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Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

13 Comedians with Killer 'Star Wars' Material

George Lucas might be a hero for selling his company and intellectual property to Disney, even though it paves the way for the 2015 release of Star Wars Episode VII: A New Theme Park Ride.

But if you’re a comedian, a comedy writer, or a big fan of funny people, this is an absolute disaster. It’s worse than when Lucas made the prequels, worse than when he immediately cashed in on A New Hope with The Star Wars Holiday Special, even worse than when he officially licensed those Burger King glasses that poisoned everyone. Why’s that, you ask?

Looking forward to years of new Star Wars jokes!
@JoeMande
Joe Mande

Yes, the next three years might be a horrifying time of Jar Jar Binks ironically-unironically rising from his comedy reference grave. Luckily there are a lot of comedians who already do great material about your favorite slash least favorite movie series. So here’s 15 comics who ought to make something good out of a bad sequel by working these great Star Wars chunks back into their acts:

1. Brian Posehn feels betrayed by Uncle George

No one has more tirelessly opposed new Star Wars films and “special editions” than Brian Posehn. His “nerd rage” voice hits hardest when the prequels come up, and this bit perfectly sums up the deep hurt we all felt about the “first” three movies.

Since then Brian’s rage has only deepened with each Blu-Ray release, and will ruin his son’s teen years if he’s not careful.

So it’ll be a thrill so see what happens next, since Brian Posehn’s psyche is to a third Disney-backed Star Wars Trilogy as Lewis Black’s psyche would be to a third Tea Party-backed Dubya Presidential term.

2. Patton Oswalt’s simple storytelling rules for Mr. Lucas

Posehn’s fellow Comedians of Comedy member framed the prequels a little differently: they’re still a crushing disappointment caused by his most important cultural mentor, but to Patton it happened because of sheer scriptwriting stupidity. Unless maybe this bit was just an excuse to talk about Jon Voight’s ball sack on stage?

3. Kevin Pollak’s new Yoda-old Yoda disconnect

Master impressionist and decent celebrity poker host Kevin Pollak nails the Yoda voice, and he does an even better job nailing what’s wrong with the Yoda character’s CGI retconning. Next step for this material: figuring out how Disney’s going to take a character who died in Episode VI and shoehorn them into Episodes VII-IX for merchandising purposes.

[Track name: “Star Wars” from the album A Little Off the Top]

4. Jonah Ray finally snapped when he introduced Revenge Of The Sith at Arclight

A lot of open mics are like tidal waves of not-that-great “I hate my job” stories. This tale from Jonah Ray’s WTF episode is the good version of that, bringing us back to the Nerdist co-host’s old days of introducing screenings at SoCal’s premium movie theaters, and the time when Lucas fans turned it into a nightmare. It also turned out to be a nightmare where Jonah had time to try out only one joke on a hostile crowd, and came away from the experience with a crazy story, which means it was pretty much, you know, an open mic.

5. Greg Morton’s impression of the entire original trilogy

You still love the first three movies. It’s why you care about a seventh film at all, it’s why you got so invested in the quality of the prequels, and it’s why you clicked on this article. Comedian and voice actor Greg Morton is right there with you, so much so that his website header looks like this:

There are too many comedians trying to do all the Star Wars impressions in one bit, but only Morton makes it work. It’s probably a combination of his likeable stage presence, his strong chops as an impressionist, and (most importantly) the way he rips through the whole thing before we even start to get bored.

6. Dan Telfer keeps Luke Skywalker fresh

If the clean comedy/club comedy pinnacle of Star Wars impressions is Greg Morton, the alt comedy master is Chicago comedian and A.V. Club fave Dan Telfer. He doesn’t even do Tusken Raider material from the usual “obscure sand people” approach, oh no, these Tusken Raider jokes find a whole new meta angle on that old stand-up warhorse.

[Track name: “Star Wars” from the album Fossil Record]

7. Wyatt Cenac wants a black Jedi

It only takes comic and Daily Show correspondent Cenac around a minute and a half to break down the importance of every African-American in Star Wars AND Star Trek. It’s probably so quick because there’s only three of them total, but still, impressive! This bit needs to get back into Wyatt’s set list soon, before Disney starts casting Episode VII with nothing but Hemsworths.

8. Felipe Esparza knows why Chewbacca isn’t Mexican, and why R2D2 definitely is

There are a lot of comedians trying to do material about Star Wars, and some of them are succeeding, but only a few of them do such fresh jokes about those 1970s movies that they can use them as an album closer. Felipe Esparza is one of those comics (and keep reading for one more).

[Track name: “Star Wars” from the album They're Not Gonna Laugh]

9. Russell Brand thinks Darth Vader’s a quietly frustrated yes man

If you want a positive reason to wish Russell Brand wasn’t on your TV doing promos during Louie, check out this BBC Radio 2 show that suggests he’s much funnier off camera, with an uncensored studio mic. Someone from one of those SiriusXM comedy channels needs to convince The Once And Future Aldous Snow to spend morning drive time on the radio, because it could lead to a lot of gems like this “oh that poor Sith Lord” ramble.

10. Jimmy Fallon’s so-dated-they’re-vintage parody songs from SNL

When Jimmy did a Sugar Ray parody about Star Wars in 1999, it was an OK pre-Phantom Menace desk piece…but as a nation we were already at least a little sick of “Every Morning” (and frosted tips, and living in the ‘90s). Now, it’s 2015. If Jimmy busted that song back out on Late Night, the instant national response would be “Oh wow, Sugar Ray! That’s neat because I was alive when that came out!”

11. Craig Ferguson has so much to say about Chewie, Darth Vader, and the droids you’re looking for

If you’ve never seen The Late Late Show, you need to understand that Craig Ferguson hosts it the way Allen Iverson played for those early-2000s Philadelphia 76ers teams. CBS’s post-Letterman late night franchise may not be the best team in the league, they may not win every night, but you know Craig will carry them as far as he can for forty-two minutes all by himself. So here’s a monologue from 2005 where Ferguson eats up tons of time with legitimately funny Star Wars material, because it was either do that or talk to a robot skeleton.

12. Arj Barker + hack premise + Star Wars insights = SHINY NEW PREMISE

Better yet, Arj did this bit at a New Zealand benefit show for victims of last year’s Christchurch earthquake. So he used Star Wars to save people, which is the closest equivalent to The Force IRL.

13. Shut it down. Eddie Izzard is the king of Star Wars jokes. Shut it all down.

On his 1998 special Dress To Kill,  Eddie does this fantastic bit where he calls out the ridiculous number of Imperial officials that have British accents, AND gets in a genius non-sequitur about measuring the power of The Force in terms of “a strong pony”.

So how does one of the world’s best comedians follow that up on his next special (2002’s Circle)? Four brilliant minutes about Darth Vader ordering at the obviously necessary but never seen Death Star cafeteria, as a ballsy choice for closing out his whole show, that’s how.

And if Eddie ever stops accomplishing insane distance running feats, he may even complete his own personal trilogy of classic Star Wars jokes. Somebody get the man a script NOW.

BONUS COMEDIAN: This guy who does stand-up in Jabba’s Palace

Sure, he bombs hard, but you never get a friendly crowd at the Chuckle Hutt.

Alex Schmidt writes all over the Internet, does stand-up all over New York City, and Tweets all over your browser if you let him at @AlexSchmidty.