- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 5, 2006

Nightclubs are littered with countless comics aspiring to take their stand-up shtick in front of a camera. Most settle for live audiences that chuckle more than they heckle. After some sporadic work in TV, comedian Dane Cook is hoping to break into the big-time with “Employee of the Month,” which opens in area theaters today. If he’s lucky, he might become the next Jeff Foxworthy. If he’s even luckier, he’ll reach the company below:

Eddie Murphy — His career has been an up-and-down affair: the ascent of the bursting-with-talent sketch and stand-up comic of “Saturday Night Live” and the concert movies “Delirious” and “Raw”; a peak as the unstoppable movie star of “48 Hours” and “Beverly Hills Cop”; the downward spiral of lavishly budgeted bombs, bottoming out with “The Adventures of Pluto Nash.” Now, as an emasculated day-care daddy and cartoon voice, he’s stabilized as an elder statesman of comedy — not very funny, but still bankable in the right vehicle and much admired for greatness past.

Richard Pryor — You can spy the late, great Mr. Pryor on the cusp of his breakthrough in the recently-restored edition of “Wattstax,” a 1973 documentary about a soul-music concert to revive Los Angeles’ ailing urban core. In it, Mr. Pryor is at his offensive, vulgar, truth-telling best.

Woody Allen — Director, TV joke-writer, jazz clarinetist, misanthropic nihilist — to the resume of the former Allen Stewart Konigsberg add “stand-up comic,” a job he held (and purportedly hated) in the mid-‘60s.

Jim Carrey — The contortionist comic tried out those funny faces in the mirror for years, honed them in nightclubs, and finally hit pay dirt with “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.”

Tim Allen — Before he found fame as that train wreck of a Bob Vila on ABC’s “Home Improvement” sitcom, Mr. Allen scored live laughs with an infectious take on the Mars-Venus battle of the sexes. His movie career has seen its peaks and valleys, much like his life (there was a two-year stint in prison for drugs). He deserves inclusion on the list for 1999’s cult favorite “Galaxy Quest” alone.

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