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View Poll Results: Who was the funnier stand-up comedian?
George Carlin 128 57.40%
Richard Pryor 85 38.12%
I have to have a 3rd option and this is it. 10 4.48%
Voters: 223. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 09-14-2011, 07:55 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
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Funnier stand-up comedian: George Carlin or Richard Pryor?

Let me emphasize, this is only about stand-up comedy, not any acting gigs.

Who was the funnier comedian? Now George has died, too, and some time has passed, I thought it'd be a good to look at these two again.

Who do you think was the funnier comedian?
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  #2  
Old 09-14-2011, 08:15 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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Pryor was a lot more animated on stage. He made faces, did voices, acted out his punch lines, etc. He wasn't as manic as Robin Williams, but he was much more of a "performer" than Carlin. Carline was more laid-back, even in his early standup days. His personna was much more cool than Pryor.

Pryor's humor to me seemed more personal, while Carlin's was more observational. Different types of funny, so it really comes down to a matter of what you think is funnier.

One thing I'll use as a tie-breaker. If you watched a Richard Pryor routine with the sound turned off, you'd probably laugh at least once or twice by what you saw.
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  #3  
Old 09-14-2011, 08:30 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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In terms of pure funny, Richard Pryor made me laugh out loud more often and consistently. Carlin was more cerebral, but occasionally could make me laugh until I couldn't breathe.

Carlin did get more bitter and less funny as he got older. Pryor just got sick.

This is a hard one. Two very different kinds of comics, both with very distinct voices and styles who were both top shelf when they were on their game.

I guess I'm going to go with Pryor just for sheer quantity of laughs. I can also remember being able to recite huge chunks of his act with my friends, and I don't remember doing that so much with Carlin.

Last edited by Diogenes the Cynic; 09-14-2011 at 08:31 PM..
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  #4  
Old 09-14-2011, 09:04 PM
outlierrn outlierrn is offline
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Too close to call.
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  #5  
Old 09-14-2011, 09:07 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
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Oh, and I voted George Carlin. The man just made me laugh so much.
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  #6  
Old 09-14-2011, 09:12 PM
Blank Slate Blank Slate is offline
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I loved both, but that concert movie Pryor did around 1980 actually made me fall out of my chair laughing. Ok, so I was high, but so what? Pryor would make you laugh and think but Carlin more on the the think than the laugh, usually a little chuckle.
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  #7  
Old 09-14-2011, 09:23 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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I went with Carlin, but tomorrow I could pick Pryor. Both are comic geniuses.
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  #8  
Old 09-14-2011, 09:34 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Carlin has the edge on making you think. Pryor has the edge on making you wet yourself.

Pryor by a hair (that's on fire.)
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  #9  
Old 09-14-2011, 09:52 PM
Chicagojeff Chicagojeff is offline
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Love George.. but Rich and the monkeys... that shit with Jim Brown..
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  #10  
Old 09-14-2011, 09:55 PM
astorian astorian is offline
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George Carlin in his prime was brilliant, even though he got old and bitter later on.

Even at his alleged peak, Richard Pryor rarely did a thing for me.
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  #11  
Old 09-14-2011, 09:55 PM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
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Never watched any Pryor but enjoyed some Carlin stuff. I remember enjoying one of Carlin's books but I don't know that either of them are really my favorite.
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  #12  
Old 09-14-2011, 10:05 PM
Blank Slate Blank Slate is offline
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Carlin has the edge on making you think. Pryor has the edge on making you wet yourself.

Pryor by a hair (that's on fire.)

Quote:
When you are on fire, people get the fuck out of your way.
..
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  #13  
Old 09-14-2011, 10:37 PM
Sudden Kestrel Sudden Kestrel is offline
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This was a close one, but I ultimately had to go with Pryor. They both made me laugh really hard, but Pryor made it impossible for me not to laugh.
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  #14  
Old 09-14-2011, 10:38 PM
Martin Hyde Martin Hyde is offline
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Pryor, both had extremely funny material. In some ways I probably remember some Carlin material better than Pryor's stuff, but Pryor had the more enjoyable act to actually watch on TV or whatever, and I had a lot more actual laughs watching Pryor than Carlin.

I think Carlin had maybe some of the best material ever, better than Pryor's, but Pryor's was almost as good and I think he edges Carlin out in other areas like delivery and on-stage presence so Pryor is better overall.
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  #15  
Old 09-14-2011, 11:18 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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I'm remembering classic old Pryor stuff now. Remember the wino talking to Dracula?

"You wanna suck what? You can suck yo' ass on outta here."
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  #16  
Old 09-14-2011, 11:44 PM
outlierrn outlierrn is offline
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I hope I'm not the only one who remembers Pryor's after hours sketch. Massively unPC, but piss yourself funny. I'm certain that the character of Vera from Harlem Nights comes from that.
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  #17  
Old 09-15-2011, 12:19 AM
CanvasShoes CanvasShoes is offline
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Pryor relied too much on 4 letter words, Carlin used them correctly and cleverly and had a ton of really interesting takes on things.
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  #18  
Old 09-15-2011, 01:08 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Carlin was good but Pryor was a genius.
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  #19  
Old 09-15-2011, 01:59 AM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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There's very little I can add to the comments already made and I voted (reluctantly) for Carlin. Both are at the top of the funny list with not many others nearby. The poll(s) we had earlier this year on funny people mostly validated that statement.

What swayed me to Carlin was that Pryor relied on his act as much as his material and if anyone else used his material without the persona to make it work, it wouldn't have been anywhere near as effective, much less funny. Carlin's material was funnier and relied less on his act, even though his expressions, grimaces and funny faces helped underscore the words. Both could keep you laughing constantly.

As was said upthread by outlierrn, "too close to call." But I give the edge to George.
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  #20  
Old 09-15-2011, 08:34 AM
PapSett PapSett is offline
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Carlin. Both were hilariosly funny, but Pryor relied a little too much on potty humor and cursing. He didn't NEED that crutch.

Plus Carlin's cat "I meant to do that" skit is just about my all-time favorite, I haven't heard it in years and can still recite most of it by heart!
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  #21  
Old 09-15-2011, 08:37 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Both were hysterically funny, but Pryor had too much potty humor, while Carlin was intelligent. WAY more intelligent than Pryor or most anyone else. A genius.

ETA: On the SDMB, Carlin would be all over the board, while Pryor would hang out in the Pit.

Last edited by Annie-Xmas; 09-15-2011 at 08:40 AM..
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  #22  
Old 09-15-2011, 08:56 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Carlin, by a pretty wide margin. He struck me as a lot smarter than Pryor, and could make a lot more things funny than Pryor, 90% of whose shtick was profanity and shock humor.
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  #23  
Old 09-15-2011, 08:56 AM
Prelude to Fascination Prelude to Fascination is offline
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Carlin. I never liked Pryor's crutch use of foul language. I remember a friend of mine had Pryor's album That Nigger's Crazy, and I listened to it when I was 13-14. One part I remember was along the lines of, "Whatch yo gonna do tonight?" "Wait til 11:30." ""What happens at 11:30?" "Gonna pitch a bitch at 11:30." There was more to that bit, but that's what I remember after 35+ years. I didn't think it was particularly funny.

Carlin, on the other hand, had the Amazing Record Commercial, a bit somewhere around 5-10 minutes, in which he told us about the greatest offer ever made--a chance to have every record ever recorded since the beginning of time! "Now these records are yours, not for $1,000, not for $500, but for 12 cents a pound! That comes to just over $27,000, but that's okay, you can take a full week to pay if you'd like! Just take a leave of absence from your job and give 'em a listen. If you're not completely satisfied, just let us know, and we'll send a man out there to poison your dog!"

He also had newscasts, with great lines like, "A woman was killed today when she attempted to force breast-feed a wild cat!"

Not to mention, "My grandfather used to say something...he used to say, 'Get the FUCK outta my way, man!'"

I'll go with Carlin every time.
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  #24  
Old 09-15-2011, 09:45 AM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kunilou View Post
Pryor was a lot more animated on stage. He made faces, did voices, acted out his punch lines, etc. He wasn't as manic as Robin Williams, but he was much more of a "performer" than Carlin. Carline was more laid-back, even in his early standup days. His personna was much more cool than Pryor.

Pryor's humor to me seemed more personal, while Carlin's was more observational. Different types of funny, so it really comes down to a matter of what you think is funnier.
Having just happened to watch the Pryor-hosted episode of SNL from Season 1 (whose first episode had been hosted by Carlin), I certainly concur. If you just listened to comedy albums or read their material in print, Carlin would win hands down. You have to watch Pryor for his greatness to come through.

And Pryor's humor does seem more personal, more grounded in his own experience, which may make him a more YMMV comedian, that some people can relate to better than others.
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  #25  
Old 09-15-2011, 09:48 AM
Cartoonacy Cartoonacy is offline
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Of those two, Carlin by a mile. His early stuff had me rolling on the floor, but I can't recall ever getting more than a chuckle from Pryor.

If the question asked for the funniest stand-up comic rather than the funnier, my top three are (1) Steven Wright, (2) George Burns, and (3) Johnny Carson.
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  #26  
Old 09-15-2011, 09:55 AM
Oakminster Oakminster is online now
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Tough call, I really liked both guys, but I'll go with Pryor over Carlin. Carlin's material seemed more....crafted...for lack of a better word. Pryor seemed more naturally funny.
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  #27  
Old 09-15-2011, 09:59 AM
StusBlues StusBlues is offline
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A few years ago, I watched the movie Little Miss Sunshine.

Big mistake.

Let's just say I have trouble finding humor in pedophilia and child neglect (especially where heroin is involved). The "comedy" of the movie really pushed my buttons.

Then I watched the next DVD in the pile: 1978's Richard Pryor: Live in Concert.

Never before had my laugher been so heartfelt and cleansing. Pryor took most of the same tropes that Little Miss Sunshine had played with (bad relationships, poor parenting, dysfunctional families, sexual confusion) and used his utterly impeccable wit to tame them, to point out how destructive they were, and use laughter as a weapon. I realize that Richard wasn't able to use his own lessons in his own life (which was utterly out of control in 1978), but I was able to use them in mine. Seeing Richard made me feel good about myself and gave me tools to face the world on my own terms. He was quite a guy.

Carlin was good, too, but his hard-bitten cynicism doesn't measure up to Pryor's ability to pull joy out of hurt. I might laugh with Carlin, but Richard makes me feel it down to the bottom of my soul.

Last edited by StusBlues; 09-15-2011 at 10:00 AM..
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  #28  
Old 09-15-2011, 09:59 AM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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Carlin had stuff that was funny if you thought about it for a second. also stuff that was funny immediately and then funny again if you thought about it for a second later. also stuff that was funny the next day new again.
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  #29  
Old 09-15-2011, 10:06 AM
Skammer Skammer is offline
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Both were incredibly talented comedians. I find some of Pryor's stand-up less funny because he relied so heavily on profanity -- everything was m-f'n this and m-f'n that, and lots of pussy humor. It's fine as a seasoning but I thought he over did it. Kind of ironic, since Carlin's most famous bit is Seven Words You Can't Say on TV, but Carlin's humor just seemed smarter.

Incidentally Pryor was much more talented than Carlin as a comedy actor. He played well of Gene Wilder and was also great opposite Jackie Gleason in The Toy.
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  #30  
Old 09-15-2011, 10:07 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Originally Posted by Oakminster View Post
Tough call, I really liked both guys, but I'll go with Pryor over Carlin. Carlin's material seemed more....crafted...for lack of a better word. Pryor seemed more naturally funny.
In James Gleick's book about the physicist Richard Feynman, he (Gleick) asserts that there are two kinds of genius: folks who more or less think like the rest of us, but at a much greater capacity/higher level of function vs. "magicians" whose genius manifests in far-less-explainable ways - they truly seem to be coming from a whole 'nother place.

Carlin is, to me, an example of the former - a funny, observational mind that takes stuff we can all relate to, who is simply better at extracting the funny insight out of it.

Pryor is, to me, more like the latter - his humor comes from places I don't always have access to, but once he comes out with it, blows me away.

Or, put another way, Carlin appeals to my brain; Pryor appeals to my heart/emotions.

I tend to favor Carlin with more time and attention - I enjoy picking the locks of his humor and peering inside to see the mental connections he makes - but am gob-smacked by Pryor's delivery in ways I can't explain.
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  #31  
Old 09-15-2011, 10:50 AM
Hampshire Hampshire is offline
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I never really cared for either of them. Pryor just seemed to do foul mouthed characters who were supposed to be crazy, drunk, or high.
Carlin was okay to listen to and had some interesting observations but nothing about any of them ever suprised me or made me laugh. Old unidentifiable food in the fridge?
I was more a fan of Steve Martin's stand-up. Just straight delivery punchlines that came out of left field.
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  #32  
Old 09-15-2011, 11:19 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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I'm a bigger Carlin fan (and I've heard more of his stuff), but in terms of their achivement in standup, this is a Lennon/McCartney type of comparison.
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  #33  
Old 09-15-2011, 11:32 AM
MOIDALIZE MOIDALIZE is offline
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I happened to like old, bitter George. He was a scathing satirist.

One of my favorite Carlin bits was an older bit where he spent several minutes riffing on airplanes. Yes, jokes about flying, that old comedy staple. But his observations and his smartass retorts ("Get ON the plane? Fuck that, I'm getting IN the plane! Let Evel Knievel get ON the plane!"), and his exasperation at all the stupid and mindless crap you have to be subjected to take it to another level.
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  #34  
Old 09-15-2011, 12:37 PM
Who_me? Who_me? is offline
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Carlin was good but Pryor was a genius.
Agreed.
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  #35  
Old 09-15-2011, 12:46 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Originally Posted by MOIDALIZE View Post
I happened to like old, bitter George. He was a scathing satirist.
I agree, although at some of the lower points it was more complaining than satire.

Quote:
One of my favorite Carlin bits was an older bit where he spent several minutes riffing on airplanes.
Mine, too. I think that's the funniest standup act I've ever heard. It's on Jammin' in New York and lasts 16 minutes. As far as I know, no other standup comedian has half of Carlin's sense of language. That was his bread and butter from Class Clown to the end.
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  #36  
Old 09-15-2011, 02:25 PM
Blaster Master Blaster Master is offline
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I voted for Carlin, hands down. Both men are funny, but their styles are drastically different and Carlin's style is almost a dead ringer for a lot of my sense of humor. He had no problem going for the random stupid pun or silly jokes but the real essence of his humor was intellectual and thought provoking. I loved that he would tell a humorous story and make a meaningful philosophical point at the same time.

And that sort of humor becomes relevant in every day life which makes it that much funnier. Sure, you can tell a silly story at any point and have fun with it, but when I hear a euphemism, I think of his whole bit on that, or when there's censorship, I think about his bit on the 7 words. He's quotable in a way that makes them useful for making points and injecting that humor into daily life.
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  #37  
Old 09-15-2011, 02:39 PM
Skald the Rhymer Skald the Rhymer is offline
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Carlin. It's not even close. Pryor I found only mildly amusing, but it could be physically painful listening to the best of Carlin, so hard did I laugh.
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  #38  
Old 09-15-2011, 03:49 PM
outlierrn outlierrn is offline
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Originally Posted by Skammer View Post
Incidentally Pryor was much more talented than Carlin as a comedy actor. He played well of Gene Wilder and was also great opposite Jackie Gleason in The Toy.
If you can find it, check out Blue Collar for a dramatic role.
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  #39  
Old 09-15-2011, 04:20 PM
Bosstone Bosstone is offline
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Maybe it's just because a lot of people have aped Carlin over the years, but when I go back and listen to his acts he just doesn't have a lot of punch. He said some clever and true things ("other people's stuff is shit but your shit is stuff") but it's not all that funny. I can name several comedians today who are far, far funnier than Carlin. Carlin was influential, but not necessarily the best.

Pryor, on the other hand, was downright unique. Even his best disciples like Chris Rock are only a shadow. Anyone could have come up with Carlin's material; Pryor lived his. And I guess that's what it comes down to for me for stand-up humor: if it's real, it'll make me laugh. If it's too abstract or clearly contrived, it loses a lot of humor.

Look at Louis CK; he didn't find real success as a comedian until he started talking about his family and his life. His abstract observational humor is/was funny, but it's the stuff about his family and his life that really shines. (Ironically his breakthrough came by modeling Carlin's approach to stand-up, but I think Louis is funnier than Carlin.)

So of those two, Pryor wins.

Last edited by Bosstone; 09-15-2011 at 04:21 PM..
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  #40  
Old 09-15-2011, 08:26 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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To me, the distinction was that Carlin had funny material but Pryor was funny. If Carlin had bad material, he could bomb. But Pryor made bad material funny (which he unfortunately had to do too often in his movies).
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  #41  
Old 09-15-2011, 08:29 PM
Euphonious Polemic Euphonious Polemic is offline
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Did not vote; could not choose.
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  #42  
Old 09-15-2011, 10:03 PM
enomaj enomaj is offline
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Originally Posted by Euphonious Polemic View Post
Did not vote; could not choose.
So the only way to win this thread is not to post?
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  #43  
Old 09-15-2011, 10:05 PM
Sleel Sleel is offline
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Carlin. Vastly prefer Carlin's brand of humor, which is not surprising since my sense of humor is very similar to his. He made the same kind of cutting sarcastic observational comments I do. I actually liked him better when he was "old and bitter." I only really discovered him in the late 90s, but went back and found some of his older stuff later. He had the same style back then, but with much less of an edge. I like the edge.
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  #44  
Old 09-15-2011, 11:50 PM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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Carlin has HBO specials for years. I always looked forward to them. They were different thematically, and always funny. He was a great, thoughtful comedian for many ,many years. His body of work is far ahead of Pryor.
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  #45  
Old 09-16-2011, 12:32 AM
Invisible Chimp Invisible Chimp is offline
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Carlin has HBO specials for years. I always looked forward to them. They were different thematically, and always funny. He was a great, thoughtful comedian for many ,many years. His body of work is far ahead of Pryor.
That was Carlin's MO. He worked on material for the HBO special all year. When the special was over, he would chuck the old material and start working for next year's special.

I voted Carlin because I am simply more familiar with his work and I greatly enjoyed it. I liked the Pryor I've seen, but not enough to actively seek it out.
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  #46  
Old 09-16-2011, 01:17 AM
Spoons Spoons is offline
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As far as I know, no other standup comedian has half of Carlin's sense of language. That was his bread and butter from Class Clown to the end.
Bingo. Carlin knew the language so well, he could use it as he pleased to elicit laughs. His timing was perfect; and coupled with his knowledge of language, he could always get me to laugh.

Pryor, on the other hand, not so much. Oh, he was good; that should not be in doubt. But Pryor just didn't have the command of the language that Carlin did, and it was how Carlin used the language that worked for me.
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  #47  
Old 09-16-2011, 01:21 AM
Crown Prince of Irony Crown Prince of Irony is offline
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Carlin seemed to me to be a much more studied comedian - meaning his act was planned out to the letter, well rehearsed, and his intonation and delivery was always very practiced, almost like a one-man play.

Pryor was a lot looser, more of an ad-lib storyteller, which I've never really been a big fan of - Pryor, Cosby, Robert Klein, etc. The only "anecdotal" sort of comic I've ever liked has been Billy Connelly.

And frankly, a lot of Pryor's material falls flat to me because it involves a cultural experience that I just never understood until I was older - being raised in a rural, whitebread town, I never got the point of a lot of his bits, and every time I hear Pryor use the n-word, it turns me off even more.
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  #48  
Old 09-16-2011, 01:36 AM
Bosstone Bosstone is offline
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Originally Posted by Crown Prince of Irony View Post
Carlin seemed to me to be a much more studied comedian - meaning his act was planned out to the letter, well rehearsed, and his intonation and delivery was always very practiced, almost like a one-man play.
This is actually the problem for me. If it sounds planned out, I get annoyed. His patter was just too pat. He might as well have been reading off cue cards.

Then you get guys like Eddie Izzard who have their acts scripted out and rehearsed completely, but still sound like they're speaking extemporaneously. That appeals to me far more.
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  #49  
Old 09-16-2011, 01:55 AM
Crown Prince of Irony Crown Prince of Irony is offline
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This is actually the problem for me. If it sounds planned out, I get annoyed. His patter was just too pat. He might as well have been reading off cue cards.

Then you get guys like Eddie Izzard who have their acts scripted out and rehearsed completely, but still sound like they're speaking extemporaneously. That appeals to me far more.
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. I prefer the well rehearsed bit over the meandering bit with a diminishing payoff any day - and Carlin certainly could make some of his stuff sound like he was just riffing. "Seven Words" comes to mind, as does the bit about "all kids are special" on one of his more recent albums.

But Eddie Izzard? He has a mushmouthed delivery, very weak timing, and seems entirely too pleased with himself when he delivers a punchline - IMO.
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  #50  
Old 09-16-2011, 02:41 AM
AClockworkMelon AClockworkMelon is offline
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I didn't used to like George Carlin all that much but then I saw "It's Bad For Ya"; Funniest stand-up I've ever seen.
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