The Funniest Stand-Up Comedy


   

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Stand-Up Comedy Sets sorted by Recently reviewed (descending) / page 1 of 9


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Bill Bailey: Qualmpeddler posterBill Bailey: Qualmpeddler
      2013 | U.K. | Laughs: 5.1 (Watch Once) | imdb: 7.6
      

In the first part of the set, Bill makes many references to public figures—a comedic device I rarely like, as it makes the material instantly dated as well as culture-dependent. How many U.S. viewers keep up with U.K. politics and social affairs?

But it's a long set, and it has some very good bits. Overall it felt like watching "real Bill Bailey" (as opposed to a weaker, diluted version of his former self), and I enjoyed the experience. (Last viewed: June 2017)

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Bill Burr: Comedy Central Season 7, Episode 2Bill Burr: Comedy Central Season 7, Episode 2
      2003 | USA | Laughs: 7.2 | imdb: 7.9
      

Discovering this set fourteen years later was a good surprise. A stand-up comedian's powers often decline as they get more settled in life and exhaust their themes, so I was curious to study some ancient material, when Bill was presumably near his peak. This Comedy Central special didn't disappoint. Sometimes old shows age poorly, but most of the material here is of the imperishable kind—universal subjects such as differences between men and women, always a good theme for Bill. Sure there was a short piece about George W. Bush, but I could handle it, I still remember who W is. The only bummer was that the show only lasted twenty minutes. If you can get your hands on this tape, it's a fun short watch. (Last viewed: June 2017)

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Bill Burr: Walk Your Way Out posterBill Burr: Walk Your Way Out
      2017 | USA | Laughs: 5.8 | imdb: 7.1
      

While this show had some laughs and I'd still recommend watching it, the two of us found it much inferior to Bill's previous set, I'm Sorry You Feel That Way. To start with, for some reason Bill seemed to be yelling for the whole set, which was hard on the ear. That Bill was a bit out of touch with the audience is understandable (the show was taped in Memphis), but some weaker bits seemed to go on for too long. In other words, he seemed to be a tad out of touch with delivery and his own sense of what makes people laugh, critical talents in a stand-up comedian. I hope this is only a rough patch and that Bill bounces back with a spectacular show. At the moment, he seems to need a break from the comedy circuit, and I certainly wish him that—a relaxing sabbatical to recharge his creative juices. (Last viewed: June 2017)

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Dwayne Perkins:Take Note posterDwayne Perkins:Take Note
      2016 | USA | Laughs: 4.0 | imdb: 8.1
      

This set was our first encounter with Dwayne. I can't say that I laughed, but we both smiled a lot as we found him funny. If this show is an indication, Dwayne doesn't do humor below the belt, providing a nice break from all the foul language and crude themes that seems to be the bread-and-butter of many of the high-profile contemporary acts. Don't get me wrong, I do love Jim Jefferies, but I'm not always in the mood to get splattered in sewer juice. That being said, you can be funnier than Dwayne was while remaining polite—the show could have packed more punch and spent less time on the black-white theme, which I find about as trite as jokes about what goes on below the belt. Overall, I did like Dwayne a lot and will be excited to watch what he produces next. (Last viewed: June 2017)

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Tom Segura: Comedy Central Season 15Tom Segura: Comedy Central Presents, Season 15 Episode 1
      2011 | USA | Laughs: 3.0 (Don't Bother) | imdb: 7.2
      

This twenty-minute comedy central special was the third of Tom's sets that I watched (after Completely Normal and Mostly Stories). I was surprised not to like it, but that was not Tom's fault: the audience had been so fluffed beforehand (instructed in the art of laughing for the taping) that it made an abominable background noise, laughing at the wrong moments, before the punchline had been delivered. Robbed of build-up and timing, Tom is only a quarter as funny, as his comedic power draws as much (or more) from his perfect delivery and his demeanor than from his material. Near the end, the audience was a bit more relaxed, which allowed me to laugh (I'm sad to admit) during a cruel segment about little people. (Last viewed: June 2017)

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Joe Lycett: Thats The Way, A-Ha, A-Ha posterJoe Lycett: Thats The Way, A-Ha, A-Ha
      2016 | U.K. | Laughs: 6.5 (Laugh and Smile) | imdb: 8.2
      

Since this is a long set and we often find long sets hard to watch in one sitting, we sat down with the intention of watching half of it before going out—but ended up watching all 75 minutes of it, our first viewing of a show by Joe Lycett. We laughed a few times and smiled a lot: we were entertained. Joe has a very clever, likeable delivery that is his very own. Often when watching a stand-up who is new to me, he or she naturally evokes other comedians, but in Joe's none came to mind. The weaker points (and they shouldn't discourage you from watching) were that Joe sometimes referred to people we didn't know (lacking the English background), and that the time when he read jokes sent to his phone on social media went a bit long. But the device of relating electronic exchanges he's had worked. I'm glad to have discovered a "new" stand-up comedian I enjoy and will be looking for his next show. (Last viewed: June 2017)

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Reggie Watts: Why S??? So Crazy posterReggie Watts: Why S!?! So Crazy
      2010 | USA | Laughs: 1.0 | imdb: 7.2
      

Reggie was highly recommended to me by a friend who often has similar tastes. Reggie's specialty is to sing humorous lyrics, with a range of funny voices, over a background of loops that he lays by skillful beat boxing. There is no doubt that Reggie is extremely talented, but unlike my friend I wasn't blown away by those performances. For one, I couldn't agree with him that they were unique—having seen a number of acts using looping over the years. Bill Bailey, whom my friend didn't know, certainly comes to mind. For me, in a sense, Bill is the original Reggie Watts, although Bill's sets (such as the wonderful Part Troll) have lots in them besides "funny music". And that's another thing that dampened my enthusiasm about the extremely talented, immensely likeable Reggie Watts: for me, too much of the show was "the same". Sad to say, but I kept falling asleep, and it wasn't sleep deprivation as I was later able to sit through a moderately funny episode of the Australian comedy series Rake. During Reggie's video I smiled a lot, I was impressed, but I dozed off too many times and just didn't laugh.

So while I respect Reggie's talent and find him immensely likeable, I won't be seeking out more of his work. On the other hand, your tastes might be more aligned with my friend's, so I encourage you to check him out. (Last viewed: June 2017)

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Tom Segura: Completely Normal posterTom Segura: Completely Normal
      2014 | USA | Laughs: 6.8 | imdb: 7.7
      

After watching Mostly Stories, I was motivated to watch Tom's other sets. This one from two years earlier did not disappoint. I know this may sound weird but for me half the show is in Tom's face, and half of the other half is in his demeanor: it seems to me that he doesn't talk all that much, and what he says isn't always all that funny—but the delivery is always perfect. I'm glad to have added Tom to my collection of to-watch comics and can't wait to see how he evolves. (Last viewed: June 2017)

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Tom Segura: Mostly Stories posterTom Segura: Mostly Stories
      2016 | USA | Laughs: 6.5 (Laugh Out Loud) | imdb: 7.4
      

This show, my introduction to Tom Segura, made me laugh some and smile lots. I felt that Tom adds something to what his contemporaries (Bill Burr, Louis CK, Jim Jefferies…) are already doing, and that's not a feeling I get every day.

The material isn't extraordinarily sophisticated, but half the show is watching Tom's face: he is very expressive. He also makes great voices. Overall he comes across as very confident…perhaps too much so, as with confidence comes a slower pace, and some of the bits felt a tad drawn out. For my taste Tom could also have less time below the belt, but we all know that's not going to happen.

I'm looking forward to watching more by this talented stand-up pro. (Last viewed: May 2017)

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Pete Johansson: You Might Also Enjoy Pete Johansson posterPete Johansson: You Might Also Enjoy Pete Johansson
      2016 | USA | Laughs: 3.5 (Watch Once) | imdb: 6.2
      

After watching an excerpt from one of his sets, I thought I might enjoy Pete Johansson, so my lady friend and I popped this tape in to give him a go. We both liked him—she perhaps more than I. What I liked was that Pete appeared to be fairly bright and that he made me laugh a few times. His brand of humor seems to be somewhere on the Bill Burr - Louis CK continuum. For now I found the set a bit diluted (not enough laughs), but it's entirely possible Pete may devise something more potent in the future. (Last viewed: May 2017)

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Jimmy Carr Comedian posterJimmy Carr: Comedian
      2007 | U.K. | Laughs: 7.2 (Watch Once) | imdb: 8.1
      

Three years after I'd watched the Jimmy Carr: Live set, a friend convinced me to give Jimmy another go. Since I laughed, I wasn't disappointed, although I was left a little dissatisfied. As with the other show, this is not the kind of comedy that feeds your brain, as do those by (say) Bill Bailey or Doug Stanhope.

My review is essentially the same as that for Jimmy Carr: Live. Rapid-fire jokes, good laughs, but, oddly, not a set I'll want to watch again as it fails to challenge and nourish, leaving me a bit dissatisfied. (Last viewed: April 2017)

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Louis CK - Oh My God posterLouis CK - Oh My God
      2013 | USA | Laughs: 6.5 (Laugh and Smile) | imdb: 8.4
      wikipedia

Over the years, Louis CK has been feeding his shows from two different taps—the smart tap and the trashy tap. For this special, thankfully, he doesn't have the trashy tap all the way open, which makes it easier to watch than his Beacon Theatre special.

For laughs, the show starts at its peak. Then there is a very long lull. Then the show picks up again and Louis ends strong.

Overall, a very enjoyable hour. (Last viewed: September 2016)

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Jim Jefferies - Freedumb posterJim Jefferies - Freedumb
      2016 | Australia | Laughs: 8.0 (Laugh Out Loud) | imdb: 7.7
      

Jim Jefferies has done it again. I always feel apprehensive when I sit down to watch one of my favorite stand-up comedians, as, following its own law of gravitation, all comedic talent that rises must eventually fall. What a treat then to see Jim at the top of his form.

The material that will most stimulate a US audience might be the bit when Jim compares a component of the American self-image ("land of the free") with reality. Some day, who knows, Jim could be the one who bases a whole set on Chomsky and makes his contrarian analysis more accessible by turning it into comedy.

My only complaint (and a minor one) would be that Jim mentioned a couple of "celebrities" I'd never heard of—circumstantial humor which is perishable by nature, as no one will know what the joke was about when we watch the tape again ten years from now.

The set's ninety minutes went by fast. I was beaming throughout. More than ever, I was left thinking that Jim Jefferies's talent is a gift to the English-speaking world. (Last viewed: August 2016)

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Bill Bailey: Dandelion Mind posterBill Bailey: Dandelion Mind
      2010 | U.K. | Laughs: 6.5 | imdb: 7.7
      

This show is not Bill's best but it has its good moments. To nitpick: one bit involving the public is particularly repetitive; there are many musical numbers, not all of which are inspired; there are many references to celebrities, which makes the show less universal, and prone to faster to aging. (Last viewed: November 2015)

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Bill Cosby: Far from Finished posterBill Cosby: Far from Finished
      2013 | USA | Laughs: 6.0 (Watch Once) | imdb: 7.0
      

Maybe I was tired, but for me the first 30 minutes of this show was a bit of a yawner. When I picked it up the next day, Bill made me laugh, and apart from a few long moments, it was a delight until the end. The main themes (the wife, kids) will be well familiar to those who have seen Bill's other sets. (Last viewed: June 2015)

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(This section: Stand-Up Comedy Sets)


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