I love comedy. If you can tell me a good story or make me laugh, I’ll sit at your feet and beg for more. I have the utmost respect for anyone who can get on a stage and intentionally be funny because it just ain’t easy.
12. Lenny Bruce – I admit, he was before my time, but he is the father of shock comedy and without him we never would’ve had such greats as Richard Pryor or Sam Kinison. Prior to this comedy consisted of knock-knock jokes and Bruce took an unflinching look at the ugly side of life – racism, hatred.
11. Bill Cosby – If you haven’t seen his movie entitled, Himself, you’re missing out.
10. Richard Pryor – This man set the world on its ear with his third album, That Nig***s Crazy and his popularity continued to grow with each successive album release. He was one of the writers on Blazing Saddles, Car Wash and numerous television shows.
9. Carol Burnett – One of my earliest memories was watching the Carol Burnett show in the early seventies. She was ahead of her time in that she knew her worth and retained creative control of her show in an era when it was unheard of.
8. Roseanne Barr – Love her or hate her – this woman kicks ass. She knew her value to the entertainment world and she retained control of her show and called all the shots.
7. Chris Farley – His timing was spot on – its too bad that he couldn’t see himself as we saw him.
6. Joan Rivers – She was one of the first female comics, I believe Moms Mabley and Phyllis Diller are the only ones before her, and she is utterly hilarious. The first comic to openly talk about sex and issues that are important to women, she paved the way for those who came after.
5. Phyllis Diller – The first female comic to really make a name for herself. I remember seeing her on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and she constantly had him blushing.
4. Bob Hope – I grew up on his movies, watched his specials and was constantly amazed by him. He was the comedian who could stand in front of presidents and heads of state and make fun of them without recourse. He gave thousands of hours of his life to entertain the troops all over the world and this country owes him a debt of gratitude for his service.
3 . George Carlin – What can I say about him? He was a genuis and I was lucky to see him do a trial run of what would become his last HBO Special – It’s bad for ya.
2. Red Skelton – Most of you are going…who? He was one of the funniest men and he was known as America’s Clown. He appeared on several shows with Lucille Ball and he was a master of physical comedy. Go to his website and listen to his Guzzler’s Gin piece and experience America as it was in the 50’s.
1. Sam Kinison – I suppose some feel that Carlin or Pryor belong here but I just adored Kinison. He was sharp, funny, intelligent and utterly, completely fearless. I saw him perform once and it was an experience like no other. People make a big deal about Dane Cook filling stadiums and Kinison was doing it when Cook was still playing with G.I. Joe. He was a legend.
Others that I adore, Ellen Degeneres, Lewis Black, Katt Williams, D.L. Hugley, Woody Allen (in his early days), Andy Kaufmann, Bill Hicks, Johnathon Winters, Dom DeLuise, Red Foxx, Dennis O’Leary, Stephen Wright, Don Rickles, Bob Newhart – I could go on for days.
Who are some of your favorites?