Bizarre Movies Directed by Great Stand-Ups
Great filmmakers don’t typically follow their cinematic successes by attempting stand-up comedy, hence the reason why we’ve never seen Martin Scorsese perform a tight five down at the Chuckle Hut. But sometimes it works the other way, with famous comedians trying their hand at directing movies — which has occasionally yielded some genuinely bizarre results from comics we don’t typically associate with cinema, such as how…
Joan Rivers Made a Movie in Which Billy Crystal Gets Knocked Up
Decades before Arnold Schwarzenegger collectively horrified America with Junior, Rivers gave us another movie about a pregnant dude: 1978’s Rabbit Test. Rivers’ only directorial effort, the film tells the story of a virgin (played by Billy Crystal) who randomly becomes impregnated after a one-night stand and soon attracts the attention of the U.S. government and eventually embarks on a racist stereotype-filled tour of the globe.
Steven Wright Directed An Experimental Short Film About a Civil War Soldier
The hilarious Wright won an Oscar for producing the short film The Appointments of Dennis Jennings — and 10 years later, he directed One Soldier, a slow burn 30-minute black-and-white film about a Civil War soldier plagued by darkly humorous existential ennui (“If I killed myself, then I wouldn’t have to think about dying anymore”). It’s included on the DVD of Wright’s special When the Leaves Blow Away and is worth tracking down.
Howie Mandel Spent 13 Years Making a Documentary About His Less Successful Friend
For more than a decade, Mandel videotaped his buddy Vic Cohen, an aspiring comedian who remained stubbornly determined to succeed in show business despite having no actual success to show for it. Mandel, who never directed another movie, pored through “hundreds and hundreds of hours of footage” in order to make the documentary Committed, which Mandel referred to as his Boyhood.
Richard Pryor Wrote and Directed His Own Biopic (Sorta)
The great Pryor directed just one feature film, Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling, all about a fictional character named Jo Jo Dancer, a stand-up comedian who seriously burns himself while freebasing cocaine. Yeah, it’s alarmingly clear that “Jo Jo” is a thinly veiled (as in, veiled with saran wrap) stand-in for Pryor and even played by Pryor himself. While Jo Jo lies comatose in the hospital, his disembodied spirit revisits pivotal moments from his life — kind of like A Christmas Carol if it was written and directed by Ebenezer Scrooge.
You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this).