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My Favorite Comedians of All Time

Updated on March 23, 2015

Joe Rogan

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 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.

Bill Cosby

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...

Louis CK

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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    • profile image 6 years ago

      Paula Poundstone on cats always makes us laugh - you have a great assortment of comics - thanks for the hub


    • skinsman82000 profile image

      skinsman82000 6 years ago from Frederick Maryland

      I watch Louie on FX when it's new and the old episodes on Netflix. Can't say I've heard of Moms Mabley. Maybe I'll check her out. Thanks.

    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 6 years ago from New York City

      Oh I love stand up comedy! And cannot live without it. I admit I just discovered Louis C.K. - and oh my - funny, funny funny. I watch him on FX which can be accessed on for free.

      I go back a million years and my favorite from childhood was Moms Mabley. Who knew an old lady could be so raunchy, racy and downright hilarious. Hmmmm, I should probably write a hub about her. She's my inspiration and I kind of figure when I reach 70, I'll give it a try. Of course it will probably kill me - but I'll die laughing.

      Thanks for the hub. Rated up and yay!

    • sligobay profile image

      sligobay 6 years ago from east of the equator

      I'm an old timer who has always loved Bill Cosby and George Carlin. I need to check out the other guys.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 6 years ago from North-East UK

      Now that we have You Tube, finding out about U.S. comedians is so easy. I regularly go over and look at stuff by George Carlin, who I really like and I enjoy some Chris Rock and Steven Wright. We used to send emails to one another of Steven Wright's more philosophical comments - he had a cult following at work! Voted up, etc.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 6 years ago

      I do know the work of most of the comedians you mentioned. I don't necessarily like "stand-up" comedians for the sake of their stand-up routines unless...and I am paraphasing your words, skinsman... unless they make a point....using everyday life and poking fun at it...most good comedians can do that while leaving you laughing and thinking at the same time.

      Love your thoughts on these men and enjoyed reading your hub very much.

    • cheatlierepeat profile image

      cheatlierepeat 6 years ago from Canada

      Awesome! Love Joe Rogan as well. Good choices, some comedians try to hard and are just annoying.

    • skinsman82000 profile image

      skinsman82000 6 years ago from Frederick Maryland

      I agree Williams can be very funny when he doesn't focus on the kiddie stuff. I guess I just think of him as a Disney guy. I'm partial to comedians to who don't censor themselves. And he sure doesn't when he lets loose. Thanks for the comment.

    • d.william profile image

      d.william 6 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Nice hub and wonderful tribute to some really great comedians. One of MY all time favorites (besides the ones you profiled) is, and always will be Robin Williams.

      He is totally manic most of the time and his stand ups are rolling in the aisles funny. Good job.

    • meow48 profile image

      meow48 6 years ago from usa

      yup, you did. blame it on the bifocals, hee. take care.

    • skinsman82000 profile image

      skinsman82000 6 years ago from Frederick Maryland

      I thought I did give an honorable mention to Steven Wright. If I didn't, I will. He's great. Thanks.

    • meow48 profile image

      meow48 6 years ago from usa

      i will never forget my sister's comedy album of George Carlin and the seven words you will never hear on television, all of which, due to cable now can be heard. loved Cosby's Noah routine, hysterical... again an album... guess i just aged myself, thanks for this tribute... liked your picks, and to all the comedians out there, thankyou for the laughs...especially now... and please give an honorable mention to steven wright... one of the dryest comedians on earth. thankyou for the follow btw, and the kind comment. take care.

    • Tom Koecke profile image

      Tom Koecke 6 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

      I like the comedians you have listed. Some that I might have added include Bill Hicks, Adam Carolla, Groucho Marx, and Will Rogers.

    • profile image

      Derdriu 6 years ago

      Skinsman82000, What an informative, intelligent, interesting summary of your choices for favorite all-time comedians! Your choices are great, particularly George Carlin. Just when he seemed to have reached his innovative limits, he was back again with unexpected, much appreciated more. George Carlin always sounded like more.

      Thank you for sharing,


    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 6 years ago from Indonesia

      Bill Cosby is popular here and I like his jokes.

    • skinsman82000 profile image

      skinsman82000 6 years ago from Frederick Maryland

      no, thank you!

    • skinsman82000 profile image

      skinsman82000 6 years ago from Frederick Maryland

      Leary gets a little too bitter and long-winded even for me, who's bitter and long-winded. no offense of course!

    • SopranoRocks profile image

      SopranoRocks 6 years ago from Upper Peninsula, Michigan, USA

      Carlin and Leary have always been my favorites. None like them!

    • rutley profile image

      rutley 6 years ago from South Jersey

      This was real good! Voted up and thank you!

    • skinsman82000 profile image

      skinsman82000 6 years ago from Frederick Maryland

      I haven't seen/heard enough of him. It is just my favorites. Thanks for reading and commenting :-)

    • badegg profile image

      Del Banks 6 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      You left out the king, Jerry Lewis, the original comedian's comedian. He was and still is the best.

    • skinsman82000 profile image

      skinsman82000 6 years ago from Frederick Maryland

      darn straight. It's because he never stopped doing it.

    • profile image

      stessily 6 years ago

      I liked George Carlin in "Jersey Girl." He was a great dad to Ben Affleck's character. Thanks for reminding me of him with this tribute. It seems to me that anyone wanting to do stand-up comedy would have to be familiar with George Carlin; he never seemed to lose his edginess.

      Well done.