Tuesday at the Bangor Opera House, the KahBang Film Festival is screening “Dying to do Letterman,” a documentary by Joke Fincioen and Biagio Messina.
The film chronicles comedian Steve Mazan, who after learning he has cancer, aggressively pursues his lifelong dream of doing stand-up on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
Realizing that his time left is limited, Mazan hustles to hone his routine, and make connections that will get him closer to Letterman. In that aspect, “Dying to do Letterman” offers viewers an up close and personal look at what it takes for a stand-up comedian to get a break on late-night TV.
Throughout the course of the movie, Mazan is offered words of wisdom from some well-known names in the industry, such as SNL alum Kevin Nealon, Jim Gaffigan and Ray Romano. Fincioen and Messina show archive footage of Mazan’s work – the good and the downright terrible – showing the comedian’s development and how he implements the advice handed down to him. “Dying to do Letterman’s” insight into the industry is quite possibly the film’s strongest point.
Of course, while striving for his spot on Letterman, Mazan also wages a battle for his life. The movie balances the two storylines well, showing Mazan’s strength and determination in his career and his health. Emotions run high, but Mazan never lets cancer get him down. He’s a stand-up comedian, after all.
Throughout the movie, Mazan never expects pity or sympathy from anyone. He stays focused, and never believes that his illness entitles him to a spot on Letterman. He wants to be there simply because he’s funny. Does he make it? Well, go see the film at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Bangor Opera House. It’s well worth your time.