Stand-up comedy has been around for a very long time. Theatres are still packed with people eager to laugh harder than ever while listening to jokes and stories told by some of the funniest people on the planet. Many think that doing stand-up comedy is simple but the fact is that only a few comedians stand out and fill theatres like the Apollo in London. Comedy is not just about telling your story in a funny way. It comes with a lot of hard work and dedication. Writing new material is becoming harder each day and making old material sound new can be quite the challenge. Add that to the fact that speaking in front of a crowd can be really difficult and that some people love to heckle comedians and you get one of the roughest businesses when it comes to entertainment. The great ones have all that figured out and more. Their attitude, originality and brilliant performances keep people laughing even after they leave or see the shows. I managed to create a list of what I think are the best comedians of all times. The difference between them when it comes to success is very subtle and it is influenced by taste and several other factors but no matter how hard you search, the same names seem to pop up each and every time.
Stephen Glenn “Steve” Martin – born August 14, 1945
Actor and comedian, Steve Martin is one of the biggest names in show-business. He starred in comedies that always had silly characters with childish behavior. He made a name for himself a few decades ago and he has kept his composure throughout the years. He is known as the “Renaissance Man” of stand-up, because of his perfect timing and silly joke telling style. He never strayed away from his positive approach on jokes and story-telling and still has the same up-tempo shows that he started with. He is definitely worthy of a place in the first ten comedians of all time and his shows are a must see for all those that love to laugh.
Robin McLaurin Williams – born July 21, 1951
Robin Williams was and still is one of the most brilliant people to hit the Hollywood sets. He put together incredible stand-up shows and impressed people with his magnificent acting skills that really helped him connect to the audience. He struggled with drug and alcohol problems for the past 20 years or so but still managed to milk the crowd like no other. His energy is amazing even after heart surgery. People did not care that that joke telling machine had a very dark secret powering his shows. They overlooked the fact that he used drugs as an energy source only because his talent was endless. He is still doing stand-up and he is just as amazing as he was 20 years ago.
Louis Szekely (Louis C.K) – born September 12, 1967
Louis is one of the most recent candidates for a place in stand-up comedy history. He just exploded a couple of years ago by bringing something new to the table. After years of trying to tell jokes and after several failed stage experiences he caught a break when he observed that people can really relate to his personal problems. His unique self-criticism and sometimes dark humor filled the theatres and even got him a few HBO specials and a TV show. His natural bitter state and truth telling approach to comedy have made him a star.
Edward Regan “Eddie” Murphy – born April 3, 1961
Eddie Murphy is probably one of the most underrated stand-up comedians of all time. He had only two specials ever recorded but those were nothing less than brilliant. He was the bad-boy of the 80’s when it comes to stand-up. Being close friends with Richard Pryor he managed to make people laugh harder than they have ever laughed before. He did not censor his language and he spoke his mind while using some very fresh and well written material.
Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor – December 1, 1940 – December 10, 2005
Some say that this man is the best comedy has ever seen. His acting skills were combined with brilliant writing and excessive raw language that got him standing ovations each and every time. He tapped into some of the most delicate subjects comedians tried to avoid. He spoke about relationships like no other and people knew that nothing was off limits for Pryor. He talked about his cocaine problems and how he went to jail without any inhibition and he made people chant his name.
George Denis Patrick Carlin – May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008
Talk about being in a league of your own. Carlin is seen by a vast majority as the best stand-up comedian of all times. He dedicated his career to making people laugh by being a dark and extremely intelligent with his writing and joke telling style. He never put much price on presentation and always came on stage looking like a broke hippie. He could turn any subject into a topic. He was one of the first that took on religion and the issues that came with this delicate domain.
Jerome A. “Jerry” Seinfeld – born April 29, 1954
This American actor, writer and producer can be considered one of the fathers of modern comedy. He is brilliant in how he can make anything funny. He is known for his carefully chosen words and his mellow language. He never uses curse words in his shows and has a very innovative and unique approach to comedy. He created the TV show called “Seinfeld” and managed to impress with some of the best stand-up representations of all time.
Ricky Gervais – Born 25 June 1961
Ricky Dene Gervais is an English comedian that has remained true to all that English humor stands for. He has a unique way of telling jokes and comes off as arrogant at times but he does so on purpose. He became famous for his hit TV show “The Office”. He is one of the few that can joke about absolutely everything and is a strong representative of dark humor.