How some famous comedians got their starts
Pranks and jokes are on full display come April 1st, when the world celebrates April Fool’s Day, a date on the calendar that began when certain countries, particularly France, switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar.
In the Julian calendar, the new year began with the spring equinox around April 1, according to History.com. However, upon the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, the new year was celebrated on January 1. People who failed to recognize the change were the butt of hoaxes and called fools.
While people today recognize the start of the new year as January 1, the tradition to tell jokes and engage in sometimes elaborate hoaxes has continued. People often become comedians for the day. In fact, the weeks around April Fool’s Day can be an ideal time to reflect on some of the popular comics who have entertained throughout the years and how they got their starts in the industry.
• Roseanne Barr: Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Barr turned her experiences as a wife and mother into a stand-up comedy routine at local clubs. Bigger gigs and increased attention came in the mid-1980s, leading to a television series that earned Barr three Emmy Award nominations.
• Lenny Bruce: Lenny Bruce, born Leonard Alfred Schneider, was a stand-up comedian and satirist. He was a target for prosecutors due to his use of obscenities and controversial subject matter during performances and ultimately became an advocate for free speech. He began doing stand-up at age 22 before joining the Navy during WWII. After his discharge, he resumed his stand-up career and gave edgier performances until his untimely death at age 41.
• George Carlin: Born and raised in New York City, Carlin became known for his dark comedy and reflections on politics, language, taboo subjects, and much more. Carlin got his start as a disc jockey while in the United States Air Force. He met Jack Burns, a fellow DJ, in 1959 and they formed a comedy team. Eventually the duo parted ways, and Carlin went on to have a successful solo career in stand-up.
• Rodney Dangerfield: Dangerfield certainly earned respect in the comedy industry even though he often lamented about not getting any during his acts. Born Jacob Rodney Cohen, he began his career working as a comic in resorts around the Catskill Mountains region and later became a mainstay on late-night TV shows. He appeared in a few films in the 1970s before a breakout film role in the comedy “Caddyshack.”
• Ellen DeGeneres: Hailing from Metairie, Louisiana, DeGeneres dreamed of becoming a veterinarian but claimed she was “not book smart.” During one public speaking event, she used humor to get over her nerves and was a hit. Her successful stand-up work transformed into a sitcom deal and later a long-running talk show.
• Jerry Seinfeld: Jerome Seinfeld was born in Brooklyn, New York, and harbored aspirations to be a comedian by the time he was eight years old. He made his stand-up debut in 1976. By the late 1980s, he was one of the highest profile comics in the United States, and developed a sitcom with fellow comic Larry David.
Comedy takes center stage in April, due to April Fool’s Day, making it a great month to watch a favorite comedian.