Comedy, like acting, is an art. Perhaps the only difference is, you could learn how to act, but you cannot learn how to be funny. Some people are just born funny – they are born to make others laugh. Some comedians discover they’re great at acting too and plan their journey from the stage to the silver screen. It isn’t much of a surprise if you think about it. Comedians don’t have stage fright, they’re not shy before the camera, they are ready to laugh at their own selves, they are great at impressions (which is a vital part of acting), they are comfortable performing before an audience, they are good at remembering their lines and improvising too. They have all that an actor needs. The film industry has the world of comedy to thank, for some talents who eventually turned into stars. Here is a mixed list of just a few (too many to list) of them – those who started as comedians before turning into actors, while some are primarily comedians and have appeared in a handful of films.
Perhaps the biggest name on this list, Robin Williams has contributed immensely to both industries, hence establishing himself in both. He started with comedy in the 70s before becoming an actor in the 80s. He once said, "Comedy is acting out optimism".
One of Hollywood’s finest directors, he started as a comedy writer back in the 50s, before becoming a comedian in the 60s. He then began to not only act but also write and direct films, eventually giving us gems like Manhattan, Midnight in Paris, Match Point, etc.
A recent winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, he began as a comedian before he started appearing in films in the late 70s. Thereon he has not only been great in comedic roles but also in more dramatic ones, like in Lost in Translation.
This comedian started acting in the early 80s, with films like Beverly Hills Cop and Tower Heist as well as favorites like Shrek, Dr. Dolittle and The Nutty Professor.
He performed as a comedian in New York City in the 80s and it was during one of those acts when Eddie Murphy befriended him and became his mentor, eventually landing Chris’ first film role in Beverly Hills Cop II.
Still a very active comedian, he has had a fair share of roles in more than 30 movies, including comedies like Epic Movie, Paper Planes, Scary Movie, and most recently Central Intelligence.
Our very own Vir Das, who is counted among the best comedians in India, has started appearing in Bollywood quite regularly. His most prominent roles came with Go Goa Gone and Delhi Belly.
Louis began his career writing for several comedy shows in the past two decades. He wrote for comedians like Chris Rock, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, etc. He appeared in movies like American Hustle and Trumbo and has also provided voiceovers for animated films.
A regular stand-up artist in the 90s, he is best known for playing the hilarious roles of Smokey in Friday and Detective James Carter in the Rush Hour film series.
One of the most popular comedians around the world, the Indian/Canadian has appeared in films like Source Code, Breakaway/Speedy Singhs, Chef, etc. Can’t say he has met with as much success in the movies as he has with his jokes.