Less than a month ago, up and coming comedian, Lev Fer released his first annual time capsule style micro documentary LEV FER 20. A series that will release a single episode every year on his birthday. As promised, Fer released the premiere episode of the annual series on December 15th, and within minutes it already had hundreds of views. A blatant reflection of the marketing done beforehand on his part as the anticipation was clearly there. But... did the film live up to the hype/expectation? Careful not to give away too many details about the content prior to its release in both his Stellar interview and the very discreet micro trailer, Fer managed to capture twelve minutes and ten seconds of condensed, collected, show material and personal insights. It starts off with a little dark humor- him reminiscing about his father's disapproval of his career pursuit as a comedian and transitions into his own struggles and love of this chosen path. The film featured fellow comedians Nataly Aukar, Ronnie Lordi, and Tristan Rega who all provided commentary highlighting the interior aspect of the person and comedian that is Lev Fer (or at least who he was at the age of 20), coupled with clips of his standup bits that meshed together creating purposeful character development and depiction.
"I have no advice for him (Lev), he'll figure it out. He'll be okay. He won't listen to it even if I give it to him. So there's no point in giving him advice."
- Nataly Aukar
His intent and vision were clear as he and videographer, Mike Lavin, collaborated to create an underground-esque, semi-somber visual that is both intriguing and informative. The imagery is captivating, the editing is flawless, and the content... although true to character and intent, received mixed reviews. Praise and declarations of inspiration circulated alongside subtle accusations of narcissism and playful roasting amongst his peers and future colleagues. Perhaps most notably, comedy killer, Luis J. Gomez decided to chime in when he invited Fer to discuss the project on his podcast Real Ass Podcast just a few days after its release. The feedback was, well... let's just say Gomez was none too pleased.
On the surface, one may look at this as a miss, however, I beg to differ. Too often people catch flack for any type of self acknowledgement, like the pretty girl who has the "audacity" to call herself pretty... or the whiz kid who has the "audacity" to talk about how smart he is. Whether or not these self acknowledgments are true is besides the point, talking about yourself in a non deprecating way is increasingly an unspoken social taboo. While I don't believe Fer's intention was to brag, boast, or hype himself- I do believe that many people wouldn't allow themselves to see past the fact that he indeed created a film about himself. Because of this, a lot of people may have missed the point of the video, which I believe he captured perfectly. The film is not a boast of how funny he is, or how dedicated he is, or how great he thinks he is. The video is, quite simply, a visual diary of his career development up to that point- being a 20 year old comic in and new to The Big Apple. I imagine it's also difficult for people to digest because they have nothing to compare it to besides the specials and biopics put out by well seasoned, well known vets of comedy, but as Fer stated- this is something that has never been done before. Nonetheless, in true sportsmanship, he took both the negative and positive feedback with equal parts of humility and gratitude.
Lev Fer is a creative visionary who decided to take initiative in the trajectory of his career. Often times, people don't feel validated unless someone else vouches for them or connects their brand to their work, but Fer has a different take on things. If not me, then who? Seems to be the mantra he rolls with and that, unbeknownst to most, is exactly the kind of mind frame and drive it takes to make it not only in this industry but across any desired path of success. It's evident that Fer envisions himself to be a great and well respected comic in the industry one day and I suspect he will actually be thanking himself for doing this along with his future army of fans. There's nothing wrong with having aspirations of greatness. If you are not hoping for greatness then why are you pursuing any goals at all?
It is for these reasons that I believe LEV FER 20 was definitely a hit. I thoroughly enjoyed the video and I'm excited to see what follows each year. Lev, I hope you never let anyone discourage you from continuing this project and creating more innovative projects. And, may you look back on Saga 20 and totally, utterly, cringe... because that's how you know your theory is working and that you're steadily growing and improving in your career.