Forbes has released its Most Valuable Comedians list, and through some intricate calculations I stopped studying after high school, came up with Adam Sandler as Hollywood's most powerful laugh riot, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.
Sandler is gaining traction not only because of his starring roles in such critic-proof movies as You Don't Mess with the Zohan and I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, but because he can also occasionally show off some real acting chops as in 2007's Reign Over Me and Punch-Drunk Love. The number of movies he's producing and has in development under Happy Madison Productions are growing in number. And despite its premise, this summer's Funny People, which stars Sandler as a comedian dying of cancer who mentors a younger comedian, has quite a number of big names attached. Judd Apatow wrote, directed, and produced the film; Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill costar. Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski is behind the lens. So even though at first glance, I thought, "Adam Sandler, WTF?" it's clear that even though Sandler doesn't tickle my funny bone, he does have all the criteria for Forbes's list firmly in place.
Will Ferrell, who's #2, is getting more and more into production along with writing and acting, and launching FunnyorDie.com with director and writer Adam McKay was a watershed moment for viral video. HBO's investment in the website led to a deal with Ferrell and his FoD cohorts for a TV show - 10 episodes to be exact - which turned out to be the hit Eastbound and Down.
With last summer's Tropic Thunder, Ben Stiller managed to get audiences to laugh at Robert Downey Jr. in blackface, catch Tom Cruise's falling star in a Golden Globe-nominated role as a hook-nosed movie producer (a performance that New York Times movie critic Manohla Dargis aptly termed Jewface), and make fun of Hollywood all at the same time. And let's not forget "full retard."
Things get a little wonky when Forbes starts adding Jim Carrey to the list at #3, and fat-suit aficionado Eddie Murphy at #7. Surely in a few years, with some more scripts and producing credits under his belt, Seth Rogen will be at least pushing Jim Carrey a little further down. We can only hope.
Is Sandler really the most valuable comedian? Who would you put at the top of the list?
(Image from You Don't Mess with the Zohan, courtesy of Sony Home Pictures Entertainment)