Film Preview: JULIA SCOTTI: FUNNY THAT WAY (directed by Susan Sandler)

Post image for Film Preview: JULIA SCOTTI: FUNNY THAT WAY (directed by Susan Sandler)

by Tony Frankel on August 5, 2020

in Film



Decades ago, Julia Scotti performed as Rick Scotti, and appeared on bills with Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock. Now, the trans comedian returns to the stage as “the crazy old lady of comedy,” in this tender, funny, and triumphant comeback story.

In the comedy boom of the late 1980’s Rick Scotti was a busy guy — working clubs across the country when he came to the deadly realization that nothing felt right. At a time when the words gender dysphoria and gender reassignment surgery were rarely heard, Rick’s true awakening at age forty-seven led to a year of hormonal treatments, surgery, and a new identity as Julia Scotti. And then the doors shut tight.  Everyone turned away — former wives, friends, family, comedy world buddies, and most painfully Julia was shut out from contact with the people she most deeply loved — her children. She reinvented herself, spent a decade teaching, and then several years ago, stepped on stage and began the journey back to the world she loves. In that same period, her children made contact after 15 years of estrangement. The film tracks Julia’s triumphant comeback, the rough life on the comedy circuit, and the return of her children, as comedy becomes a shared language of identity, healing, and joy.

The new film Julia Scotti: Funny That Way documents her story, and screening are coming up this week.

Virtual Screening Information
Monday Aug 10 – Sunday Aug 16

Virtual Screening Information
Thursday Aug 6 – Sunday Aug 16

Scenes from Julia Scotti: Funny That Way

Director Susan Sandler states, “Here’s what I lived and learned: directing and producing an indie doc must be an obsession. There can be no other reason.  I fell in love with Julia Scotti one July night in 2015 after seeing her explosively funny and moving set. Later, huddled in a noisy bar, I began to see around the edges of the private Julia–delicate, vulnerable, and real.  As we began to exchange histories, an undeniable link emerged. A sisterhood. We are women of a certain age with an Italian/Jewish earthiness, a shared sensibility for human comedy, and a willingness to always say yes to truth, no matter where it takes you.

“Having dedicated the past five years to research, shooting, archival deep dives, and shaping the story of Julia’s journey, it has been a consistently rich, moving and joyful experience to be a part of her life.

Susan Sandler, director

“In the corner of my life, where I teach and mentor women filmmakers at NYU Tisch’s Fusion Film Festival, the circle of support for this project has been profound. And for me as a storyteller/screenwriter/playwright, to begin a new adventure, to learn a new craft, to have my directorial debut now at seventy-two, feels both delicious and very much in sync with Julia’s vibrant re-emergence. When Julia realized that this was, in fact, my directing launch, she laughed lustily – ‘Well, what do you know, I got to pop your cherry.'”

The Italian word corposo refers to a rich, full-bodied wine. Rich and full-bodied is also an appropriate descriptor for the life of comedian Julia Scotti.

Since 1980, Julia has been honing her craft in clubs and theaters throughout the United States and Canada, performing for the first 20 years as Rick Scotti, and now, after a ten-year hiatus, as Julia Scotti for the second 20. Her second act has been the very definition of Corposo.

The new and improved Julia has been described by colleagues and press as, among other things, “a force of nature”, and “a comedy chainsaw flying through the room”.

As Julia says, her comedy always has to be “fearless and honest”, and America can feel both in her performances. Since coming back to comedy in 2011, she has been named one of the Top Five Transgender Comedians in the Country by Advocate Magazine, and has performed at LGBTQ events across the country, and was one of the winners of the Laughlin Laugh Festival in Nevada. But she wasn’t done yet.

Simon Cowell said that “you genuinely made me laugh” as she introduced herself to a national audience on Season 11 of America’s Got Talent. She was the first transgender comedian to appear on national television and was a quarter-finalist on the show.

Not content to sit on her laurels, Julia went on to record her first, best-selling comedy CD entitled, Hello Boys I’m Back! and is gearing up to record her second one. This year, she is being featured on the Showtime Television Network Special, More Funny Women of a Certain Age.

Julia suggested that the film have “Part I” added to the title, because she’s only just begun. If Julia were a wine, she’d be aged just right. And she’d definitely be molto Corposo.

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