The Rush. Turmoil. Chaos.
When young Joe Montaperto, desperately seeking to rise above the dreary negativity of his downtrodden New Jersey town, journeys to the gritty, but vibrant New York City of the early 1980’s – the chaos - and opportunity begin. Enrolling in a prestigious Russian drama school, he is determined to become the next great Stanislavski-trained stage actor – but when it doesn’t pan out, he is crushed.
Hitting the streets dazed and groping for answers, he scores a gig as a nut vendor at a grimy Hell’s Kitchen location. He strikes up a friendship with Vassant, an elderly, brilliant, but drunken Indian scholar, who introduces him to The Upanishads, the ancient texts of Eastern spirituality. Joe soon becomes completely obsessed. When Vassant dies unexpectedly, Joe vows to continue his search for a ‘Master’, finding work at a city ashram, where he commits himself to rigorous spiritual practices.
While deep in meditation one day, he is rocked by an epiphany – he may never attain enlightenment in this lifetime – no matter what he does! Shaken by this realization, he dives headlong into what he considers his true calling – stand-up comedy.
Rising up the comedy ranks, he parties and performs with the likes of Jon Stewart, Dave Attell, and John Leguizamo, quickly embracing the debaucherous nightlife scene. A regular at Rudy’s, a seedy Hell’s Kitchen bar, he gets caught up in the rush that ensues, needing evermore to maintain it. He begins reveling in the violent confrontations of the late night crack-infested streets. Still not enough. Hooking up with the sultry Vanessa, a Puerto Rican transgender ex-streetwalker, Joe’s life is thrown into turmoil and conflict, until a chance viewing of the movie, My Dinner With Andre, blows him away. Fascinated by the philosophy and ideas, he decides he must flee the city, abandon everything he knows, and pursue a life of travel and spiritual adventure.