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The Independent Critic

Tom Clark, Ryan Girard, Daniel Guyton, Gracie Ortiz
David Silverman
9 Mins.

 "Stand Up or Shut Up" a Powerfully Funny Short  
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David Silverman's short film Stand Up or Shut Up is the kind of film that lingers in your sense for much longer than its nine minute running time.

The set-up is simple - a quiet IT guy named Eddie (Jeffrey Umberger) finds his voice by taking a stand-up comedy class, but he risks losing everything else.

As nearly every stand-up comic will tell you and as Jerry is taught, it's really the truth that's funny and it's no secret that some of the funniest stand-up comics are those with seriously f***ed up lives or traumatic pasts. As Jerry prepares to go onstage with his wife (Kristi Snyder), his boss (Tom Clark) and other friends, the stage becomes quickly set for a five-minute comedy routine that is funny, emotionally raw and even kind of revelatory thanks to a pretty remarkable performance from Jeffrey Umberger as the comic who may just be willing to lose everything to reclaim his voice.

I can't say that Stand Up or Shut Up really surprised me in the direction that it takes, but what did at least modestly surprise me is just how entertaining and emotionally satisfying the film is in the short span of a less than nine minute film. One of the things that's true about short films and comedy is that every word matters, and writer/director David Silverman certainly makes every word matter in the film. It helps that Silverman allows the words to linger in the air rather than rushing for a punch line or a moment of poignancy, but it also helps that Umberger gives a performance that is awkwardly funny yet quite touching in its vulnerability. Umberger is wearing so many emotions on his face as he starts his routine, while it's almost worth watching the film simply to see how his face and body language changes over the course of his five-minute routine. As an audience member, I was simultaneously going "No way," "Way to go" and "Absolutely amazing" all at once.

While the film is very much about Umberger's Eddie, it's even more effective thanks to the briefly appearing yet incredibly vital supporting cast including Kristi Snyder as his wife, Tom Clark as his boss, Gracie Ortiz as the boss's wife and Ryan Girard as Mike Malarky, the show's host who gets the not so pleasurable task of dealing with Eddie's unexpected routine.

D.P. Tim Glover does a terrific job of focusing his lens on Eddie and following his facial expressions, body language shifts and, as well, of those in the audience. Silverman edits the film with an eye towards allowing lines to linger in such a way that you sort of reflect on some of comedy's more personal and relevant comics ranging from Lenny Bruce to Stephen Wright.

The recently completed Stand Up or Shut Up is already an official selection of Action on Film, Indie Memphis, Dam Short Film Festival, Macon Film Festival and Rome International Film Festival. The film is deceptively simple, but if you get a chance to check out the film watch what I mean - you'll be thinking about the film long after the closing credits and you'll become even more and more blown away by the quietly awesome performance of Jeffrey Umberger.

© Written by Richard Propes 
The Independent Critic