“Call Me Lucky”
Meet Barry Crimmins
Comedian and activist Barry Crimmins is a simple man with just two humble objectives in his life; “Overthrow the United States government and close the Catholic Church.” Bobcat Goldthwait’s new documentary, “Call Me Lucky” is about both Crimmins’ invectives and from where they come.
Barry Crimmins hasn’t been afraid to add some substance to his stand-up comedy routine. He was part of the Boston-area comedy boom in the ‘80s that brought about a new awareness of stand-up comedians that is still continuing. He was a “ferocious performer who freely mixed politics” and he had to ability to teach us something while at the same time pissing others off. What we know now is that beneath the stage persona he was hiding a terrible secret. He eventually came forward and told the world that as a child he had been sexually abused and this opened a whole new chapter in his life. Crimmins became an advocate for children. He opened the doors so that the regulations and protocols of today could come into being. His mission and his goal in life became sparing children from the pain that he had felt and still feels.
The first part of the film deals with Crimmins’ early career and how he impacted the comedy scene in Boston. We see a stream of stand up comedians of that era including Steven Wright, Kevin Meaney, Lenny Clarke, and Goldthwait himself, as they reminisce about the impact Crimmins had on them. One comedian said that” Barry was like a combination of Noam Chomsky and Bluto from Popeye”. He took care of other comedians and encouraged them to take chances and experiment with their personal styles. We sense the love they feel for him. The love and respect they feel for him and Goldthwait amplifies this by keeping things fast-paced and funny.
The second half of the film is totally different and director Goldthwait was very clever with the transition. He allowed us to bond with Crimmins in the first half by telling us all about him and so now we are ready for more. We continue to laugh but from a darker place. Crimmins knew this and so he channeled his anger and rage into an assault that is filled with humor.
What we have is a documentary that looks thin on the surface but that becomes remarkably perceptive about the human condition. Goldthwait explores Crimmins’ tempestuous behavior, his impassioned rants about power-structures and the state of America, rants that cost him a career in comedy and the patience of most his friends. But people still love the man and that’s because he speaks the truth no matter what the circumstance.
Goldthwait allows Crimmins tell his own story on his own terms and he leads us into his life, leading us by the nose into his scarred but triumphant existence.