Poop Talk docu-comedy flings open bathroom doors, dives into stinky humanity
For some, a 75-minute film of famous and talented comedians letting rip a steady stream of explicit jokes and messy misadventures involving fecal matter is an easy sell. Sign me up. For others, some pushing and straining may be needed to get them to plop down and watch.
Those hesitant viewers are just the ones the film’s creators are hoping to bag.
With the funny and sometimes cringe-inducing docu-comedy Poop Talk, comedians try—and do—use humor and tales of their deeply personal bodily functions to squeeze out the humanity of it all. The ultimate goal, its creators told Ars, is to flush the stigma associated with the stinky act—not to mention a whole host of gastrointestinal disorders.
“There will be people who just won’t see this film because of the subject matter—and that’s sad,” comedian and executive producer Jason Sklar tells Ars. “In 2018, that is insanity.”
Jason was joined in making this film by his twin brother Randy, also a comedian and executive producer here, along with director and childhood friend Aaron Feldman. With a massive lineup of their comedic peers, they set out to start a conversation about something everybody does, but not everybody talks about.
“We saw in ourselves that we became more comfortable with the topic over time,” Sklar says. “I’m 100-percent more comfortable than I was before, and that’s just fascinating and wonderful.”
Despite now being vocal producers of an unabashedly scatological flick, the Sklars were initially hesitant. It was Feldman who brought up the idea to the comedic duo, known for hosting Cheap Seats on ESPN Classic. About two years ago, Feldman “pulled out, like, a whole packet, and he said, ‘it’s a movie about poop,’” Randy says. “He starts going through it, and we were like, ‘OK, Aaron, I love you man, but I don’t think we can do this. It’s not our brand of comedy’… We said no.”
Feldman didn’t give up. He suggested that they take the weekend to think it over and discuss, which they did. Despite some initial worry about being forever linked to a poop documentary, the brothers couldn’t wash out the idea.
“It’s the most universal thing in the world, but people have a tough time with it,” Randy says. “It’s a taboo subject that people, like, really grapple with talking about. Why is that? That to us was fascinating.” And with their belief that comedians serve as “amateur anthropologists,” they thought, who better to talk about this than their hilarious, comedian friends?
The Sklars went back to Feldman with the idea of creating a film in the style of the cult-classic docu-comedy The Aristocrats—a “very honest, real, funny” piece to open the discussion. Aaron immediately agreed. The result is a 75-minute film of interviews and anecdotes from a long line-up of comedians, including Kumail Nanjiani, Nicole Byer, Aisha Tyler, Adam Carolla, Rob Corddry, Nikki Glaser, Pete Holmes, Eric Stonestreet, and Nick Swardson. The film also includes a few scientific experts, who briefly touch on digestion and bowel movements.
For the most part, the film trots through comedic bit after bit, which swirl around the social and cultural issues of poop and pooping. Topics include whether to poop in public bathrooms and how to talk turds on stage, with family members and romantic partners, and across cultures. Also, why don’t Americans use bidets? No really. The film brings up some really good points there.
Almost every imaginable perspective and comfort level is represented. Without giving any of the jokes away, Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) discusses his aversion to public pooping while Nick Swardson (Reno 911!) recounts making brownies on a friend’s kitchen floor. Aisha Tyler (Whose Line Is It Anyway?) shines with fresh takes and punchy family stories, while Nicole Byer (Loosely Exactly Nicole and the Upright Citizens Brigade) breaches the taboo subject of eating while pinching off a loaf. And the mother Russia story. Gold.
Some serious poop
Whatever your current relationship is with poo, this film will make you laugh. It’ll almost certainly elicit at least one “eww,” as well. But it does so with purpose.
As a health reporter, I would have loved more scientific detail about turds and their formation, which Poop Talk contained in early versions. The Sklars said those segments were largely cut to keep the film snappier, as to not weigh the discussion down with too much detail.
Still, they hope that the film is not just funny but also helpful for people with gastrointestinal issues. As Nikki Glaser points out in the film, those with Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel issues would likely benefit from more open discussion and less shame. The Sklars, who noted that their father died of colon cancer in 2009, echoed the idea. They suggested that more discussion and dialogue may get people to pay more attention to their own health and open up about what they’re experiencing.
“I’m not gonna say that, like, a million more colonoscopies are going to happen after this film,” Jason said. “But I do think that if we get more comfortable talking about it, then maybe… if it saves a few people, then it’s worth it.”
Poop Talk opened in select theaters February 16. The film will also be available on VOD worldwide. Click here for details.
Listing image by Comedy Dynamics and Party of Seven Entertainment