Steve Byrne on Standup Comedy Film With The Opening Act [Exclusive Interview]

Steve Byrne
Steve Byrne directed The Opening Act

Standup comedians have a rough life.

With intense competition for funny people, they must endure long road trips, tough crowds, and constantly searching for laughable materials.

Comedian Steve Byrne took his standup life as an inspiration for The Opening Act.

The film is about an authentic look of a standup comedian starting in the business.

It stars Jimmy O. Yang (Silicon Valley), Alex Moffat (Saturday Night Live), Cedric The Entertainer (The Neighborhood), Neal Brennan (Get Him to the Greek), Debby Ryan (Insatiable), Ken Jeong (The Hangover), Bill Burr (The King of Staten Island), Jermaine Fowler (Superior Donuts), Russell Peters (Supercon), Whitney Cummings (Whitney), Tom Segura (Instant Family), and Iliza Shlesinger (Spenser Confidential). Byrne directed and wrote the movie screenplay.

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Here’s the director’s statement by Steve Byrne:

“I wish this movie existed when I first started my journey to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a standup comedian. The Opening Act is the culmination of lessons learned over twenty-three years as a professional comedian in all three tiers of a working comic: an emcee, a featured act, and a headliner. Simply put, I couldn’t have written this fifteen, ten or even five years ago, let alone think of directing it.

“When putting pen to paper, I wanted to show what a comedian might endure over the course of their first weekend on the road. The romanticism, blind optimism, and tempting the notion of ‘nothing good happens after midnight’ when hanging with the feature act. The ‘inside baseball’ and responsibilities comedians have like morning radio, hecklers, and the emotional highs and lows that will stay with a comic like a permanent marker on your face. The isolation, professionalism, and wisdom a national touring headliner brings to a young performer’s first experience as an invaluable rite of passage.

“Ultimately, the film is about a young person’s absolute determination to begin a journey of seeing their calling in a life begin. Bringing this film, from page to screen was further authenticated by the actors that have lived these experiences themselves, a mosaic of veteran comedians I’ve come to know and appreciate over the years. And yes, once on the road, as painful as it was to revisit these memories, every that happened to our lead character, happened to me. This is a love letter to my profession, to my fellow comics/club owners, and to anyone determined to give their dream a chance.”

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LRM Online’s Gig Patta spoke to Steve Byrne earlier this month. We talked about this comedian standup life, the challenges, the goals, and putting all of this on-screen.

Steve Byrne was the star and creator of Sullivan & Son, a half-hour comedy on TBS that aired for three seasons. He had his own half-hour Comedy Central feature that was voted as one of the best all-time in the Comedy Central Standup Showdown. His television and film credits also included appearances in The Dilemma, Couples Retreat, ABC’s The Middle, and Chappelle’s Show. Over the years, he had standup appearances on TBS’s Conan, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, CBS’s The Late Late Show, BET’s Comic View, and ten appearances on NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

The Opening Act is currently playing in select theaters, VOD, and Digital today.

Watch the exclusive interview below. Let us know what you think.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive, RLJE Films

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Gig Patta

Gig Patta is a journalist and interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review since 2009. He was a writer for other entertainment sites in the past with Collider and He originally came from the world of print journalism with several years as a reporter with the San Diego Business Journal and California Review. He earned his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and BA in Economics from UC San Diego. Follow him on Instagram @gigpatta or Facebook @officialgigpatta.

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