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

Joan Rivers

The late, great comedienne was known for tearing into vapid celebrities, fellow Tonight Show guests, red-carpet offenders and hecklers with a vicious, venomous wit. But surprisingly, Joan Rivers' one-and-done turn as a filmmaker was comparatively tamer than her take-no-prisoners stand-up act — it's the story of the world's first pregnant man, as played by fellow comedian-turned-auteur Billy Crystal. Yes, it's as weird as it sounds. Possibly even weirder.
The Must-See: Can we talk about Rabbit Test (1978)? It's an idea ripe for sending up the era's gender politics, and the scenes, gags and transitions have no small amount of off-kilter energy to them. The comedy's Carol Burnett Show-esque direction doesn't do the movie any favors, however, and cameos from Seventies stalwarts like Paul Lynde and George Gobel detrimentally carbon-date it. Rivers' insult-heavy act felt timeless; Rabbit Test, on the other hand, has not aged well.