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Review: 'The Bitter Buddha' follows Eddie Pepitone's dreams

The stand-up comedian has been at it for 30 years but has yet to get his big break. Director Steven Feinartz takes a freewheeling view.

February 14, 2013|By Gary Goldstein
  • Eddie Pepitone gets a close-up in the documentary "The Bitter Buddha."
Eddie Pepitone gets a close-up in the documentary "The Bitter Buddha." (Cheremoya Films )

Eddie Pepitone, perhaps the funniest stand-up comedian you've never heard of, gets a deserving close-up in the amusing, freewheeling documentary "The Bitter Buddha."

Although the dyspeptic Pepitone, an unmade bed of a guy in his early 50s, has reportedly been at his craft for 30 years, he's yet to turn into the household name that such not-dissimilar comics as George Carlin, Rodney Dangerfield and Sam Kinison became. Still, the native New Yorker, now living a busy if largely unglamorous life in L.A., consistently plies his trade in comedy clubs. He also scores parts in movies ("Old School," "The Muppets") and TV series ("Community," "The Life & Times of Tim"), regularly appears on the hit podcast "WTF With Marc Maron" and bangs out lots of off-kilter tweets.

This self-described "man at war with himself," who counts such comedy stars as Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis and Paul Provenza (all seen in "Buddha") as fans and friends, also works to maintain his sobriety, keep his "flash anger" in check and fend off the demons of a complicated childhood as he strives for the "big career."

Director Steven Feinartz captures it all, along with an entertaining sojourn to New York for Pepitone's gig at the Gotham Comedy Club (and a vivid reunion with his crankily supportive, Staten Island dad), with freewheeling, nonjudgmental fervor.

"The Bitter Buddha." No MPAA Rating. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. At the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.


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