MOTW: Jim Carrey: Comedian Extraordinaire

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
June 28th, 2013

MOTW: Jim Carrey: Comedian Extraordinaire

Funnyman and two-time Golden Globe winner Jim Carrey was born James Eugene Carrey in Ontario, Canada, on Jan. 17, 1962, and was the youngest of four children. As a child, Carrey would wear his tap shoes to bed so that he would be prepared if his parents needed to be cheered up in the middle of the night.

At the age of ten, he wrote to "The Carol Burnett Show," looking for a part. He never heard back from the show, but he would see the dream of performing with Burnett come full circle years later when he teamed up with the actress for the box-office hit "Horton Hears a Who." At age fourteen, Carrey tried stand-up comedy at Yuk Yuk's, a Canadian comedy club. He was quickly booed off stage. Carrey never gave up his dream of being an entertainer, however, even when his family was undergoing a period of intense financial hardship and young Carrey was forced to drop out of school to help with his bedridden mother. While he was caring for her, Carrey's craft really started to blossom, helped along by performances aimed at cheering her up and making her laugh while she was struggling with illness.

The family was eventually forced out of their home and lived in a Volkswagen bus for a period of time. When Carrey was seventeen, he again hit the stage at the same comedy club where fans had been so critical of his performance just a few years earlier. This time, a more prepared and seasoned Carrey wowed newfound fans with his hilarious antics, and he soon become a hit in Toronto, although he would leave that same year and move to Los Angeles. Upon arrival in L.A., Carrey wrote a check to himself-for ten million dollars. He tucked it away in his wallet with a dream to someday cash it in.

Shortly after moving to L.A., Carrey worked without pay for a Sunset Boulevard comedy club called the Comedy Store and really polished his act. It was at the Comedy Store that legendary comedian and performer Rodney Dangerfield would discover Carrey and subsequently sign Carrey on as an opening act for his own show.

This was the break that Jim Carrey had been wishing for. It wasn't long before Carrey developed a fan base in Hollywood. In 1982, Carrey appeared on a stand-up show that would become the impetus for future high-profile gigs: "An Evening at the Improv." The next year, he performed on "The Tonight Show." It was his performance in the movie "Earth Girls Are Easy" in 1988, however, that would really open up the door to Carrey. Costar Damon Wayans was impressed with Carrey's natural wit and humor, and after speaking with the other Wayans brothers, he decided to invite Carrey to join them on the then-new comedy program "In Living Color."

"In Living Color" would catapult Carrey to become a behemoth among comedic actors, beloved for the characters he portrayed in many skits on the show, including the unforgettable Fire Marshall Bill, Background Guy, and others. Carrey had a good run on "In Living Color," but was destined for still bigger things.

The year 1994 was a very good one for Jim Carrey. This was the year that Carrey began to star in a string of box-office hits, including "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," "The Mask," and "Dumb and Dumber"-each of which met with success. It had taken Carrey a full fifteen years, but in 1994, he was finally able to cash the check for ten million dollars that he had carried in his wallet for so long.

In 1996, Carrey became the highest-paid actor in cinematic history when he signed on for the movie "The Cable Guy." By this time, however, Carrey was ready to showcase his acting talents beyond the comedy genre and began to branch out with more dramatic hits such as "The Truman Show" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Carrey would find further success in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events," "Yes Man," and Disney's "A Christmas Carol."

Carrey has been married twice but is currently divorced. He has one daughter from his first marriage and one grandchild. Carrey became a U.S. citizen in 2004. His latest movie, "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," was released in March of 2013. Up next for Carrey is a sequel to the 1994 smash hit "Dumb & Dumber."

Jim Carrey has a huge following of fans who appreciate his ability to make them laugh, make them cry, and even frighten them. Hollywood and the silver screen love Carrey, and nearly everything he touches turns to box-office gold.