If there is a joke that goes, “A documentary director walks into a bar and meets a stand-up comedian building his career…” filmmaker David Dibona and comic Gary Sharp are surely laughing the loudest. And on May 19, the duo will show just how hilarious that meeting and building process has been with the world premiere of ‘Funny How.’
Held at Fishtown’s Punchline Comedy Club, the premiere of ‘Funny How’, a short documentary on Sharp’s bourgeoning career, and real life joys and pains, will be followed by a fresh set from the local comedian, and a staged Q&A session.
Beyond naming ‘Funny How’ after Joe Pesci’s menacing Mob query in Martin Scorsese’s ‘Goodfellas’, the story of how the first-time South Jersey filmmaker and the South Philly comedian – both under 30 – meet, and become pals and coworkers, starts with Dibona’s dad, himself a one-time amateur stand-up.
“My dad joined a comedy class at Helium Comedy Club in Philly at the same time Gary did in October 2019,” recalls Dibona, who heard from his dad how funny Sharp was and their adventures at area open mics. “They were just practicing ‘getting out there,’ it sounded fascinating, and my dad thought that Gary was worth making a documentary about.”
Sharp, annoyed by how “the pandemic slowed things down for my trajectory,” thought that a documentary following him through the travails and joys of young comic-hood made sense for him at that time.
“The film starts at the coverage of me being stopped in my tracks, losing traction, and how kept going and just picked up where I left off once the comedy club doors opened again, and their bars started serving,” says the witty stand-up who focuses his sets on the subjects of family and relationships. “Nothing too dark for me.”
“I could tell right away, even before we met met, from his Instagram, that Gary was putting the work in,” adds Dibona. “His story is that of so many local comedians getting started in the biz, and following their path. Big name guys went through the same grind that new comedians do – struggling for sets, performing for open mic empty houses – that’s our film’s focus.
“And there is no ending to the documentary,” says Sharp. “It’s raw and real with highlights and low lights.”
Stressing the need to put the work in, always, both men laugh at the fact that, as documented in the film, not every fellow local comedian felt at one with Sharp’s young story being told without having paid his dues.
“There was definitely a lot of mixed emotions that I felt from some of the other stand-ups, ranging from ‘WTF is Gary doing?’ to ‘Who does Gary think that he is?” to ‘So, Gary thinks he’s a big shot,” says Sharp, laughing. “Some people definitely felt a certain way, but ‘Funny How’ isn’t just my story, and David’s story. It’s all of our stories.”
More information and tickets are available online.