Film run-time: 10 minutes | Starring Chelsea Lou, Jesse Roper, Ben Fawcett
Written and Directed by Chelsea Lou, Produced by Shiraz Higgins, Editing by Shiraz Higgins and Chelsea Lou
“All My Jokes Are About Me“, a 2017 short film by Chelsea Lou, is an incisive look at the creative spirit, in all its splendour and suffering. Resonate as a truthful portrayal of the nebulous magnetism that draws artists into a bind of pain and perfectionism, the film captures the elusive satisfaction of performance and the price of its pursuit. A small-time comedian struggles to balance the demands of work and living.
Pieced as a day-by-day disintegration of a week in the life of an aspiring stand-up comedian, Lou presents a flawed individual, one whose compromise between the quality of her private life and the quantity of her public work perpetuates a cycle that is depreciative. The familiar narrative of emotional erosion, in the struggle for success, is a driving thematic concern in this film, as Lou’s protagonist sacrifices one for the other.
A strong wish for vocational validation becomes a brute force that destroys the fundament of societal validation: as her comic routines become more invigorating and consequently gratifying, her personal relationships unravel. Seeking restitution through art, the comedian attempts to find humour in an adaptation of her ongoing decay, but the modest prize of authentic triumph is a bittersweet victory.
Common to all whose lives revolve around a central myth, there is a desperation in meeting, or not meeting, the expectations of what it means to be its embodiment. In both cases, a distinct dissatisfaction may occur: in the former, sustainability is questioned, whereas in the latter, the failure to match up to an idealized vision may also be an albatross. The path to glory may be an uneasy truce, as Lou’s character discovers—all her jokes are about her, but there is no comic relief.