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Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show (R) ***

Vince Vaughn, center, with funnymen Bret Ernst (left), John Caparulo, Sebastian Maniscalco and Ahmed Ahmed.
Vince Vaughn, center, with funnymen Bret Ernst (left), John Caparulo, Sebastian Maniscalco and Ahmed Ahmed.

By Connie Ogle

The title may be unwieldy, but this engaging documentary is briskly funny as it follows a group of comics who travel from southern California across the country as they perform, as advertised, 30 times in 30 nights.

Emceed by Vince Vaughn, the traveling show features four comedians with distinct styles, but director Ari Sandel (West Bank Story) expands the film beyond the usual on-stage performances and audience reaction shots to offer a more personal glimpse of each comic, a decision that gives Wild West depth as well as laughs.

Egyptian comic Ahmed Ahmed finds humor in the racial profiling to which he has grown resigned in a post-9/11 world. Bret Ernst finds inspiration in stories of his brother, who died of AIDS. John Caparulo, baseball cap planted solidly, mines his working-class perspective. And newcomer Sebastian Maniscalco, still working as a waiter to make ends meet, tears up as the tour comes to an end. He could happily do this every night, he says, even if it means living in a bus with a bunch of slobs.

The movie jumps from one night to another all the way to Chicago, with amusing side bits with Vaughn and his Swingers sidekick Jon Favreau and Justin Long (though the funniest segment may be a film clip of an afterschool special starring Vaughn and longtime friend Peter Billingsley, best known for playing Ralphie in A Christmas Story). The result is a breezy and surprisingly enlightening glimpse at a segment of showbiz life and its importance to people dedicated to making us laugh. One can only hope Vaughn loads up the tour bus again someday — and this time makes it to Florida.

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