"I Need You to Kill" opens with Louis C.K. praising the virtues of Minneapolis' Acme Comedy Club and its owner, Louis Lee, for giving him his first serious payday. The scene, selected long before the comedian admitted to sexual misconduct, is a distraction in more ways than one.
Aside from icky feelings it may trigger, that clip from "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" suggests that the documentary will focus on Acme's — and Lee's — special place in the comedy world.
Instead, the film, directed by "Mystery Science Theatre 3000" co-creator J. Elvis Weinstein, quickly shifts gears to follow three Acme regulars — Chad Daniels, Tom Segura and Pete Lee — as they ply their trade in Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau, interacting with local comics in venues only slightly more glamorous than an open-mic night at Applebee's.
It's clear that the Asian comics aren't at the same level as their American counterparts, which is kind of the point of the film. If the comedy scene in those cities is going to make any progress, someone like Lee will have to set up shop and start dishing out some tough love.
There may not be many laughs during the stage segments, but the Acme trio makes up for it by mercilessly busting on each other while hopping from one city to another. A scene in which Segura and Daniels get fitted for suits is funnier than anything that occurs at Hong Kong's Takeout Comedy Club.
"Kill" may not inspire tourists to flock to Acme — or trigger an Asian comedy renaissance — but it should boost the credibility of the three featured comics, especially if they decide to reunite as a road team.