bruce and their varied perspectives on the stand up comedy game really add insight and help Bruce with his spiritual funk. Larry Miller is particularly hilarious as Bruce’s agent who, with a collection of ridiculous wigs, steals every scene he’s in. Howie Mandel also has a great moment when he meets with Bruce regarding a possible game show job. All in all, this group of guys certainly brings the funny.
Carolla has made a name for himself in comedy. It’s what he does and he’s been doing it for quite some time. He hasn’t made many films, one of which being 2007’s The Hammer, but the man is a decent actor. He anchors Road Hard very well and he has a sort of subtle vulnerability not seen in many of his other works. He also had his hand in writing, producing and directing this film and he’s proven with this film that he has acting chops and the ability to even do drama. The man can be goofy, sure, but he’s proven with this film that his unique brand of humor and charismatic personality works on many levels. Road Hard is a solid dramedy that explores the mind of a stand up. Much like the TV show Louie, Road Hard is a smart examination of what these guys go through and how they see the world and attempt to function in it.