Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Top 5 Comedic Personalities

Comedy is a very subjective thing.

What you think is funny and what I think is funny can be two very different things.

Yesterday, Guesthole Alex Krueger (aka Alex James) post on his blog State of Affairs, his top five c0medic personalities. The list which in all fairness to Alex, is pretty hard to dispute.

Now Alex and I aren't hugely dissimilar in age or up bringing. We're both white males, both grew up with both our parents and grew up in the same general area of the world so it kind of makes sense our lists our very similar.

However, Alex's blog is in conjunction with a blog an associate of his named Lu Galasso and I can tell just by looking at his list that Lu is of a certain age. I also believe the man has been hit in the head one too many times.

So for the sake of the rest of this blog (as I will probably reference them a few times) I suggest reading both of their blogs (both hyperlinked above) first.

You read them?

You sure?


Now I will start out by explaining the fact that I am a researcher. You've heard Adam and Alex on our podcast comment mention numerous times that it is amazing the amount of general pop culture knowledge I have (or making fun of me for it, which ever comes first). Part of that comes from the fact of when I like something, I tend to look up more on it, dig at it until I find the root. Part of the reason I don't listen that 90% of modern punk bands is because 90% of the time what they are doing was done better by someone else (like The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Social Distortion, Bad Religion, Rancid) and their "new" work is derivative of that.

So for those who were hoping I would be waving the banners of Carlos Mancia or Dane Cook...well hopefully this blog will teach you something.

Like how to have a better sense of humor.

So here we go, my top five comedic personalities in no particular order.

George Carlin

If you've ever thought anything I do is funny, this man is one to blame. Or my Dad who gave me a tape with Class Clown on it (now my memory is a bit foggy but it may be the very same tape that Alex ended up listening to in high school but I could be wrong).

Either way, Carlin was brilliant.

George is one of those odd comedians who completely over hauled his act at one point. When he first started, he was very straight laced, wore suits and told jokes that while funny, you would never guess today that it was the Carlin we all know and love. But upon changing his style and taking some cues from Lenny Bruce, Carlin not only became funnier but more relevant.

The genius of Carlin's act was how he could do anything with it. As Alex points out in his blog, he did some very topical humor aimed at everything from censorship, Vietnam, advertising and religion along with whatever happened in the news but he could easily switch gears and talk about his childhood, rubber vomit and just other things that are just kind of silly.

Take for example this bit about stuff.

Without George Carlin, the world of comedy would be a different place.

Richard Pryor

Another example of a comic that overhauled his act, Pryor for all intents and purposes was a poor man's Bill Cosby when he started. Very straight laced, very friendly to the white audience. And then somewhere along the line that changed.

And while his act wasn't directly aimed at the white audience as it previously was, Pryor started making his humor more personal where young white kids would still find it hilarious. He would be able to turn things as personal as when a crack pipe exploded in his hands into a great routine.

Pryor also gets points for his comedic progeny. From Pryor we got Eddie Murphy (who used to by funny), Chris Rock (who is still funny) and Dave Chappelle. And a bit of trivia for you. Richard Pryor had a very short lived television show produced by The Smothers Brothers. One of the writers on that show?

Robin Williams.

Monty Python

Alright yes it's a group of people but they were funnier as one single unit then separate. To say Monty Python had an influence on my brand of humor would be an understatement of the highest degree. I performed a few Monty Python sketches in high school variety shows. My whole sense of how to make silly things funny comes from their shows. And I'm not the only one. No Monty Python, no Kids in the Hall and possible no Saturday Night Live.

Not to mention that after all these years, I still find Holy Gail one of the funniest movies ever made.

Henry Rollins

Now while one could argue that what he does is not strictly comedy, I'd argue that most or the really good comedians (like Carlin, like Pryor) don't strictly do comedy as part of their act. If you never seen one of his "talking" (I've noticed he tends to refer to them as that now as opposed to spoken word), essentially you go, you sit down and you listen to Henry speak about his life for three hours.

And while there are some rather serious moments, the man does not take himself very seriously and injects a lot of humor into his act.

And we have very similar opinions on the state of music.

Here he is talking about the time he discovered a guy trying to break into his house.

Bill Cosby

Due to the fact that it's been so long since the general public has seen Bill Cosby in his prime doing stand up, it's easy to look over and forget that the reason why guys like Pryor and Carlin started their careers in a similar path.

The fact that Cosby was simply that good. He had timing, presence and a sensibility that has been passed through a ton of a comics over the years.

You know when a woman tells you that natural child birth is like taking your bottom lip and pulling it over your head?

Despite what the young'ens think, Family Guy did not create that gag, Cosby did.

There's always been something about his humor I can relate to. Maybe it's the fact my Dad always used the threat "I brought you into this world, I can take you out" or that I grew up watching The Cosby Show on Thursday nights but I have a profound affection for the man's work.

Take this bit for instance. First performed before I was born, it is still as relevant today as it was then.

So there you have it, my list of the 5 funniest comic entities. I'll be honest, the last one was a toss up between Cosby, Denis Leary, Bill Hicks, Lewis Black, Robin Williams, Dave Chappelle, Weird Al and the entire first two seasons of SNL but I think my list is pretty good.

What say you?

No comments: