Since 1980, Julia Scotti has been performing in clubs and theaters throughout the United States and Canada, performing for the first 20 years as Rick Scotti and appearing on bills with Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock. Now, after a long hiatus, the trans comedian returns to the stage as “the crazy old lady of comedy,” all documented in the new film Julia Scotti: Funny That Way.
Directed by Susan Sandler (writer of Golden Globe nominated Crossing Delancey), Julia Scotti: Funny That Way – is a funny, moving, and timely documentary portrait of trans comedian Julia Scotti who has just returned in a Showtime comedy special in a different gender after a 30 years hiatus.
Winner of Audience Choice at the Paley Center for Media DocPitch Competition, Julia Scotti: Funny That Way with World Premiere at Nantucket Film Festival, was an official selection at aGLIFF (All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival) for its Southwest Premiere, an official selection for the Documentary Competition at Geena Davis’s Bentonville Film Festival, and New York Premiere as an official selection at Newfest, the 32nd Annual New York LGBTQ+ Film Festival (running October 16-27 and available to watch anywhere in the United States.)
In the comedy boom of the late 1980’s Rick Scotti was a busy guy-working clubs across the country when he came to the deadly realization that nothing felt right. At a time when the words gender dysphoria and gender affirming surgery were rarely heard, Rick’s true awakening at age 47 led to a year of hormonal treatments, surgery, and a new identity as Julia Scotti. And then the doors shut tight. Everyone turned away-former wives, friends, family, comedy world buddies. Most painfully, Julia was shut out from contact with the people she most deeply loved – her children. She reinvented herself, spent a decade teaching, and then several years ago, stepped on stage and began the journey back to the world she loves. In that same period, her children made contact after 15 years of estrangement. The film tracks Julia’s triumphant comeback, the rough life on the comedy circuit, and the return of her children, as comedy becomes a shared language of identity, healing, and joy.
Filmmaker Susan Sandler’s screenplays and teleplays include the Golden Globe nominated Crossing Delancey and Friends At Last, as well as projects for Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, TNT, and Columbia. Her work for the stage has been produced in New York, at major theatres across the country, and around the world. Her plays include Crossing Delancey, Under the Bed, The Renovation, The Moaner, If I Were A Train and The Find. Her short The Burial Society featured Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara in their final performance on NPR. Sandler’s work is published by Smith and Kraus, Vintage Press, and Samuel French. She is a full time professor at NYU Tisch School of the Arts Kanbar Institute of Film & Television, where she also guides the Fusion Film Festival. Julia Scotti: Funny That Way won Audience Choice at the Paley Center for New Media Doc Pitch, and is her directing debut.