We got an advance screener for For Madmen Only, and frankly we weren’t fully aware of the lore of Del Close, but after learning about Del, he, and his documentary movie about his life, deserved to be covered by our Conner’s Critique.
Like normal, this critique will be based on three categories: Story, Acting, and Overall. So let’s begin.
Hot off of the success of Dark Knight and Watchmen, DC wanted to venture into the absurd. This lead to them working with Del Close, and created the comic book Wasteland.
Now, For Madmen Only, chronicles the journey of Del, his editor Mike Gold, and co-writer John Ostrander in the creation of the series.
First and foremost you have to understand that Del Close was certifiably insane. But within that insanity was the mind that birthed a multi-generational style of subversive improvised comedy that persists to this day, and is taught to new generations by those who were taught by Del.
If you list off 10 comedians of the late 80s half of them were trained and taught by Del. But the darkness of the backstory of Del is so painful, that it could only have birthed such a man. If pain and torture breed comedy, then Del was destined to be the man he became.
The format of this movie is documentary, but re-enacted by James Urbaniak as Del, which is an amazing casting. His representation of the character is interesting, and as straight faced as James has performed most of his roles in the past. The insanity of the Del’s words, taken directly from Del’s copious recordings from his life, delivered with James’s deadpan, usually straight-man acting, gives it a depth and weight that others actors might have lost in presentation.
Improvisation was not a form that was just spout out of the mouth of the performers, it was bleed and sweat out of geniuses in the industry, that has created the style still til this day. If you are a fan of improvisation, and wonder were the style got it’s strength and cadence, then this film is definitely something you should watch.
Conner’s Final Thought(s):
I consider this film a more documentary style then re-enactment in comparison of “A Futile and Stupid Gesture” which talked about the life of Doug Kenney. What Doug Kenney did to to scripted and literary absurd comedy, Del Close did for Improv and more!
One of the reasons why you may not know any of this, is probably the same reason you don’t really know about Doug Kenney, and that’s Saturday Night Live. While that show was a pool of talented comedians, it borrowed and stole heavily from Doug Kenney and Del Close’s pool of talent and closest friends.
We live in a different world now, so I highly recommend you give more attention to the smaller sources like UBC Theater and Second City now that technology has made our world smaller, and hell once theater performances open up more, take in an improv show!