Picking the best standup comedians of all time was nearly impossible, but we have focused and did our best. But are you still wondering what is stand-up comedy? Stand-up comedy is one of the most beloved art forms today and it is pretty difficult to master. The stand-up comedians have a free style and are capable of doing and showing everything they have and know to make the audience laugh. Being a stand-up comedian it is not that easy as you think, as it takes the right mixture of writing, timing and delivery of stand up jokes.
There are millions of stand up comedians – some are good, some are just decent and sure, some are awful. Our list, however, contains only extremely gifted, innovative and groundbreaking stand up comedians who really know how to make their audience to laugh. I would really love to see your comments down there, because the comedy as art is subjective and everyone has different tastes.
One of the most influential comedians in the history, Richard Pryor was a famous comedian known for uncompromising examinations of racism and topical contemporary issues. He broke all the barriers and all the rules. He confronted sensitive issues such as drug addiction, poverty and race in abrasive and vulgar ways and his character allowed him to ingratiate himself to all kinds of audiences. The four-episode 1977 series, “The Richard Pryor Show” included skits where Richard portrayed a rock musician who kills every white member of his audience with a machine gun and a bit where a woman describes her first lesbian experience. Pryor’s personal life was very crazy and without his personal experience we would not have his difficult and passionate comedy as a result. He shared his own pain, admitted his own faults and pleaded the audience to like him, and so the people in his time did. Richard Pryor has won an Emmy Award, five Grammy Awards and other worth awards.
George Carlin was a socio-political comedian, but also and an observational/word-play comedian. Many people say that there are no other equal to George, and how would someone compare to the winner of five Grammy Awards for his comedy albums. Carlin’s career was very rich with stand-up shows, sold-out stadiums and countless film and TV appearances. You might be familiar with his “7 Dirty Words” controversial routine, which was the subject of a United States Supreme Court Case and included curse words such as “shit”, “piss”, “cunt”, “fuck”, “cocksucker”, “motherfucker” and “tits”. George Carlin was an eternal pessimist and often looked like weird psychology teacher who was always hilarious. He mostly talked about usual mistakes, which is certainly destroying the modern civilization and he had different way of making people laugh on his acts.
Bill Hicks was an ingenious comedian, but was also often described as the most dangerous comedian in the world because he used to attack the audience directly. As a satirist, he attacked his audience for being tied down by senseless consumerism and pointless rules. But Bill was actually very honest and because of his honesty, he had limited options in his shows. Hicks mostly attacked religious hypocrisy, pornography, championed smoking and encouraged everyone in the advertising business to commit suicide. In order to gain a greater understanding, Bill has used illegal drugs.
The man who has changed the American comedy in the 60s was Lenny Bruce. He was a very controversial comedian and he never cared about whatever brand of comedy he was working for. In his time, Bruce’s controversy gave some very raw and real emotions when America really wasn’t ready to deal with quite yet, so he got arrested in 1961 under charges of obscenity for using the word “cocksucker” during a stand-up performance. He was quickly acquitted, but his case became a lesson about what should anybody say in public. Lenny was mostly known for his stand-up, but also known for pushing the limits to see what he could get away with. Bruce he tore down the great wall of comedy and so he led future generations into place where comedians would not have to worry about offending the masses.
The guy who is known as an actor in many Hollywood movies by the younger generations, Eddie Murphy is actually a stand-up comedian who knew how to make people laugh in the 80s and the early 90s. He includes various impressions in his stand-up shows and back in the day, Eddie was the funniest comedian on the planet. His career was not focused only on stand-up shows, but his acting career is also going great for him. The box office take from Murphy’s movies makes him the second highest grossing actor in the U.S of America. Murphy was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1980 to 1984 and has worked as a stand-up comedian for a few years.
Steve Martin is another Hollywood actor who was a stand-up comedian. He has changed the face of comedy, but he went in other way with his zany antics and use of props. Steve was unique stand-up phenomenon and sold out arenas and stadiums using off-the-wall props and a larger-than-life stage persona. The renaissance man of comedy was mainly known for his silliness and irreverent stand-up shows, in which he could make you laugh with magic or sing you a song he wrote on the banjo. Steve Martin always has one final joke in the routine that brings the house down. He even found himself on top of the mainstream music charts with his song “King Tut”. Unfortunately, he left stand-up in the early 1980s for his extremely successful forays into films, literature and music.