Seems like 9 times out of 10, the headliner on a feature film comedy has his or her roots in the stand up comedy circuit. Think about the mega-bankable big guns today, whether or not you think they’re funny: Kevin James… Ben Stiller… Kevin James again.
This week FUNNY PEOPLE opens, and in it, Adam Sandler plays a version of his real self – a comedian named George Simmons who went from the nightclub circuit to multiplexes with movies like MERMAN, SAYONARA DAVEY and RE-DO.
And just this summer, THE HANGOVER made comedian’s comedian Zack Galifianakis‘s star meter smash through the glass ceiling of obscurity with a velvet hammer. (He had us at "ritard.")
We got to thinking, who else deserves a big break like Galifianakis? Here are some stand up comedians we think are a project away from the big time. With video evidence of their stand up routines to hopefully help prove our case.
Patton Oswalt‘s on the verge of superstardom already, so let’s start with him. His album, WEREWOLVES & LOLLIPOPS, recorded live from Austin, Texas, is a certified classic (the video above has some material from it), and he’s already been the voice of the main mouse in Pixar’s RATATOUILLE. His next big thing is playing an obsessed New York Giants fan in the aptly named BIG FAN, which looks to be a straight up drama, possibly as disturbing as ONE HOUR PHOTO. What would be OUR dream project to blow up Oswalt’s acting career? A forty-something lovable loser still living in his parents’ house, whose parents hire a hot girl to date him so he moves. Yeah it’s FAILURE TO LAUNCH, but it’s a lot more realistic. Also, in our version the parents would be arrested for soliciting a prostitute.
BOBB’E J. THOMPSON
Bobb’e J. Thompson‘s the funniest ‘tween working today, and while he doesn’t have a background in straight up stand up, per se, we wanted to include him nonetheless, thanks to the clip above, in which he steals all of Steve Harvey‘s thunder (and at one time, that was no small task). Bobb’e is showing up early in this list because his stardom seems as inevitable as Artie Lange‘s premature death. He’s already had scene stealing moments in movies lik ROLE MODELS, FRED CLAUS, and as Tracy Jr. on 30 ROCK. And this kid’s already played Gary Coleman in "BEHIND THE CAMERA: THE UNAUTHORIZED STORY OF DIFF’RENT STROKES. Our dream project for young Bobb’e? Donning his Gene Simmons/KISS-inspired makeup from ROLE MODELS and playing a gang leader in Tony Scott‘s THE WARRIORS remake.
ROB HUEBEL & AZIZ ANSARI
As you might be able to deduce from the clip, Rob Huebel‘s been in a lot of
commercials. His role as Inconsiderate Cell Phone Man in the Lowe’s Theater
spots is a dead on impersonation of a douchebag. Rob was also in I LOVE
YOU, MAN as Tevin Downey Paul Rudd’s douchey nemesis. Needless to say,
Huebel plays douchey well. Aziz Ansari is all over the place right now, partnering
up with Rob on HUMAN GIANT, starring as RAAAAAAAANDY in FUNNY PEOPLE, and
trying to be a married playboy in PARKS AND RECREATION. We’d like to see
these guys partner up in a feature as a daft, bickering villain duo. Since
we just used the word "daft" maybe they could even be british, or at least
Rob could be. The British and the Indians never understand each other. Don’t believe us? Check out Sir Richard Attenborough‘s laugh riot GANDHI.
A hilarious standup comedian and "Friend of Sandler," Nick Swardson has
secured memorable bit parts in TV and film usually as a gay man, a stoner,
or both. As flamboyant Terry in RENO 911!, he constantly feeds the sheriff’s
office false information while trying to maintain his balance. He’s also the
voice of Gay Robot in GAY ROBOT, a great series of webisodes produced by
Sandler. Nick can also be seen as Michael in YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN,
and Jeff in GRANDMA’S BOY. As a staring role, we’d like to see Nick play a
man-child unaware of his blatant homosexuality and who’s forced into a Christian
summer camp that turns men straight. The title of the movie? THE HOMOSEXORCIST.
You’ll probably recognize Jon Benjamin‘s voice more than his Bruce Willis-like mug (he’s the one on the TV in the clip above). He’s done voice work for DR. KATZ, HOME MOVIES FAMILY GUY, AQUA TEEN, and my personal favorite, "The Can of Vegetables" in WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER. As a feature role, we’d like to see Jon play the conscience of a pervert. He could manifest himself at some point so his physical form could appear on screen, but mainly we want to hear him say dirty words.
If you ask the five dentists who do the research for those toothpaste commercials, four out of five will say the funniest comedienne is Sarah Silverman. But while her early material is pretty damn funny (and adorable), and THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM is inspired, we think she’s already a star by virtue of being the top of the heap. So who gets the Screen Junkies bump? Whitney Cummings, who was a writer on the COMEDY CENTRAL ROAST OF BOB SAGET, and acted in an episode of Fox’s HOUSE, which is known for its hilarity. Our dream project for Whitney? Anything other than HOUSE, M.D.
The man Sarah Silverman nicknamed "Weirdo" (because Galifianakis had "Beardo" taken) has been around on TV as far back as MR. SHOW, and has made a lot of cameos, including playing the priest who marries Sue Storm and Reed Richards in FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER. But he’s never quite had the success he’s deserved, possibly because he looks like the child of Sasquatch and Beaker from THE MUPPETS. He also looks a lot like Eric Wareheim of TIM & ERIC AWESOME SHOW GREAT JOB! and even played Eric in show’s fake SPAGETT! movie. Our dream project for Posehn? The Swedish drummer for an 80s hair metal band playing an amusement park that get taken over by terrorists. The film’s name? ROCK HARD. The co-author? Me. (
Shameless Plug Alert Editor’s Note: The script’s option just expired.)
Daniel really hasn’t been in jack, unless you count his role as "Cowboy Hat"
in THE LOVE GURU. So it’s a testament to his talent that he got his own show TOSH.0 on Comedy Central. He’s also done some great stand up during which he discusses what it was like to be a rich kid growing up in Orange County, or The O.C. That sounds like a movie right there. Sure, it’s been done a hundred times (and has headed north into Malibu with Jamie Kennedy, too), but not with Daniel Tosh as the lead.
Who are YOUR favorite semi-famous or up-and-coming stand up comedians who deserve to hit it big?
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