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Rachel Sennott Is Comedian Grappling with Grief

April 11, 20243 Mins Read

Rachel Sennott always has her finger on the pulse of indie films, and her latest feature “I Used to Be Funny” is no exception.

The “Shiva Baby,” “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” and “Bottoms” star leads highly anticipated dark dramedy “I Used To Be Funny,” directed by rising talent Ally Pankiw who has helmed episodes of “Black Mirror” and “The Great,” plus a recent short film titled “Decades of Confusion” for fashion brand Loewe.

Sennott stars as aspiring stand-up comedian Sam Cowell who works as an au pair by day. Yet after the disappearance of Brooke (Olga Petsa), a teen girl she used to nanny, Sam begins to struggle with PTSD and grapples with whether or not to join the search. The film is split between two timelines as Sam tries to recover from her past trauma and get back on stage while also reliving memories of Brooke.

Writer/director Pankiw marks her debut feature with “I Used to Be Funny,” which also stars Jason Jones, Sabrina Jalees, Caleb Hearon, Ennis Esmer, and Dani Kind. The feature premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

“I wanted to explore what the ups and downs of recovery from trauma actually look like,” Pankiw said in a director’s statement. “It’s less often a tale of revenge or vengeance or pure devastation, but rather a slow, lifelong repairing of the relationships that shape us and a reclaiming of our own comedic voices and joy. This film is ultimately about how far and deep the fractures of trauma can reach after even one act of violence.”

Actress Sennott is next set to star in the ensemble film “SNL 1975” which charts the creation of the iconic sketch series. Sennott previously told IndieWire’s Kate Erbland that finding her creative writing partner in “Shiva Baby” director Emma Seligman was a game-changing way to enter the industry.

“There are so many times when you’re like, ‘We should do something’ or people are like, ‘Let’s make a movie,’ and then you text them, ‘Can we meet?’ and they’re like, ‘I should be free in three months,’” Sennott said. “Emma and I really connected over both wanting to do it and not being afraid to say, ‘I want to do this.’”

“I Used to Be Funny” premieres in New York theaters on June 7 and in Los Angeles theaters on June 14 before being available on digital June 18.

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