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Review: Former comic revisits stand-up roots in appealing doc ‘Where Have You Gone, Lou DiMaggio?’

(L-R) - Lou DiMaggio and Ray Romano in a scene from “Where Have You Gone, Lou DiMaggio.” Credit: XL
Lou DiMaggio, left, and Ray Romano in the documentary “Where Have You Gone, Lou DiMaggio?”
(XLrator Media)

A former stand-up comic’s attempt to pick up where he left off two decades earlier is engagingly chronicled in Brad Kuhlman’s terrific documentary, “Where Have You Gone, Lou DiMaggio?”

The affable DiMaggio, whose act could be caught at Manhattan’s (now-shuttered) Catch a Rising Star during the late ’80s and early ’90s, dropped the mike and pursued his dreams in Los Angeles, where he cobbled together enough bit parts and writing gigs to pay the bills and won a daytime Emmy for his work on “Win Ben Stein’s Money.”

Still caught in the nostalgic grip of his stand-up days, he plots a comeback, consulting with former Catch cronies, including Ray Romano, Colin Quinn, Richard Belzer, Susie Essman, Howie Mandel, Jeff Garlin and a remarkably magnanimous Larry David, who himself had recently returned to his joke-telling roots.

While established TV producer Kuhlman, making his directorial debut, is clearly rooting for his main subject, the film also serves as an affectionate ode to Catch a Rising Star, the legendary venue that in its heyday was dubbed the “Studio 54 of comedy clubs” by Rolling Stone.

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Spurred on by the encouragement of his colleagues, DiMaggio ultimately learns that a 20-year age gap with his audience can be a tricky thing to bridge.

But as Kuhlman shows us, even if DiMaggio discovers you can’t go home again, landing in the general vicinity can be well worth the journey.

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‘Where Have You Gone, Lou DiMaggio?’

Not rated

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Running time: 1 hour, 14 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood

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