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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why I Love Stand Up Comedy.

Uncle Ronnie seems to just know people. Whether being invited to a private restaurant party, getting a private tour of the White House, or simply knowing really cool and interesting people, Uncle Ronnie is quite the interesting man. Never ceasing to amazing me, he recently just dropped a bomb that he is personal friends with Judy Gold. For those of you who don’t know, Judy Gold is a great standup comic, most well known for her short pieces on HBO, Emmy Award winning writing for The Rosie O’Donnell Show and the truTV series World’s Dumbest. For those of you who don’t know me, I am an absolutely crazy fan of standup comedy. I often frequent comedy clubs and have heard most great comedic albums out there. There is something truly amazing about standup comedy. The realism and in your face aggressiveness simply excites me. There are so many funny things in this world and when someone brings these to life, there is nothing funnier. Many people in the industry (clearing pretending to know people in the industry) always claim that standup is the hardest form of comedy because the content and delivery is so focused on that you need to be on point to completely captivate your audience.
There have been some amazing comics throughout the years. I have heard some of the oldies but not all of them so my list here is my favorite comedians. This is my personal list and it may contain some surprises. Without further delay, I give you my favorite standup comics ever.

15. Jon Stewart
Best Bit: Political Rants
Best known for his The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (which I watch every day) and for hosting the Oscars twice, Stewart got his start as a standup comic. Often over the top but always funny, Stewart built up a following with his rants on every topic, the seeds for the Daily Show were clearly planted very early.

14. Frank Caliendo
Best Bit: Impersonation of John Madden and President Bush
Without a doubt the best impersonator ever, Caliendo cannot only imitate any single voice with exact precision; he also transforms his face to look like those he impersonates. If you don’t believe me and doubt impersonators, simply watch his work from the Letterman Show on youtube and close your eyes. You can apologize later.

13. Robin Williams
Best Bit: Cocaine (live at The Met)
I grew up on Robin Williams. After watching Mrs. Doubtfire, Williams was really the first comic that I ever followed. He takes the word eccentric and blows it out of the water. His specialty is going over the top and his Cocaine bit is a perfect example. Arguably the quickest and wittiest comic ever, Williams will forever be a great.

12. Mitch Hedberg
Best Bit: One Liners
Mitch Hedberg is sort of a mythical creature at this point. The 20th century king of one liners, Hedberg is known for his strange humoristic style and amazing delivery. Before his unfortunate drug overdose, Hedberg thrilled audiences with his astonishing ability to perfectly deliver even the simplest of knock-knock and one line jokes. If he has a cult, I am a member.

11. Zack Galifianakis
Best Bit: The Hangover
I know it seems strange to use a movie as his best standup bit but the reasons I said that is because the character that Zack plays on stage is eerily similar to his role from the Hangover franchise. Zack plays the drunk, fat, and disgusting card better than anyone and has astonishing delivery with insane body and face control. Try watching him and you will find yourself dying of laughter and just begging him to break character which he never will. Also recommended, Zack Galifianakis in the Purple Room.

10. Jim Carrey
Best Bit: Saint Bearnard
Best known for his hilarious comedies and film roles, Jim Carrey also got his start in standup. At only the age of 19 he was already headlining tours and was signed very early on by Rodney Dangerfield. After being denied by SNL, Carrey made a name for himself on In Living Color but he will always be known in certain circles for his amazing standup. If you watch his early work you can really see how his future characters came to be.

9. George Carlin
Best Bit: “Seven Dirty Words”
The king of modern day dirty comedy, the late Carlin paved the way with Richard Pryor for all modern day comics. With his death in 2008, Carlin left a record amount of comedy specials and best selling CDs. Unafraid to approach topics such as politics, religion, race and other taboo subjects, Carlin broke boundaries that others refused to. He influenced many comics after him including the amazing Lewis Black, Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart and Denis Leary. 

8. Louis C.K.
Best Bit: Kids
Widely considered the best standup comic today, Louis may just be the best self deprivation comic of all time.  There is no one out there that can stand on a stage and just hold his stomach fat and be funnier than Louis. His rants on his depressing and sad family existence are so realistic and just touches at home. With sparks of Seinfeld’s, day to day observations, Louis C.K. adds such a realistic touch to it, one that is not found in any other comic today.

7. Will Ferrell             
Best Bit: Harry Caray and Robert Goulet
Will Ferrell may be one the funniest film stars ever but he is also one of the best standup and sketch comedians ever. Bringing SNL to heights never seen before, Ferrell became the first major star of the 21st century. Ferrell start also came in standup. I had the pleasure of seeing him on one of his Funny Or Die tours and I peed my pants. Ferrell’s standup is often revolving around impersonations and sketches but that doesn’t take away from his amazing characters and hilarious personas.

6. Blue Collar Comedy Group
Best Bit: “You Might be a Redneck”
The group of Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy from the funniest group of comedians we have ever seen. These mid-American (hick) comics rip on each other and the American way of life better than anyone. Each one with a different yet familiar style makes this the perfect group.

5. Jerry Seinfeld
Best Bit: Olympics
Very few people can claim to have changed comedy in the 20th-21st century. Jerry Seinfeld is one of those. With the most successful and arguably the best sitcom of all time, Seinfeld revolutionized comedy with his hilarious yet mundane observations. No one can make the simplest thing funnier than this guy. Read his books, watch his show, watch his standup and I promise you that you will fall in love with him. Without a doubt the most financially successful comedian of all time, Seinfeld changed how every comedian and every person saw the world.

4. Chris Rock
Best Bit: Ni**ers vs Blacks
Chris Rock was the first inappropriate comedian I had ever heard in my life and I fell in love. His classic over the top delivery just works for his material. Unafraid to rip on anyone or anything, Rock created a name for himself and has headlined many HBO specialist and even hosted the Oscars. Rock has excellent material and an even better delivery. His rant on two types of Black People may be my favorite bit of all time.

3. Lewis Black
Best Bit: Water/Politics
Often considered a living Legend, Lewis Black is one of my favorite comics ever. Well known for his role in the emergence of Political comedy and his many movie roles, Black is the best senile comic ever. Angry at pretty much everything he has ever encountered in his life, many people have said the F-word was created for Black. There is no comic, and I mean no comic that utilizes curse words better. I saw Lewis live earlier this year and could not stop laughing from start to finish.

2. Jeff Dunham
Best Bid: Walter
I am sure I will get some flack for having a ventriloquist so high on this list but Jeff Dunham may not only be one of the best ventriloquist of all-time, he is one of the best comics as well. His puppets and the characters he has created are amazing. Walter and Achmed the Dead Terrorist are such great acts. With the ability to bring in different characters, Dunham pulls off such a good back and forth with his characters. I have shown his work to many people over the years and every single one of them has laughed so hard they needed to pause the video. Trust me on this one.

1. Eddie Murphy
Best Bid: Delirious and Raw
Drop whatever you are doing and immediately watch Delirious and Raw. These are without a doubt the two funniest comedy specials I have ever seen. I laughed from start to finish and can listen over and over again these hilarious bits. From his impersonations to childhood stories, Murphy wouldn’t shy away from any topic which helped him become so so successful. With his mouth often getting him in trouble, Murphy had audiences dying of laughter and are two of the best selling comedy albums ever. To me, he is the king of standup.                   

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