The next topic I am tackling in the series is my Top 10 Stand up Comedians of all time. I have always had an affinity for stand up comedy and individual’s ability to make people laugh. It amazes me the wherewithal these performers show when they keep composure to be funny in a difficult situation, with a mic and a crowd of people to entertain. What I love most about stand up is how all parts of my personality can be tapped into by different comedians. Whether it be sarcastic, pessimistic, crude, social or every day situation kind of humor, we can all appreciate how our experiences bring us together to find common ground by laughing. I remember watching Comedy Central, late night, as a kid and seeing dozens of comedians perform. Now we have incredible access to these performances with all our streaming options. I have taken time to thoroughly recollect how hard I laughed the first time I saw their performances, how much I can relate to each performer and how good their best performance was. My list represents a broad range of personality, era and race. No, Kevin Hart is not on this list, but here goes:
Dave Chapelle– He was a genius and could attract all types of audiences. His range of characters, impersonations and innate ability to tell a story with a joke are what sets him apart. The most intriguing aspect of his career is the fact it was cut short like Kurt Cobain or Jimi Hendrix, but not from death. After his success with the Chapelle Show and his stand up work he was destined to be one of, if not, the GOAT. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see that play out, but he had nice run of a few stand up releases recently.
Favorite Performance/Tour: Killing Them Softly
Jerry Seinfeld– He would take an ordinary and common social interaction/ experience and find a way to make it funny or awkward. Everyday items and behavior were examined in a comedic way that has never been matched. This is one of the few on my list I’ve had the chance to see live and it he was better than advertised.
Favorite Performance/Tour: I’m Telling You For The Last Time
Richard Pryor– He set the bar for all black comedians and was groundbreaking in his time by pushing the limits of what was produced on a comedy album. He was the first to really push the boundaries on racial jokes. This may be a snub in some ways. If you take the 1977 version of Richard Pryor and put him in 2019 he would easily be the number one comedian with Taylor Swift like record sales.
Favorite Performance/Tour: …Is It Something I Said
Eddie Murphy– He took the momentum created by Richard Pryor then went bigger and further. His comedy career launched him into the most celebrated filmography of anyone on this list. The energy that he brought was incredible and it was obvious that he was going to be around for a long time. Eddie Murphy can make absolutely any situation or moment more funny than it is and that is a rare talent.
Favorite Performance/Tour: Raw
George Carlin– The dark and controversial humor is always funny to me and George Carlin was able to execute to perfection. From “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television” to “Its Bad For Ya” the power he possessed to make me think and laugh, at the same time, was unique. His legacy has continued to prove it will hold up for decades.
Favorite Performance/Tour: It’s Bad For Ya
Katt Williams– Even though he has been beat up by middle schoolers, his top performances are so memorable. The first time I saw his stand up it stuck with me. I can quote more lines from his work than anyone else on this list. He does a fantastic job of showing both sides of arguments and making light of serious conversations in a way that is very difficult to pull off.
Favorite Performance/Tour: The Pimp Chronicles: Part 1
Chris Rock– Once upon a time I would have had Chris Rock higher, but as a I get older I feel like this is a fair spot for him. The consistency he showed from the mid 90s to the mid 00s was unmatched by anyone else in that time frame. I felt like Chris Rock could easily have been #1 on this list, but never had a single performance or routine I would put in the top 5. The social commentary and stellar.
Favorite Performance/Tour: Bring the Pain
Robin Williams– The most thoughtful and wild person on here by a mile. From his early years to the slightly sold out Bicentennial Man/Flubber years Robin Williams always had a charisma that appealed to me. His early stand up was a psychotic and cocaine fueled rant that was somehow brilliant. Many people will not remember him for his stand up, but it absolutely showed a side of him that films didn’t and I thought it was amazing.
Favorite Performance/Tour: An Evening at the Met
Louis CK- He plays the pessimist loser better than anyone else, all-time, and its not even close. His morbid outlook and ability to lack emotion while honing in on subjects that people are passionate about differentiate his style. If you have ever had a rough day he will certainly match the level of not giving a shit and saying how you may actually feel. He is certainly one of the more underrated people on this list.
Favorite Performance/Tour: Chewed Up
Jim Gaffigan– He is the most underrated person on this list, in my opinion. His self-conscious reflection is hilarious. The way he impersonates members in the crowd with his high pitched, serious demeanor, or concerned tone makes me laugh every time. The longevity and catalogue have really grown and elevated him into one of the best performers in the last 20 years
Favorite Performance/Tour: Beyond the Pale
Comment, email or call to tell us what you think!