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Old 01-18-2020, 02:30 AM
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Who is the very best and very worst comedian of all time?


I got to watching some Youtube clips of Don Rickles yesterday and I've never LOL'd so hard or so long. I would guess most people might think that Robin Williams was the funniest person ever. But he is almost entirely cerebral. I think the funniest person of all time has to have a mix of both physical and cerebral comedy. So my vote goes to Don Rickles.

I was watching Rickles doing a roast and Phyllis Diller did a short bit. But that was enough. IMO, there is no doubt. She is just the very worst of the worst. That insane cackle she does - the one that sounds like a mix between a crow's caw and a hyena's cackle ... well she seems to think she can use that as a substitute for humor and I find it worse than ten people clawing their finger nails across a blackboard.

IMO, Phyllis Diller wins hands down - the very worst comedian ever.
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Old 01-18-2020, 03:06 AM
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Extremely difficult to make that call. Those that I would put on Mount Rushmore would be there not only for their ability to make people laugh but due to their importance to the craft and to culture. Someone like Pryor or Carlin. They were hilarious when they went for laughs. But their routines were not always about telling jokes. Chappelle is like that now.

If you want to base it strictly on being funny over a long period of time you cant beat Brian Regan.

For worst and most annoying it cant get worse than Bill Saluga.
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Old 01-18-2020, 04:01 AM
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Jonathan Winters springs to mind first! Worst? Can't go that direction on purpose but it wouldn't take long to get to THE WORST if I had to! Besides Jonathan there's Jeff Foxworthy.
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Old 01-18-2020, 04:33 AM
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The first that came mind are George Carlin for best, and Andrew Dice Clay for worst. As Dennis Miller said about Clay, "He's Fonzie with Tourette's Syndrome."
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Old 01-18-2020, 04:56 AM
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For worst, it's hard to beat Kenny Moore, who once pissed off a heckler so much that Moore had to hit the guy over the head with his guitar once the heckler approached the stage (https://youtu.be/BqxDcxoWUJo).

If we're talking about world-famous comics, though, I can't pick a greatest. My heroes are George Carlin, Lewis Black, the Amazing Jonathan, and Greg Giraldo. Kathleen Madigan may be the funniest female comic I've ever seen. I considered Tim Wilson a friend. Don Rickles was a god.

On the other end of the spectrum, I tend to dislike prop comics like Carrot Top, and a comic whose whole gig consists of impressions will make me lose interest very quickly.
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Old 01-18-2020, 05:44 AM
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Stand-up comedians who use celebrity impressions as their sole focus are the absolute worst. People like Rich Little and Fred Travalena who were all over talk shows and events in the 70s and 80s with the most basic obvious impressions everyone was doing.
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Old 01-18-2020, 05:50 AM
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Extremely difficult to make that call. Those that I would put on Mount Rushmore would be there not only for their ability to make people laugh but due to their importance to the craft and to culture. Someone like Pryor or Carlin. They were hilarious when they went for laughs. But their routines were not always about telling jokes. Chappelle is like that now.

If you want to base it strictly on being funny over a long period of time you cant beat Brian Regan.

For worst and most annoying it cant get worse than Bill Saluga.
I've never heard of Brian Regan but I am now looking to see if I can find the best deal for a collection of his material.

Thank you for the lead.
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Old 01-18-2020, 05:51 AM
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For worst, it's hard to beat Kenny Moore, who once pissed off a heckler so much that Moore had to hit the guy over the head with his guitar once the heckler approached the stage (https://youtu.be/BqxDcxoWUJo).

If we're talking about world-famous comics, though, I can't pick a greatest. My heroes are George Carlin, Lewis Black, the Amazing Jonathan, and Greg Giraldo. Kathleen Madigan may be the funniest female comic I've ever seen. I considered Tim Wilson a friend. Don Rickles was a god.

On the other end of the spectrum, I tend to dislike prop comics like Carrot Top, and a comic whose whole gig consists of impressions will make me lose interest very quickly.
I completely forget about Carrot Dork. Had I remembered, he would have come real close to "The Worst".
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Old 01-18-2020, 06:23 AM
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Gallagher the worst George Carlin the best
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Old 01-18-2020, 06:30 AM
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Best: George Carlin, Steven Wright, Kelly Monteith, Stephen Banks, each the best in their own niches.

Worst: Pauly Shore, Andrew "Dick" Clay, Sam Kinison, Rosanne, each non-deserving of a niche to be in.
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Old 01-18-2020, 06:46 AM
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The first that came mind are George Carlin for best, and Andrew Dice Clay for worst. As Dennis Miller said about Clay, "He's Fonzie with Tourette's Syndrome."
Carlin best, Clay worst.

I could not be more sure of my choices.


mmm
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Old 01-18-2020, 07:30 AM
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Worst: Bernard Manning.

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Old 01-18-2020, 07:33 AM
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Back in the 80's / early 90's I lived in an area with multiple comedy clubs. Pretty much every comedian working came through at some point, many of them regularly and I was there a lot. Apart from the greats like Carlin who we all know, I'll say one of the best I saw was Richard Jeni.

Saw him several times, always incredible. Once when he was headlining I was there for the late show and since he didn't have to finish by a certain time, he just kept going. Did about 90 minutes as I remember, and all of his material was amazing. Very sad that he came to a bad end.

As for the worst, I once had to sit through Lenny Schultz' act. He had been on Laugh-In and was well known at the time. Found him absolutely not funny. Kept wondering why he was up there.

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Old 01-18-2020, 07:41 AM
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The two that had me laughing the most were Dennis Wolfberg and Chris Rush. Wolfberg died too soon and Rush never did much after his album First Rush.

For a long, consistent career, it's Carlin, though.

Hard to think of a worst. I don't submit myself to bad standup. Based solely on standup, it's Steve Martin, but Martin's act was an writer/actor only pretending to do standup. His jokes were never that funny. -- just catchphrases --, but his acting fooled people into thinking it was. One he stopped pretending to do standup, he showed himself a top-notch comic actor.
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Old 01-18-2020, 07:57 AM
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Back in the 80's / early 90's I lived in an area with multiple comedy clubs. Pretty much every comedian working came through at some point, many of them regularly and I was there a lot. Apart from the greats like Carlin who we all know, I'll say one of the best I saw was Richard Jeni.

Saw him several times, always incredible. Once when he was headlining I was there for the late show and since he didn't have to finish by a certain time, he just kept going. Did about 90 minutes as I remember, and all of his material was amazing. Very sad that he came to a bad end.

As for the worst, I once had to sit through Lenny Schultz' act. He had been on Laugh-In and was well known at the time. Found him absolutely not funny. Kept wondering why he was up there.
I performed stand-up for about 6 years as my main occupation (I think there are stories about this on this very board). Prior to that, I was kind of a club rat, hanging around the local clubs to the point where they knew me on a first-name basis, and would let me in even though I was underage.

I saw Lenny Schultz snap on stage one night, and start throwing beer bottles and punches at someone in the audience.
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Old 01-18-2020, 08:11 AM
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The one comic who could reduce me to helpless tears of laughter more often than anyone else was Bill Cosby. So he gets to be both the best and the worst IMHO.
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Old 01-18-2020, 08:19 AM
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The one comic who could reduce me to helpless tears of laughter more often than anyone else was Bill Cosby. So he gets to be both the best and the worst IMHO.
Very well done!
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Old 01-18-2020, 08:27 AM
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All is pretty much spot on. But I would include Mitch Hedberg in the best list. Though he passed away at only 37.

Steven Wright too. I love the absurd one liners. But he also made a quirky sense. "I walk my dog around the ledge of my building. I'm not afraid of heights, I'm afraid of widths"

Carlin was great when he was great. But some of his stuff that I hear on XM just seems to want to shock with no real comedy. I find 'shock' comedy boring.
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Old 01-18-2020, 08:38 AM
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I'd go with Carlin for his ability with words, and Robin Williams for his improv ability. Nobody comes close to Williams's improv powers.

A lot are worst, and one that hasn't been mentioned is Roseanne. Her show was funny, she was not.
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Old 01-18-2020, 08:39 AM
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I loves me some Brian Regan and Kathleen Madigan! Paula Poundstone usually tickles me, too.

No way I can pick a worst, but when I'm listening to the comedy channels on SiriusXM, I'll automatically turn off Seinfeld, Ralphie May, Larry the Cable Guy, and Jeff Dunham. I think it's mostly that I don't find their material funny, but not that it's necessarily bad.

When I was younger, I thought Rickles was a hoot, but more recently, I don't find his stuff funny at all. Same with Johnathan Winters - his improv bits don't do anything for me, but eons ago, I thought he was hilarious. Tastes change, I guess...
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Old 01-18-2020, 08:43 AM
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For ‘best’ I think we’d have to figure out years spent in comedy, number of albums or specials, amount for material over decades, timelessness. When the dust has settled I’d bet we’d end up with Bob Hope, someone I don’t think is particularly funny, but lots do and for a long time.


Then there is Sandra Bernhard, a comedy black hole. She’s a decent host though, she sucks so bad you’re excited to see the next act no matter who it is.

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Old 01-18-2020, 09:38 AM
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I agree with Cosby. I was a teen when he first released an album in 1964. I thought it was the funniest thing I'd ever heard. Now, I had seen many of the comics of the day on programs like Ed Sullivan, and some of them raised a laugh or guffaw, but none had me howling like Cosby did. He was also consistent over all those decades in keeping his humor fresh and clean. He was one of the few who could go on stage with just some ideas and do an hour of stand-up. Most other comedians were in awe of him for that.

The next person to make me laugh like that was George Carlin. More cerebral than Cosby, he was terrific at pointing out human foibles.

And then came Eddie Murphy. I was in tears listening to his "Delirious" album. I've never laughed that hard before or since.

And lastly, there's Tim Conway. His combination of verbal and physical comedy still makes me howl.
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Old 01-18-2020, 10:06 AM
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Worst: Bernard Manning.

Two click rule: NSFW, offensive, racist, sexist, not funny and altogether appalling.
There will never be another Bernard Manning. Thank god. The worst ever. But honourable mentions to Steve Martin and Robin Williams.

Best: Bill Hicks

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Old 01-18-2020, 10:34 AM
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The one comic who could reduce me to helpless tears of laughter more often than anyone else was Bill Cosby. So he gets to be both the best and the worst IMHO.
Yes, good call.
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Old 01-18-2020, 10:35 AM
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Best: George Carlin, Dennis Miller (pre 9/11) Whoppi Goldberg, Bill Cosby

Worst: Gallagher or Eddie Murphy.

I actually had a college professor who gave us some exam clues (Wednesday before Thanksgiving) and then spent the rest of the class period showing us part of Whoppi Goldberg’s one woman show and there was an extra credit question about it on the final!
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Old 01-18-2020, 10:43 AM
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Lenny Bruce gets a lot of accolades for his groundbreaking comedy, for standing up for what was right at great personal expense, for being a symbol of the oppressive moral enforcement of his day, etc. Good on him for all of that.

But as a comedian, he just wasn't funny. I've listened to a few of his bits. It's as if he was going for shock value on shock value alone, throwing out words like "Nigger" and "Dyke" and making the audience chuckle uncomfortably, without actually pinning those words onto a coherent set of jokes.

A decade later, Richard Pryor did the same thing, only he was funny.
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Old 01-18-2020, 10:50 AM
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Tig Notaro is on my Worst List.
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Old 01-18-2020, 10:53 AM
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I was wondering when someone would mention Pryor. Hes my choice for best. Worst, obviously, they were so bad I can't remember them.
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Old 01-18-2020, 11:05 AM
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Wouldn't the worst stand-up comedians be one of the many who never make it past the open mic night at some local comedy club? Rather than, say, Carrot Top, who somehow has a regular show at a Las Vegas casino, or one of the other recognizable names mentioned above.
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Old 01-18-2020, 11:13 AM
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My personal favorite is Rodney Dangerfield followed by George Carlin and Richard pryor.

As far as worst I'd go with Pauly Shore. His father --Sammy Shore--was a comedian and co-owned a comedy club with his wife in West Hollywood. Frankly if it wasn't for his parents I don't think Pauly's "talent" would have warranted a career as an entertainer on its own merits.
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Old 01-18-2020, 11:22 AM
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The three I grew up on as a kid were Bill Cosby ("Himself"), Eddie Murphy ("Delirious") and Robin Williams ("Live At the Met"). Those were my first exposures to stand-up comedy, so my tastes were very much shaped by them. I've probably soured the most on Robin Williams' comedy since then, but I still think he was a master of that hyper-coked-up style of improvisation.

My favorites now depend on my mood. I love Bill Burr, though I can see him as being a bit disfavored by some. But he's probably my favorite right now. Brian Regan is great, and if you want other clean comedy, I think Jim Gaffigan is fantastic and a hell of a lot more than just being the "Hot Pockets" comic.

Steve Wright and Mitch Hedberg are definitely masters of their style of their brand of mostly one-liner humor, but I also think Emo Phillips is up there, despite his idiosycratic delivery.

Worst, I dunno. I find Carlos Mencia pretty terrible. Jeff Dunham, Dane Cook, same. Larry the Cable Guy.

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Old 01-18-2020, 11:25 AM
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My vote, Best is George Carlin, worst is Emo Phillips, or any of the "delivery" comics (where the delivery, more than the material, is what is supposed to be funny. See Sam Kinnison). With an honorable mention to Andy Kaufman. Making people uncomfortable isn't comedy, it's just painful.

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Old 01-18-2020, 11:26 AM
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For me, my tastes change, especially as new comedians build and improve on other's work. I agree with most of the names mentioned above, both best and worst, but my choices may change tomorrow if I hear someone doing a new riff on their work.
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Old 01-18-2020, 11:29 AM
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Worst, I dunno. I find Carlos Mencia pretty terrible. Jeff Dunham, Dane Cook, same. Larry the Cable Guy.
What little I've seen and heard of Jeff Dunham I've found really not at all funny.
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Old 01-18-2020, 11:30 AM
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My vote, Best is George Carlin, worst is Emo Phillips, or any of the "delivery" comics (where the delivery, more than the material, is what is supposed to be funny.
Well, that's the thing I discovered about Emo when I revisited his work a few months ago. His material actually is funny if you like that style of one-liner a la Steven Wright or Mitch Hedberg. It's a pity he's only remembered for his schtick, and his current work is much toned-down in that regard. I remember thinking he sucked in the 80s and 90s, and don't even know how I went down the rabbit hole to rediscover his work, but I find it a hell of a lot funnier than I remember it.
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Old 01-18-2020, 11:35 AM
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No one (including me) has mentioned Bob Newhart yet. His standup work was outstanding.
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Old 01-18-2020, 11:36 AM
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No one (including me) has mentioned Bob Newhart yet. His standup work was outstanding.
Ah, yes, classic.
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Old 01-18-2020, 11:42 AM
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Best? Tom Lehrer.
Worst? Gilbert Gottfried.
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Old 01-18-2020, 12:15 PM
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For best I think wed have to figure out years spent in comedy, number of albums or specials, amount for material over decades, timelessness. When the dust has settled Id bet wed end up with Bob Hope, someone I dont think is particularly funny, but lots do and for a long time.


Then there is Sandra Bernhard, a comedy black hole. Shes a decent host though, she sucks so bad youre excited to see the next act no matter who it is.
I'm getting you for my social director pronto! I can already taste the fun.
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Old 01-18-2020, 12:36 PM
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I got to watching some Youtube clips of Don Rickles yesterday and I've never LOL'd so hard or so long. I would guess most people might think that Robin Williams was the funniest person ever. But he is almost entirely cerebral. I think the funniest person of all time has to have a mix of both physical and cerebral comedy. So my vote goes to Don Rickles.
I've always had thoughts about Rickles, but I watched a few of his routines before posting this, just to make sure.

I just don't like Rickles. While he is absurdly quick on his feet, I do not find him very funny at all. First, I'm not a fan of insult comics ... too easy. Especially when it's famous people who need to be seen laughing at themselves. Roasts are not my thing. Second, he's way too hammy. The tie grabs, the "did I just say that?" looks, and the mugging all cover, to me, weak material. Third, it is uncomfortable watching how close to the line, and oftentimes over the line, he goes in regards to racist stereotypes. I want to laugh, not cringe at half-veiled racists insults. Finally, there's very little subtlety or thoughtfulness behind his humor. I want to laugh, sure, but I also want a little substance in the humor. Not just "hockey puck" or "look how weird Mexicans' talk".

Add me to the Bob Newhart for best list. Worst? There are a ton of bad comedians out there. But bad and somewhat famous? Dane Cook. Guy sucked.
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Old 01-18-2020, 12:39 PM
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Buddy Hackett ranks up there for me.
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Old 01-18-2020, 12:46 PM
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Oh. I blissfully forgot about Larry the Cable Guy. He's funny as a Klan rally.
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Old 01-18-2020, 01:10 PM
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Buddy Hackett ranks up there for me.
One of the worst for me. Other worsts: Rip Taylor, Gallagher, Dunham, Jeff Garlin, Sandra Bernhard. The list is quite long.
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Old 01-18-2020, 01:11 PM
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For stand up, it's Billy Connolly
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1f8K_EpVtaI

for shows its Tim Conway - timing, off script and live
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qqE_WmagjY

A British comic that attracts a lot of criticism is Jim Davidson
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Old 01-18-2020, 01:15 PM
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I hear people raving about Amy Schumer, but she does nothing for me at all. And I absolutely don't understand the appeal of Lisa Lampanelli.

However, John Pinette always cracks me up. so sad that he died far too soon.
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Old 01-18-2020, 01:26 PM
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I'm getting you for my social director pronto! I can already taste the fun.
"No matter who it is?"

I can think of one person who is much, much worse (IMHO) than Sandra - and that is Kathy Griffin. No matter what mistakes she may have made ...... Funny? ...... No. No. No. No. No.
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Old 01-18-2020, 01:57 PM
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Niel Hamburger would have to go down as classiest all-time comedian, and Rupert Pupkin could sometimes push the envelope, but damn that hunk Marty Allen could really hit it out of the park.

Wow, I'd never heard of Bernard Manning before. Fascinatingly horrid. Thank-you.

The greatest, though, will always be Bob and Ray.
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Old 01-18-2020, 02:07 PM
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I haven't listened to a Smothers Brothers album in forever, but I remember them being pretty entertaining.
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Old 01-18-2020, 02:49 PM
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For stand up, it's Billy Connolly
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1f8K_EpVtaI

for shows its Tim Conway - timing, off script and live
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qqE_WmagjY

A British comic that attracts a lot of criticism is Jim Davidson
I love that elephant story with Tim Conway. I still laugh when I watch it.
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Old 01-18-2020, 02:52 PM
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I'm fascinated by the lack of Louis CK on anyone's best or worst list. He's the comic I'm most petulant about being awful, because so much of his material about parenting resonates with me on a daily basis.

Carlin's never done much for me, which makes me feel flawed. His schtick of being a smirking curmudgeon calling out hypocrisy probably wasn't played out when he was doing it, I guess?

Trevor Noah's standup is outstanding, and he and John Mulvaney are the folks I'm most excited about these days.
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