The Funniest Stand-Up Comedy


   

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Stand-Up Comedy Sets sorted by Recently reviewed (descending) / page 4 of 9


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Bob Newhart: Button Down Concert DVDBob Newhart: Button Down Concert
      1995 | USA | Laughs: 8.0 | imdb: 7.0
      

I didn't know Bob Newhart before watching this set; it was a pleasant surprise. Bob made me laugh more than most contemporary comedians, and he did so without dragging me into the gutter. The laughter was clean, innocent, much as with a Bill Cosby set. One situation that was very funny the first time (a man on the phone listens to a counterpart explain something out of the the ordinary) became boring on the fourth take. Apart from that sin by excessive repetition, this was an excellent show. (Last viewed: September 2013)

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Ellen DeGeneres: Here and Now DVDEllen DeGeneres: Here and Now
      2003 | USA | Laughs: 6.0 (Light-Hearted) | imdb: 7.8
      wikipedia

I enjoyed this set. The first half is strongest. Much of the show has to do with how things have changed, a topic you'll enjoy if you're in Ellen's age bracket—give or take ten years on either side. Ellen loses steam somewhere in the middle and hits the bottom with a toilet joke (nothing too vulgar mind you). She then recovers to deliver a final message that wraps the show by coming full circle: "procrastinate now." Not many stand-up sets can claim to have a message, and among those that do, this one has the most compelling that I've heard. The comic power of this show may not be explosive, but if you choose to watch this bright comedian for the one hour of Here and Now, you're unlikely to regret it. (Last viewed: September 2013)

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Kathleen Madigan: In Other Words DVDKathleen Madigan: In Other Words
      2006 | USA | Laughs: 4.2 | imdb: 6.9
      

It took me a while after watching Kathleen's Gone Madigan to find the motivation to watch another of her sets. As it turns out, this earlier set is far better, though it took me a few sittings to finish it as the boring parts kept putting me to sleep. That lethargy, mind you, was not induced because the material was brain-taxing in any way. (I would never watch a show by one of my favorite stand-up comedians—such as Eddie Izzard—unless I'm able to focus: they're too smart and I'm too slow…) Indeed, the material is generally about as low-grade and harmless as a light beer.

The set opens promisingly, but often slides into mediocre territory, where minor personalities of yore, whose names mean nothing to me, are discussed. But there are enough funny bits to make the set worth watching on a slow day, and the show did leave me with greater appreciation for Madigan. (Last viewed: August 2013)

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Jim Carrey: Unnatural ActJim Carrey: Unnatural Act
      1991 | Canada | Laughs: 7.0 | imdb: 7.8
      

A short-and-sweet set with lots of smiles and some good laughs. There is some culturally insensitive material about Middle Eastern cultures that I found crass. Neither was the adult material particularly helpful, and Jim's pacing wasn't all that great. Despite these few flaws, it's a good set. These kinks would probably disappear if Jim did more stand-up—too bad there isn't more material by him. (Last viewed: August 2013)

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Daniel Tosh: Completely Serious DVDDaniel Tosh: Completely Serious
      2007 | USA | Laughs: 0.0 (Don't Bother) | imdb: 7.7
      wikipedia

If you're a young professional from Los Angeles, this set might make you laugh. But if you've lived outside that box, you'll want to skip this boring act. (Last viewed: May 2013)

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Louis C.K.: Live at the Beacon TheaterLouis C.K.: Live at the Beacon Theater
      2011 | USA | Laughs: 5.9 | imdb: 8.4
      wikipedia

This show has some good segments, but you can easily skip it if you've seen other sets by Louis. I, for one, have lost any interest for his obsession with self-pleasuring and other below-the-belt activities. But that must be what sells best. (Last viewed: January 2013)

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Louis C.K.: HilariousLouis C.K.: Hilarious
      2011 | USA | Laughs: 6.5 | imdb: 8.5
      wikipedia

Louis got a divorce since his previous recording (Chewed-Up). Although I'm thrilled for him, I'm sad to lose the funny material about his interaction with his spouse. As the previous one, this show doesn't have a lot of laughter-triggering material, but I didn't mind because I enjoyed listening to Louis's bright mind at work. The first part is probably the funniest. It's also the dirtiest. I really didn't need to hear another twenty minutes of Louis on the general theme of men pleasuring themselves. (Last viewed: January 2013)

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Doug Stanhope: Oslo: Burning the Bridge to Nowhere DVDDoug Stanhope: Oslo: Burning the Bridge to Nowhere
      2011 | USA | Laughs: 7.0 | imdb: 7.5
      wikipedia

At the beginning of the DVD, Doug apologizes that the show was filmed at the inspiration of his producer without much notice and issues a number of disclaimers. Nevertheless, I found the first half to be the best of his that I'd seen in a while. Comparing it with his other releases, much of the material was fresh, and Doug didn't dwell much in the gross-out or obscene departments. Sure, the set didn't feel nearly as tuned or polished as that of an Eddie Izzard show, but that didn't matter. It was nice to hear Doug share his thoughts in front of a non-Anglo audience, outside of the US context. It sounds like Doug has reached the "give up and just live" stage of his life, and that produces a different voice, perhaps as valuable, one that isn't as angry, one that is resigned to the overall scarcity of critical thinking among the human animal.

What about the second half? Apart from the boring encore, it was good too. This is when Doug rolled out the "adult" material. Once again, the material was fresh, and when graphic language was used, it usually felt like there was a point—unlike the gratuitously obscene rampage in the more drunken sections on some of his other sets.

Not laugh-out-loud comedy, but a very good show for fans of Doug's and probably also for a good many people who haven't come across him yet. (Last viewed: January 2013)

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Jay Larson: Comedy Central PresentsJay Larson: Comedy Central Presents
      2011 | USA | Laughs: 4.0 (Don't Bother) | imdb: 6.2
      

During this short set without adult themes, I found Jay pleasant and often on the verge of making me chuckle—without ever quite getting there. Not a big waste of time, and I would give Jay another try to see if his comedy improves with age, which sometimes happens, as with Louis CK for instance. (Last viewed: January 2013)

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Michael McIntyre: Live & Laughing DVDMichael McIntyre: Live & Laughing
      2008 | U.K. | Laughs: 6.6 | imdb: 7.6
      

One thing must be said in favor of Michael McIntyre: he gets A+ for effort. For the duration of this 85-minute set, he never seems to take a breath from walking around the stage, gesticulating and delivering material at a fast pace. Inevitably (or perhaps fortunately), some of it works, although at first I found the hit ratio quite low—somewhere between a quarter and a third. For most of the show, I enjoyed the chuckles and the rare laugh but found the rest of the time a bit long. Michael ended stronger though, redeeming the show overall. For my taste, Michael's humor is a bit simple, in the sense that it's something my grandparents might have liked, except for the saucy bits. You know how humor evolves over time as life becomes more and more complex? As the packed theater shows, Michael is hugely popular, so this set might just be your thing. (Last viewed: January 2013)

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Louis C.K.: One Night Stand DVDLouis C.K.: One Night Stand
      2005 | USA | Laughs: 7.6 | imdb: 7.8
      

This short show is really good value. The adult portion of the set might be a bit long, but there are really good segments about marriage and kids, with material that feels like it came out of an original mind, rather than from the big pot of stale material so many comedians seem to be dipping into. (Last viewed: January 2013)

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Louis C.K.: Comedy Central PresentsLouis C.K.: Comedy Central Presents
      2001 | USA | Laughs: 7.2 | imdb: 7.4
      

A nice short set with material that mostly works—a good introduction to Louis CK's clever thinking, devoid of adult themes for a (welcome) change. (Last viewed: January 2013)

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Doug Stanhope: Go HomeDoug Stanhope: Go Home
      2007 | USA | Laughs: 1.0 (Just Awful) | imdb: 8.2
      

A mix of stand-up comedy and interviews set in Edinburgh and focusing on immigration. Doug, who is usually clear-thinking, is surprizingly narrow-minded on this issue, essentially telling people who cannot compete with the low wages of recent immigrants that they're idiots if they can't make themselves competitive by improving their skills. That's the standard elitist attitude of someone of above-average skills, someone who indeed is able to cut a slice for himself. Wake up, Doug, not everyone has your abilities—and no one chooses to be an idiot, just like no one chooses to be deaf. If someone truly is an idiot, does that mean the rest of the world has the right to step over him, does that mean you can laugh at his plight, that his country should treat him like garbage? A fine philosophy if you want to create a super-race. Oh, wait, that's been tried before. It's good that Doug can empathize with immigrants, but he has an empathy blind spot when it comes to the local underclass. Doug has it right on nationalism, of course, but there's a screaming lack of subtlety in his stance of blaming the victim. (Last viewed: January 2013)

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George Carlin: Doin' It Again DVDGeorge Carlin: Doin' It Again
      1990 | USA | Laughs: 3.0 | imdb: 8.5
      wikipedia

Over the past month I've been watching a lot of stand-up comedy. After seeing so many faces, tonight I felt like resuming my quest (started over two years ago) of watching all the Carlin specials in chronological order. This show was next on the "to watch" list. Within fifteen seconds of stepping on stage, George had taken control of the crowd. Having seen many mediocre acts recently, and not having seen George in over a year, I was initially delighted to see George again. That feeling wore off, though, as I didn't laugh hard, and as much of the material felt similar to bits I'd seen George do before. Much of the show focused on language—expressions in the American idiom that George wished he didn't have to hear. My favorite bits were perhaps those about dogs. A fairly clever set, but not laugh-out-loud comedy. (Last viewed: January 2013)

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Bill Hicks: Revelations DVDBill Hicks: Revelations
      1993 | USA | Laughs: 2.5 | imdb: 8.7
      

The other three shows by Bill I had seen thus far had used much of the same material, but the first half of this show had a fair amount of different material, which I appreciated. Bill seemed more relaxed than usual—perhaps because he had already been diagnosed with the cancer that would take him the following year. In the first half, Bill spoke about the US politics of the time (still relevant twenty years later), religion and the Kennedy assassination. In the second half, he reverted to material from his other shows. Two fairly gross moments were included. The pace was sometimes very slow, and I can't say that I laughed, but I chuckled a few times and did enjoy the show for what it is (Bill's sermon, rather than stand-up comedy). Overall, I would rate it Bill's most "mature" show—but not the best for laughs. (Last viewed: January 2013)

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(This section: Stand-Up Comedy Sets)


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