The Funniest Stand-Up Comedy


   

The laughDB database is dedicated to the funniest comedy movies, stand-up comedy and TV series.

In this area (stand-up comedy), you can:
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Stand-Up Comedy Sets sorted by Recently reviewed (descending) / page 2 of 12


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Brian Regan: I Walked on the Moon DVDBrian Regan: I Walked on the Moon
      2004 | USA | Laughs: 3.8 (Chuckle) | imdb: 8.5
      

I hadn't heard of Brian until 2011. Discovering him was a surprise and a treat. This set made me laugh harder than I had in a long time. Feeding my stand-up comedy addiction, I get tired of watching people who must cram three expletives in every sentence and spend half their time discussing reproductive functions. So I love that Brian Regan has a clean mouth and keeps it above the belt. Does that make him boring? On the contrary. His humor finds themes outside the beaten track, and new angles to themes one might have thought overworked, such as air travel. Moreover, one is left with the impression of having listened to a genuinely nice person. I'll be looking for Brian's other DVDs.

Edit: More than seven years later, I thought I'd treat myself to something that was sure to make me laugh, as my original rating for the show had been an 8.5. I was therefore surprised not to find myself laughing even once. Have I become hopelessly depressed, or have I changed so much that what used to be funny no longer is? I enjoyed some of the bits, perhaps most of all the one at the end when Brian speaks about people who seem to have a low level of emotional intelligence. But many moments were loud to my ears—loud in the sense that Brian started shouting. Still a very watchable show, just not one for the museum of best-ever stand-up comedy. (Last viewed: Apr 2011 September 2018)

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George Carlin: Life Is Worth Losing DVDGeorge Carlin: Life Is Worth Losing
      2005 | USA | Laughs: 1.0 | imdb: 8.4
      wikipedia

This is a special show in that its format stands out from George's usual. I want to say that it's more a long poem than a stand-up comedy set, but that would be confusing. At heart, it's a great long rant about America, but in this globalized world most of the things Carlin says could apply to most places. Some of the themes include suicide, murder, torture, consumption, education, parents and disaster. I had planned to watch the 74 minutes in two sittings but stayed hypnotized by George Carlin's amazing skill, the extent of which I had forgotten. No laughs, but an unmissable set for Carlin fans and anyone with a taste for social commentary. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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Pete Holmes: Nice Try, the Devil! posterPete Holmes: Nice Try, the Devil!
      2013 | USA | Laughs: 0.3 (Don't Bother) | imdb: 7.4
      

I decided to try out a set by Peter Holmes based on a friend's recommendation of two of his skits (Subway and Magic), neither of which worked for me. Well, neither did the show, which I quit a quarter of the way in as the camera panned across the ecstatic faces of Pete's young and beautiful yuppie audience. To me the humor was bland and dull, but hey, we're all different so you might find it smart and subtle. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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Brian Regan: Live from Radio City Music Hall posterBrian Regan: Live from Radio City Music Hall
      2015 | USA | Laughs: 4.5 (Laugh and Smile) | imdb: 7.8
      

This show was unequal but there were enough good bits that the average worked out. As usual, Brian's high energy, clean humor and physical presence all work to his advantage. The themes ranged from doctor appointments to blending bananas. I liked that Brian ended strong—for me the bit about the hotel customer always being wrong was the funniest. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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Stewart Lee: Stand-Up Comedian posterStewart Lee: Stand-Up Comedian
      2005 | U.K. | Laughs: 3.0 (Watch Once) | imdb: 8.5
      

Even though this set is about half an hour too long for my taste and only gave me a few chuckles, I'm glad I didn't miss it as it was stimulating and I enjoyed it. Apart from his trademark deconstruction of his own act, Stewart compares himself to Jesus and brushes on entertaining themes such as Americans in their natural habitat, Eddie Izzard's fake improv, and Princess Diana's achievement of underachievement. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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George Carlin: Back in Town DVDGeorge Carlin: Back in Town
      1996 | USA | Laughs: 2.5 (Chuckle) | imdb: 8.7
      wikipedia

On the one hand, I loved the show. I hadn't watched George in a number of years, and I loved rediscovering his fast and sharp wit. On the other hand, I only chuckled a few times and never really laughed. Who knows, perhaps with age I'm just having a harder time cracking a laugh.

One thing that struck me was hearing a couple of jokes that I'd also heard on recent sets by other comedians—twenty years later! This suggests either that George's material has become such an integral part of our culture that we no longer notice when we borrow from it, as with Greek philosophy; or that some comedians are mining his older shows for material. The latter seems like a more reasonable assumption.

The bit about camcorders feels both dated and painfully current. So does the bit about selfish, ignorant leaders. Other themes include abortion, pedophile catholics priests, the sanctity of life, capital punishment, farts, idioms. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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Buddy Hackett Live and Uncensored posterBuddy Hackett Live and Uncensored
      1983 | USA | Laughs: 3.0 | imdb: 8.4
      

This set was my first encounter with Buddy Hackett. It had good moments, but I wasn't left wanting for more.

A large part of the show was spent on jokes related to people's private parts. In the early 1980s the rawness of it may have been so novel that it triggered astonished laughter, but in this day and age the last thing I need is another stand-up show filled with jokes about genitals.

Buddy has an unusual physique. I'm not sure his face is all that expressive but I found it fascinating to watch. I was impressed with his command of Asian accents during bits that might come across as culturally insensitive nowadays. With many close-up of its faces, the audience was also entertaining to watch. For capturing a time and place so crisply, the set has unquestionable historical value. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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Jim Gaffigan: Noble Ape posterJim Gaffigan: Noble Ape
      2018 | USA | Laughs: 3.0 | imdb: 7.2
      

That show didn't entertain me nearly as much as the previous two that I'd watched. It's still Jim, and it was certainly a treat to be able to consume his demeanor and facial expressions for over an hour. But I found the material a little dull, and it surprised me to hear this reputedly clean comedian get into bathroom jokes. Nevertheless, the set can be enjoyed when sipped in small doses, and I'm sure it will please many, especially perhaps those of the Catholic persuasion as Jim (a self-professed Catholic) closes the show with a story of how he opened for the pope. (Last viewed: August 2018)

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Steve Martin: On Location posterSteve Martin: On Location
      1976 | USA | Laughs: 3.5 (Chuckle) | imdb: 7.7
      

I'm not a fan of Steve Martin's (both his acting and stand-up comedy usually tend to leave me cold) but I enjoyed the first part of this show very much. It didn't make me laugh out loud, but at least I got to chuckle while discovering a range of skills I never knew Steve had, from juggling to playing the banjo.

The delivery reminded me very much of George Carlin. If it is the case that Steve was inspired by George, then perhaps it is a shame that he later developed his own style, which never did much for me.

For me, the end of the show was as boring as Steve's usual act. (Last viewed: August 2018)

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A Steven Wright Special posterA Steven Wright Special
      1985 | USA | Laughs: 0.2 | imdb: 8.6
      

Eight years after first trying out Steven Wright, I decided to give him a second chance, this time with a show from twenty years earlier than the first. The set a series of unconnected one- or two-liners delivered in a deadpan tone. The audience was in stitches, but I had barely cracked a smile after fifteen minutes, so I had to kill the tape. Why the audience laughed is beyond me. Perhaps it was the alcohol. More likely, some kind of mass hypnosis. (Last viewed: August 2018)

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Stewart Lee: Carpet Remnant World posterStewart Lee: Carpet Remnant World
      2012 | U.K. | Laughs: 3.0 | imdb: 8.6
      

While this show doesn't rank very high for pure laughs, it gave me a lot of pleasure. I had read that Stewart Lee is "a comedian's comedian", and as a large consumer of stand-up comedy I enjoyed how he weaves comments about that art into the show. In parallel to the apparent thread of the routine, Stewart deconstructs his own performance, which often serves as a greater comedic device than the "plain jokes".

The show was at least half an hour too long for my taste, a taste that I don't mind apologizing for. This was my first encounter with Stewart Lee. I'll be excited to discover more of his material. (Last viewed: August 2018)

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An Audience with Victoria Wood posterAn Audience with Victoria Wood
      1988 | U.K. | Laughs: 0.2 (Don't Bother) | imdb: 8.2
      wikipedia

I have no doubt that Victoria Wood was very clever—her rapid-fire delivery suggests an agile mind. As a performer, I found her very likeable Yet in this set (the only one of hers that I've watched) her comedy did nothing for me, although the audience were in stitches. They in fact were the most interesting part of the show: it was fascinating seeing that collection of British faces from the 1980s. Through a combination of hair-styling, dental care, plastic surgery and diet, faces seem to have come a long way since that time. I apologize for not having anything more substantial to offer about this show. (Last viewed: August 2018)

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Tom Segura: Disgraceful posterTom Segura: Disgraceful
      2018 | USA | Laughs: 4.0 (Chuckle) | imdb: 7.5
      

I don't know if this show would be funny to someone who sees Tom for the first time, but I like his demeanor, so I enjoyed the show even though it never got past the chuckle point. Looking back, I'm not sure that any particular theme stood out, though the high of the set for me may have been the point when he talks about people with "foreign accent syndrome".

This makes no sense? Just go watch it, I don't think you'll be sad. (Last viewed: August 2018)

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Ryan Hamilton: Happy Face posterRyan Hamilton: Happy Face
      2017 | USA | Laughs: 2.5 (Chuckle) | imdb: 7.2
      

This was the first set of Ryan's that I watched. I didn't laugh, perhaps because I was tired, but I enjoyed it and had nothing to complain about. Ryan belongs to this endangered breed of stand-up comedian who do "clean" humor. I appreciated that, not because I'm a prude (hell, I'm a big fan of Jim Jefferies) but because bathroom and bedroom jokes are usually the refuge of people who aren't clever enough to talk about other things.

I don't mean to imply that this was "intellectual comedy". Nothing was learned. The topics ranged from New Yorkers to hot air balloons. But it was light-hearted, Ryan was likeable and I was entertained. On that particular night, I couldn't have asked for more. (Last viewed: August 2018)

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Gad Elmaleh: American Dream posterGad Elmaleh: American Dream
      2018 | USA | Laughs: 4.2 | imdb: 7.2
      

With a few tweaks, this is essentially the same material as that from Gad Part En Live from a year earlier, but in English. I watched the two shows back-to-back, and in my view the English version goes down a little smoother, not just because Gad ironed out a few kinks, but also because that New York stage felt like it was the right context for that show.

As a "student" of the various brands of humor around the world and in different eras, I find it very special that Gad is able to perform stand-up comedy successfully in various languages (apart from French and English, he has also performed in Arabic and Hebrew). Comedy-wise, this is not an outstanding show, but anyone with an appetite for cross-cultural differences should find something they like.

One missed opportunity, in my view, is that apart from a few isolated words, Gad doesn't show off his Arabic. Given the fears and stereotypes of our times, he could do that to great effect. (Last viewed: August 2018)

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(This section: Stand-Up Comedy Sets)


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