Any aspiring stand-up comic (or even the most seasoned pro) will tell you that it’s difficult to get on a stage in front of a crowd of people, some of them in desperate need of a laugh and some three sheets to the wind. Telling jokes, testing new material, handling hecklers, bouncing back from a bomb, working for chump change, getting TKO’d on Comedy Knockout – it’s a pretty stressful and wild ride for a stand-up comic.
But what about the actors who play stand-up comics in movies and television shows? Is it easier for them to play the role, knowing that they’re not actually at risk of being booed off stage? Or is it harder because they need to nail the mannerisms and style just right to give us the authentic feel of watching a comic kill or be killed? We’ll let the performances be the judge, as we rank our favorite fictional stand-up comics on how they’d make it as the real deal.
8) Bruce Chandling
Kyle Mooney’s endearingly awkward hacky stand-up comic is so cheesy and corny that even his longest Saturday Night Live sketches are cut for time. But somehow, even as he fails at telling tired jokes and rubs elbows with successful comics who don’t want to give him the time of day, Bruce makes us feel like we should at least give him a pity laugh.
7) Kenny Bania
Jerry Seinfeld might think that Bania is a hack, but George reminds us that one man’s hack is another man’s voice of a generation. From Ovaltine to risk management, this guy could tell a joke that spoke to people who didn’t like thinking about stuff. Also, the guy was no stranger to a gym. He’s huge.
6) Rupert Pupkin
In 1983’s The King of Comedy, Martin Scorsese and Paul Zimmerman told the frightening story of an unhinged and deranged man chasing his absurd dream of being a comedian. Today, Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) would probably be celebrated as a clever marketing genius willing to take chances and spend some time in prison to get his 15 minutes rolling. Although, kidnapping an important person, or any person for that matter, would probably still be frowned upon.
5) Veronica Crabtree
She’s a working class woman who speaks to the blue collar comedy fans better than any Cable Guys or Golden Corral spokesmen. She may have endangered the lives of South Park’s most lovable children, but Ms. Crabtree proved that she had “it” the moment that she stepped into Pauly Shore’s Funny Pit and knocked Carrot Ass down a few pegs. Most comics wouldn’t approve of heckling their peers, but this bus driver would have been celebrated far and wide for her brash approach.
4) Steven Gold
Punchline‘s Steven Gold (Tom Hanks) knew what a great stand-up comic needed to thrive and become a star, but he was lacking a pretty important characteristic – the ability to stand on a stage and not lose his cool. He eventually kind of got his act together (pun intended) and was able to win the big show, but of course, he had an asterisk next to that victory. Still, a win’s a win, even in comedy and even when the real winner decides to go home.
3) Krusty the Clown
When he wants to tell it like it is and give it to The Man, there’s no comic more brutally honest than Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofski, a.k.a. Krusty the Clown. After the harsh realization that his old school act (above) was offensive and out-of-touch, Krusty rebranded and owned the nightclub stage. It’s just a shame that he couldn’t resist the urge to shill for the corporations once more. But that Canyonero was one heck of a nice ride and way too sweet to turn down.
2) Ira Wright
Funny People‘s Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) is the perfect safe comic for today’s comedy fans. He’s not too over-the-top, but he’s not too bland. He looks like the guy next door, but he also looks like the guy you’d buy your recreational drugs from. And once he gets a little confidence in his ability to slay an entire room, he’s probably just as good as anyone being paid to entertain the MySpace company party. Just don’t let them pay you in stock.
1) Buddy Young, Jr.
Everybody loves a good comeback story, even if the guy has some personal problems and couldn’t handle fame in the first place. But when it comes to his comedy, Buddy Young, Jr. (Billy Crystal), a.k.a. Mr. Saturday Night, doesn’t pull punches and he doesn’t care what some network suit tells him or what the cue card says. He’s edgy and unafraid, which are qualities that people love from stand-up comics, but he’s also old, which makes the offensive material even funnier. Hey, if Don Rickles can still make our sides hurt after all these years, then Buddy could probably pack the club, too.
See some very real comics saying some very funny things on Comedy Knockout, airing Thursdays at 10:30/9:30c on truTV.