THE LAST LAUGH
Director: Ferne Pearlstein
A feature documentary that proceeds from the premise that the Holocaust would seem to be an absolutely off-limits topic for comedy. But is it? History shows that even the victims of the Nazi concentration camps themselves used humor as a means of survival and resistance. Still, any use of comedy in connection with this horror risks diminishing the suffering of millions. If we make the Holocaust off limits, what are the implications for other controversial subjects—9/11, AIDS, racism—in a society that prizes freedom of speech?
Thoughtfully weaving together an intimate cinema verité portrait of Auschwitz survivor Renee Firestone alongside interviews with influential comedians and thinkers ranging from Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, and Gilbert Gottfried to authors Etgar Keret, Shalom Auslander, as well as archival material ranging from “The Producers” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” to clips of comics such as Louis CK, Joan Rivers, and Chris Rock, to newly discovered footage of Jerry Lewis’ never-released film Holocaust comedy “The Day the Clown Cried,” to rare footage of cabarets inside the concentration camps themselves. In doing so, The Last Laugh offers fresh insights into the Holocaust in a way we haven’t seen before.
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