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“Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show”

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By Matt Singer

It is very hard to care about something and then laugh about it. This is why so few movies or TV specials featuring stand-up comedians even attempt to explore the world beyond the stage, the spotlight and the microphone. If you’re lucky, you get an opening sketch, maybe a few shots of the comedian arriving at the venue, and then right into the material. So much of the stand-up’s persona is their casual, conversational tone; we know it’s rehearsed, but we like to pretend it’s not. Showing us that it’s a job — and a hard one at that — can easily shatter that illusion.

And so it is something of a minor triumph (a very minor triumph) that “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show” pulls off the dual feat of giving you an honest this-is-what-it-takes portrait of the tough life of a stand-up alongside the actual material. The film takes us on the road with Vaughn and four of his comedian buddies, and while it showcases plenty of jokes from their acts, the film actually spends more time with the guys in between sets. It lets them discuss their backgrounds, express their frustrations and failures, and even introduces us to their sometimes disapproving parents.

The film, directed by Ari Sandel, doesn’t shy away from the tough side of the business. All the talent and the timing in the world doesn’t guarantee success in stand-up. Luck and some fortunate breaks are crucial, and Vaughn, who largely takes a backseat to the four comics in the film, much as he does onstage during the tour, clearly enjoys the fact that he can play benefactor to some needy up-and-comers. Ironically, the funniest guy in the movie is the least successful — when the documentary was shot back in the summer of 2005, Sebastian Maniscalco, who has the strongest on stage persona and clearest comedic perspective, was still waiting tables to pay his rent, and had to take an extended vacation from his day job just to accept Vaughn’s invitation. Happily, his fortunes have improved a bit since then, but it took offers like Vaughn’s to get him there (after the tour’s final performance, a visibly moved Maniscalco thanks Vaughn while apologizing for “acting like a pussy”).

The other three comedians and their frat house humor are largely interchangeable, a bit of the reason why “VVWWCS” (which, as if the title wasn’t already long enough, has an interminable subtitle: “30 Days & 30 Nights — Hollywood to the Heartland”) consistently gives off a pleasant vibe, but rarely a memorable or hilarious one. There’s not much conflict beyond Maniscalco’s struggles either; even when Hurricane Katrina lumbers onto the scene, it does little more than change the tour’s itinerary and give the group a chance to do some goodhearted charity work. By Vaughn’s own admission, rough as things got, the guys never had a bad night, nor did they ever really fight. Which is great for the audiences who are enjoying the live show in theaters across the heartland, but pose kind of a problem for the audiences watching the audiences on the screen, since so much of the movie we see is based on the comedians’ hassle-free travails on the road. That’s a totally different reason not to look behind the curtain. Forget sentimentality — sometimes, banality can be just as dangerous to a comedian.

[Photo: “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show,” Picturehouse Entertainment, 2008]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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