Photographer Matt Hoyle (previously at Neatorama) spent a year and a half with the biggest names in comedy, taking their pictures for Comic Genius: Portraits of Funny People. The book features 130 photographs plus an introduction by Mel Brooks. It is available now. The pictures are 9x12, so this is a serious coffee table book. Want to know who is in there? Check this list of participants. And get this: Hoyle is donating the profits to Save the Children.
Rather than a simple portrait, Matt and the comic icons collaborated to create small humorous moments frozen by his lens — from zany and deadpan, to laugh-out-loud and contemplative.
Neatorama is proud to present just a few of the many images (and a video) of the world's best comedians from the book Comic Genius: Portraits of Funny People, along with highlights of the photoshoots, or at least the parts that impressed Hoyle the most.
Steve Martin - Walking into the studio to shoot one of my heroes Steve Martin was good enough but imagine the giddiness when Kermit the Frog joins him on a log to duel with their banjos. it was surreal and I got it on video as well because you can't be in a room with Steve Martin and Kermit playing banjo and not record it!
Nick Offerman - Nick was putting a large t-bone steak in his mouth for the shot. A piece fell to the ground and Nick grabbed it and was about to put it into his pocket when we said we can take that for him. He said "Of course, that's my pork pocket anyway!"
John Cleese - John allowed me to get a fan shot with him when I was telling him that i hated getting my picture taken. He slapped me on the back of the head and said, "Not as much as that I bet!"
Joan Rivers - We had just finished the shoot with Joan and she was leaving with her entourage and you could tell they all got along great. She said "Matt, watch this," and she lifted up her handbag and dropped it. Before it could hit the ground one of her male assistants dove in and caught it. Not missing a beat, Joan continued walking. Class!
Conan O'Brien - The baby was supposed to look deadpan along with Conan to camera. Conan's hair person even did the little guys hair so we had a perfect match. As i was shooting the baby decided he didn't like his twin and started wailing and then Conan naturally looked to camera with his 'why me?' look for what was an even better shot.
Mel Brooks - Mel called me and I was excited to go over the concepts I sent him for his shoot. To think about the 'bragging rights' of him liking one of my comedy concepts was enough to give me a rare inflated ego. The conversation went something like "Hi, Matt Hoyle? This is Mel Brooks, yes, I have your ideas in front of me, and um, they stink. So here's what I'm going to do, go get me a black comb at a drug store, you know the kind I'm talking about right, so get me that and I'll be Hitler from the producers. OK?" Before I could answer he hung up. I assumed that it was a rhetorical question.
Dame Edna - Loved the book and concepts and asked me if I couldn't get anyone and i said Mr Bean, Rowan Atkinson. So she immediately, as Dame Edna, called Rowan to tell him he should be in the book. Unfortunately the scheduling didn't work out but at least she tried.
Many photographic prints from the Comic Genius project, autographed by the celebrities themselves, are up for auction to benefit Save the Children. Get your bid in before December 2nd!
Comic Genius: Portraits of Funny People is available now from Amazon and at a bookstore near you.
Visit Matt Hoyle at his website.