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Unless you’re Jerry Seinfeld, the number of stand-up comedians today who thrive and achieve stardom solely fro their on-stage comedy is dwindling. There’s a long history of people who got their start in stand-up comedy only to find another gear and level of artistry once they turned to filmmaking, including Mike Nichols, Woody Allen, Albert Brooks, Elaine May and more. But today, in the post “Louie” era of TV, many comics have tried to brand themselves as more, developing highly personal TV shows, films and pet projects that they often write, direct, produce and star in themselves. The latest such is example is Bo Burnham, whose debut film “Eighth Grade” opens this weekend after winning acclaim at Sundance. Here are some other comedians who have followed his same path.
Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None” isn’t entirely autobiographical, but it’s wholly an expression of his love of food, culture, European cinema and the finer things in life. His real-life parents even star on the show.
He’s most well known for his “WTF” podcast, but Marc Maron also had a show called “Maron” that ran for four seasons on IFC that hemmed closely to his experience as a stand-up comedian and explored his neuroses in ways he’s come to be known for on-stage and in his monologues opening “WTF.”
Still just 27 but a comedian for over a decade, Burnham directed and wrote the pre-teen coming-of-age story “Eighth Grade.” But he has a knack for doing it all, as he’s also a songwriter, an actor most notably in “The Big Sick” and a poet.
After first having Louis C.K.’s name all over the first season of “Better Things,” Pamela Adlon has made the excellent “Better Things” entirely her own, going to surprising places in her stories about being a working, single parent of three girls.
Woody Allen has been a prolific filmmaker for so long that it’s almost easy to forget that he gained fame as a stand-up as far back as the mid 1960s.
It’s possible Donald Glover would’ve never been able to make the video for “This is America” as Childish Gambino if it weren’t for exploring his style, his roots, and the stranger side of his personality as the creator of his groundbreaking series “Atlanta.”
Jordan Peele’s today one of the hottest directors in Hollywood after his debut feature “Get Out.” He’s currently working on his follow-up “Us” starring Elisabeth Moss and Lupita Nyong’o.
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