The live comedy circuit produces many more of our movie stars than you would think, with a large portion of today’s top actors having cut their teeth as relative unknowns in a comedy club or two before reaching the dizzy heights of Hollywood fame and fortune. Here are a few notable figures in film that spent their formative years sweating it out on stage-
10. Russell Brand
Although achieving worldwide notoriety from recent escapades including but not limited to his two year tenure as the host of the VMA awards, Russell has been a permanent fixture on the British comedy circuit for around a decade now. From humble beginnings in a working class Essex town, the long haired lothario attended the famous ‘Italia Conti’ drama school in London, before branching out into the sordid world of stand-up comedy. He endured several years of obscurity on the circuit, before undergoing treatment for his drug + alcohol problems, soon becoming a star of British TV- and releasing one or two live DVD’s in the process. Of course, it wasn’t long before transatlantic stardom came-a-knocking in the form of his part in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
9. Eddie Izzard
Still known as a prominent figure in stand-up, Englishman Eddie Izzard has made several successful journeys into the world of film, both independent and Hollywood. Achieving success in his early days on both sides of the Atlantic as a result of his unique ‘stream of consciousness’ style and quirky cross dressing tendencies- Izzard has gone on to appear in the likes of Oceans Twelve, The Avengers and Valkyrie over the course of his still very much active career.
8. Steve Martin
As he retired from the format all the way back in 1981, it’s often easy to forget that Steve Martin made his name as an outrageous stand-up comic. Maintaining a huge amount of popularity throughout the 1970’s with his absurd style and clownish delivery, Martin was set to become a huge star of the stage. To older generations he may have remained the dude he was back then, however I know I’ll always remember him as the guy from the likes of Cheaper By The Dozen. Whilst I realize that movie was far from being his finest hour, looking back at his stand-up days- you are however able to appreciate where the humour comes from.
7. Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg’s first foray into the world of acting came as a surprise even to her, up until the point she was offered a part in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 period drama ‘The Color Purple’, she had been primarily a stage performer- experiencing success with her improvisational stand-up routines. Although she would go on to delight in semi-comical roles (Sister Act, for example), Goldberg never really strayed too far from the dramatic roles in which she seemed to flourish- even winning an academy award for her part in 1990’s ‘Ghost’.
6. Jim Carrey
Rising to fame in the mid-1990’s for his goofy yet outright hilarious brand of physical comedy in the likes of ‘Dumb and Dumber’ and ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’, few were aware that Jim Carrey had been plucked fresh from the live circuit for these roles. The Canadian underwent several years in the clubs, creasing sell-out crowds with his routines which combined plain observation with his now as good as patented facial and body contorts. Securing a regular spot on sketch show ‘In Living Color’ in the early 90’s, it wasn’t long before the world would know his name.