So, you know how the other day comedian Steve Byrne released his documentary about The Amazing Johnathan called Always Amazing? Well apparently like the Fyre Festival Hulu also has a documentary in the works about Johnathan. While the Byrne documentary was the celebration about a comedian whose life flipped upside down after a heart diagnosis, the Hulu one seems a bit more sinister in tone.
Ben Berman set out to make a pretty straightforward documentary about the comedian and his return to the stage but things went south quickly after that as Johathan’s story started to make less sense to him. Rather then just being a behind-the-scenes player in the film, Berman ended up in front of the camera questioning what was real and what was fake as one can never seem to trust a magician.
“Nothing you are seeing is real,” is the first thing said in The Amazing Johnathan Documentary movie trailer (originally The Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary). So from the jump we as the audience are wondering if this is some sort of elaborate ruse, as Berman learns about another competing documentary crew (Byrne’s possibly), he wonders if the Johnathan is really as ill as he says, or is it all just a weird deconstruction of the documentary in a way Johnathan deconstructs comedy. Is Johathan going Kaufman-esque on us?
Is this film The Amazing Johnathan’s Exit Through The Gift Shop? It doesn’t seem too difficult to get comics like Eric Andre and “Weird” Al to help sell it.
“The first 17 minutes of the movie is what was the beginning of the movie I was heading out to make, which did not include me,” said Berman in an interview with IndieWire at Sundance, where the film premiered under its original title. “I had to decide was I going to compete with these Academy Award-winning filmmakers. I felt like I needed to either give up or respond in a clever way and embrace the problem.” So Berman gets sucked into the meth-addicted Johnathan’s world of mayhem and magic and starts to wonder why he himself is preoccupied with Johnathan’s death and why he wants to tell the story in the first place.
Hulu won a bidding war for this film for a reported $2 million as they felt it could be an equally thrilling doc like Three Identical Strangers was the year before.
The Amazing Johnathan Documentary will be release theatrically on Hulu on August 16th.
Here’s Ben Berman discussing the project.
Additionally, you should watch the Steve Byrne documentary which was just released via All Things Comedy and is streaming on Youtube.