11/02/2011 02:59 pm ET Updated Jan 02, 2012

Zach Galifianakis Stand-Up From 1999 Surfaces (VIDEO)

It's a sure bet that when Zach Galifianakis performed in this video, he had no idea that "Puss in Boots" would be in his future.

Long before "The Hangover," "Between Two Ferns" or even "The Comedians of Comedy," the bearded comedian was just like any other struggling stand-up comic: toiling at clubs and bars to get stage time to deliver his material. But in this 12-year-old footage of one of his stand-up sets in West Hollywood, Galifianakis proves that even as a young comic, his highly unique point of view was already in place, if a little rough around the edges.

Even before he became a bona fide film star with "The Hangover" movies, Galifianakis was one of the most beloved touring stand-up comedians in America, entertaining sold-out theaters and comedy clubs with his odd mix of one-liners, piano noodling, and visual elements. He was introduced to America on "Late Night with David Letterman" the year after this video, and after that came a stream of career ups and downs for the formerly alternative comedian -- including a short-lived but cult favorite talk show on VH1 -- before firmly establishing himself to mainstream audiences in "The Hangover" and its sequel.

In this 1999 clip, Galifianakis tells embryos of jokes that he would continue to tell for years. The set is not as polished as Zach would become later on (he rarely looks at the audience in this clip), proving that even comedians as funny as Zach Galifianakis can take years to perfect their craft.