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setup, punch: WHAT?
Having to rewatch films because you miss so much of the spoken word has it's advantages, as I found out with Elijah's short film "Setup, Punch" (link).  My interpretation of what's actually happening in the film took a complete u-turn.

Elijah plays Stand-Up Comedian Reuben Stein, who proposes to his girlfriend on stage, is rejected, but manages to finish his performance on a high note. We then see him riding his bike through the streets of LA, evidently very distressed by what has happened.

At least, that was my initial reading of the plot.

The first scene of the film shows a very nervous Reuben in the gents, reading his key-words from a scrap of paper: "music, film, Dot, mirror, moment, Capricorn".

 photo Setup Punch 0_zpsrtjueqik.jpg


But the Capricorn joke was made on stage AFTER the rejected proposal. Why didn't I notice that before?
So, was it all a setup?

And if so, what to think of the shots of a very disturbed Reuben on his bike?

 photo Setup Punch 1_zpsqyptyrfj.jpg

 photo Setup Punch 2_zpshpnhax2f.jpg

 photo Setup Punch 3_zpsoczb1lzh.jpg

 photo Setup Punch 4_zpshotkx1kw.jpg

Perhaps, Reuben is coming down from an incredible high after having performed a perfect set. The last few shots look like he's in a state of exaltation rather than despair.

When I first watched the film the following shot puzzled me a lot. Reuben has just chained his bike to the wall and is about to enter the Improv Club.

 photo Setup Punch 5_zps9x8f7f1z.jpg

My first thought when seeing this scene was: Well Reuben got over that trauma very quickly. Elijah must have forgotten that Reuben is supposed to be heartbroken.

But, of course he wasn't.

And when his girlfriend starts her own set with the words: "Are you all comfortable with who you are, as people", Reuben gives this enigmatic smile.

 photo Setup Punch 6_zpsdzbjdjux.jpg

I was reminded of my very first post here on LJ, where I wrote you had to look and think twice to be able to appreciate Elijah's work as an actor!

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"you had to look and think twice to be able to appreciate Elijah's work as an actor!"

Absolutely true.

Pity some people are too lazy for that.
But it's the main reason why I admire his work so much. There's always more to discover.

My admiration for Elijah's work is as strong as when I first "discovered" him, 6 years ago. :-)
I wonder if I'm the only one who saw two such very different interpretations of this little gem of a film.

this is a brilliantly written script and elijah plays it perfectly. setup, punch or punchline is standard in comedy and we as viewers were the audience, not the audience in the film. those poor guys still think reuben's marriage proposal failed and we found out it was all part of his routine.

reuben was elated the setup succeeded and went through a lot of emotional release after trying something he wasn't sure was going to work. i've been there myself but in different scenarios.

for me the punchline was dot saying "did you get them back?" after that, i knew i was set up. this little gem really needs more exposure and it took way too long to get out to the public. elijah chooses some great things to work on and i think this is the best short film he's done.

It sure is a little gem! It's like a detective story, with that muttered word "Capricorn" as a hidden clue for the unsuspecting audience (us).
Elijah's work in this was absolutely brilliant.
I'm still wondering what that guy was saying to Reuben when he gave him that little box and what was in it.

they guy said "my mints are not digital" which goes back to reuben saying how he has no good place to store his weed since the age of photography went digital. plastic film canisters is one way to do it. so there's weed in that mint box! and that guy is elijah's friend kyle. he's a bit heavier with longer hair.

Thank You!! It's sometimes really difficult for me to understand what people are saying.
I thought it must be weed in that box.
Aha, Kyle. Just spotted him in a pic with the SpectreVision team & the Canadian P.M.

"reuben was elated the setup succeeded and went through a lot of emotional release after trying something he wasn't sure was going to work. i've been there myself but in different scenarios"

Ah, I see! When I realised it was all a set-up I was puzzled as to why he got so upset but this explains it. 😊

At first I didn't realise it was a set-up, so Reuben being upset seemed logical. When I realised it was a set-up I needed to stop the film to see that he wasn't crying but that he was euphoric.
This little short is now one of my favorite Elijah films.

This was JUST an excellent short.

Amazing how you can tell a story with a great twist in such a short amount of time.

My theory on Elijah's work is that it will become a routine assignment for film/acting students in the future...

his work is so versatile - he will be the go to case study


His versatility is really amazing. There was so much physical comedy in this role. He pulled that off perfectly.
Elijah's work in all the textbooks. Yes!

I think have read in one review of SFFTS that he is a chameleonic indie.

"chameleonic indie" That is so true!!
Elijah has this natural empathy with people that allows him to play any character he wants. He also loves to work with friends and help them to realize their vision. It all worked out brilliantly in this short film.

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