Top 10 Best Stand Up Comics in the World
Once the second-class citizens of the entertainment world, stand up comics are rock stars today. Many of them sell out large venues, star in hit TV shows, and even burn up the charts with top-selling albums. Whether they are traditional, cutting edge, or just plain crazy, here are the top 10 best stand up comedians in the world, in no particular order:
1. Louis C.K.
His name is Louis Szekely, but you know him better as Louis C.K., the writer, director, creator, producer and star of the sitcom series Louie. That’s just his day job, though. As one of the best live stand ups, Louis C.K. has been the gold standard of straightforward, say-what-you-mean comedy. Kids? He hates them. Life? It sucks. Happiness? Never happen. We love this guy because he says what most of us wish we could say but don’t.
2. Sarah Silverman
One of the many great stand up comedians to first get noticed on Saturday Night Live, Sarah Silverman quickly made a name for herself using irony to skewer religious and ethnic stereotypes and bigotry. The popularity of her hit TV series, The Sarah Silverman Program, threw her stand up career into overdrive, and she hasn’t looked back. Many try to copy her edgy style, but they always come up short.
3. Chris Rock
While his early years as a cast member on Saturday Night Live did not make him a household name, his freewheeling, no-holds-barred HBO comedy specials eventually put him on the cover of Time magazine as the “Funniest Man in America.” In the years since SNL, Rock’s made a few movies and created the hit TV series, Everybody Hates Chris, but it’s his stand up live shows that keeps the world laughing.
4. Daniel Tosh
Daniel Tosh may be one of the newer stand up comics, but he’s covered a lot of ground in a short time. His first foray into television, Daniel Tosh: Completely Serious, came and went without much fanfare. Now, as the host of the hit show Tosh.O, Tosh is the current king of the water cooler, stretching the boundaries of what’s acceptable on television. Still, it’s his stand up live shows, with no limits, that makes people laugh until they can’t breathe anymore.
5. Kathy Griffin
After getting her start in the improvisational comedy group The Groundlings, Kathy Griffith hit the road as one of the few female stand ups, but it wasn’t until her role on the late-’90s sitcom Suddenly Susan that people started paying attention to her. A few years later, she starred in her own hit series, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, and her stand-up career took off. Thanks to her sometimes raunchy celebrity-oriented comedy, Griffith has produced four Grammy-nominated comedy albums, a best-selling autobiography, and a series of top-rated HBO comedy specials.
6. Jerry Seinfeld
Sure Jerry Seinfeld had the top-rated show on television for years – not that there’s anything wrong with that – but he’s included on this list because of his stand up work. A master of observational humor, Seinfeld had audiences rolling on the floor in the early ’80s without uttering a single cuss word at a time when blue humor was in vogue. Since ending his 9-year run on his TV show, Seinfeld has co-written and co-produced a hit movie, hosted a reality series, and directed a Broadway show, but it’s his top-notch work as one of the best stand up comedians that keeps him relevant.
7. Patton Oswalt
Sure, you knew him as Spencer on the long-running TV show The King of Queens, but Patton Oswalt’s influence as a stand-up is much more important. A leader of the alternative comedy movement, Oswalt brought the science-fiction-loving, comic-book-reading geek to the world of stand-up comedy. In other words, he made it cool to be a nerd. Without Oswalt, would there be a Big Bang Theory?
A lot of people say they can’t stand him, but someone is buying Ricky Gervais live stand up tickets and his TVs and Movies have been best sellers around the world. He’s created characters we love and frequently pokes fun at his good mate Carl, Ricky Gervais has become a global superstar breaking world records in comedy and being the first British comic to write and direct an entire Simpsons episode.
9. Dave Attell
Yes, like many other popular comics, Dave Attell achieved name recognition on television. As the host of two hit series, Insomniac and The Gong Show, Attell was funny, but toned down. One of the best live stand ups, he’s known for socially unacceptable comedy that also happens to be hysterically funny.
10. Larry the Cable Guy
Legendary stand ups like Woody Allen and Phyllis Diller did it in the ’60s, but these days it’s rare for stand up comedians to assume a completely fictitious identity. Daniel Lawrence Whitney, a.k.a. Larry the Cable Guy, was up to the challenge, though. A member of the live stand up Blue Collar Comedy Tour, along with Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, and Ron White, Larry has built a comedy empire with a book, seven comedy albums, two TV series, eight movies, and perhaps his greatest comic achievement, a popular catchphrase: “Git-R-Done!”
Don’t forget to check out Vesper’s very own comedy night ‘Comedy Rocks’ every other Wednesday at McQueen’s Bar in Shoreditch.
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