Home #Hwoodtimes Comedy Of War: Laughter in Ukraine – There is Hope in Laughter

Comedy Of War: Laughter in Ukraine – There is Hope in Laughter

By: Victoria Stevens

New York, NY (The Hollywood Times) 06/27/2023 – As the war rages on in the Ukraine, there are still concerns about the fate of its civilians and if Putin’s forces are cracking or not. With all the horror that the Ukrainians have to suffer, there is still a hope that ignites the dark. In the documentary, “Comedy of War: Laughter in Ukraine,” director Christopher Walters shared this side of the war and what a group of comedians did to help fellow Ukrainians push through.

“The documentary is about four famous standup comedians who decide to go onto a standup comedy tour to some badly hit cities and towns in Ukraine, including performing for a group of people who were forced to live in a bomb shelter. Things were bleak all over the country at that time and their mission was to bring laughter to people who really needed it badly,” explained Walters.

Christopher Walters

Acting on a whim, Walters traveled to Ukraine last summer seeking a sense of normality in the midst of the horror of war and the first place he found that was at a standup comedy club.

“No matter how scary things were outside, no matter how much life had changed because of the invasion, in that standup comedy club for about an hour that night things were completely normal,” said Walters. “I was just so impressed, inspired, and fascinated by the familiar notion laughter can solve any problem even if it is just for a minute or two.”

In the span of seven months, Walters documented this standup tour that took the comedians to army bases, bomb shelters, and other comedy clubs close to the enemy lines.

“The actually photography took about 19 days. Setting up the shows was actually very hard and time consuming. We kept on running into a lot of problems. We weren’t able to shoot for 19 days straight. We kept taking a break for a day here and another day there because of different setbacks. One day the van that we toured in broke down, we lost our performance venue, and other challenges arose. It was very difficult to put this whole movie together,” expressed Walters.

Comedy of War – Comedians looking at wreckage from a bomb

Touring near enemy lines got very risky at times for the cast and crew. When visiting Kharkiv, they had to deal with no power and no running water due to the bombs that flew through that town.

“The thing about war that I learned from being there was that everything’s calm until it’s not and you don’t know when that is going to happen,” explained Walters. “In the afternoon on New Year’s Eve, I spent six hours in a stairwell because there were rockets raining down on Kharkiv. After two to three hours, the people I was with started running back through the apartment to the kitchen to get food and would start to disappear for longer and longer. The stairwell was very cold and we were there because we didn’t want to be around any windows. It was the safest place to be as the rockets rained down. Every time the anti-aircraft gun would go off and the air defense weapons would go off, the whole apartment would shake. That day I learned to differentiate the difference between outgoing fire and incoming fire.”

Even though their living situation was dangerous and uncertain at times, the Ukrainians were thrilled to be able to enjoy a couple hours of normalize as they watched these standup comedians’ joke about the war and their experiences

“This tour was about these bards that are trying to do something impossible. They are trying to make people laugh in the most horrific of circumstances. I am trying to make the war in Ukraine current for Americans. Ukraine immediately reminded me of home in the US and I wanted to communicate that feeling to them. That way Americans can relate more to the horrors of war and what is unfolding there. I hope that this film will reach a wide audience and make Americans think more about Ukraine, and when Americans see news about the war in Ukraine on television at night it wouldn’t be these abstract images about war half way around the world. I want Americans to fear for the well-being of the Ukrainians as I came to do very quickly,” stated Walters.

Comedian Anton Tymoshenko doing standup on an army base

Creating this documentary on a small budget, Walters had to rely on other creatives who felt strongly about this cause and what he was trying to accomplish.

“We worked with a great production company over there called Radio Active. They produced Chernobyl on HBO and consequently they were really well connected. Our location manager seemed to know everyone and was really instrumental in setting all this up. They had some time on their hands and were willing to help out even though I didn’t have a lot of money. It was key to take advantage of windows of time that people had off in order to make this film. Everyone at Radio Active were excited about the documentary and willing to help,” explained Walters.

Having a strong storyline and a subject that was extremely current with a unique perspective, led Comedy of War to be chosen for Tribeca Film Festival. Sharing this film with its audience has gotten Walters one step closer to his goal of sharing this story with the world. With his father as his role model, Walters hopes that this story will help those that got sucked up by geopolitics and thrown around just like his father did.

For more information you can follow Christopher Walters on Instagram @drgeometry.

Photo Credit: Christopher Walters