As any entertainer will attest, making someone laugh is always harder than making someone cry. It takes an entirely different skill set and taps into an entirely different, and arguably, more complicated psyche. (What makes one person roll with delight could make another roll their eyes with disgust.) Of course, if you’re one of the great stand-up comics, you can accomplish both: Making your audience laugh so hard they cry.
Then again, having to choose your favorite stand-up comic of all-time might be just as difficult a task. Do you go with the rule-breakers of comedy who not only made you laugh, but made you think and often called for – and often effected – social change? Do you pick a mainstream comic who can finely pinpoint all those funny little quirks of everyday life through observational comedy? Or is it a no-brainer to pick the class clown that plays up the silly side in of all of us?
While each of these comedian/comediennes below is a rule-breaker (George Carlin, Louis C.K., Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Lewis Black, Eddie Murphy, Sarah Silverman, Dave Chappelle, Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, Eddie Izzard), a keen observer (Bill Cosby, Mitch Hedberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, Bob Hope, Jeff Foxworthy, Wanda Sykes, Patton Oswalt, Joan Rivers) and a class clown (Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Rodney Dangerfield, Dane Cook, Kathy Griffin) in their own right, we want you, EW.com readers to pick which comic crosses all boundaries and is the funniest – and your favorite – stand-up of all-time. Watch some classic clips (just a heads up, some are VERY NSFW) from each of these comedians:
Lewis Black: He’s one angry guy. Of course, that’s what makes him so damn funny. Whether he’s ranting on The Daily Show or for a comedy special, fans will shout his praises from the rooftops:
Lenny Bruce: A transcendent satirist, Bruce seemed to find trouble wherever he went, but in turn, found a devoted following that still praise his unconventional humor:
George Carlin: To many, Carlin was more than a comedian. He was a prophet and a poet. And the guy definitely had a thing or two to say about “stuff”: