Stand-up comics: Armed with little more than a spotlight, a microphone and impeccable timing, they can do what few entertainers (or mere mortals) can, i.e. leave audiences in cafes, clubs and, occasionally, arenas in stitches. But like most of us, what they really want to do, apparently, is direct. Hitting theaters this weekend, Chris Rock’s Top Five is not the first film the comedian has helmed — yet it’s the only one he feels is most representative of what he does best. “This movie is the closest I’ve gotten to capturing the tone of my stand-up,” Rock told Rolling Stone.
Of course, the comic superstar is not the only comedian to go from working a two-drink-minimum crowd to working behind the camera. Here’s our list of the best stand-ups who’ve made the jump from funnyman to filmmaker — whether the switch was a one-off lark or a full-on career gamechanger, whether their films succeeded or failed, these men and women went from prowling the stage to calling the shots on the set.