My previous article covered the hilarious Found Footage Festival live show.
As a lover of riffing VHS tapes, it was an enjoyable experience with likable hosts and genuinely funny comedy. During the show, they discussed a lawsuit they faced after pranking a morning news program. That lawsuit became the main subject of the documentary, Chop & Steele, expanding on the story and the stress comedians Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher experienced throughout the process. Directors Ben Steinbauer and Berndt Mader take this strange story and mold it into a wild ode to comedic rebellion.
Chop and Steele provides a fitting introduction for people new to the Found Footage Festival. It effectively highlights the festival’s appeal and how Pickett and Prueher built up their fanbase. The festival segments are hilarious, allowing a blind audience to identify with their personalities well, and guests in the doc like David Cross, Reggie Watts, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Howie Mandell expertly expand the type of comedy they deliver. The doc highlights Pickett and Prueher’s passion for their work and how much of themselves they put into their shows. They’re thankful they can make a living doing what they love and working together as childhood friends.
Once the film dives into the lawsuit, the narrative focuses more on the personal and professional impact than the legalese. I preferred this more empathetic approach, as it highlights the risks comedians take when they’re on a national stage. The film shows how courageous comedy can be; regardless of how defiant Pickett and Prueher were, they were legitimately scared and worried financially. The stakes are clearly defined and high, adding urgency to the doc. The film presented their fears of maintaining their careers or being exploited well, and I imagine many comedians and artists will find the documentary relatable.
Chop & Steele is a funny documentary and a fulfilling story of artists’ victory over egotistic authority figures. Thanks to the engaging and relatable presentation of Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, Chop & Steele exudes rebellious energy, making them easy to root for. I highly recommend this doc, and I hope it encourages people to check out the Found Footage Festival.
Chop & Steele will be playing at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 18th. You can find ticket information here.