My Favorite Comedians of All Time
A kind of jack of all trades. Comedian, martial artist, actor, commentator, television and podcast host. Joe Rogan has had a very busy career. I remember watching the television show Newsradio and laughing at the give and take between him and co-star Andy Dick. I came across him again as the host of Fear Factor a few years later. Mr. Rogan got to push people to eat maggots on NBC for big bucks, not a bad gig as long as you only watch. That's where the mainstream really took notice of him. He became "the Fear Factor guy" to most people. The show's since come out of hiatus and new shows are on weekly, bigger and better.
Now with other projects out of the way, stand-up became his focus. Putting out the comedy albums/TV specials:
- I'm Gonna Be Dead Someday (CD, 2000)
- Live from the Belly of the Beast (DVD, 2001)
- Joe Rogan: Live (DVD, 2006)
- Shiny Happy Jihad (CD, 2007)
- Talking Monkeys in Space (CD & DVD, 2010)
What many viewers of his other projects didn't realize at the time is that since 1997, when Newsradio was still on the air, he was doing backstage interviews and commentary for a small company at the time....The UFC. While never fighting in the promotion, he had the background for it....with proficiencies in taekwondo, kickboxing, and Brazilian jiu jitsu. If you didn't already know, you can still find him in the UFC today doing his thing.
The Joe Rogan Experience , his podcast, routinely ranks in the top 2 or 3 of all iTunes podcasts. That's where you get to see the real man, uncensored, goofing with friends and like minds while frequently under the influence of cannabis. Listen to the podcast with your tin foil hat on...so it all soaks in. I agree with a lot of it, but different strokes for different folks I suppose. I went a little more in depth here because he really is my personal favorite comedian.
George Carlin (1937-2008)
Undoubtedly, one of the best comedians of all time on any list, George is known for his black humor on politics, psychology, religion, society, and anything else he finds absurd or interesting. A definitive legend in the business, he's stayed pretty true to his roots and is known primarily just for his stand-up. I recommend, maybe more than anyone else here, that you listen to as much of his comedy as you can. You always leave questioning what you thought was certain, and laughing your @$$ off about it.
Carlin never really played by the rules and wouldn't bend to outside forces trying to control his comedy. I think he would have been a much bigger star if not for that. Over the last 50 or so years, his career credits include the following: hosting the first Saturday Night Live(partial to me), books, movies, his own TV show on Fox in '93, and 14 stand-up comedy specials for HBO, I think his work speaks for itself. The last, It's Bad For Ya, was filmed just four months prior to his death in 2008. He will be missed and I hope that many more out there will find his work posthumously.
He's just done too much to mention everything without writing a book or two. Just check him out. In short, he was brilliant.
Another true legend of comedy, I won't be able to do this guy justice. Another long time comedian, Bill Cosby's name will forever by synonymous with humor. I Spy, Fat Albert, The Cosby Show, Cosby (CBS sitcom), and quite a few other TV show and movie credits show his genius. He's been making audiences laugh for just as long as George Carlin, if not longer. I'm not a fan of censorship and think comedians should just be able to talk how everyone talks, curse words and all. Bill has never been known for that, and somehow I can't help but giggle every time he talks.
He's of course most famous for The Cosby Show, one of the most successful sitcoms in history. The show always painted family life in a positive light and appealed to all races. I think that was a first for a show that focused primarily on an black family. I picked the above title picture because he's wearing the now famous, Cosby sweater. It's kind of a big deal when a style of clothing is named after you, even if it was just a character you played on TV(based on the real man... now im confused).
Bill Cosby hasn't been on the comedy circuit as a regular for many years, but it doesn't make what he did in the 70s and 80s any less special. Primarily focusing on his own experiences as a husband and father, he had a very unique, observational, perspective...often with his very well-known goofy delivery.
Since he's the only clean comedian on my list, I get to share a clip with you...
Here's a guy in his 40's that is just now becoming really well-known. Toiling away since he was a teenager writing for well known, successful comedians such as Conan O'Brien, Dana Carvey, Chris Rock, and David Letterman. You've heard a lot of his jokes and ideas, even though you didn't know they were his. He even got nominated for an Emmy working for the Chris Rock Show. Like Rogan, he's another product of the Boston comedy scene of the 80s. He did all this while still honing his craft at night clubs night after night and occasionally getting a chance to do a couple minutes on late night shows like The Tonight Show.
Like Bill Cosby, his best comedy was put out after he got married and had children. I'm beginning to sense a pattern here. He is Bill Cosby....well a white, ginger, out of shape, self-deprecating version with a hell of a potty-mouth. He thrives on taking the awkward normalcy or everyday life and poking fun at it. I love it.
After doing a couple specials on Comedy Central he got a break on Showtime in 2006 with his own show, Lucky Louie. It was a well-received by critics, but the audiences didn't agree as it was cancelled after less than a full season. He spent the next couple of years lightly acting in smaller roles in movies and tv and making many appearances on The Opie and Anthony Show on satellite radio.
He got another show, this time with FX, simply titled Louie. With a small budget, he has total control of this sitcom centered around his lame life as a divorced forty-something with partial custody of his two daughters. It's one of the most successful shows on FX as of this writing. He continues to do stand-up and has produced three comedy specials that have done extremely well since, Shameless, Chewed Up and Hilarious.
Honorable Mentions(in no particular order): Jim Gaffigan, Mitch Hedberg, Dave Chappelle, Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Steven Wright, and Lewis Black.
Now those aren't the only four comedians I like. I fall asleep most nights listening to Pandora on a stand-up channel. Just because I didn't include someone doesn't mean they aren't great. I just may make another article or two highlighting more comics in the future....I mean if you want. So who are your favorite comedians?
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