The 2009 indie Punching the Clown did not set the box office on fire, but the Slamdance Audience Award winner did earn star Henry Phillips — who combines folk music and comedy — some serious clout with funny people. His follow-up, Punching Henry (formerly known as And Punching the Clown), counts Sarah Silverman, J.K. Simmons, Tig Notaro, Mike Judge, Michaela Watkins, Jim Jeffries, and Clifton Collins Jr. among its impressive supporting cast. You can check out the film’s exclusive first trailer above. (Go ahead, we’ll wait.)
Punching Henry finds the self-proclaimed troubadour extraordinaire (Phillips) sleeping on the couch of an old friend (Notaro) in Los Angeles as his agent (Simmons) attempts to strike a deal for a television show. He’s in general state of frustration about the showbiz hierarchy and his place in it, or as he puts it, “L.A.’s this place where everybody feels like they’re sleeping their way to the top. And I always feel like I’m masturbating my way to the bottom.”
A stroke of “luck” comes Henry’s way, though, when on tour he accidentally lights his hair on his fire with a joint… and the cellphone footage becomes a viral sensation. Network execs (lead by Watkins) now want “Mr. Epic Fail” to host a show featuring the day’s most widely clicked videos.
Directed by Gregori Viens based on a script he cowrote with Phillips, Punching Henry premiered at the 2016 South by Southwest Film Festival. It opens in theaters Feb. 24.
Check out the exclusive poster: