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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Eddie Murphy

As a stand-up, Murphy took the style of his comic predecessors — notably Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor — and pumped it up to Eighties levels of arena-rock bombast, cracking up huge  crowds with jokes about family BBQs and Michael Jackson with leather-suit swagger. But behind-the-camera stardom didn't come as easy to Murphy as SNL-, movie- and comedy concert-stardom; to date, he's only directed one film and it wasn't received warmly by critics or audiences.
The Must-See: Harlem Nights (1989) was Murphy's attempt to do both an old-fashioned gangster movie and a sort of Ocean's 11-style film for great African-American comedians. It doesn't exactly hold together on either level, though he did get to cast both Foxx and Pryor, marking the only time these three stand-up titans would work together.

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