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There is popular showbiz saying that goes: comedy seems easy, but it is actually more difficult than drama. This may be true to a certain extent. While an actor can perform with the aid of movie illusions, a comedian relies entirely on his energy to command an audience. It’s, therefore, no surprise that actors who started on the comic stage become so successful in their humorous film roles because it is in their nature. In light of this, here are six stand-up comedians who are also successful actors.
1. Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy is one of the most iconic comedians turned actors in the world. Born in Brooklyn in extreme poverty, he started performing stand-up comedy at the young age of 15. Through his work, the producers of the 1980 TV show Saturday Night Live, noticed him and gave him an acting role. Murphy quickly excelled and by 1982, he had earned a huge following thanks to his brand of comedy. He went on to act in subsequent movies such as 48 Hrs, Beverly Hills Cop, and Coming to America.
2. Robin Williams
Few comedians have reached the highs that Williams has, in his comedy career that started in the 1970s. Before that, he had studied acting for some time at the esteemed Julliard School. However, despite a scholarship, Williams dropped his studies to pursue stand-up comedy, in the process attracting the attention of film producer Gary Marshall. Marshall gave him a role in the TV show, Happy Days and later in the movie, Mork & Mindy. These two series became instant hits, consequently making Williams a household name.
3. Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey started doing comedy under the mentorship of famed comedian Rodney Dangerfield. While living in Las Vegas, Carrey yearned for Hollywood and his big break came in 1982 when he became a member of Los Angeles comedy clubs. Additionally, he also used to feature in late-night TV talk shows. In 1994, Carrey transitioned to comedy films, consequently acting in movies such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective & The Mask. However, he got more attention when he was featured in serious drama hits like The Truman Show, The Majestic, and Man in the Moon.
4. Whoopi Goldberg
Most modern audiences know Whoopi Goldberg for hosting the talk show, The View. However, Goldberg is also a comedian having begun stand-up comedy in her routine, The Spook Show. The success of the show caught the attention of film director Mike Nichols who assisted her in moving it to Broadway. Later, Goldberg got a lead role in Steven Spielberg’s film, The Color Purple, which earned her an Oscar nomination. She followed it up with several comedy films including The Telephone, Jumpin Jack Flash, and Fatal Beauty.
5. Ray Romano
Ray Romano started his stand-up comedy career with the New York comedy club. His witty stage performances caught the attention of the producers of The Letterman Show who invited him on set. This marked the beginning of Everybody Loves Raymond, a show which Romano is best known for. Romano was later featured in several comedy films including Men of a Certain Age, Parenthood and Eulogy. He also played the voice of Manfred in the animated film, Ice Age.
6. Jordan Peele
Jordan Peele is best known for his stand-up comedy skits. He began his career on the show, MAD TV but later went on to launch his own show known as Key and Peele. He transitioned to acting when he got a role in the movie, Fargo. However, his biggest break came when he won an Oscar award for Best Screenplay after directing his first film titled, BlacKkKlansman. Peele did not slow down and went on to produce several other films including The Last O.G. At the moment, he has retired from acting but still remains one of the top comedians turned actors.
Though it’s seldom recognized by big awards, comedy requires a lot of skills, energy, and technique. Nowadays, there’s a big number of comedians transitioning into acting, even winning the awards they could not get in the stand-up comedy world. As they act, they’re telling stories and assuming humorous roles that they are accustomed to, so they don’t need to adjust much. The aforementioned are some of the comedians who are also acting and are successful at it. Others include Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin, Dennis Leary, George Burns, Steve Martin, and Woody Allen.