Pleasant Surprise In Punching The Clown

When I’m not working on the MacGuffin Podcast, I’m the host of STIFF Nights; the screening series of Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival.  One of my good friends works for Slamdance and I asked her for some suggestions of good films to screen that were coming out of their festival.  One of the films she highly recommended to me was a film called Punching The Clown, which had won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature.

I was not previously familiar with the film and this is the plot synopsis I was able to find:

Henry Phillips, a modern day American troubadour, is grinding his way through the heartland, living out of his car and singing his twisted satirical songs to anyone who will listen. After a booking mishap involving a Christian fundraiser, he decides it’s time for a change. Hoping for something better, he moves to L.A. to crash with his unemployed-actor brother, and his luck changes overnight. Following some good shows (and a fortuitous case of mistaken identity) he finds himself with all he could ask for: a record deal, radio airplay, an article in the paper and even attention from the female barista he’s admired from afar. But like a fist in the face, he learns the whimsical rules of the record industry. The unwitting victim of a vicious rumor that spreads via an elaborate industry ‘telephone game’, Henry faces losing the only thing that ever mattered to him: his music.

In essence the movie is a drama (inspired by real people) about the rise and fall of a satirical folk singer-songwriter.  If you are familiar with the comedian Stephen Lynch, he is a lot like that.  The main character, Henry Phillips, is playing himself in the movie, but the story is fictional.  If you are interested in getting a taste of Henry Phillips and this movie here is an in-studio performance he did.

I can give you all these facts and information, but it really doesn’t do the film justice.  It is really funny with a dash of humanity thrown in.  I don’t know if it will ever get distribution, but when it makes it to Netflix or your local video store pick it up.  It is well written, well acted, and well produced.  A very fine example of what is coming out of the world of indie film.


Spencer was born and raised in New Mexico. He grew up with the many great films of the 1980’s before having his world rocked after seeing The Usual Suspects. He moved to Washington State to go to the University of Washington, and currently any free time he currently has is split between working on film projects and watching films.

Follow him on Twitter or email him.

View all posts by this author