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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Mike Nichols

An artist who could lay claim to being a full-on EGOT — a winner of Emmys, Grammys, Oscars and Tonys — Nichols went from being a Second City alumnus and the comic sparring partner of Elaine May to, well, let's not mince words: a Broadway and Hollywood legend. It wasn't just that the urbane wit and unsparing dissections of social conventions that were a hallmark of the duo's act were often imported over to Nichols' film work; he was also one of the single best directors of actors and had a way of making vulgarity seem sophisticated. Just check out Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966), the movie that established him as a director, or The Graduate (1967), which made him a reluctantly "hip" hero of the counterculture. The man had unerring instincts.
The Must-See: You've probably seen the obvious choices, from The Graduate to Working Girl (1988), a million times, but we have a soft spot for Carnal Knowledge (1971), in which Jack Nicholson, Ann-Margaret, Art Garfunkel and Candice Bergen become bloodied veterans of the sexual-revolution wars.

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