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Atul

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Sereena X

Eddie Izzard is the greatest living comedian.

SK Waller

I'll probably get in trouble for saying this, but I'm not really a huge fan of stand-up. I much prefer spontaneous humor and, as you say, the schticks get tiring. For me, stand-up is too premeditated. I saw Sam Kinneson at the Comedy Store in Hollywood when he was known as "The Beast", and I thought his act was disgusting and pointless.

All the same, no one tops George Carlin in my opinion. Sure, he has his schtick too (those goofy facial expressions really wear thin), but he brings the most mundane things about being human home to us and reminds us of them in a way that makes one think, "Why didn't I notice that?"

So maybe I don't dislike stand-up. Maybe I just like seamless comedy. A steady stream of one-liners and racial and sexual put-downs is not humor. Like you, I'd rather be reminded of the silly things we all have in common as human beings. So here's my list of favorite comedians:

1. George Carlin
2. Steve Allen
3. Kevin Meanie

Lauren

I love Mitch too. So sad he's gone. And I have such a crush on Eddie Izzard. mmmm. David Cross too.

Sereena X

SK, I don't care much for stand-up comedy either.

And I was so blinded by my attraction to Eddie Izzard that I forgot all about George Carlin. But Carlin is someone I like to read, and Izzard is someone I like to watch.

Rick

Lewis Black is my personal favorite. I agree completely about most female stand-up.
Being overweight, stupid men, buying shoes, blah blah blah, snore, zzzzzzzz.

prego

I had a standing rule in the hey-day of comedy: A comic had to elicit laughter from me within the first ninety seconds or so of the routine. Otherwise I change the channel.

I found myself changing channels 98% of the time. Conversely, I couldn't understand why the hell my brother would crack up watching these bozos on the TV.

I find comedy in truth and intelligence - such a delicate balance. That's why Richard Pryor was so awesome, why Chris Rock keeps me in stitches and why Bob Goldtwhait is funny while his movies ('Shakes the Clown' being the sole exception) sucked.

To hell with the guy with the mallet and the watermelon, the ugly red-headed shill and his goofy inventions and that godawful late-night host with the protruding chin.

SK Waller

I get tired of all the bashing that goes on. Only Don Rickles knew how to bash and still be lovable.

But I'm an old fart.

Ville

Carlin Carlin Carlin is still my personal king of comedy. I do enjoy Lewis Black as well. But he is so "angry" that I actually find myself becoming tense and frustrated. So he is best in small doses.

Atul

Good to hear your feedback. I forgot that I also like Lewis Black but way too many things piss him off and it is kind of stressful. If I were his doctor, I'd be concerned for him.

I don't know Eddie Izzard, saw George Carlin once and he's not bad, just getting up there in years.

My brother and I had a grand old time talking about being "Big Pants People".

John Stewart and Emo Phillips were also great to see live.

Stephen V Funk

Stephen Wright in his prime was brilliant. And clean. Remember him? One for the "where are they now file" I guess...

This reminds me, YEARS ago... maybe 10+ years ago... Janeane Garofalo was guest hosting the Letterman show. She had a guy on who was sort of doing stand-up while playing the piano. Which sounds horrible. But it was genius. I was dying. This wasn't some lame Mark Russell-ish crap. It was an insane, brilliant, slow burn kind of thing, and I've never seen anything like it since.

Of course, I have no idea what his name was. Rats.

Oh, and I like Carlin too. He knows how to use profanity rather than abuse it. And his wordplay is amazing.

I need to get hip to Eddie Izzard, obviously.

rob

I would really like it if stand-ups would stop wearing black leather jackets.

I gotsta second Sereena X with the Izzard love. He is, indeed, the greatest living comedian. So freaking great.

And Mitch Hedberg...aaaal-riiiight.

Tommy Tiernan had a great bit regarding cursing in his set during a show up in Ontario. I'm wildly paraphrasing, but he said something to the effect of:

"Yes, I curse a lot in my show. I say FUCK and I get a lot of criticism for that. But you have to understand, I'm an Irish person...speaking the ENGLISH fucking language. I should be speaking Gaelic. Only I can't understand a single...fucking...word of it! The way I see it, the English language is a wall between you and I and "fuck" is my chisel."

He's another one to add to the list of great comedians.

If I were Jesus, I'd totally resurrect Bill Hicks. Because, hey, zombie Bill Hicks has got to be just as funny as, if not funnier than, regular-type Bill Hicks.

Dave P

I like stand-up comedy.
I've seen Paula Poundstone(before we knew what we now know), Kevin Meanie, Howie Mandel, Richard Jeni and Frank Caliendo. It is a great form of entertainment and a great stress-reliever.

Shaun Eli

You tend to notice it when it's true, and not notice when it's not true. I'm sure there are a lot of gay comedians who don't talk about being gay (and you'd never know it), fat comedians who don't mention their weight so you don't notice it, etc. If in one out of five of my shows I talk about being Jewish, it would tend to support your thesis even though for 80% of my shows it's not the case.

Coming from the comedian's side of the issue-- we talk about what makes us unique, for a number of reasons. First of all, being different leads to a lot to joke about. Secondly, it makes us stand out from the other comics who might not have the same attributes. And thirdly, there are bookers who encourage comics to create or showcase a character-- it gets a comic remembered, and on more than one occasion has led to a sit-com or a movie deal.

While that's not my goal, I understand that it is for many other comics.

In addition, we write jokes about what we know. In my case it's some political humor, some stuff about dating, a bit about my ethnic heritage, being from NYC, and things I've observed in general.

Shaun Eli
www.BrainChampagne.com
Brain Champagne: Clever Comedy for Smart Minds (sm)

Atul

Shaun,

Thanks for the comment. What you said makes a lot of sense. Since you actually do this for a living, you know best. A comedian needs to exploit her/his uniqueness to stand out or be like everybody else. What bothers me is when 95% of their routine revolves around this. And then many who make fun of themselves this way are denigrating their own ethnic culture and reinforcing stereotypes. The first time I did a stand-up routine (to a large group of Indian professionals), I made a point not to do any jokes about being Indian. It still went over well. The next time, I added some Indian jokes because that's what an Indian audience wants. Now I just have to try an open mike routine for a general crowd. I will include a few jokes about being Indian, but I will try not to make fun of Indians with repetitive use of stereotypes. We'll see how it goes.

- Atul

Vanessa

I think the reason why women talk about being female and etc, is because that's who they are. Canadian comics talk about diversity, because it has been a part of their life; I know that is true for me at least. I really think swearing could possibly be a cheap shot, but sometimes it is actually funnier when a comic swears, because it goes against what is "socially acceptable". There is something called freedom of speech, thankfully.

Vanessa

To add to my comments, Kathy Griffin, I'm a huge fan. She is the best at swearing and yet making people laugh, she is so funny, truly an original.

Atul

Vanessa,

It's true that comedians talk about aspects of their life that they find significant. And I never thought of the fact that swearing is funny because it's rebellious. I can't believe I didn't think of it. So you are a comedienne then?

Atul

Sarah Bannon

I LOVE COMEDIANS! They let me forget about my problems in the meantime and just enjoy the jokes!!

Nick R Thomas

I've only just discovered your blog so forgive this (very) late comment. I loved the comedy of the late Dennis Wolfberg. We were lucky enough to see occasional clips of him on TV here in the UK in the late 80s and early 90s and I like to think that his beautifully-worded, self effacing storytelling has been an influence on my own work.

Atul

Nick,

It's never too late to comment. Many others keep finding the same post years after it was written and I read all the comments. It's great to have a real comedic writer post a comment here. I don't know Dennis Wolfberg, will have to look him up. I checked out your site and I like your quote of the day. Look up the category Quotes on my blog for many that I've written myself. I'll read more on your blog later.

Take care,
Atul

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