Who are some of your favorite comedians? Who are some of your least favorites?I like stand up comedy in general, though I have not gotten into that Last Comic Standing show NBC airs in the summer. My favorites change periodically, but here is my current top five:
1. Lewis Black--I like his attitude. He will make fun of any and all absurdity as he sees it. That is a consittent trait in most of the comedians I like.
2. Ron White--He is the only member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour I find consistently funny. I enjoy most how he applies ’common sense” to the stupid things people do. He is what Bill Engvall wants to be with his “Here’s Your Sign” bit, but cannot pull it off. White is head and shoulders above his fellow Blue Collar comedians, which is probably why he hardly appears with them on television.
3 Bill Hicks--I am going to catch flak for this one, but I enjoy the guy. He was an abrasive progressive atheist, so I disagreed with him on virtually every specific point. Nevertheless, his general theme that people settle for the mediocrity presented to them by government and entertainment is still pointed sixteen years after his death.
4. Mitch Hedberg -- Hedberg is another comedian who died way too young. The guy had been killing himself for years with drugs before they finally caught up with him in 2005. You had to be in the mood for Hedberg’s style of comedy. His comedy was one liners, word play, non-sequiturs, and paraprosdokian delivered in an abrupt manner. He was a lot like Steven Wright, but I think Hedberg was much funnier. He suffered from stage fright, so he often performed with red sunglasses or kept his eyes closed during the performance to avoid eye contact with the audience.
5. Eddie Izzard--He may very well be the smartest comedian I have ever seen. His jokes are clever, often involving knowledge of history, religion, or geeky science fiction. A lot of Americans do not “get” him. It is probably the cross dressing. But it could be the fact we are mostly ignoramuses. Whichever, I think he is hilarious.
There are other comedians I think are hit and miss. George Carlin was often spot on, even if I largely disagreed with him. Dennis Miller has lost a step since abandoning his nihilistic routines. Eddie Murphy was great back when he still did stand up. So was Steve Martin. Robin Williams runs hot and cold for me, but when he is on, he is hilarious. Emo Phillips was funny when he was younger, but he is still doing the same type stuff in his fifties he did in his twenties. It comes across as more freakish than entertaining. Weird, because Paul Reubens is doing the same, and I still often find Pee Wee Herman amusing. Sam Kinison was great in small doses. Rodney Dangerfield made a better comedy actor than stand up, but I cannot leave him off the list.
In violation of conventional wisdom, I have often laughed at Carrot Top’s comedy routines. He is not one of the top comics, but much of the criticism he gets is unfair. Ditto for Jeff Dunham, though certain puppets of his are more funny than others.
I see a lot of stand up acts. It would be unfair for me to pick on many of the small potatoes guys who are obviously never going to hit the big time, so here are some comedians who are generally popular for reasons which are lost on me: Dane Cook, Carlos Mencia, Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, Norm McDonald, Russell Brand, John Stewart, Bill Maher, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon, and a cast of thousands.