Who can deny the therapeutic effects of a great stand up act? No one, I guess, as stand up comedy is definitely above medicine and psychology. So in case you need a good laugh, 10awesome is here to give you a hand. We can’t amuse you like they do, but we can remind you of some stand-up comedians that made history with their jokes. Here are 10 awesome stand-up comedians of all time.
1. Richard Pryor
Though he achieved fame on the big screen with Gene Wilder, Pryor’s greatest work was as a stand-up. He openly discussed everything from growing up in a brothel to lighting his face on fire while smoking crack, and killed the audience no matter what he was talking about. He turned “motherf*cker” into a catchphrase and ensured that over his long career, no taboo was left untouched. Drugs and disease prevented the great comedian from producing as much material as he was clearly capable of, but he still managed to change stand-up comedy forever. “I like makin’ love myself . . . and I can make love for about three minutes. I do about three minutes of serious fuckin’, then I need eight hours sleep . . . and a bowl of Wheaties!”
2. Jim Carrey
A native of Ontario, Canada, Jim Carrey started his stand-up career performing at Yuk Yuk’s in Toronto in the early 1980s before moving to Los Angeles and performing at The Comedy Store. Carrey was soon discovered by Rodney Dangerfield, who hired Carrey as an opening act for his shows. Carrey soon turned to movie acting and became a superstar after appearing in the 1994 comedy, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. “Maybe there is no actual place called hell. Maybe hell is just having to listen to our grandparents breathe through their noses when they’re eating sandwiches.”
3. George Carlin
He’s on everybody’s top 3 list. Probably the greatest comedian of all time, a brilliant comedian and social critic, George Carlin placed No. 2 on Comedy Central’s list of the “100 Greatest Stand-Up Comedians” behind Richard Pryor. Carlin’s best-known routine was “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” For the record, the “Seven Dirty Words” are shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits.
“Religion easily has the best bullshit story of all time. Think about it. Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man . . . living in the sky. Who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of 10 specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you. He loves you and he needs money.”
4. Paula Poundstone
It’s time for a woman now. Paula Poundstone took her observations about life and her liberal political perspective to TV in the 1990 HBO special Cats, Cops and Stuff. The show won a Cable ACE award and Poundstone became a steady comedy presence on cable and network TV throughout the 1990s.
An adoptive mother of three children, she became a prominent advocate for foster children. Poundstone’s career took a nosedive in June of 2001 when she was arrested and charged with drunk driving with her adopted children in the car, along with “lewd acts on a minor.” The latter charge was later dropped and she pleaded no contest to a felony charge of child endangerment and misdemeanor charges. She was sentenced to five years’ probation and six months of drug treatment. She has since continued to tour with her stage act, and in 2006 published the book There’s Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say.
“I’m thankful that my memory is good because my vision is going.”
5. Woody Allen
Let’s not leave the good old Jewish humor aside for anything in this world. Allen embarked on his stand-up comedy career by making his debut at a club called the Duplex in Greenwich Village. His brilliant early stand-up comedy routines can be heard on the albums Standup Comic and Nightclub Years 1964-1968.
“I feel sex is a beautiful thing between two people. Between five, it’s fantastic.”
6. Louis C.K.
In the ’90s, Louis C.K. was an amateur filmmaker, surrealist stand-up and writer for TV shows like Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and the short-lived but insanely brilliant The Dana Carvey Show. Then for some reason around the mid-2000s, it all changed. Louis C.K. suddenly reinvented himself and began to make history.
C.K.’s stage name is derived from an approximate English pronunciation of his Hungarian surname, Székely, despite his being of Mexican-American origin.
“You’ve got to be optimistic to be single. Stupid. You have to be stupid. That’s what optimistic means, you know? It means stupid. An optimist is somebody who goes, “Hey, maybe something nice will happen.” Why the fuck would anything nice happen?”
7. Lenny Bruce
Uncompromising and extremely influential, Lenny Bruce stretched the boundaries of free speech and was frequently arrested on stage in the early 1960s. Bruce’s legal troubles mounted during this period, culminating with a six-month that found him guilty of obscenity on November 4, 1964. During the appeals process, Bruce died of a drug overdose in 1966 at the age of 40. Dustin Hoffman starred in a 1974 biographical film about Bruce, Lenny, which was nominated for six Academy Awards. In 2004, Bruce was named No. 3 in Comedy Central’s list of the “100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time” behind Richard Pryor and George Carlin.
“If Jesus had been killed 20 years ago, Catholic schoolchildren would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses.”
8. Kathy Griffin
Here’s another woman! Star of the Bravo reality show, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, Kathy Griffin embarked on her stand-up career in the early 1980s as a member of a Los Angeles improve comedy troupe called The Groundlings. She later gained much recognition during memorable appearances on two episodes of Seinfeld. Two of Griffin’s comedy albums, For Your Consideration and Suckin’ It for the Holidays, have been nominated for Grammy Awards for “Best Comedy Album.”
“The beauty about the D-list is that people who are on it probably don`t know they are.”
9. Andy Kaufman
More of a performance artist than a stand-up comedian, Andy Kaufman is known for his legendary exploits. In 1984, Kaufman died of lung cancer at the age of 35. On the one-year anniversary of Kaufman’s death, his alter ego Tony Clifton appeared live at The Comedy Store singing “I Will Survive.” Among the audience included Rodney Dangerfield, Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Dan Ackroyd and a then-unknown comic named Jim Carrey, who went on to star as Kaufman in the 1999 biopic, Man on the Moon.
“The life of a part-time wrestler is no laughing matter. It’s not just fun and games like most people think. You work out, train constantly, push your body to the limit of endurance and nobody seems to care. I have wrestled and defeated over 400 women and what do I get? The men call me a wimp, the women say I’m a sexist pig.”
10. Pablo Francisco
His Chilean origin served as a muse, as his talent is so very special. Today Pablo is widely recognized for his ability to improvise and do vocal impressions of famous people including Aaron Neville, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Keanu Reeves, John Madden, Jerry Springer, William Hung, and Don LaFontaine.
“It’s not R’n’B music you know. R’n’B music is always five black guys with no shirt. “Yeah, I’m horny, Yeah.” They always singing how fine a girl is. “Girl you’re fine. Lay you down fine.” They always say smooth soft and silky in every song don’t they then they put beats to it. “Girl you’re smooth, you’re soft, fine… silky.”