The question, "Does the world need another satire of the L.A. entertainment industry?" has a swift, unambiguous answer: no. But that's clearly not stopping anyone from making them, so the best we can hope for is that more of the things should be as genuinely funny as Punching the Clown, an absurd look at how a promising singer-songwriter is bitchslapped by the idiocies that face him during a short stay in Los Angels, hoping to make his big break.

Henry Phillips is a mock folk singer; by which I mean, he is a legitimate but sarcastic folk singer whose songs satirise the kind of earnest soul-bearing music that typifies acoustic singer-songwriter folk. Songs like "The Bitch Song"(he wonders why this girl turned into such a bitch, given that her childhood was actually pretty decent) and "Fresh Out of Blues" (he catalogues all the good things in his life that have left him unable to sing the blues). Working with his frequent collaborator Gregori Viens, Phillips wrote a film for himself, in which he plays a mock folk singer named Henry Phillips, and one presumes - hopes, rather - that it's a heavily fictionalised version of the man's actual life. It's sort of very much like HBO's sitcom Flight of the Conchords, except that the humor in Punching the Clown is more farcical than cringey and awkward. Hey, there's room for both.

"Farcical", but the film is rather more laconic than we'd expect from that label. Phillips is a touch heavy-lidded and mumbly in the film, with a voice that cracks with cigarettes and liquor, and the movie follows suit: a low-budge indie, in other words, that reaches for comic surrealism rather than setting up shop in its own navel. It works, happily, albeit with the proviso that not everyone likes the same kind of humor, et cetera. All I know is that I truly enjoyed the combination of Phillips's low-energy presence - it's hard to say that he's a good actor, but he's fun to watch as a variant of himself - with the increasingly contrived situations that unravel around him. It's a clash of comic modes that doesn't even really play like a clash until you sit back and think about it later; that's how well it works.

Now, it must be admitted that the film's satirical targets are fairly broad and you've probably seen most of the jokes before: haha, record company execs abuse their secretaries, agents are fast-talking and absent-minded, people in Los Angeles are weird shallow hipsters, gags that aim for that level. If you can live with the fact that Punching the Clown doesn't have anything new to say about the music industry, the fact remains that it plays those old gags fairly well, thanks to a unusually solid cast for an indie movie (that is, I suppose, the beauty of shooting low-budget in L.A., as opposed to everywhere else: the omnipresence of out-of-work professional actors). It's familiar and funny, and it's best, I've found, not to argue with funny.

Besides, the movies true purpose isn't to mock L.A. so much as it is to provide more exposure for Phillips's songs, and they are quite good; a few are laugh-out-loud hilarious, if you'll pardon the cliché. I'd not like to give away the punchlines, so instead I'll just point you all to Phillips's website, and acknowledge that the film has done its work already, in a very small way: it's won him at least one new fan. None of this stuff, musically or cinematically, is going to set the world on fire, of course, but it's still a damn good time.

Punching the Clown screens at the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E Washington on Saturday, March 7, at 6:00 PM