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  #101  
Old 01-20-2020, 03:05 PM
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Tough, thought provoking thread here.....

I love several stand up comics, most of which were mentioned, like Carlin, John Pinette, Billy Connoly, Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby.

My all time favorite has to be Mitch Hedberg (check my sig ) He was the most original and unique comic I ever heard.

Also - no love for the hilarious Ricky Gervais?
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  #102  
Old 01-20-2020, 03:22 PM
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T......no love for the hilarious Ricky Gervais?
I'll give him some love. I couldn't stand The Office (for example), but I saw him doing standup and he is brilliant.

Has anyone mentioned Peter Cook? Flawed genius doesn't do him justice. Massively flawed genius doesn't either. But still a rare talent. I remember seeing John Cleese talk about him thus: Cleese could sit down at his desk and put in an eight hour day and (in his opinion) produce three minutes of material just as good as Peter Cook's output. The difference between them? In order to produce three minutes of material, Peter Cook required three minutes.

j
  #103  
Old 01-20-2020, 04:55 PM
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Some people who say Leno was not good are still ticked off about Conan losing the tonight show. They may go to their grave mad about that. Of course Conan was paid $33 mil when he was axed from Tonight show so I don't feel too bad for him.
  #104  
Old 01-20-2020, 07:05 PM
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I'll give him some love. I couldn't stand The Office (for example), but I saw him doing standup and he is brilliant.j
Yeah, I'm exactly the opposite with him. Love him in his acting roles; don't like his standup.
  #105  
Old 01-20-2020, 09:31 PM
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(ducks behind flameproof shield) I don't think David Sedaris is funny, in print or onstage.
David Sedaris is not, technically, a comedian.

His earlier books were amusing, but as time went on, I thought 'he's just making it up as he goes'; his later books are odd but melancholy, and I think he is really exhausting all his memoirs.

Last edited by salinqmind; 01-20-2020 at 09:35 PM.
  #106  
Old 01-20-2020, 09:36 PM
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Saw David Sedaris from the 3rd row last month. Some of his stuff was funny but not all of it. This was in Raleigh where he lived as a kid. When he took questions someone asked the dumb question: "Do you stay in a hotel here or stay with friends?" He said he stays in a hotel but he had relatives at the show.

His brother runs a local flooring company: https://sedarishardwoodfloors.com/
  #107  
Old 01-21-2020, 03:34 AM
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Some people who say Leno was not good are still ticked off about Conan losing the tonight show. They may go to their grave mad about that. Of course Conan was paid $33 mil when he was axed from Tonight show so I don't feel too bad for him.
I thought Jay Leno was a hoot doing stand-up in the mid 80s. His TV show, to me, was worth a few half-hearted chuckles here and there.

Of course, network TV placed constraints on decorum/language, but still....
  #108  
Old 01-21-2020, 06:32 AM
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Good call on Ricky Gervais, I enjoy both the TV and standup.

Great call on Peter Cook, a rare, rare talent indeed.

Someone not mentioned and someone who is not a standup and not even a true comic performer but Armando Iannucci is a comedy god. A central point around which much of the best comedy writers and performers of the last 30 years have pivoted. You know his work and his influences even if you don't know the name.
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  #109  
Old 01-21-2020, 08:43 AM
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Talk of Whose Line Is It Anyway brings to mind Ryan Stilles. He does smary comedy better than anyone, including me.
  #110  
Old 01-21-2020, 08:56 AM
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I thought Jay Leno was a hoot doing stand-up in the mid 80s. His TV show, to me, was worth a few half-hearted chuckles here and there.

Of course, network TV placed constraints on decorum/language, but still....
As I remember, Leno didn't need those constraints. He was known to be a clean comic.
  #111  
Old 01-21-2020, 09:44 AM
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So, I just watched about an hour and a half YouTube clips of John Mulaney. He's good! I don't know why I've never heard of him before.
Did you run across The Salt and Pepper Diner? It's my single favorite bit of standup ever.
  #112  
Old 01-21-2020, 09:59 AM
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Leno was basically a clean comic prior to the Tonight show. But I'm sure he was more careful about what he did on TV since he did not want to lose that job. And in fact NBC considered firing Leno during his first year and they even offered Letterman the job. Letterman's agent wanted the NBC offer on paper and NBC did not want to put it in writing for fear of it being leaked so that ended the NBC offer to Letterman who then went to CBS.
  #113  
Old 01-21-2020, 10:34 AM
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Did you run across The Salt and Pepper Diner? It's my single favorite bit of standup ever.
I just listened to it now. Hilarious!

Thanks.

ETA: The accompanying article is good too.

Last edited by Leaffan; 01-21-2020 at 10:35 AM.
  #114  
Old 01-21-2020, 12:27 PM
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Richard Lewis, OTOH, can be erased from history like an enemy of Stalin's for all I care.
This joke right here puts you among the best listed. Thanks for making me piss my pants.
  #115  
Old 01-21-2020, 12:50 PM
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Leno was basically a clean comic prior to the Tonight show. But I'm sure he was more careful about what he did on TV since he did not want to lose that job. And in fact NBC considered firing Leno during his first year and they even offered Letterman the job. Letterman's agent wanted the NBC offer on paper and NBC did not want to put it in writing for fear of it being leaked so that ended the NBC offer to Letterman who then went to CBS.
For anyone who wants to read about the behind the scenes going-ons when Johnny Carson retired and NBC was looking for a replacement I would highly recommend the book The Late Shift by Bill Carter. It goes into detail about Carson's retirement, the start of Leno's and Letterman's careers, Joan River's failed attempt at a late night talk show and even Arsenio Hall's show.

https://www.amazon.com/Late-Shift-Le...9632562&sr=1-1

He also wrote a later book about the whole debacle about Conan O'Brian'as attempt to take over The Tonight Show.

https://www.amazon.com/War-Late-Nigh...48KZYGAJMT63TP

Last edited by dorvann; 01-21-2020 at 12:51 PM.
  #116  
Old 01-21-2020, 01:42 PM
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Not sure I could pick a "best", because I like different styles of comedy. I'm always impressed by a comic who's quick enough to improv, and riff on what the audience gives them. Jimmy Carr is brilliant at this; he actually invites hecklers, to give him a target for his fire. He's also able to pull off shock comedy, which is hard to do without it sounding like a shtick.

On the other hand, some observational comics rise to the level of cultural critics, and can talk about significant ideas and important concepts in a way that still garners laughs. Dara O Briain is hilarious, but is almost a public intellectual.

(Thanks to hours of watching Mock The Week, Eight Out Of Ten Cats Do Countdown, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, et al. on YouTube, I'm more familiar with British comedians than Americans).

I saw Mike Birbiglia live on his last tour, doing "My New Couch". I wouldn't call it comedy, though; his routine was funny, yes, but also painful and sad and profound and moving. It was storytelling as performance art.


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I loved Mark Russell's PBS specials in the 80s and 90s. He's still living but retired many years ago; I'd love to see what he would do with modern material, I guess.

(ducks behind flameproof shield) I don't think David Sedaris is funny, in print or onstage.
You're not the only one. But saying that you don't like David Sedaris is like admitting you don't like jazz, or This American Life, or the Boston Red Sox - the NPRigensia looks down on you, and PBS returns your pledge check.
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  #117  
Old 01-21-2020, 01:46 PM
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For anyone who wants to read about the behind the scenes going-ons when Johnny Carson retired and NBC was looking for a replacement I would highly recommend the book The Late Shift by Bill Carter. It goes into detail about Carson's retirement, the start of Leno's and Letterman's careers, Joan River's failed attempt at a late night talk show and even Arsenio Hall's show.
The Late Shift was made into a made-for-HBO movie, which was pretty entertaining.

Last edited by Dewey Finn; 01-21-2020 at 01:47 PM.
  #118  
Old 01-21-2020, 04:22 PM
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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.
Don't go dissing my "best choice" Emo. I thought his opening act for Weird Al last year was better than the concert....

I first caught him on the Late Show with David Letterman. His religion on the bridge joke is great!

His interactions with David Letterman were pretty funny.
- David: So where did the name Emo come from?
- Emo: Ever been to Finland?
- David: Are you Finnish?
- Emo: No, I have lots more jokes.

(before the term emo got co-opted)
  #119  
Old 01-21-2020, 04:47 PM
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His religion on the bridge joke is great!
Off the bridge, heretic!
  #120  
Old 01-21-2020, 09:47 PM
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So, I just watched about an hour and a half YouTube clips of John Mulaney. He's good! I don't know why I've never heard of him before.


Yes!! My work here is done.
  #121  
Old 01-22-2020, 09:12 AM
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Dave Allen from Ireland was very funny on the BBC but I don't think he was ever popular in the US. I saw his show on a local PBS station right after they showed Fawlty Towers. Dave ended his show with "Goodnight and may your God go with you"
He was famous for taking the p!ss out of the church, especially the Catholics. And Allen was a Catholic.
  #122  
Old 01-22-2020, 09:49 AM
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For breadth, quality and durability, I'd pick Art Carney and Andy Kaufman.

Worst - Seinfeld - always a one liner. always the same cadence.
  #123  
Old 01-22-2020, 10:11 AM
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Hard to single any of them out as "worst", but there are quite a few classic comedians with heavy-duty reputations that I never found especially funny or even entertaining - including Jerry Lewis, Rodney Dangerfield, Joan Rivers and Milton Berle. And urggh, Tim Conway.

Among the best in my view have been Bob Newhart, Cosby and Robin Williams.
  #124  
Old 01-22-2020, 02:22 PM
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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.
While Robin Williams was very quick, I would consider him great at stream of consciousness riffing more than I would for improvisation. I recall seeing him on Whose Line Is It Anyway? once, and while it was fun, I felt Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles ran circles around him. Could just be me though.
  #125  
Old 01-22-2020, 02:52 PM
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Best - Me - my jokes are always funny and my wife always laughs. This can't be said for any comedian we;'ve watched together. SHe also always tells me I should be one.

Worst - My dad - his jokes are just so old.

(somehow, i think my kids think the same thing - so it must be right)
  #126  
Old 01-22-2020, 03:02 PM
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We could divide this up into several categories:

Who was the best/worst at stand-up?
...at improv?
...at sketch comedy?
...at physical comedy?
etc.
  #127  
Old 01-23-2020, 07:36 AM
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The best? Frankie Boyle, Jimmy Carr, Eddie Izzard and locally, Trevor Noah.

The worst? I don't know, I've seen many dismal people at improv nights. But of the big names, I can't stand Jerry Seinfeld or Jeff Foxworthy or Larry The Cable Guy. And that shouty guy - Lewis Black?
  #128  
Old 01-23-2020, 07:57 AM
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While Robin Williams was very quick, I would consider him great at stream of consciousness riffing more than I would for improvisation. I recall seeing him on Whose Line Is It Anyway? once, and while it was fun, I felt Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles ran circles around him. Could just be me though.
No, it's not just you. Stiles and Mochrie are masters of the craft; there haven't been ten greater improv artists in the history of the world. Robin Williams was a very funny man but improv (as distinct from using improvization in standup) was not his forte.

Improv is a different art from standup, and it's very hard, which is why most improv is terrible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slow Moving Vehicle
Not sure I could pick a "best", because I like different styles of comedy. I'm always impressed by a comic who's quick enough to improv, and riff on what the audience gives them.
This comes with extensive practice, which I know sounds contradictory but it's true. A comic who appears to be riffing off the top of her head has a lot of response material memorized - in all honesty, audiences are generally quite predictable and they're going to say and react in the same ways. When the MC at your local club chooses a schlemiel in the front row and asks him where he's from and what he does for a living, the MC will almost certainly be able to use responses, jokes, tags and callbacks she's used, or that are similar to ones she's used, before. There's a process to it you have to learn if you want to do crowd work (and if you want to MC, you really should.)
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  #129  
Old 01-26-2020, 09:42 AM
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There are many good ones many have been mentioned, others I still not see. I did want to comment a bit more about George Carlin. He was a pioneer in comedy. Carlin had some great rants on conservatives, so I will always cherish him for his guts to say stuff about that, other taboo subjects and about God, and being an atheist, which normally nobody else then (in their right mind) would have thought possible to get away with saying, let alone get the laughs for it and to make mega-bucks for doing so. I think it was a old Larry King show, he was critical of Andrew Dice Clay, and said why he didn't pick on immigrants, women, or gays, he rooted for the underdog, enough of beating them down. There's a lot I admired about Carlin.

I'm surprised no mention of Jim Jefferies or if one has, I missed it. His true story of taking his childhood friend who suffered from MD to a whore house, is one of the funniest stories I've ever heard, but he has a lot of good stuff.

Really have been catching up to Bill Burr on You Tube these last few months, and he's definitely ranks high with me now. One recent one that is fresh on my mind, is the story he tells about his black gf that lived in Harlem and what he had to do to get there at the 3 AM hour.

Recently caught Dave Chapelle's bit about getting Oprah pregnant, which was great.

I thought Carol Burnett was funny and quick on her feet, loved how she interacted with the crowd on the Q&A's.

My ex-gf got us tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld in OKC about 13 years ago, might not be one of the greatest stand-up comedians, but it was still pretty good, and was equally impressed with his Q&A with audience members. His comedy series is still probably my favorite, followed closely by King of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond.

Among worse, I agree with Andrew Dice Clay being on that list, although I still remember one of his nursery rhymes that still makes me smile (Jack and Jill). Although he seems like a nice enough guy, Jimmy Fallon just isn't that funny to me, don't understand how he ever got a talk show. Jerry Lewis another, gosh, I don't understand how I could even thought him funny as a kid. Not much for Git r Done, Larry the Cable guy either, enough of that shtick, same for Roseanne Barr, her stand-up or comedy series.
  #130  
Old 01-26-2020, 10:25 AM
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Best: Mort Sahl, Bill Hicks, George Carlin
Worst: Clay
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