The documentary It Started As A Joke begins as a chronicle of the 10th and final Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, an independent fest started on a lark by Bob’s Burgers’ Eugene Mirman. As explained by comics like Kumail Nanjiani and Kristen Schaal, Mirman is essentially a founding father of the Brooklyn comedy scene (Schaal calls him the original “influencer”), and the festival’s success is a testament to his impact. But, true to its title, there’s a bit more on the documentary’s mind; we’re also introduced to Mirman’s wife, Katie Westfall Tharp, and learn how the two fell in love, had a son, moved to Cape Cod, and fought through Tharp’s cancer diagnosis and later recurrence.
Tragically, Tharp died this past January, almost a year after It Started As A Joke premiered at SXSW. In its depiction of her kind spirit, the film now doubles as a bittersweet tribute to a loved one gone too soon, and Mirman is happy to put the film out into the world in her honor. Last week, we logged on to Zoom for a virtual chat with Mirman to discuss the long road to It Started As A Joke’s premiere and its status as a permanent memory of Tharp for their three-year-old son.
It Started As A Joke is available now on VOD via Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, FandangoNow, Sony, and Microsoft Xbox.