Five Young Stand-Up Comedians Who Should Become Movie Stars

Because we never want to see Kevin James ever again.


By Jonathan Horowitz

This Friday, 30 Minutes or Less opens, starring Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari, and some other comedic all-stars. Casting actual proven stand-up comedians is a nice change of pace for Hollywood, where sometimes, chubby men and beautiful women who curse are often mistaken for comics. Here are five other up-and-comers we’d like to see become movie stars.  

1) John Mulaney  

John Mulaney is an intelligent, charismatic, and self-deprecating comedian who talks a bit like he’s a 1930’s radio announcer. If you believe him, sometimes he gets black-out drunk and wakes up with more money than he started with, and once, he shattered the morale of an entire diner by playing "What’s New Pussycat" on the jukebox eight times in a row. He’s already been picked up by SNL as a writer and has appeared on "Weekend Update" with some of his own material. It’s about time Hollywood gave him a shot — think Colin Hanks, only likeable and funny. 

A joke of his we like: My parents have been married for thirty-four years now, but my Dad will still do this thing where he’ll try to sell us on our mom. I’ll just be sitting there and my Dad will lean in and be like, “Hey, ya know who’s a great lady? Your mother.” It’s like, yeah, we’re all on board — we all love mom. You don’t have to advertise for her. Though, it’d be weirder I guess, if he named someone else. If he was like, “Hey, ya know who’s a great lady? Whoopie Goldberg. 


2) Jamie Lee

Jamie Lee is self-deprecating, witty, cute… and not afraid to crack a rape joke. In other words, she's everything Hollywood needs. She hosts an awesome standup night, pops up on CollegeHumor, and has a delightful Twitter feed. This season, she was a finalist in NBC's Last Comic Standing. All of which is pretty amazing, especially when you consider her "Google" problem, which frankly puts Rick Santorum's to shame. (Stupid Jamie Lee Curtis.)  

The aforementioned rape joke: When I’m walking home late at night, and there’s a man coming towards me, and I start to have the adrenaline rush, and I’m like, “There’s a chance, that I could get attacked." And then he passes me, and 99% of me is just, “Phew,” totally relieved. But then there’s that twisted 1% that’s like, “Well! I didn’t need your rape anyway!”  



3) Hannibal Buress

Hannibal has been compared to the late comedic cult-hero Mitch Hedberg because of his laid back delivery and demeanor, but he’s not aping any one's style. What Hannibal lacks in fatal drug addictions, he makes up for in well-crafted, hilarious points of view on everyday life — taking a small incident or idea and teasing it out into an entire entertaining scene. He’s already writing at the top level for 30 Rock and SNL, but his voice and personality are his greatest assets, and it’s about time he gets to deliver the jokes that he’s writing. Also, it’s tough to beat his rant on why he didn’t cry at the end of Up.  
A gem from his standup: We got interns at the job. You can just tell them to do stuff. You gotta be nice, though. I had this cat fax something. I handed him a couple of pages, and I handed him another page. I said, "Hey man, fax something for yourself, too."  



4) Bo Burnham  

If there’s one thing Adam Sandler taught us, it’s that musical comedy sells, even if you just rhyme “turkey” with “lurkey.” At twenty-years old, Bo Burnham turns his high-school experiences into wordplay with hilarious results. He’s clever, cynical, sexually frustrated, egotistical, young, and very self-aware. As you’re laughing at him, you might wonder if you actually like him — and whether he actually likes you. It’s this edge that makes Bo interesting and why Hollywood would benefit from his services. He’s not a goofy, happy, quip-and-wink protagonist; he’s a sarcastic, self-conscious antagonist who trails off and mumbles his own choruses because he knows you heard the joke already the first time.  

A couple of his lyrics: And having sex is like math homework / I do it best when I'm alone in my bed / And squaring numbers are just like women / If they're under thirteen just do them in your head. 

I love you like kings love queens / Like a gay geneticist loves designer jeans / I need you like New Orleans needs a drought / Like Hitler's Father needed to learn to pull out / And I want you, yeah, like a lawyer / Mathematician wants some kind of proof / And I want you, yeah, like JFK wanted a car with a roof…”  



Photo By Mike Carano

5) Morgan Murphy

The thing about perky, peppy, female comedic leads is that they aren’t funny. Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz, Katherine Heigl, and Sandra Bullock — these are all people who have been in alleged comedies in the past year, and they miss the basic truth: great abs aren’t hilarious. In fact, being popular and sexually active during your formative years seems to make you unfunny. Comedy is what the rest of us learned so we could get laid in high school.  

With her low-energy, misanthropic persona, Morgan Murphy could easily be mistaken for Steven Wright — especially when she’s rocking her big hair. She has a deadpan delivery, and depressive sense of humor — she likes to joke about womanizing, suicide, and giving girls roofies just to shut them up. Fortunately for us, her misery is the kind that welcomes company.

Some of her classically dark humor: Hey, if you are driving and you hit a dog, is it appropriate to get out of the car and say, ‘Yo… why you all up in my grill, dog? ...I got an electric car recently — they suck, sack of shit — they’re terrible, they don’t work.  I know they don’t work because I was in my garage last week for ten hours trying to kill myself… all I did was sit there, until the battery ended up dying. Then I was jealous of the battery.


Commentarium (37 Comments)

Aug 10 11 - 12:07pm

I really hate to say this, but I really doubt a female comidian will manage to become a star. People don't like witty and smart women. they think and stuff.

Aug 10 11 - 1:17pm
Danielle Gibson

Is this a bit?

Aug 11 11 - 6:16pm

blahblah has never heard of Tina Fey

Aug 25 11 - 4:27pm

Edit: People don't like witty and smart women who don't try to mollify others perception of them as being intimidating by putting on glasses and subtly being subservient to a male character while portraying female independence in scenes where that character is not present.

Aug 10 11 - 1:00pm

Was so happy when I saw John on the list. He is one of my absolute favorite comedians.

Aug 11 11 - 1:40am

He's really good. I saw him in a Just For Laughs Tour with David Cross, Louis CK and Sarah Silverman - he was one of the openers. And he was really good, everyone I knew who saw the show liked him as one of the best there and no one had heard of him before. So kudos to this guy, he deserves more attention.

Aug 10 11 - 1:43pm

Bo's jokes are so old they're already on T-shirts. Setting them to music doesn't make them new again.

Aug 10 11 - 2:36pm

Both of the female comedians you chose seem to hate women.

Aug 10 11 - 3:22pm

yep. what's up with that?

Aug 11 11 - 11:17am

They hate women or they hate themselves? Self-hatred is a staple of comedy.

Aug 11 11 - 6:25pm

It's a pretty big stretch to read " she likes to joke about... giving girls roofies just to shut them up" as self-hatred for comedy's sake.

Aug 11 11 - 9:26pm

Author makes it sound like Lee's act is all about rape or something which is ridiculous. Saw her at UCB recently and she blew my mind. So sarcastic and smart. She didn't do that joke or even mention rape, but that joke isn't really even about rape is it? It's about flattery.

Sep 18 11 - 2:49am

It's probably more that they hate everybody, including themselves sometimes. This means that they can hate men and women and dogs and their cars. It's all about the life struggles.

Aug 10 11 - 6:29pm

Bo is so incredibly overrated. File him next to Andy Milonakis in the next 2 years.

Aug 10 11 - 6:30pm

You don't confuse Morgan Murphy with Stephen Wright. Morgan is a model!!

Aug 10 11 - 6:59pm

I might like Morgan

Aug 10 11 - 11:41pm

Mulaney is the class amongst this group. Great call on him.

Aug 11 11 - 1:58am

How about Jack Whitehall, he's pretty funny on the panel show.

Aug 11 11 - 3:31am

I liked Bo Burnham until I saw him live...he is freakishly skinny, and jumpy and he's on drugs or something. It made me kind of uncomfortable.

Aug 11 11 - 5:29am
Greg Beharrell

What does it take to have a delightful Twitter feed? I like mine better:!/gregbeharrell

Aug 11 11 - 7:28pm


Aug 11 11 - 3:57pm

Wait a second - holler if you hear me, Nerve readers - but John Mulaney is the most overrated, creepiest, uncharismatic piece of shit in the universe. He's worse than Paul Scheer. Rarely is a young comedian good at all - I'm thinking of you, Aziz Ansari and Donald Glover (and even Louis CK, Marc Maron and Chris Rock when they were young) - but John Mulaney has nothing, and his act blows, and he makes fun of 9/11 tastelessly, and his SNL bits are total crap. I don't understand the hype around this guy. As for Hannibal Burress, the guy blows - he's awkward and never funny and his material is well-worn ground. His delivery sucks and he can't connect to an audience. Neither of these morons deserve even the attention they get already, let alone the right to be a movie star. They should stay writers for the crap shows they work for. Back to my WTF...

Aug 13 11 - 10:08pm

You have different taste in things than I do! You're stupid! I hope you die! Rabble rabble rabble!!!!

Aug 25 11 - 4:29pm
Your Grandmother

Steve, listen to your mom and dad. Shut up.

Aug 11 11 - 4:04pm

You know what? The clips/excerpts provided for these guys proves the point. The writer's taste is seriously in doubt.

Aug 11 11 - 5:43pm

So who do you recommend, ThugnaciousD?

Aug 11 11 - 10:05pm

Tosh,ansari,gaffigan,c.k. are all oldies, but goodies.

Aug 12 11 - 2:20am

Good comedians, ok, ok -
Louis CK, Chris Rock, Doug Stanhope, Paul F Tompkins, Patrice O'Neal, Andy Daly

Aug 11 11 - 10:08pm

"Thugnacious d"?!?!?!?!? Now that is in bad taste, and also GAY! More like homothuglicious g.

Aug 11 11 - 10:09pm

Btw, the g stands for homosexual!!!

Aug 25 11 - 4:30pm


Aug 11 11 - 10:11pm

This article was the writer's opinion, and your taste in nicknames is incredibly in gay taste!!!!

Aug 12 11 - 2:18am

Jesus, I AM gay, go fuck yourselves.

Aug 12 11 - 2:32am

Sort of figured, the name is a dead give away.

Aug 12 11 - 2:37am

Ebaums world, represent!!!!!!

Aug 13 11 - 12:54am

Well played, sir.

Aug 30 11 - 6:44am

You know what, I'm very much incielnd to agree.