For any actor or comic getting their start in the business, getting on the silver screen is their ultimate goal. Struggling performers pay their dues hoping to find fortune and fame and it takes work, dedication and a lot of luck to be discovered and make it big in Hollywood. Movie comedians need to be talented and flexible - whether they are starring in their own comedy film or serving as the side-kick for the latest summer blockbuster action flick. They must also take other people’s work, and bring it to life, infusing their own brand of comedy, while still being true to the original material. Starring in (and writing) their own movie is every comedian’s dream, and it marks that one has truly made it. Of course, because the success of any movie can be stratospheric, failure can be catastrophic for the comedian. Critics and movie-goers are a harsh audience, and movie comedians are under pressure to top their last movie. But it just goes to show that no matter how many millions of dollars they make, these comedians never forget their roots and still go back to where they started, entertaining live audiences at select venues:
Ever since movies became one of the most popular forms of entertainment, comedians have been vying to get on the big screen. Back in the days of silent films, Charlie Chaplain, Buster Keaton and Max Linder were some of the biggest comedic stars of their day. Of course, sound could only improve things and when talking was introduced into the movies, the comedy genre further bloomed, with such funnymen as Laurel & Hardy, W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers. Much later, more comedy duos and performers were bringing laughs to the silver screen, like Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and Judy Holliday. The 60s and 70s also showed a much broader type of comedy films - like Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther, social commentary and satirical comedies like Dr. Strangelove and The Apartment, or even war comedies like M*A*S*H* and Catch-22. Gag-based comedies also became popular with hits like Airplane! Top Secret and Police Squad becoming monster hits.
The 80s seem almost a golden age for stand-up comedians who became movie stars, such as Richard Pryor, who, along with fellow comedian Gene Wilder, starred in a string of hits like Silverstreak, See No Evil Hear No Evil, and Stir Crazy. Other starts of this generation include Steve Martin (whose performance in The Jerk has made it one of the 100 comedy film of all time, according to the American Film Institute), Eddie Murphy (48 Hours, Beverly Hills Cops), Danny deVito (Ruthless People, Throw Momma from the Train). Director John Hughes became a big hit with younger audiences, with such hits as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, National Lampoon's Vacation, Weird Science, The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful, Sixteen Candles, and Pretty in Pink.
Today’s modern comedians have a great challenge as many audiences are quite sophisticated. Of course, many people still like the light-hearted slapstick comedies from comedians such as Adam Sandler (Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore) , Jim Carrey (Ace Ventura, Yes Man), Ben Stiller (Zoolander, There’s Something About Mary), Rob Schneider (Deuce Bigalow, Hot Chick), Will Ferrel (Blades of Glory, Talladega Nights), Steve Carrel (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Date Night)and Martin Lawrence (Big Momma’s House). However, a new breed of movie comedians, perhaps those who are more shocking and out-of-the-box have emerged, such as Zach Galifiankis (The Hangover) and Russel Brand (Forgetting Sarah Marshal).
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