A lot of comedians successfully made the leap from stand-up comedy to the screen. A lot have also tried and failed. Check out this list of comedians who tried and failed to become movie stars.
Roseanne Barr was one of the biggest stars on television in the late '80s thanks to the success of her show Roseanne, but apparently the millions of people who watched her in their living rooms every week had no interest in going out to see her in movies. Her lone attempt at big-screen success, 1989's She-Devil, was dead on arrival from the moment it opened. If nothing else, at least she got to act opposite Meryl Streep.
2. Dana Carvey
No one could really blame Dana Carvey for taking the same career path as a number of his fellow Saturday Night Live cast members who had come before: become a breakout star on the show (which he did, thanks to recurring characters like Hanz & Franz and the Church Lady), then segue into a film career as a leading man. Worked for Chevy Chase. Worked for Bill Murray. Worked for Eddie Murphy. Didn't so much work for Dana Carvey, though not for lack of trying. But does anyone really remember his starring roles in duds like Opportunity Knocks, Clean Slate or The Master of Disguise? HIs most successful film role to date is still one based on an SNL sketch: Garth in the two Wayne's World movies.
Andrew "Dice" Clay was one of the most successful comics of all time by late '80s, playing sold-out stadiums and attracting no small amount of controversy. Though he had already amassed several memorable supporting turns (in movies like Pretty in Pink and Casual Sex?), it wasn't until 1990's The Adventures of Ford Fairlane that he finally had a starring vehicle tailor-made for his rock n' roll persona. Fox got cold feet, however, and combined with the film's chilly critical reception, the film pretty much disappered within a week. It's actually too bad, because the movie is subversive and ahead of its time. Dice continued to star in a number of direct-to-video films, but his career as a movie star was already cut short.
4. Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby had been a successful stand-up and TV star since the 1960s and had even done supporting work in a number of films through the '60s and '70, but it wasn't until he became arguably the biggest star in the country thanks to The Cosby Show in the 1980s that he finally got his own starring vehicle. That movie? Leonard Part 6, the rightfully hated 1987 spy "comedy" that even Cosby himself trashed in the press. His single attempt at a follow-up, 1990's Ghost Dad, didn't fare much better, and Cosby's film career came to an end.
5. Carrot Top
You can probably blame the success of Pauly Shore's film career in the mid-90s for giving some studio exec the idea to have prop comedian and college campus favorite Carrot Top his own movie. In fact, 1998's Chairman of the Board, in whch Top plays a surfer who inherits his father's company, sounds like it could just as easily been a vehicle for Pauly. Sadly for Carrot Top, the movie was barely released and recouped about $300,000 of its reported $10 million budget and Carrot Top stayed away from movies for good, retreating to Las Vegas and opening his own very successful nightly show. It still lives on, though, in countless replays on HBO.
6. Tom Green
You've got to hand it to comedian Tom Green: if you're going to fail, fail in a spectacularly big way. Green had gone from cult comic in Canada to mainstream success in the United States thanks to MTV's The Tom Green Show, so the next logical step was, of course, a movie career. Never one to do things traditionally, however, Green opted to write, direct and star in 2001's Freddy Got Fingered. Destroyed by critics and viewed by many as one of the worst movies ever made, Freddy is, at the very least, subversive and absurd and represents a true comic vision. It just happens to be a demented and mostly unfunny vision. Still, it's a miracle that Fox greenlit the film in the first place, making it one of the best jokes Tom Green has ever played.
Blue collar comedian Larry the Cable Guy (to shatter the illusion, his real name is Dan Whitney) is yet another example that a huge career in stand-up comedy does not necessarily translate to box office gold. Both as part of the hugely popular Blue Collar Comedy Tour and touring on his own, Larry is one of the biggest comedians in the country. Odd, then, that his audience wouldn't pay to see him in movies like Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector and Witless Protection. At least the fans got that right. Larry has found some cinematic success, at least, as the voice of "Mater" in Pixar's Cars and Cars 2.
8. Jay Leno
Before he was the soulles, unfunny host of the soulless, unfunny Tonight Show, Jay Leno was actually a very prolific and well-respected stand-up comic. And, like most comics, he couldn't resist Hollywood's calling. Hollywood had no problems resisting Leno, however, and his work in the 1989 buddy cop comedy Collision Course (opposite Pat Morita) remains his only starring role to date. The film sat on the shelf for three years before being dumped to video in 1992, where it made the rounds on cable TV and everyone was finally able to discover that Jay Leno wasn't much of an actor. Leno himself has denounced the movie. Because if you're Jay Leno, Collision Course is the thing you should be ashamed of.
9. Howie Mandel
For a time in the 1980s, it looked like comedian Howie Mandel might have the career of Robin Williams: both were known for their manic energy and fast-paced stage act, and Mandel (like Williams before him) had already shown some dramatic chops on TV's St. Elsewhere. Unlike Williams, though, Mandel's movie career never took off. He starred in the barely-released bombs A Fine Mess and Walk Like a Man and was buried under tons of makeup for 1989's Little Monsters before pretty much getting out of the movie business for good. His most notable film role to date remains his work as the voice of Gizmo in Gremlins and Gremlins 2.
10. Norm MacDonald
When Norm MacDonald was fired from his gig as host of Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" in 1997, it freed him up to pursue new projects. Chief among those was his 1998 comedy Dirty Work, which he wrote and starred in alongside his buddies Artie Lange and Chris Farley and which was even directed by comedian Bob Saget. None of that mattered, as the film was shelved for months and then dumped in the summer, where it bombed. MacDonald would only star in one more movie, 2000's Screwed (opposite Dave Chappelle), which made even less of an impact than Dirty Work. MacDonald returned to television, and the movies haven't seen much from him since -- minus the occasional cameo in Adam Sandler's movies.
11. Chris Rock
There is perhaps no movie career more puzzling than that of Chris Rock's. The man is a giant in the world of stand-up -- one of the best working today and certainly one of the all-time greats -- but he's never been able to choose a film project that matches his talents. From CB4 to Down to Earth to Bad Company to Death at a Funeral, Rock has been stranded in one bad movie after another. What's worse is that he can't even blame bad scripts or directors for all of his cinematic failures; Rock himself wrote and directed Head of State and I Think I Love My Wife, neither of which really distinguished themselves from the rest of his misconceived flops. Great at stand-up, bad in movies. That's Chris Rock's legacy.