Julia Scotti: Funny That Way review – the transgender comedian cracks up for the company | Movies
In 2016, comedian Julia Scotti auditioned for America’s Got Talent and rocked the house. After the applause died down, the judges asked Scotti, then 63, why she had come to acting so late in life. She explained that she had been doing it for years – but as a man called Rick, in the fog of the 1980s, when she shared bills with Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld.
This uplifting documentary tells Scotti’s story, and director Susan Sandler doesn’t take a jaw-dropping approach – there’s a few animations here and there, but most of the film is just about letting Scotti talk about her life in different contexts: on stage, in cars, on sofas with his adult son. The no frills strategy works because Scotti is such a cutie company and because his life has been characterized by such extremes. Raised in New Jersey, she grew up sensing something was wrong. She married young but it didn’t work out: she admits to having “sucked, sucked, sucked-sucked” at the wedding. It wasn’t until she was in her 40s and breaking down after a bad date that a friend told her, “You’re a woman.”
Being accepted as such was another matter: a court found her unfit to raise her two children, and she didn’t see them for more than a decade. Enduring the school holidays, she recalls in a moment of almost unbearable emotion, was hard. Trans people and their place in society have rarely been more discussed than they are today, but the film only evokes the debate at a glance. Instead, it does something far more effective – it tells how a funny, flawed, and very likeable woman realized who she was. The result is a movie of true compassion, one that will stick with you long after it’s finished (zipped) out.