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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Film Review:
What's So Funny?
a transformation of epic proportions

by Kaye Bailey

Funny, poignant, painful and joyous – That’s how I describe Jessica Fischer’s story as presented on the DVD “What’s So Funny? A transformation of epic proportions.” Jessica was a successful stand up comic who at the young age of 23 looked obesity square in the face and laughed on stage in New York City. She captured audiences with her self-deprecating fat humor.

Then she underwent gastric bypass surgery, lost half of her body weight and suddenly she wasn’t so funny. It turns out former fatty just isn’t as funny as the 300 pound girl making fun of her own obese self. Jessica found herself reinventing her act and herself, while at the same time trying to hold on to who she was before surgery. Can’t we all relate to that?

The film not only features Jessica, but also her support network: parents, brother, sister, friends, and even surgeon Dr. Shaw. Jessica’s sister is course and skeptical, openly criticizing the “easy way out”. She says, “You’re 23! What are you doing? Get off you ass and do something – walk around the block.” But her sister later concedes how hard Jessica worked for her weight loss and that WLS was, in fact, the only option for her. “It was not an easy fix,” she states, “she needed the help. I don’t think she knew how to get out of her own way.”

Dr. Shaw calls Jessie a model patient. He said what weight loss surgery does is open a window to make it possible to change a lifetime of eating behaviors and misconceptions. He said the physical changes from gastric bypass are predictable, “What is more profound than the physical change is the psychological and social changes. Weight loss surgery corrects a medical problem that comes with a lot of social and psychological baggage.”

The best part of this film is that it is real. Weight loss surgery is tough and the road is bumpy and twisted and challenging. It's tough being fat and it's tough losing weight. Not just for the comedienne on stage - but for every person brave enough to "take the easy way out." A definite must-see film for the LivingAfterWLS audience and the people they love.

WHAT'S SO FUNNY? follows Jessica’s journey after her surgery. Not only does she lose the weight, but also her drive and ability to perform comedy, which she perceived as her "ticket" into the world of entertainment. While her physical transformation is remarkable, it is the emotional turmoil she experiences afterwards, which is truly life changing and proves to be more than she bargained for.

The DVD "What's So Funny?" may be purchased directly from Chrysalis Productions, which is not affiliated with this site I highly recommend it for anyone before or after WLS.

This DVD is produced by Chrysalis Productions, a New Jersey based non-profit organization dedicated to the production of human interest, educational, historical and/or socially relevant documentary films designed to inform and enlighten the general public.

Jessica Fischer
. Is a native of Georgetown, MA, Jessica has been performing in New York since 2001. Some favorite roles include the third witch inLady McBroth as part of the La MAMA reading series and LuLu Reilly with the Peterborough Players. She was also seen in the independent film RF. Jessica has performed her stand-up act at venues such as Stand Up New York, New York Comedy Club, Caroline's on Broadway and The Duplex. She's also performed regularly at both the Tribal Comedy Hour and The Poole Party at Don't Tell Mama's. A theatre arts graduate of Bridgewater State College in MA, Jess is now in rehearsals for a new play by Boston playwright William Donnelly entitled, Host.

Sandra Longo, Producer/Director
Sandra Longo makes her directorial debut with the documentary feature, What's So Funny? After over a decade in the corporate world, Sandra worked for several years as a personal coach whose specialty was helping others to pursue their life's dreams. As a result, she felt compelled to pursue her own dream of becoming a filmmaker. A native of the Midwest, Sandra has lived throughout the United States and Bermuda. She and her husband now reside near the Jersey Shore and are parents to two five-year olds adopted from Guatemala. She is currently in production on her second feature documentary, as well as co-producing a television pilot.


Unknown said...

Why is it so accepted in our society to make fun of obese people? Let me get country here.


To be a comedian she had to make fun of herself. Mind boggling.

Kaye Bailey said...

This is a good point, Diane. As Jessica and others explain in the video - she preferred to address the "fat issue" right off almost as if it was a coping mechanism. Kind of like, "If I'm making fun of myself first, they can't hurt me by making fun of me." Its a sad paradox. When the video shows some of her self-deprecating comedy act when she was obese it didn't make me laugh, it made me very uncomfortable. I wonder if she feels uncomfortable now viewing that? Would love to hear from you, Jessica.

And your country wisdom is correct: This ain't no laughing matter!

Thanks for the great insight Diane!