Comedy is subjective, evolves and sometimes based on current events which is why I want to outline this list is not in any particular order. I’ve been a fan of stand up comedy since I was in high school and comics I found funny in the past now seem lame to me. I’m sure many will look at this list and ask why certain comedians are missing and it’s simple .. they didn’t make me laugh as hard these 20 did.
1. Bill Burr
Bill Burr is a not only a comedian but also a guys guy. Also known for his roles in the movies “The Heat” and his roles in the hit TV show “Breaking Bad”. I also recommend checking out his podcast “The Monday Morning Podcast” which he does weekly.
“Guys, what are we doing ? Why are we working so hard and giving it all away .. to some chick who did three shifts at a fucking hooters ?”
2. Patrice Oneal
Another great comic out of Boston and underrated in my opinion. Patrice is known for his appearances on the “Opie and Anthony Show” and his offshoot radio show called “The Black Phillip Show” which revolved around mostly relationships. The more I listened to Patrice the more I realized he was a genius. His HBO special “Elephant in the room” had me in tears and a lot of Patrice’s comedy was gospel. I miss how he and Jim Norton (another comedian I love) worked off each other on the O&A Show.
This is my question, for life: have we retired the phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”? Is it legal for me to say, “I endorse hate speech, I don’t give a fuck”? I want hate speech. Why can’t I hate you…in speech?
3. Louis CK
Louis CK is revered even amongst other comedians. A brilliant standup comedian and the main character in his own TV Show “Louie” which has been nominated for numerous awards. Louis CK comes out with comedy almost every year which is an approach he adopted from George Carlin. He is easily viewed as one of the best comedians of all time.
People say, “My phone sucks.” No, it doesn’t! The shittiest cellphone in the world is a miracle. Your life sucks. Around the phone.
4. Jim Jefferies
I always thought he looked a lot like Danny Dyer and I found out about him two years ago from his comedy special “Alcoholocaust”. His comedy might be a little dark for some but I love it!
Men don’t give a fuck about kissing. Used to like kissing when we were in our early teens. Then someone sucked our dick. And then, “What’s this kissing thing? Why would I ride on the swings? I’ve already been to Disneyland.”
5. Brian Regan
Known as a “clean comic” much like Jerry Seinfeld. Brian Regan uses a brand of observational and sarcastic humour. The first time I heard his comedy he literally had me in tears while I was by myself. He references his childhood a lot and is very self deprecating and a comic that anyone would enjoy.
I don’t know what to eat. My doctor told me to read food labels. So I was in the store the other day I was trying to read the Fig Newtons label, I’ve always liked them and I was trying to see if it was OK to eat em. Everything looked pretty good, the fat content and everything, so I’m thinking, I could eat these and I looked at the serving size… two cookies. Who the hell eats two cookies? I eat Fig Newtons by the sleeve. Two sleeves is a serving size. I open up both and eat them like a tree chipper. Fig Newton shavings coming off the side. Then I put a Newton catcher and I empty that bag out as a snack. What the hell are they talking about two Fig Newtons, they’re the size of a postage stamp. You want another one? “Ohh I don’t know… I’ve already had two whole Fig Newtons. Maybe I could try to muscle one more down… I’m stuffed to the rafters.” They’re nuts. We got an ER here, we got a three Fig Newton eater. How many did he have? What is he nuts? Doesn’t he read? Who’s coming up with the serving sizes? A serving size of ice cream is a half a cup. What is that? Is that like a joke some guy put on there? “Hey come here. Look what I put for the serving size. Did Charlie see it? Charlie come here. Look what I put for the serving size. I just did it as a joke but it’s going out like that.
6. Chris Rock
Seems like forever since he’s released any standup but still viewed as one of the greatest comedians of all time. Known for his roles in SNL, a film star and a of course his standup which touched on current events, political issues and relationships.
“I used to work at McDonald’s making minimum wage. You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boos was trying to say? “Hey if I could pay you less, I would, but it’s against the law.”
7. Eddie Murphy
Of course he’s probably most known for his movies but I remember watching “Delirious” when I was in high school and having problems breathing from laughing so hard.
“Bear and a rabbit were taking a shit in the woods. And the bear turns to the rabbit and says, “Excuse me, do you have problems with shit sticking to your fur?” And the rabbit says, “No.” So the bear wiped his ass with the rabbit.”
8. Patton Oswalt
I first saw him in “King of Queens” before I discovered he did standup. His standup includes stories which are absolutely hilarious. If you like Patton then you might also like David Cross as I find their comedy very similar.
“That shit [religion] was going on all over the planet. They would tell them about sky cookies, or sky pie, or sky baklava. And as each of these civilizations grew, they built ships; they’d go visit each other, and the one guy would walk off the boat and go,’Hey, did you hear the good news about the sky baklava?’ and the first guy went,’It’s CAKE, motherfucker! You’re dead!'”
9. Daniel Tosh
Probably a more mainstream comic who uses a lot of hyperboles but always guaranteed to deliver a laugh.
“Even when I was a kid, my imaginary friend would play with the kid across the street. I’d be like, “Hey, so I guess I’ll see you later,” and he’s, like, “Whatever, queer”. That’s a hate crime!”
10. George Carlin
He was as much as a philosopher in my opinion as a standup comic and has probably had the longest running career out of any comedian and probably one of the most influential for other comics.
“Ever wonder about those people who spend $2 apiece on those little bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backward.”
11. Mitch Hedburg
Mitch was the king of one-liners and short jokes which kept audiences constantly laughing. Hedburg died of a drug overdose in 2005.
“I’m sick of following my dreams. I’m just going to ask them where they’re goin’, and hook up with them later.”
“I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too”
12. Jim Norton
Jim Norton’s standup is political, self-deprecating and sometimes crude but hilarious. On the O&A Show he occasionally breaks out into funny characters like Chip Chiperson, Uncle Paul and Ted. What I admire about Jim Norton is his wittiness, ability to debate and intelligence.
“God, do I hate my little fat tits. You ever pinch your little meat tits and wish you were dead? You ever just stand naked in the mirror. “You little fat-titted mediocre failure!” You ever do that for 3 hours on New Year’s Eve.”
13. Joe Rogan
Joe Rogan is probably most recognized from being a commentator on UFC and being the host of Fear Factor. I’m a big a fan of his podcast – The Joe Rogan Experience which has well is nearing 400 episodes with has had a wide variety of comedians, journalists, UFC fighters, scientists, conspiracy theorists and more. It amazes me how articulate and well versed he is on so many subjects.
“This country has a mental health problem disguised as a gun problem and a tyranny problem disguised as a security problem.”
14. Doug Stanhope
Like Andrew Dice Clay, Stanhope chain smokes during his standup but I can easily tell you which of the two are funnier. His comedy is political, religious and also crude but definitely worth the listen.
“Alcohol does not make ugly people attractive. It makes it so you could care less that they’re ugly.”
15. Ricky Gervais
I first found about Ricky Gervais from watching the UK version of the office. He’s not really a standup comic first but a damn good one.
“My greatest hero is Nelson Mandela……incarcerated for 25 years, he was released in 1990, he’s been out about 18 years now……and he hasn’t reoffended.” (Out Of England)”
16. Dane Cook
A very mainstream comedian who’s style is observational. I wouldn’t just consider Dane Cook a comedian but an entertainer. Probably the most animated comedian on stage there is. Despite accusations of him stealing bits there’s a reason why he became so popular.
“One thing that I’ve always wanted to do ever since I was little. I’ve always want to be abducted by a UFO. Yeah, sometimes I just go hang out in the woods. I’m just waiting for that blue light… “Ahh!” That’s how they suck you up by a beam of light, they suck you up by your chest, and that’s not necessary. Throw a rope ladder down, I’ll climb up, I’m interested. I’m here for you. Don’t suck me up by my chest, that hurts. You’re a hovering craft, why wouldn’t I come in and poke around for a minute? It would be great to be abducted. What did you guy’s do this weekend? “Dude, we got hammered, it was awesome.” Ohh yeah? I was abducted. I was zipping around the galaxy”
17. Jim Gaffigan
Jim Gaffigan won me over with with his “Mr. Universe” one-hour special. I’m not a fan of the high-pitched asides but his self-deprecating humour is hilarious.
“When they first introduced bottled water, I thought it was so funny. I was like, “Bottled water! Ha ha, they’re selling bottled water! I guess I’ll try it… Ahh… this is good. This is more watery than water. Yeah, this has got a water kick to it.”
18. Jerry Seinfeld
Before I became a fan of standup comedy I was a fan of Seinfeld which is probably one of the most quoted shows of all time. He’s known as a “clean comic” whose humour is mostly observational.
“What I don’t understand is how women can pour hot wax on their bodies, let it dry, then rip out every single hair by its root and still be scared of spiders.”
19. Richard Pryor
Probably the most influential comedian there is. He was a great storyteller who’s known for his examination of racism and was seen as the “picasso of comedy” by Jerry Seinfeld.
“There was a time in my life when I thought I had everything – millions of dollars, mansions, cars, nice clothes, beautiful women, and every other materialistic thing you can imagine. Now I struggle for peace.”
20. Bill Hicks
Bill wasn’t like many comedians. His brand of controversial and dark comedy typically involved discussions about society, philosophy, religion and personal issues.
“I can speak for every guy in this room here tonight. Guys, if you could blow yourselves, ladies, you’d be in this room alone right now. Watching an empty stage.”
Honorable mentions: Dave Atell, David Cross, Dave Chappelle, Aziz Ansari, Lewis Black, Russell Peters, Mike Birbiglia