6. “This is My Life” (1992)
Nora Ephron also emerged as a first-time director with this film, taking a screenplay she wrote with her sister Delia from a Meg Wolitzer book of the same name. Dottie Ingles (Julie Kavner) is a mother who’s always trying to find a way onto the stage, and when her time finally comes when she lands an agent (Dan Aykroyd), she learns that the life of a stand-up is really hard on a family – particularly her frustrated teenage daughter (Samantha Mathis).
7. “Funny Bones” (1995)
Oliver Platt stars Tommy, as the son of a famous comedian who hasn’t really succeeded on his own. His quest to find other comics whose acts he might be able to buy leads him to Blackpool, England, where he discovers he has a talented but disturbed half-brother Jack (Lee Evans) and that his father’s whole act was stolen from his old comedy partners, who appear to Tommy as ghosts – not to mention some trouble from a corrupt cop named Sharkey.
8. “Man on the Moon” (1999)
Andy Kaufman was one of those rare comics who did not require the approval of their audience – in fact, he thrived on their angry disdain. He created an entire alter ego in Tony Clifton to be the worst lounge singer ever, and he even became a bad guy in the world of professional wrestling just because he liked the responses he’d get from frustrated people who didn’t get it. Thus, Milos Forman’s unique biopic starring Jim Carrey in an amazingly chameleon-like performance as the late comedian almost seems to exist mainly to do something Kaufman never wanted to do – let the audience in on the joke.
9. “Funny People” (2009)
Judd Apatow’s look into the minds of comedians is a lot darker than one would expect from most Adam Sandler films, and even has the superstar making light of his own career full of questionably high-concept movies that crowds somehow love while critics tend to loathe. Sandler’s George Simmons thinks he has an epiphany about his life when he learns he’s got a fatal disease, but that it’s gone into remission, he soon learns that changing one’s ways is a lot harder to do than Ebenezer Scrooge made it look. Thankfully, he’s got Seth Rogen to help him through it – provided he doesn’t drive him away by being a bastard.
10. “Sleepwalk With Me” (2012)
Mike Birbiglia wrote, directed and starred in this funny and autobiographical film taken from his own one-man show about a struggling stand-up comic who’s also dealing with a really unpleasant somnambulism problem that routinely puts his life in danger. There’s also his strangely comfortable yet discomfiting relationship with his girlfriend (Lauren Ambrose) that helps to fuel the anxiety dreams that get him walking around and doing crazy things before he’s actually woken up.