My 10 Favorite Comedians
We all need a good belly laugh from time to time, and here’s a list of my favorite comedians whose work over the years have provided them.
Some of the folks on my list of favorite comedians are no longer with us. At least one of them have subsequently been involved in scandal, but their work still provided good humor before any of that happened.
1. Jack Benny
He portrayed a stingy curmudgeon who loved the violin but couldn’t play it well. But Benny was respected among his peers as a kind, generous and gentle soul who loved and respected his audience. His timing was second to none and influenced the likes of Johnny Carson and even, I’m told, emcee Bob Barker. As for the violin, here’s a classic bit with Gisele MacKenzie.
2. Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson knew how to read his audience and was able to go from performing a great monologue to keeping order among his sometimes-wild guests. There’ll never be another Carson, and late night hasn’t been as good since he decided to retire.
3. George Carlin
Carlin was sometimes more vulgar than I thought was necessary, but he was very funny. My favorite of his routines is probably the routine about flying on airlines.
4. Don Rickles
The so-called “Merchant of Venom” had a unique style that practically no one else could get away with. His insult comedy was something to behold.
5. Carol Burnett
Burnett is celebrating the 50th year of the debut of her classic CBS series. It’s still as funny today as it was then.
6. Bill Cosby
Using scripts based on sketches from his standup routines, he launched The Cosby Show and became a prime time hit. It’s unfortunate to see the myriad allegations that have come out against him over the years, but his comedy is still funny.
7. David Letterman
I was a bigger fan of Letterman towards the end of his reign in late-night television, but I was sorry to see him retire as well. Like Carson, I’d become accustomed to Letterman, and I haven’t found a show I liked as much as his since.
8. Stephen Wright
Sometimes I really like certain styles of comedy in smaller doses. Wright’s fits into that category for me. With a few quick one-liners and non-sequitors, he makes you laugh by pointing out the small absurdities in life.
9. Chris Rock
Like Carlin, Rock’s comedy is also often filled with far more profanity than is necessary, but he’s still a funny man. About love, he said, “If you’ve never contemplated murder, you’ve never been in love.”
10. Eddie Izzard
Izzard is often listed among the top British comedians. His unique style, in which he usually appears in women’s clothes is combined with what’s described as a “stream of consciousness” delivery. One of my favorite of his routines involves flags.