Standing Up

How far would you go for a laugh?

"Standing Up" is a feature-length documentary following three radically different, aspiring New York comedians. David Finklestein, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, is caught between two irreconcilable worlds and must perform in secret. Sara Parks, a young transplant from Texas, endures degrading work and even homelessness pursuing her dream. Raafat Toss, a deeply unsatisfied personal injury lawyer and father-to-be, searches for creative fulfillment and struggles to translate his hilarious personality to the stage.



An ultra-Orthodox Jew, a personal injury lawyer, and a janitor trying to become stand-up comedians might sound like the setup to a joke. But for the past four years, we've been following Sara, David, and Raafat, as they risked homelessness, family ties, and dignity to perfect their craft and pursue their dreams.

Unlike many comedy documentaries which revolve around interviews with established icons, our film intimately tracking our comics through select, poignant vignettes over an extended period of time. This approach allowed us to witness their profound transformations, and understand how their jokes emerged from the messy circumstances of their lives. We see David slowly venturing into the decidedly un-Orthodox waters of the comedy world, Sara facing up to the increasingly painful realities of pursuing your dreams while dead broke, and Raafat, while starting a family, learning the hard way how to truly own up to your vulnerabilities.

We've always loved stand-up comedy, and respected its incredible power to turn painful truths, such as anxiety, poverty, or disillusionment, into a cathartic experience for both performer and audience. Standing Up is a movie about that power, and the effect it has on these three very different people chasing the same dream.


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