What Made These 4 Famous Comedians Walk Away From Comedy?

Just what is it that makes funny people stop being funny for a living?
What Made These 4 Famous Comedians Walk Away From Comedy?

Not so long ago in real time but about six lifetimes ago in internet time, The Hangover director Todd Phillips made the news by letting us all know he'd quit comedy because you can't do it in this woke culture. He was much maligned by people on the left and celebrated by people on the right, and I just felt bad because I am the one person who can still watch and laugh at The Hangover Part II. Oh man, that little monkey smokes cigarettes! But it also presented an interesting question. Just what is it that makes funny people stop being funny for a living? The answers, it turns out, are often pretty weird.

Jordan Peele Got Pooped

Jordan Peele is famous for two things right now. There's Key & Peele, his beloved sketch show with Keegan-Michael Key, and also how he instantly became one of the best horror directors out there on his first try. Peele has now said he's leaving acting behind, and the decision ultimately came down to the poop emoji.

Peele has stated that acting is nowhere near as fun for him as directing, and while that seems legit, there was a tipping point, and it was the damn Emoji Movie. He explained that they offered him the role of the Poop Emoji in the movie, to which he replied, "that's fucked up." Then he took a day to think about it. To think about becoming the voice of an actual shit. You'd want a day to roll that turd around in your mind, too. But when he called his agent to see what they might offer him as compensation for such a formidable role, he was informed that Patrick Stewart had already snatched that shit up.

So put yourself in Peele's shoes here. You've been pretty successful in your field for several years. You're considering a bit of a career change, a new direction, and you get offered a job. A shit job. One of the only literal shit jobs any performer can ever truly be offered outside of a wacky local plumber commercial. And before you can even decide if you can debase yourself enough to take it, venerable actor of stage and screen Sir Patrick Stewart scoops it up. Sir. He was knighted by the queen in 2010. He took Poop.

So yeah, Peele quit being funny onscreen because that harrowing experience destroyed his desire for it. Meanwhile, Key has also stated that he's done with comedy, because he never really wanted to do it in the first place. The man is a hardcore fan of serious stage acting, and had ambitions to do Shakespeare before fate intervened and made him a comedian. So now he's getting back to his roots, and Key and Peele are apparently truly over.

Related: 4 Shocking Psychological Dark Sides Of Being Funny

Frankie Muniz Can't Remember His Career

Malcolm In The Middle was a brilliant sitcom that gave us Bryan Cranston on a weekly basis before Breaking Bad. It also made Frankie Muniz, who played the title character, a star -- one that fizzled quickly. He grew up on TV, made a bunch of movies, and then vanished. Someone made fun of him for having no career on Twitter once, and he clapped back by pointing out he'd retired at 19 with $40 million. But the super weird part is that he doesn't really know why he retired. And in some ways, he doesn't even know what he retired from.

Muniz decided to become a race car driver back in 2007. That's a career move, alright. Then between 2012 and 2014, he was the drummer in a band. In 2018, he revealed he's managing another band. And in 2019, he bought an olive oil shop in Arizona. He doesn't just own it; he actually works there. You can go buy vinegar from him. So he's been keeping remarkably busy since he stopped acting, but none of that really accounts for why he stopped acting. That $40 million thing makes it seem like it was a decent gig.

But in a tragically weird twist, Muniz says he doesn't know much about his own past, thanks to a disorder that has affected his memory, compounded by a series of concussions. He claims he barely remembers anything about Malcolm In The Middle, so asking him why he quit acting is actually a fruitless endeavor. How could he answer? It was either because of the condition, or he'll just never know because of the condition, and so here we are. The upside is that he seems like he's having a good time in life, so good for him. Everyone likes olive oil.

Related: 4 Ways The Internet Changed Comedy (For Better Or Worse)

Lisa Lampanelli Went From Insult Comedian To Life Coach

Most people who know of Lisa Lampanelli probably had the same experience that I did: watching Comedy Central roasts during the infamous "Who the fuck are these people?" years, when the network let literally anyone willing to call Chevy Chase an asshole into the building. Lampanelli was one of those people. She stood out from the crowd by going 110% gutter. This lady wouldn't just roast you; she'd eat the roast and shit it into an alley. It could get rough. But it proved popular enough that she was asked to be in numerous specials, and even got onto Season 5 of Celebrity Apprentice. She knows President Trump! So what's the next logical step for a woman of such talents? Life coach, of course.

In 2018, Lampanelli announced she was quitting comedy after taking a workshop on food and body image. She lost some weight and gained a whole new outlook on life, deciding she wants to be less of a comedian and more of a storyteller who helps other people reach their goals. For context, at the roast of Donald Trump, Lampanelli asked deaf actress Marlee Matlin if she could read lips, then asked whether Matlin could tell what her cameltoe was saying. So this is something of a surprise, is my point.

Having done comedy since 1991, Lampanelli says she's just feeling more fulfilled by helping others at this point in her life. Even if you haven't walked the same path (And how could you? She literally called Trump a "bloated, stinking douche" to his face on national television), you can probably relate. I mean, 27 years of telling people the worst things you can imagine probably gets tiring.

Related: 5 Insane Problems All Women In Comedy Deal With Eventually

A Japanese Variety Host Quit Over Alleged Yakuza Ties

In the early 2000s, Shinsuke Shimada was one of the most popular comedians and performers in Japan. He was involved in a half-dozen variety shows, and people seemed to love him. So you can imagine what a shock it was when, two days before a big expose on him was set to run in 2011, he retired from public life. This was because he was reportedly in up to his nuts with the yakuza, the Japanese organized crime system.

The whole process of what went down is mysterious and full of the kind of bullshit you'd expect when a story involves a celebrity and the mob. Shimada said that sure, he'd texted a few times with the leader of an Osaka gang, and maybe they met four or five times, and the guy had helped him with a "personal problem" a decade before. But come on, who hasn't done that with a known crime boss? It was no big deal, but then everyone else made it a big deal because it looks bad. But it wasn't bad! Honest!

So why retire, if he did nothing wrong? Because it looks bad for someone with such a strong social influence to have these kind of ties. Even though nothing bad happened. Obviously.

Another article claims the story got leaked to the press by the yakuza because Shimada had been disrespectful and not shown deference to the crime boss. That's a big deal in Japanese society as a whole, and they even mention that Shimada got in trouble in the past for actually beating and imprisoning an employee precisely for failing to show him proper respect. Another article points out how Shimada flew into a violent rage because some performers were disrespectful to him, and had to be held back by crew members. So basically, this guy had a history of being a piece of shit, but he retired from the spotlight so no one would think he was a piece of shit. Makes sense.

For more, check out Why Every Comedy On TV Is Starting To Look Familiar - Today's Topic:

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