It says in my little blurb thing, about me below, that I’m a stand-up comedian, so I’m the perfect person to compile a list of comedians who made the leap to work in film, yeah?
With the impending release of director Bobcat Goldthwait‘s found-footage horror/thriller Willow Creek, I was asked to do just that. I did, but much like an overcrowded, overbooked comedy bill, I tried to squeeze too many acts into the top ten I was asked to produce, so here are thirteen, in no particular order. Feel free to heckle in the comments section below, there are names that could and should have been on, the list could have been a lot longer, but I’d already squeezed in an extra three, there’s no more room, and the bar’s closing soon….
Quite simply one of the finest filmmakers there has ever been. Went from highly influential comedian, to highly influential filmmaker via successful playwright. Has a back catalogue that contains some of the best cinematic releases ever made. I’ll not add much more, other than to add that if you’ve not seen it, go watch Annie Hall, it’s phenomenal.
The inspiration for this list, much like Allen, a brilliant mind for the other side of the camera. A fantastic writer and director, though to many, still most recognisable as Zed from the Police Academy films. An output of delightful black humour and satire, I highly recommend World’s Greatest Dad as an engrossing, clever and humorous starting point.
A fine comedy actor, launching himself into stardom with films like Ace Ventura and The Mask. His portrayal of Andy Kaufman showed him to have a range that wasn’t expected at first glance. He excelled alongside Kate Winslet in the utterly brilliant, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
One I was shocked to learn did stand-up comedy, but made total sense once I’d thought about it. If Hellboy looks like he wants you to laugh, you laugh.
Another surprising former stand-up comedian. Also had a role in film about stand-up comedy, Funny People. Best known for more serious roles in things, like the not so heavy on the laughs, Munich.
Strictly speaking not a stand-up comedian, but she was the first female member of the Cambridge Footlights (alongside Fry and Laurie) who went on to win the first Perrier comedy award. A glittering career on the silver screen followed.
It’s a shame there aren’t more performances like Punch Drunk Love in his history, in which he showed a talent that may have been wasted in too many screwball comedies. Funny People saw him play a stand-up comic in an equally absorbing role. He’s also the only person in history to win The Golden Raspberry for worst actor AND worst actress for Jack and Jill.
Now one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, and has been for some time, Murphy started life as a stand-up comedian (well, he started life as a baby, like we all do, then worked up from there). Some of his material presents some utterly awful opinions, but charisma will get you places. He also had a hit single with “Party All the Time”, a true Renaissance Man.
One of the most important stand-up comedians of all time, Pryor found time to act. Often alongside frequent collaborator Gene Wilder, always an immensely watchable and entertaining screen presence.
Stand-up comedy got him his break, one of the best sitcoms ever, Spaced launched him forward, and Shaun of the Dead propelled him into film stardom. His work with regular collaborator Edgar Wright is always fantastic. Now in big budget Hollywood films like the Star Trek franchise.
Utterly chaotic stand-up comedian, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor three times, Williams went on to receive the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Good Will Hunting. He was also Popeye.
One of them actresses where you know you’ve seen her in something, but can never really recall what. Wonderfully funny, bright and charming. Interesting fact, David Fincher wanted Garofalo for the role of Marla in Fight Club, but she was “uncomfortable with the idea of all this sex”.
Ladies and Gentlemen, your headline act…..has starred in some of the greatest comedy films of all time, performed comedy which has influenced many a fine comedian, he is also a smashing banjo player.
So there you have it and we can do nothing but urge you to catch WILLOW CREEK which is in UK cinemas right now and on DVD this 26th May. We’ll leave you wth the trailer.