Let’s face it, everybody’s getting one these days. If Eddie Murphy is returning to stand up for the first time in 30 years for a new special, it is high time we see some of these other heavyweights come back to the spotlight for a special. While most of them haven’t step foot on a stage in many years, we shan’t give up hope that one day we be lucky enough to see them back where it all began for them on the stand up stage.
He hasn’t done it in 20 years now, but I wouldn’t necessarily rule this one out from ever happening. Who wouldn’t want to see Larry David have a special in 2019? Our most beloved curmudgeon without question would have a lot to say. Pretty much any topic at all would be fodder for his half-rage, where he starts to get wound up before giving up halfway through, realizing it’s not worth it because you’re not worthy of hearing the rest of his opinion. And you wouldn’t understand it anyway.
From someone who started getting wound up to someone who got completely wound up, comedy’s Prince of Pain is certainly in need of a special. In 2017, he went on the road for the first time in a few years, after having taken some time off for personal issues. At his last set of shows in Chicago last year, I sat there thinking “This is a guy who remains at the top of his game and is just as willing as ever to talk about whatever comes to his mind.” That willingness to leave no leaf unturned would certainly be welcome these days.
A bit of a long shot, but not in the realm of impossibility. Unlike other people on this list, Steve Martin hasn’t shied away from the stage in his years since doing stand up. He regularly tours with the Steep Canyon Rangers, and for the past handful of years, he’s even done comedy onstage again as part of a duo with Martin Short. Here, you see his timing hasn’t gone wayside, nor his ability to connect with an audience. So if he did want to hit the road solo, certainly it would be a sell-out event.
Many people in the public forget about her time as a stand up. But it was stand up that made her, having been discovered by Mike Nichols, who directed her show on Broadway at the start of her career, which was seen by Steven Spielberg, who subsequently cast her in his new film The Color Purple. That lead to her first HBO special Direct From Broadway. She will still occasionally do stand up again, though it’s been a few years since the last time, but it’d be great to hear her original voice and ideas all in a stand up special. (We know how outspoken she is on The View about what she believes in, so it would stand to reason that the stage wouldn’t be any different).
Unlike the majority of others on our list, Gilbert is still consistently touring and doing stand up. He’s actually never stopped since 1969, making this year his 50th anniversary since he first got onstage when he was 15. What better way to pay tribute to that than a new stand up special? His last special was strictly dirty jokes, but his act consists of much more. There is this ferocity in him as a stand up that really gets going. He has bits he’s been doing since the 70’s, but that’s part of his charm. He’s not up there doing jokes about Trump. He’s doing jokes about Billy Barty and Norman Fell that he still pulls out. You laugh at the sheer absurdity of them.
A true long shot, even more so than Steve Martin. But anyone who is a fan of the more absurd side of comedy no doubt has Albert Brooks as a stand up to thank. As a performer, nobody was at the top of their game more than Albert Brooks, and he is cited as one of the greatest stand ups we’ve ever seen. His appearances on The Tonight Show are that of true legend that cannot be duplicated. But he hasn’t done stand up since the 80’s. Back in 2011, however, he did tell Indiewire “I’m a little bit more comfortable now with the notion of getting up at the mike. One of the advantages of getting older is that you have less to lose.” In the 8 years since, however, it still hasn’t happened. Maybe some day.
Noted for his one liners, all said in a mumbling and hard to distinguish tone, Steven Wright has been at it for as long as we can remember. Like Gottfried, he is still consistently on the road with his craft. So it would stand to reason that perhaps we can get a new special from one of the big names that came out of the stand up boom of the 80’s. His material is just as offbeat and strange as ever, which seems to be all the rage once more. So why not??
It’s been quite a while since we’ve heard this voice on the stage. But at his peak as a stand up, he was touted as one of the most original voices we had, before he broke big with The Hangover and adapted a lot of his strange persona and quirks that he used onstage onto the screen. Onstage, it was even more out-of-the-box in ways you never imagined possible, where he would actually have you believe that he is just saying the first thing to come to his head. 10 years after that breakout success into the homes of the mainstream public, it’d be great for us who have been watching him since the early days of his stand up to see him come back home in a new special.
In a world where Adam Sandler and Eddie Murphy could return to the stage for the first time in decades, why can’t Jim Carrey? Before descending upon the unsuspecting moviegoing public with hits like Ace Venture and Dumb and Dumber, Jim Carrey was a great stand up. He started off as an impressionist early on in his career, before realizing the peak of an impressionist is their own show in Vegas and not much beyond that. So he slowly gave up everything people knew about him onstage and traded it in for some of the greatest physical bits a performer has ever done onstage. It would be great to see how he would approach the world of stand up all these years later, and if his act would still have the same physicality and strangeness that we first fell in love with him for doing.