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Some comedians deserve 
a chance on film

By STEVEN SNYDER - TimeOut Film Critic

August 27, 2009

 

Demetri Martin


At one point or another, most of them typically pass through "Saturday Night Live" - the comedians who convert a successful stint as a stand-up or on the television set into a blockbuster movie career.

Start talking about comedian-turned-
superstars, and you mention the likes of Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell and Mike Myers. On Aug. 28, Demetri Martin joins the ranks, taking his frequent appearances on "The Daily Show" and his stint as host of "Important Things With Demetri Martin" and parlaying it all into a starring role at the center of Ang Lee’s rock concert comedy "Taking Woodstock." Good news for Martin, but what about all the other comedians who deserve the chance at the big-screen blowup?

Here’s a list of comedians I’d most like to see become movie stars.

Aziz Ansari (the comic Randy in "Funny People")

He had but a brief cameo in Judd Apatow’s "Funny People," playing the energetically bad comic Randy (or as he would say it: Raaaaaaandy!), jumping around the stage to distract from his lame punch lines. But in true Ansari fashion, he has turned a few seconds of screen time into an underground cult sensation, launching a separate comedy tour as Randy and a new Web site to match. Do all of his audiences get the joke? Maybe not - just as some don’t get the appeal of his shrewd, sarcastic and ironic sense of humor as part of the regular cast on MTV’s "Human Giant" or NBC’s "Parks & Recreation." Wide-eyed, quick with the zinger and proving with Randy that he has a considerable aptitude for physical high jinks, Ansari is a young comic force worth following.

Daniel Tosh (host of

Comedy Central’s "Tosh.0")

Even before his summerlong Comedy Central series "Tosh.0," where he mocks the viral videos that have aided millions to waste away the hours in their cubicles, Daniel Tosh was selling out Broadway venues with a stand-up act that is lewd, loud and surprisingly topical. Known for jumping wildly from topic to topic, working on two levels as he both mocks the customs of daily life while layering in nuanced jokes for those who are experts in everything from sports to film history, Tosh is a mix of low-brow and high-brow, a guy who’ll make jokes about drunken one-night stands even as he’s recounting the biology of dinosaurs and leveling a corporate zinger at the layout of Target stores. He’s a quirky guy, and he had an ultra-brief cameo in the little-seen comedy "The Love Guru." Here’s hoping he gets to move on to bigger and better things.

Craig Ferguson (host

of "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson")

With little fanfare, Craig Ferguson has emerged as the best late-night host working today on the major networks. Forget Leno or Letterman, the weakened prime-time Conan or the not-ready-for-prime-time Jimmy Fallon. It’s all about Ferguson, his improvised monologues, off-the-cuff interviews and sporadic puppetry that keeps things interesting. Always exuding the giddy energy of a little boy who can’t believe someone’s actually paying him to be on TV, Ferguson seemingly never got the chance to follow up his recurring role as the exuberant boss on "The Drew Carrey Show" with a decent film part. Maybe when Letterman retires he’ll finally get his chance to shine in late night - leading to that perfect movie part as an overbearing salesman, hypermanic boss or mentally unstable politician.

Patton Oswalt (the

voice of "Ratatouille")

Attention Hollywood: Here’s your next lovable loser, your next frustrated funny front man. Patton Oswalt’s voice has already been heard by moviegoers around the world as he was the squeak behind Remy in Pixar’s "Ratatouille," injecting some serious energy into the kitchen. Later this month, he takes to the airwaves with a brand new Comedy Central special and stars in the art house title "Big Fan," a drama directed by "Wrestler" writer Robert Siegel. But that film seems a little too serious - and a little too fringe - for our taste. We want to see Oswalt in a funny mainstream hit, maybe paired with Ricky Gervais as the second half of a gloriously dysfunctional odd couple. One of these days, he’s going to get his chance at top billing.

Kristen Schaal

("The Daily Show" and "Flight of the Conchords")

Why not just make an entire feature film based around her so-obsessed-it’s-disturbing-and-hilarious fangirl from "Flight of the Conchords?" Her recurring role in that hit HBO series - playing the one and only fan of the New Zealand folk rockers - resulted in a popular online video blog where Schaal would post fictional snippets about her life spent in devout fandom. Schaal also started making appearances on "The Daily Show" as the nerdy-and-naughty "Senior Women’s Correspondent." She’s funny, quirky and subversively cheery.

E-mail: SnyderReviews@hotmail.com