Tom Hanks stand-up routine, 1987: Watch. (VIDEO)

Watch Tom Hanks Do Stand-Up in 1987

Watch Tom Hanks Do Stand-Up in 1987

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Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 2 2012 12:53 PM

When Tom Hanks Did Stand-Up

Tom Hanks in Punchline


In Cloud Atlas, Tom Hanks dons several physical transformations to portray a wide range of characters, but a video that has started making the rounds recently shows a side of the actor that many people may not have seen before: stand-up comedian. In 1987, Hanks was preparing for his role in the film Punchline and tried out his comic skills on audiences. Here, at New York’s venerable stand-up club The Comic Strip—which uploaded the video to their YouTube page in August—the actor riffs on the Sylvester Stallone action movie Over the Top, which was in theatres at the time.

Unsurprisingly, the routine is pretty safe by stand-up standards—poking fun at the oiled-up macho man has never been too difficult—but Hanks shows the natural charm and ease on stage that would soon lead him to superstardom with Big. And while he may not be the “everyman” critics and the public frequently peg him as, his stand-up routine is a reminder that Hanks’ talent lies in his equal comfort with affable goofiness and the deepest emotions. Punchline 2, anyone?

Aisha Harris is a Slate culture writer and host of the Slate podcast Represent.