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The Trajectory Of Your Favourite Stand Up Comedians

February 05, 2019


When you think about it, the job requirements for being a stand-up comedian are as simple as they come - you just have to be funny. But we all know thats easier said than done. Trying to make an audience filled with strangers laugh takes guts, grit, and a true gift.

Of course, only a lucky few make it to the big leagues of the stand-up comedy circuit, and thats why their talents and accomplishments are worth celebrating. With that said, were going to take a brief look at the trajectories of the top comedians working right now.

Trevor Noah

We all know Trevor Noah as the successor to Jon Stewarts throne on The Daily Show. But lets not overlook his humble beginnings in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he was born on February 20th, 1984. His father is Swiss and his mother, Xhosa (an ethnic group of people in South Africa). Since he grew up during the Apartheid, being a biracial child forced him and his mother to briefly walk separately so as to avoid attention from the police (a fact hes referenced in his stand-up routines).

But that didnt stop Noah from becoming a comedic giant. He first started as a radio host followed by some acting roles. His comedy journey began one night when he and a relative attended a comedy club and heckled the comic who was performing, which led that comic to challenge Trevor to come up on stage. He did and surprisingly, Trevors jokes landed quite well. He continued to perform at various clubs in South Africa, and then eventually abroad in North America and Europe.

Trevor Noah is the perfect example of making the most of a traumatic post.

Notable Specials

  • The Daywalker
  • Son of Patricia
  • Crazy Normal
  • Thats Racist
  • Its My Culture
  • African American
  • Lost in Translation
  • Afraid of the Dark

Memorable Jokes/Quotes

  • You have to work a bit harder to offend me because Im from the home of some of the best racism in the world. Im a snob when it comes to racism.
  • "I never thought Id be more afraid of police in America than in South Africa. It kind of makes me a little nostalgic for the old days back home."
  • If this comedy thing doesnt work out, Ive always got poverty to fall back on.

Wanda Sykes

Once ranked on Entertainment Weeklys 25 Funniest People in America, Wanda Sykes has climbed the ranks of the comedy world in stellar fashion. Born on March 7th, 1964 in Portsmouth, Virginia, Wanda would go on to work for the NSA. To transition from a job as serious as national security to make people laugh would seem like a tall order, but that didnt stop Wanda from making the jump.

Her first live performance took place at the Coors Light Super Talent Showcase in Washington D.C., where her career would begin. She finally moved to New York City in 1992 and started appearing on Def Comedy Jam, The Chris Rock Show and several other TV shows and films from the 90s onward.

What can you learn from Wanda? Its this - no matter what youre doing with your life at the moment, if theres somewhere else you want to be, make the leap.

Notable Specials

  • What Happened...Ms. Sykes
  • Im Be Me
  • Wanda Sykes: Sick and Tired
  • Wanda Sykes: Tongue Untied

Memorable Jokes/Quotes

  • Lot of strip clubs in Florida. Good grief. Florida has so many strip clubs, they need to change their state flag to a brass pole.
  • Its hard to get fired from the government. You have to, like, kill people.
  • Men are dogs. Men are dogs. We got to stop it. Men are not dogs. Uh-uh. Dogs are loyal.

Jerry Seinfeld

The world of comedy wouldnt be what it is without Jerry Seinfeld. He pioneered a brand of observational comedy that could you make laugh about the most mundane things, whether it was on stage or in the hit TV show Seinfeld. Born in Brooklyn, New York on April 29th, 1954, Seinfeld has become a stand-up comedy legend. Hes also an award-winning actor and an influence for other aspiring comedians, as well as performers throughout the entertainment industry.

Jerry had humble beginnings, first collecting jokes and imitating comedy routines as a kid. He would then go on to perform stand-up comedy after a few brief forays in college productions. After his graduation from Queens College, City University of New York in 1976, he tried out for an open-mic at Catch a Rising Star comedy club.

He then appeared in a Rodney Dangerfield HBO special. He had a few shows that fell flat and was fired from a sitcom, Benson, but none of that stopped him from winning multiple Emmys and amassing a net worth of $950 million.

Notable Specials

  • Jerry Before Seinfeld
  • Jerry Seinfeld Live on Broadway: Im Telling You for the Last Time
  • The Second Annual Aspen Comedy Festival
  • Seinfeld (appearing at the beginning in the episodes of Seinfeld)
  • Jerry Seinfeld: Stand-Up Confidential

Memorable Jokes/Quotes

  • I was best man at a wedding one time and that was pretty good. Pretty good title, I thought Best man. I thought it was a bit much. I thought we had the groom and the pretty good man. Thats more than enough. If I am the best man, why is she marrying him?
  • Now they show you how detergents take out bloodstains, a pretty violent image there. I think if youve got a T-shirt with a bloodstain all over it, maybe laundry isnt your biggest problem. Maybe you should get rid of the body before you do the wash.
  • According to most studies, peoples number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, youre better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.

Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer has turned into a full-fledged Hollywood star now, but lets not forget the stand-up comedy roots that put her there. She was born in Manhattan on June 1st, 1981 and graduated with a B.A. in theatre from Townson University in 2003. She began performing stand-up comedy in 2004 at Gotham Comedy Club. After an unsuccessful audition in an earlier season of Last Comic Standing, she placed fourth in the fifth season.

Her appearance on the show propelled her to do more TV work until she performed her first Comedy Central Presents special in 2010. The rest you can say is history. Schumer has gone on to host the sketch comedy show, Inside Amy Schumer, another special, Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo, and several film roles including Trainwreck, Snatched and I Feel Pretty.

Amy revealed in an interview that shes not a fan of doing observational comedy, and would rather talk about the stuff nobody else talks about. With her vulnerability, she connects with fans on a very deep level both in her stand-up and on-camera work.

Notable Specials

  • Mostly Sex Stuff
  • Amy Schumer: The Leather Special
  • Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo

Memorable Jokes/Quotes

  • You know that show Teen Mom? Or if youre from the South, Mom.
  • All my friends are getting married. I guess Im just at that age where people give up.
  • The girls I grew up with theyre living normal, adult lives. So they call me now and theyre like, Amy, Im pregnant. And I still react like, What are you going to do? Ill drive you, I guess.

Gabriel Iglesias

When you see Gabriel Iglesias perform live, you can tell that he has a ton of fun on stage. It very much reflects his style of comedy, with much of it being derived from high-pitched inflections, impersonations, and sound effects. Iglesias was born in San Diego, California on July 15th, 1976 to Mexican parents and lived with five siblings in low-income housing in Long Beach.

He worked at a cell phone company in Los Angeles before pursuing comedy full-time in 1997. It was a risky gambit considering how his new-found path resulted in eviction and the loss of his car. It would take some time, but fortunately, the move paid off. Iglesias would go on to become a contestant on Last Comic Standing in 2006.

By 2011, Comedy Central debuted, Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand Up Revolution, a stand-up showcase produced and hosted by Iglesias himself. In addition to starring in films like Magic Mike, hes also made a commitment to weight loss and healthy living since he once weighed in at 445 pounds (a common source of his jokes).

Notable Specials

  • Comedy Central Presents
  • Hot and Fluffy
  • Im Not Fat Im Fluffy
  • Aloha Fluffy: Parts 1 and 2

Memorable Jokes/Quotes

  • Some people can handle alcohol. You know who you are. Some people cant handle alcohol. The police know who you are.
  • I dont wanna die tomorrow knowing that I could have had a piece of chocolate cake tonight.
  • With all the classes they offer at school, how come they dont have one for common sense?

Successful Famous Comedians Who Had the Last Laugh

Despite the struggles of being a comedian and the challenges of life itself, these five comics have done much more than just making names for themselves. Theyve become creative powerhouses, working on the stage, on camera (film/TV), on records (comedy albums), and more.

Theyve also broken down barriers and, in some cases, crafted a style that many comedians try to imitate. But regardless of their success, what we will adore and admire them for is their ability to make us chuckle and giggle, even when we take life too seriously. Theyve clearly figured out it really isnt.

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