Boston is chock full of comedic talent, on display nightly at comedy clubs across the region. There are newcomers, up-and-comers, and those who have already made it big. Here are some of the funny folks who had their start in the Bay State, and now make audiences laugh all over the country.
Jay Leno grew up on Andover and earned a degree in speech therapy from Emerson College. He started in stand-up and has been hosting some form of The Tonight Show since 1992.
Conan O’Brien was born in Brookline and while at Brookline High School he was the school newspaper’s managing editor. He went on to Harvard University and studied history and literature. While at Harvard, O’Brien wrote for the school’s humor magazine, Harvard Lampoon. He has worked as a writer for the Simpsons and hosted Late Night with Conan O’Brien and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. O’Brien is currently hosting his show Conan on TBS.
Steve Carell was born in Concord and raised in Acton. He went to The Fenn School and Middlesex School. He still maintains a home in Marshfield and his family bought the Marshfield Hills General Store, an antique country store. Carell has numerous film and television roles under his belt. He is leaving The Office this year after starring in the show for seven seasons.
Denis Leary was born in Worcester, and because both of his parents are from County Kerry, Ireland he holds both American and Irish citizenship. He graduated from Saint Peter-Marian High School in Worcester and went on to Emerson College. While there Leary and a fellow student co-founded the Emerson Comedy Workshop. In addition to his stand-up routines, Leary has written a book and is the co-creator and star of the TV show Rescue Me.
Amy Poehler grew up in Burlington. She graduated from Boston College where she was a member of the school’s improv comedy troupe. Poehler was a cast member of Saturday Night Live from 2001 to 2008. She is currently starring in the TV show Parks and Recreation. She also starred in the movies Mean Girls and Baby Mama.
Mike Birbiglia grew up in Shrewsbury where he went to St. Mary’s School. He has gone on to release three albums, star in an off-Broadway show, write a book, and contribute to the radio show This American Life.
Lenny Clarke is a mainstay in the Boston comic scene. He once ran for mayor of Cambridge and also starred in a network sitcom show named Lenny. He’s had roles in other TV shows and movies, and also appeared on stage during Sen. Scott Brown’s victory speech in January 2010.
Dane Cook was born in Cambridge and raised in Arlington, graduating from Arlington High School. He says he was a quiet, introverted and shy child at school, though wild at home and overcame his shyness his junior year of high school when he began acting and doing stand-up comedy. He has since gone on to travel the world doing stand-up routines. He has released five albums, as well.
Louis Szekely, better known as Louis C.K., was born in Washington, D.C. then moved to Mexico City where he lived until he was seven, at which point he moved to Boston. His parents divorced and he was raised in Newton. After high school Louis C.K. worked as an auto mechanic before starting his stand-up career. He currently stars in, writes, directs and edits the TV show Louie.
Patrice Oneal was born in Boston and raised in Roxbury. He went to Washington Irving Middle School in Roslindale. He was a star high school football player and recruited to play at Northeastern University. He quit the team to study theatre arts. Oneal started stand-up at age 22 in Boston and has gone on to star in several TV comedy specials and recorded his own album.
Steven Wright was born in Cambridge and grew up in Burlington. He earned an associate’s degree at Middlesex Community College and graduated from Emerson College. He started performing stand-up at Boston’s Comedy Connection shortly after. He appeared on The Tonight Show several times and has been in numerous movies. He is also a painter.
Benjamin Joseph Manaly Novak – B.J. Novak – was born in Newton and attended Newton South High School. From there he went on to Harvard University where he studied history and literature and wrote for the Harvard Lampoon. BJ Novak is currently a writer, co-executive producer and star in the U.S. version of The Office.