The Funniest Stand-Up Comedy


   

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Stand-Up Comedy Sets sorted by Recently reviewed (descending) / page 1 of 13


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Whoopi: Back to Broadway posterWhoopi: Back to Broadway
      2005 | USA | Laughs: 7.7 (Don't Bother) | imdb: 7.7
      

Taken as a piece of theatrical performance, as a monologue, that show was enjoyable for me. As stand-up comedy, it was a waste of time.

Incarnating various characters, Whoopi reminisces on some times of her life — some personal, some public, such as the war in Irak — and invents others. It has historical value, it's often touching, but it's not the kind of material that can trigger laughter, at least not for me: in the case of Irak, not that long after the events.

Some of the personal topics include waxing, menopause and depression: maybe some of you all will be curious about Whoopi's experience or find something you can relate to.

(Last viewed: December 2019)

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Whoopi Goldberg: Fontaine... Why Am I Straight posterWhoopi Goldberg: Fontaine... Why Am I Straight?
      1988 | USA | Laughs: 1.4 (Broken Comedies) | imdb: 7.4
      

First off, a few words to explain the title of this set: Whoopi Goldberg plays the character of her alter-ego Fontaine, a male junkie who, after going off drugs, is flabbergasted by what he sees when looking at America through sober eyes — hence Why Am I Straight? That's the premise of the show.

I was blown away by Whoopi's comic mastery — body language, faces, voices… she had a lot of ingredients. Sadly, what this show doesn't have today is relevance. Most of the material was circumstantial, relating as it did to events few will remember or to people who no longer matter. I smiled at the Reagan impressions, but for me the show had nothing to trigger laughter, and for younger people it will be worse.

A beautiful document for the archives of comedy… but a poor choice if you're just after something to make you laugh today.

(Last viewed: December 2019)

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Joe Rogan: Rocky Mountain High posterJoe Rogan: Rocky Mountain High
      2014 | USA | Laughs: 0.0 (Just Awful) | imdb: 7.5
      

I was surprised at how awful this show was. On previous attempts to watch Joe's shows he'd often managed to make me smile or chuckle, but this was gutter humor almost from start to finish. When this barrage of filth finally let up, Joe closed the show with weak material cashing in on his audience's presumed prejudice against certain alternative groups.

This man really needs to reduce his doses of protein powder or whatever he takes to make his body bigger and his brain smaller. It's a real shame, as he's a bright guy with the potential to apply his intelligence if he ever came across a meaningful fact. I'd be happy to hear his insights if he ever grew up.

One thing that surprised me was the consistent imdb ratings of Joe's shows given their wide discrepancy in quality. I came up with a hypothesis, but it makes me sad. Could it be that Joe is so much smarter than his fans that they can't tell the difference? As long as he keeps dedicating most of his stage time to bodily functions and the female anatomy, they seem to be happy.

(Last viewed: December 2019)

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Joe Rogan Live from the Tabernacle posterJoe Rogan: Live from the Tabernacle
      2012 | USA | Laughs: 3.5 (Chuckle) | imdb: 7.3
      

During the first part of this show, I thought it was the best of Joe's that I'd seen so far, including his later 2016 set Triggered and the 2018 special Strange Times.

But sometime after the half-hour mark, the set takes a wrong turn and ends up focusing solely on male physiology and female anatomy. It's a shame, and a problem that probably wouldn't arise if Joe went easy on the protein powder. Maybe time will fix that — hopefully not in the form of prostate cancer, but with these unnaturally beefy guys the risks are high.

(Last viewed: December 2019)

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Joe Rogan: Live posterJoe Rogan: Live
      2006 | USA | Laughs: 3.5 (Chuckle) | imdb: 7.3
      

After trying Joe's awful 2001 tape Live from the Belly of the Beast, this show was a good surprise, even though I almost gave up in the first ten minutes owing to the vile start centered on female anatomy.

Apart from the excessive amount of humor focused on reproductive functions, this is probably the best set of Joe's that I watched so far, including his later 2016 set Triggered and the 2018 special Strange Times.

I particularly appreciated seeing that Joe had woken up to the fact that there was a moron in charge of the country, a fact that seemed to have eluded him five years earlier, when the same guy was already in charge.

(Last viewed: December 2019)

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Joe Rogan: Triggered posterJoe Rogan: Triggered
      2016 | USA | Laughs: 3.5 (Smirk) | imdb: 7.4
      

This was the second show by Joe Rogan that I watched, and I found about as entertaining as the first: lots of smiles, no laughs. I appreciated the lower level of "gross-out" material, but the ending was weaker.

Religion, parenting… I already forgot most of the themes, but I doubt they included any that you haven't already seen developed somewhere in a funnier way, which doesn't preclude this set from being likeable.

One thing that would really improve Joe's sets for me is if he wouldn't yell.

(Last viewed: December 2019)

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Joe Rogan: Talking Monkeys in Space posterJoe Rogan: Talking Monkeys in Space
      2009 | USA | Laughs: 1.0 (Broken Comedies) | imdb: 7.9
      

This was the third of Joe's shows that I watched, one a night, and it was a strange experience. On the one hand, I preferred Joe's delivery (less screaming) and found him both smart and likeable. On the other hand, the set made me smile a lot less than the 2016 show Triggered and the 2018 show Strange Times, and that despite the fact that Joe worked really hard at it.

Themes included pot, babies, religion and more.

The second part of the show was Joe answering questions from the public, apparently about a TV show he hosts. Not knowing anything about it, I thought I wouldn't relate (a precondition for comedy) and I didn't watch it.

(Last viewed: December 2019)

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Joe Rogan: Live from the Belly of the Beast posterJoe Rogan: Live from the Belly of the Beast
      2001 | USA | Laughs: 0.0 (Just Awful) | imdb: 7.6
      

For the fourth show of Joe's that I watched, I thought I'd go back to the first tape that I could find to see if I could discern a trend, having found his 2009 show Talking Monkeys in Space far inferior to his 2016 set Triggered and the 2018 special Strange Times.

The trend was firmly confirmed. This was shortly before 9/11, there was a president in the White House who hadn't been elected and had already shown his moronic character, but the best Joe could come up with was some gutter humor and Adam Sandler voices.

He was clearly a bright guy even at the time, perhaps sharper than he is now judging by the pace of his delivery, and I bet he is embarrassed with this show now. But he doesn't need to be: no one has to watch it.

(Last viewed: December 2019)

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Joe Rogan: Strange Times posterJoe Rogan: Strange Times
      2018 | USA | Laughs: 3.5 (Smirk) | imdb: 7.4
      

I'm new to Joe Rogan: I first learned about him by watching a show where he lets the producer of the documentary The Game Changers defend his film — and actually lets him speak. Joe's relative level-headedness impressed me and made me want to check out his stand-up.

I went into the show with low expectations but was pleasantly surprised. Although I didn't enjoy Joe's delivery (what seemed to me like an endless scream) and thought he pandered a little too much to the gross-out crowd, he made some good points and had me smiling throughout the set.

Will probably be looking for some of his earlier material.

(Last viewed: December 2019)

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Frankie Boyle: Live posterFrankie Boyle: Live
      2008 | U.K. | Laughs: 0.1 (Don't Bother) | imdb: 7.6
      

This show came highly recommended by a friend, so I was tickled. After fifteen minutes, I hadn't laughed. Paused it. Another fifteen-minute section a few days later: still no laughs. I tortured myself with this go-stop-go-stop routine a few more times over the next few months, but finally gave up. This guy is hilarious to a lot of people, but to me his humor is way off-mark.

The things I enjoyed the most were the shots of the gorgeous theatre, Frankie's ginger features and his accent, which was thoroughly understandable although markedly Scottish. These two months in Glasgow a few years back must have helped.

That's it for me with Frankie Boyle. With apologies to my buddy, I don't think I can bring myself to try another of his sets.

(Last viewed: November 2019)

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Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife posterAli Wong: Hard Knock Wife
      2018 | USA | Laughs: 1.1 (Just Awful) | imdb: 7.3
      

I started watching this show the night after finishing Ali's first set, Baby Cobra, and found the contrast disturbing. First, it looked like Ali had seen an acting coach between the two sets, as there was a lot of effort to make her face more expressive. I love a good clown, but to me the acting felt forced. Second, it felt as though Ali had closely studied (and copied) Jim Gaffigan's technique of alternating between voices — in her case between the voice of a calm factual narrator and that of an outraged commentator. I have nothing against that technique, it just took me by surprise after watching the previous show.

My first sitting only lasted fifteen minutes, during which I didn't laugh. To be fair, for much of that time the topic was lactation, not one to which I particularly relate, but which is fair game given the amount of crude material regarding male physiological functions which women have to endure when they watch male stand-up comedians in the company of their male friends.

The second quarter was an exercise in gross-out, with more disturbing flickers of traits borrowed from other stage humorists, such as Eddie Murphy. No laughs.

During the third fifteen-minute sitting, Ali attempts to create humor by drawing from her family life, which is fine in theory. But apparently Ali still hasn't learned that for a situation to be funny, the audience must be able to relate to it. Bill Cosby speaking about family interactions with his wife and kids in an everyman way? Yes, relatable. Ali Wong speaking of her husband mooching off her millionaire income? Not relatable.

In summary, the amount of borrowing in that set made me feel like I'd been fed a product, a product designed by "clever" business people who had done their homework studying competing products. Funny how you can copy the general lines of a product but completely miss its essence.

Sometimes a knock-off is still functional. In this case, seeing that the "product's" function is to trigger laughter, I don't feel it's too harsh to state that the result is complete garbage.

At that stage, of course, the final quarter wasn't a soft landing, but the crash that one had come to expect. Thankfully, I had Ricky Gervais' last set lying around to cheer me up.

Sadly for Ali Wong, comedy is not ninety percent attitude, even though it might look like it. It's ninety percent brains. You can buy a loud dress, but you can't buy a certain kind of neuronal wiring — at least not yet.

(Last viewed: November 2019)

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Ali Wong: Baby Cobra posterAli Wong: Baby Cobra
      2016 | USA | Laughs: 3.3 | imdb: 7.5
      

For some time I must have had Ali confused with another female stand-up comedian whom I couldn't stand, because it took me three years to give this show a try.

It was not nearly as bad as I had assumed — I may have been pushing it, but I was able to get through it in only three sittings. Sure, it was far cruder than I like my stand-up to be, but nowadays that seems to be standard fare, which would make Ali "middle of the road" if she were a white US male comedian.

There were some good moments, particularly when Ali demystifies the point of marriage from "the female perspective". Planning to try her next set, Hard Knock Wife.

(Last viewed: November 2019)

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Wanda Sykes: Not Normal posterWanda Sykes: Not Normal
      2019 | USA | Laughs: 1.0 | imdb: 7.1
      

If you're the kind of person who laughs uncontrollably if Wanda Sykes so much as bats an eyelash, then this tape is for you. From what I could tell from the fifteen minutes I tried to watch before canning it, it's an insipid mixture of easy jokes and mentions of people who, with a few exceptions, will be forgotten tomorrow. One exception is the president in office at the time of the taping. But it's not enough to say "Trump" to have a stand-up comedy set, Wanda!

I enjoyed some of this artist's earlier work but find her recent production extremely weak — except when she's acting, as in Bad Moms.

(Last viewed: October 2019)

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Aziz Ansari: Right Now posterAziz Ansari: Right Now
      2019 | USA | Laughs: 1.0 | imdb: 7.6
      wikipedia

In this excruciatingly slow set, Ansari appears to try to connect with the public about something he's done for which he'd like to make amends. Only watch if you're absolutely certain that nothing can worsen your present state of boredom.

(Last viewed: October 2019)

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Bill Burr: Paper Tiger posterBill Burr: Paper Tiger
      2019 | USA | Laughs: 6.0 | imdb: 8.2
      

I can't say that much stood out from this set — more material about injustice toward males? I enjoyed it. Those who like Bill should find it pretty decent.

(Last viewed: October 2019)

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(This section: Stand-Up Comedy Sets)


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