With Mike Birbiglia in town, we look at other standups who have shined onscreen or behind the camera
With comedian Mike Birbiglia coming to town for a slate of shows at the Funny Bone this week, we're looking back on others who have made successful leaps from the stand-up stage to the big screen.
Mike Birbiglia, “Don't Think Twice”
His directorial debut, 2012's “Sleepwalk With Me” was closer to his own life, but I give even higher marks to this layered and hilarious dramedy centered on an improv troupe.
Robin Williams, “One Hour Photo”
Upon Williams' untimely death, many writers were revisiting his dramatic roles. The one that is most often overlooked (except by me) was his performance as a photo desk clerk who develops an obsession with a family.
Jenny Slate, “Obvious Child”
A romantic comedy that is frank about its lead character having an abortion isn't an easy thing to pull off in the first place, but having that character played by someone you only knew as funny? That's something special.
Chris Tucker, “Silver Linings Playbook”
David O. Russell's 2012 film was full of great performances, led by Jennifer Lawrence's Oscar-winning one, but funnyman Tucker showed he could hold his own next to the likes of Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro.
Bo Burnham, “Eighth Grade”
Burnham's feature directorial debut was an unexpected revelation. His standup rings true to his experience, but what was unexpected was how well he captured what it's like to be an adolescent girl in the age of social media.
Jim Carrey, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”
The rubber-faced Carrey got his start in standup, and he's had a few great dramatic turns, though none as great as his damaged lover in search of some kind of closure in this Michel Gondry film.
Sarah Silverman, “I Smile Back”
Silverman gives a performance that shows an emotional depth unlike anything she's done before or since. This is someone I'd love to see in more dramatic roles.
Andrew Dice Clay, “A Star Is Born”
This much is clear: The brazenly sexist comedy of the “Diceman” has not aged well. At all. So imagine the surprise when he was actually kind of tender as the father of Lady Gaga's burgeoning star in Bradley Cooper's 2018 remake.
This one was a massive shift. Mo'Nique took home an Oscar for her portrayal of the mother of an abused teen, a role that showed she wasn't afraid to take on an unsympathetic character.
Patton Oswalt, “Big Fan”
His standup is whip-smart and extensive, but nothing would have indicated Oswalt had the creepy intensity he displayed as this obsessed sports fan.
Adam Sandler, “Punch Drunk Love”
Sandler also has several more dramatic turns, but none even comes close to his mouse-who-roared character in Paul Thomas Anderson's sweet, offbeat love story.