A highly improvised fictional exposé in search of the elusive heart and soul of hipster nihilism, The Comedy stars alt-comic superstar Tim Heidecker as Swanson, a trust-funded 35-year-old hanging out in Brooklyn, fucking around, and waiting for his sickly dad to die. The title is ironic, or maybe "ironic"—writer/director Rick Alverson's third feature is basically a shock drama. Its sensibility is a hybrid of the awkward conceptualism associated with Heidecker and co-star Eric Wareheim (TV's Tim and Eric) and the brand of another of the film's players, James Murphy, figurehead of blue-chip hipster auto-critics LCD Soundsystem. Alverson's film takes the form of a kind of glacially paced, shaky-cam art project that the dude-bros it depicts might bike over the bridge to catch, if for no other reason than to tell chicks they've seen it. Heidecker makes a much more convincing 21st-century Arthur than Russell Brand. Chubby, bearded, beer-soaked, bedecked in novelty sunglasses and shorts, Swanson lives on a boat—because he's floating, get it?—and runs with a crew of dudes who approach life as a starting point for real-world improv comedy. Cab drivers are repeatedly fucked with. Swanson defends Hitler mid-flirtation, and the girl still goes home with him. The gang takes an ironic field trip to a church followed by dive-bar whiskeys. There's not a false note in the film, but I wonder if decades from now, The Comedy might function as a sincere snapshot—its intended satire might be too dry, too implied, to survive the passage of time.
Heidecker never breaks hipster character.
Opens Fri., Dec. 7 at SIFF Film Center (moves to SIFF Cinema Uptown on Mon.). Not rated. 94 minutes.