EXCLUSIVE: Top Ten Stand-Up Comedians

Love to laugh? So do we.

WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE IN SOME CLIPS BELOW

1. Ellen DeGeneres

180484I’ve openly gushed about my affection for Ellen many times, so it should come as no surprise that she’s my #1 comedienne. She barely has to try to make people laugh, just her vocal inflections and facial expressions are enough to make you grin along with her, as if she just winked at you and you love being in on the joke. She doesn’t have to stoop to being offensive or crude and her language is perfectly PG. Her monologues on her show qualify as mini-stand-up routines, but I’ve only ever seen her legitimate stand-up once, in her second HBO special entitled, “Here And Now” from 2003. It’s one hour of Ellen pointing out life’s strange quirks, like store packaging techniques (“You need scissors to get into scissors!”), movie theater etiquette (“Is the popcorn really that delicious we must shovel handfuls of it into our mouth?”), and cell phone reception (“Are the bangs shorter? THE BANGS!”), to name a few. We own the DVD and it’s memorable enough that my sister and I still quote it to this day. Random words like “peas” and the name Nancy always make me think of America’s favorite talk show host.—DT

2. George Carlin

George Carlin will forever hold the number one spot on my favorite comedians. He is an absolute master of the form. What’s interesting about Carlin is that most of his material seems to stem from a love of words and language, which is highly appealing to a voracious reader and writer like myself. I was lucky enough to see Carlin a few years before he died at the Community Arts Center in Williamsport and he was as crass, cranky, and awesome as ever.—JK

3. Robin Williams

BHXaRTS2rLY0UaF0V377X6Fx0fPart of what makes Genie Robin so funny to me is his ability to switch accents (accurately!) faster than you can recognize what they are. (Seriously. Watch this.) I’ve loved him in every movie I’ve seen him in—Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, Patch Adams, Flubber, Jack, The Birdcage, Nine Months, Hook (to name a few) and of course, his legendary voice work, like in Fern Gully and Aladdin. The man’s mind goes a mile a minute, making him a hilarious interview subject on talk shows. A clip I scoured YouTube for but frustratingly couldn’t find is when he makes Ellen cry talking about Brad and Angelina’s new baby and Tom Cruise. One summer in early high school, I sat down with a friend to watch the DVD of his 2002 HBO special “Robin Williams Live On Broadway.” It was something my parents probably wouldn’t have appreciated me watching at 14-15 years old, which made the filthy language and sex jokes even funnier. The clip above is one of my favorites, as I still do not understand how people can enjoy playing golf.—DT

4. Patton Oswalt

The king of “geek” comedians, Patton Oswalt holds a special place in my heart. He mixes insightful comments about pop culture and society with obscure comic book and science fiction references. He is one of the few "alternative" comedians to break into the mainstream, appearing on The King of Queens and other sitcoms.—JK

5. Dane Cook

dane-cook-vicious-circle-20060831095724817-000I, like most my age, discovered Dane Cook in college. Back before he thought he was a legit movie star and the hottest thing to come to stand-up comedy and became the most overrated comedian around today (my, ahem, personal opinion), he was pretty funny. In fact, I thought he was downright hysterical when I first started listening to him. I loved his sarcasm and his over-enunciation. In a single day, I listened to almost all of “Vicious Circle” on a trip to Philadelphia with some friends in 2007. I laughed so hard, I could barely breathe. And although I don’t care for him much anymore, I still quote him regularly. (“Google magic, my friends.”) The Oprah bit gets me every time. If he comes out with some new stuff, I suppose I’ll give it the old college try, ‘cause my college self liked to laugh at him.—DT

6. Sarah Silverman

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Etoa73uUBa8

It was difficult to find a semi-clean clip to use as an example of Sarah Silverman’s comedy, so I think the subject matter of this talk show appearance is apt. I first noticed her act when The Sarah Silverman Program aired for a couple of seasons on Comedy Central. She manages to tackle serious social issues like reproductive rights and homosexuality with cutting insight and then effortlessly slip in a fart joke or two. That’s a comedian I can respect.—JK

7. Jeff Dunham

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hDHqbtnwoU

jeffdunhamYup, the one with the puppets. Jeff and his band of upholstered misfits was another college discovery. I walked in on my roommate watching Comedy Central and was like, “What the heck is this?” But I stuck around for a few minutes and started laughing. Seems everyone’s opinion of this ventriloquist is the same: “Oh, he’s funny!” *5 minutes later* “Ugh, that guy.” And it’s true that he became unpopular just as fast, if not faster, than he became popular, a too quick turnaround that makes you wonder if people are really just over the whole puppet thing. (Although Avenue Q is still going strong and Jason Segel is determined to make you love the Muppets again.) Anyway, I bought Spark of Insanity on DVD for my dad that year for Christmas, and for a while, it was all we watched in my parents’ house. We all had favorite quotes and a favorite puppet. Peanut was mine, so enjoy the clip above.—DT

8. Louis CK

I love pretty much everything Louis CK does, except for Pootie Tang, because it’s terrible. Louis has redeemed himself with his show on FX, which started airing in 2010. He writes, edits, directs, and acts on the show, which is pretty crazy considering he also does an HBO stand-up special every year.—JK

9. Chris D'Elia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-S1nhmzpDIU

poster-57528I literally know nothing about Chris other than the fact that his drunk girls bit made me wheeze like a tea kettle. I had no clue who he was and had never seen any of his stand-up until a friend posted the above clip on Facebook late one night. I was getting ready to go to sleep, but clicked anyway and watched it on my phone in bed. I thought I was going to die, I was laughing so hard. My chest seized up and I had to remember to breathe. It brought me straight back to college and the fact that, at one time or another, all of my friends and I were those drunk girls. We danced to Rihanna and babbled nonsense, and yes, eight shots always equals too many. His facial expressions just put it over the edge. I’ve watched it so many times since then that the effect has completely worn off, but it had enough of an impact that from now on, I’ll be paying attention to Chris D’Elia.—DT

10. Dave Chappelle

I remember enjoying Dave Chappelle’s half-hour sets on Comedy Central back in the day and I thought Half Baked was a decent dumb stoner comedy, but then The Chappelle Show blew up.  His sketch comedy show, although reflecting a much different reality than my own, started airing in 2003 during my sophomore year in college. It was an event—the entire floor would gather in our on-campus apartment to watch skits about blind white supremacists who happen to be black and Wu-Tang Financial.—JK

Joe’s Runners-Up: Artie Lange, Amy Schumer, Mitch Hedberg

 

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