16 Best Stand-Up Comics Turned Filmmakers

From Woody Allen to Joan Rivers, these comedians went from prowling club stages to calling the shots behind the camera

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Albert Brooks

Perhaps best known now as a Simpsons voice, a Drive mobster and a dry-wit twitter-er, Albert Brooks leapt from his early Seventies stand-up (pick up/download the legendary document of his stage work during the era, Comedy Plus One, right now if you don't already own it) into filmmaking with a sense of ferocity. He honed his skills in a series of shorts for Lorne Michaels aired in the early days of Saturday Night Live and then quickly jumped into a series of instantly canonical feature-length comedies that were logical extensions of his devastatingly funny act. The brainy Brooks wasn't just a writer of scalpel-sharp satires; as a director, he's got a great sense of how to use the properties of moviemaking as effectively as a solid 30-minute set.
The Must-See: Real Life, Brook's 1979 debut comedy that both predicts and impales reality TV as we know it, finds the writer-director playing a narcissist-in-chief filmmaker pointing his cameras at a "normal" American family. Genius.

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