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Friday Question of the Day – Favorite Comedian of all Time?

by Prince Of Petworth February 2, 2017 at 10:22 pm 111 Comments

favorite comedian popville brown derby
Photo by PoPville flickr user StreetsofWashington

Alright, I need a God dang diversion. And I need a laugh. And since some folks slaughtered Sarah Silverman earlier in the week – let’s just have at it – who is you favorite comedian of all time? For those into it, let’s do two categories – living and dead. Two comedians who have literally made me laugh so hard it hurt are Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm.) Two other comedians who have nearly killed me laughing are old school Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle. Zach Galifianakis on between two ferns always cracks me up too. Also currently on TV Julia Louis Dreyfus kills me on Veep (noticing a trend there?) But my all time favorite would have to be Seinfeld for me (keep in mind I’m a 42 year old Jewish guy…) What about you guys? It’d be interesting to know how old you are with your favorites to see if there are generational differences. But most importantly is simply – who makes you laugh the hardest?

  • Blithe

    -Richard Pryor. He’s made me laugh the hardest and cry the hardest. Pryor edged out George Carlin.
    -Dave Chapelle. His Prince sketch still makes me laugh until I cry — despite watching it multiple times. Chapelle edged out Stephen Colbert.

    • j

      I found the Wino meets Dracula cassette at my aunts house at 13. I peed myself laughing

    • Ben

      I love that Prince used the image of Dave Chapelle for his Breakfast Can Wait single. I also love Dave’s response, “That’s a Prince judo move right there. … You make fun of Prince in a sketch and he’ll just use you in his album cover. What am I going to do — sue him for using a picture of me dressed up like him? … That’s checkmate right there.”

    • dcd

      I just (re) watched Eddie Murphy’s riff on Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor – “Tell Bill to have a Coke and a smile and shut the *** up!” Fantastic.
      I notice no one has voted for Dr. Huxtable . . .

    • Anonamom

      I love Dave Chapelle. My old neighbors were good friends with his mom and he grew up playing with their kids. Small world.

  • Joshua

    Joan Rivers and Bianca Del Rio (yeah, I’m that gay)

    P.S. watch Bianca’s chat with Joan on the YouTube series “In Bed With Joan”

  • Trinidaddy

    Mitch Hedberg

  • MMD

    Mitch Hedberg!

  • Ben

    If only George Carlin were around today….

    • tonyr

      He did say that one should think how stupid the average person that one runs across is and then consider that half the people are even more stupid. Given the present situation it was prescient to say the least. Oh, and I know it should be median, not average, but there you go.

      • dcd

        I use that line all the time. It is no longer a joke (if it ever was).

    • OP Anon

      God, I’ve thought “….if only George were around to see this…” about 20 times since Election Day.
      He was truly the best. What other comedians had a case went to the Supreme Court?!?

      • anon

        George Carlin was famously apolitical and a proud non-voter (“never voter”?). He was equal opportunity at skewering those in power. He may well have been the funniest human being ever.

  • tonyr

    The laughs that I got watching Laurel & Hardy shorts when I was a kid are many of my fondest memories. I do appreciate today’s more edgy stuff, but I did want to show my appreciation, since I expect that they won’t be a popular PopVille pick.

  • MarkQ

    Outright made me laugh the hardest: Robin Harris. He was master of the AFAM comedy tradition–story telling, the dozens, audience interaction, riffing, capping and improving— and he didn’t lose his edge a la Murphy and Chris Rock, sadly due to his short-lived career. But I have soft spot for physical sit-com comedy. Lucy and Dick Van Dyke reruns have me rolling with laughter. As for “smart” comedy, I appreciated early Dennis Miller, before he became an unfunny snarky tool.

    • dcd

      +1 re Dennis Miller, including the timeline of his career. I had the book of his rants, and some of them were priceless. One I’ll never forget, about virtual reality and technology, is, “The day an unemployed steelworker can lay in his Barcalounger with a Fosters in one hand and a channel flicker in the other and **** Claudia Schiffer for $19.95, that’s gonna make crack look like Sanka.” He may of gotten some of the details wrong, but that was remarkably prescient regarding the addictive nature of technology.
      Wow, how many dated references are in that one line? Barcalounger, Fosters, Chaudia Schiffer, crack, and Sanka. Jesus, I’m old.

  • TBD

    All time: Will Ferrell and John Cleese (Fawlty Towers).
    Oh, and because I can’t seem to stay diverted for very long, I must mention Al Franken’s non-comedic work in the Senate. That deserves a shout-out.

  • Kay

    Mitch Hedberg! Hysterical, non political. Start with “Strategic Grill Locations.”

    • Kay

      I lied. Start with “Mitch All Together.”

  • LP

    I love a good Seinfeld episode, and always get a kick out of Mitch Helberg. Strangely, I love the movie Dodgeball – especially the Pepper and Cotton scenes.

  • Suse

    George Carlin

  • Shmoo

    Louis ck and Chris rock. All time greatest.

    • I can’t believe I left off Chris Rock – agreed! Louis CK for me is 50/50. Half the time among the funniest I’ve ever heard. The other half I just don’t get. Totally unrelated I also forgot Steve Martin – who old school was hilarious.

      • dcd

        I have to say (and I know this may be considered blasphemy and get me banned), I feel the same way about Seinfeld. Of the 20 funniest half hours on TV, probably 10+ are Seinfeld episodes. The rest of them? I don’t get the love.

        • You are dead to me.

        • wdc

          I got your back, dcd. I chuckled some at Seinfeld, but never thought it was high hilarity. But then, I’m a rural WASP, and maybe 10 years too young. It wasn’t really aimed at me. Also, it was all about discomfort and embarrassment and people being awkward, which is my LEAST favorite kind of funny.

          • dcd

            “Also, it was all about discomfort and embarrassment and people being awkward, which is my LEAST favorite kind of funny.”
            Yeah, same here. I liked, but didn’t love, The Office (either version) for the same reason. (Ducking.)

          • wdc

            You and I will probably have to fight our way out of here. The Office did nothing for me.

      • Shmoo

        I tend to think the same about Louis but the 50% that is funny is the best stuff I’ve ever heard. He changes his routine every year (something George Carlyn did and recommended he do too) so depending on the time of year you saw him, he could have been still working out his routine for the year. It is wor noting that Louis ck and Chris rock are connected and great friends. Louis ck wrote for the much beloved Chris rock show and wrote and directed the much derided (but what I think of as a classic) Pootie Tang.

      • Ben

        Speaking of old school – the coke years of Robin Williams were hilarious….

        • timmyp

          NO! OK you can think so because that’s your opinion but he was obnoxious, unfunny and told a joke then explained it to you after. He was like a coked out weather man.

          Sorry, he’s funny to a lot of people just not me. Like Billy Chrystal and Martin Short. But this is the wrong discussion.
          Funniest to me is Mitch Hedberg, Brian Regan, Louis CK and Will Ferrell. Easy to take exception to some of those though.

  • Easyenough

    Richard prior broke one liner comedy and let us be blessed with Eddie Murphy. Which, then gave us a straight line to Sarah Silverman.

    I gave you three cause Eddie is kinda dead.

  • dcd

    It’s a dead heat (oof!) between George Carlin and Robin Williams. Specifically,
    – Early George Carlin (People I Can Do Without, the seven curse words, etc.) was amazing. Later in his life he became a caricature of the ranty liberal, but I could watch Live from New Jersey forever.
    – Robin Williams was a genius, and Live at the Met might be the greatest standup routine of all time (although Eddie Murphy and Delirious might have something to say about that). So sad that he was tormented by the demons he was, and the he left us so early.
    Great Friday question!

    • dcd

      Sorry – 45 year old WASP from NJ.

      • wdc

        Wow, we are right there on the same page, aren’t we??

        • dcd

          If you tell me you grew up in Hunterdon County (which in the ’80s was populated almost entirely by rural WASPs), it’s gonna get weird.

  • Gerry

    Bill Burr

  • JM

    Marx Brothers!

  • Michael Pierce

    It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’m a big fan of Lewis Black, who was born and raised in the DC area. Also, Eugene Mirman is hilarious.

    • anon

      and he’s Bob Belcher on Bob’s Burgers

  • Uriah

    Mitch Hedberg
    “I’m sick of following my dreams. I’m just going to ask them where they’re goin’, and hook up with them later.”

    • Kingman Park

      “I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too.”

      • bean

        Friend: Do you want a frozen banana?
        Mitch: No. But I want a regular banana later, so…yea.

        • Uriah

          I had a paper route when I was a kid. I was a paperboy. I was supposed to go to 2,000 houses… or two dumpsters

  • anonymous

    Woody Allen. Annie Hall. Period.
    Second, Larry David.

  • MtP

    Not saying he is my favorite comedian by any stretch, but the best live comedy show I have ever seen was Ron White at a little theater in Boston. I was dying laughing the entire time and his stage presence and interaction with the crowd was just perfect. I saw this in college 10 years ago, and another show has yet to meet this standard. Seinfeld at the Kennedy Center came very close – he was even better live than I expected.

  • LittleBluePenguin

    Good question, Prince! And tough, too! Larry David, Steve Martin, Richard Dreyfus, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus have all made me laugh so hard at one time or another that I almost pee’d myself. Also a big fan of Aziz Ansari, Jim Gaffigan, Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle. Deceased comedians who just absolutely nailed it for me: George Carlin and Robin Williams. So many more but I think that’ll do for now.

  • CapsCapscCaps

    #1 forever – Sinbad. Had his stand-up on recorded video tapes as a kid. Saw him recently and he’s still got it. He used to do this bit about weight watchers and oreo cookies. I had tears in my eyes.

  • PetworthGuy

    Steve Carell
    Robin Williams
    Will Ferrell
    Dave Chapelle

    • LittleBluePenguin

      ah! I forgot to list Steve Carrell! Another one that kills me!

  • Tom

    I miss Bill Hicks.

  • lizcolleena

    Jim Gaffigan is pretty amazing. I’ve seen him do stand up twice and I was in stitches.

    • Mike

      He’s my favorite too. So funny.

    • J used to be in DC

      I love him too, but probably more so now that I’m a parent.

  • Tim

    Artie Lange

  • mkdgman

    I have loved Joan Rivers since I was a pre-gay fat kid in Ohio.
    Right now, I really love Suzanne Westenhoefer and Judy Gold.

    • OP Anon

      Joan doesn’t get enough credit, her stand-up act was overshadowed by her antics on E! and the red carpet.. Right up to her death, her stand-up act was fantastic and by far my favorite comedienne. She was on Howard Stern at least twice per year and her interviews were always the best. The sharpest tongue in the business!

    • spookiness

      As a pre teen pre gay kid I used to stay up late on school nites to watch Joan when she filled in for Johnny. Most younger people only know here from E! and that is a shame.

  • I really miss Garry Shandling.

  • 1301

    Comedy has become our go-to on roadtrips (or really, being in the car any longer than about 20 minutes). Mostly current comedians, although these are giving me ideas on others to go back to. My favorites, that I can list to repeatedly:

    Pete Holmes
    Tig Notaro
    Donald Glover
    Hari Kondabolu
    Kumail Nanjiani
    Jim Gaffigan

    • timmyp

      Donald Glover does stand up too? That guy has more jobs than Ryan Seacrest. Probably more talent I expect too though I’m not hating on Seacrest. Hard working guy.

    • Anonamom

      I adore Tig Notaro – have you checked out her series on Amazon?

    • J used to be in DC

      Pete Holmes is getting a new show! I love him

  • Stavros

    Neil Hamburger

  • OP Anon

    It’s a tough question because there’s just so many types of comedy and it’s very difficult to succeed in multiple comedic genres (stand-up, sitcom, sketch, improv, writing vs. performance etc)
    -George Carlin and Chris Rock, by far, when it comes to pure genius and comedic timing/tempo in stand-up
    -Most influential? Richard Pryor. He truly broke the color barrier in mainstream comedy that had been dominated by white men for decades.
    -Sitcom comedy is clearly dominated by Seinfeld and Larry David. Fantastic writers.

    • OP Anon

      For insult stand-up, no one beats Don Rickles. I need to see him before he dies! #morbidbuttrue

      • OP anon?

        Morbid but true. That works even without the hash tag. Weird.

  • navyard

    Mike Birbiglia.

    And I hope I’m not alone on this, but I have always loved Conan O’Brien. Watching his old late night shows would make me laugh out loud every single time.

    • mkdgman

      +1000 for Mike Birbiglia! Don’t Think Twice was a brilliant movie.
      Also love Patton Oswalt, Alec Mapa and Chris Hardwick.

    • yesjillsergeant

      Mike Birbiglia is awesome! My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend is one of the best specials I’ve ever seen.

  • kanon

    I do have to say it is striking the number of men versus women mentioned. I suppose it’s more a function of women more recently breaking into comedy in a meaningful way. It’s a minor rant of mine that there are more male comics getting full shows than women, both in terms of comedy specials and getting tv shows, or even just scroll through netflix and there are like 9 male standups featured before a female. Or perhaps it’s true that women just aren’t funny /s
    In keeping with the spirit though, my faves include Samantha Bee, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Abbi Jackson, Ilana Glazer, Amy Schumer, Bonnie McFarlane and of course, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. (Louis CK and Seinfeld on the male side of things).

    • NNEast

      Ditto on Samantha Bee. She has some of the best political humor/commentary right now.

    • rss

      SAMANTHA BEE!!!!!!!!!! Agree with your whole list, plus I would add Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams – everyone should listen to their podcast Two Dope Queens and read Phoebe’s book You Can’t Touch My Hair. I want them to be my best friends.

      • rss

        if I had to pick a couple of dudes, I’ll go with Dave Chappelle and Aziz Ansari.

    • CPT_Doom

      Was thinking the same thing. My favorites by far, although no known for stand up, are Madeline Kahn and Gilda Radner. Currently in non-erotic love with Kate McKinnon.

    • 1301

      I love your list. I had the same thought, making mine, and now wish I’d expanded my scope beyond standup. Tossing in Jenny Slate, as well. And props to the person below for bringing up Jessica Williams!

  • Cam

    Might be Bob Newhart? I’m that old and my sense of humor is that odd.

    • Suse

      Good one. Another (I’m old, too): George Burns

      • Mr. Magoo

        Jack Benny. His impossibly vain cheapskate shtick worked for decades in vaudeville, radio, the movies, and tv., and still cracks me up every time. Plus his performance in “To Be or Not to Be” with Carole Lombard was terrific.

  • wdc

    Dead, Robin Williams. It helped that he was such a good man.
    Living, Chris Rock, Louis CK.
    In the category of “dead to me” (because he’s insufferable now), Daniel Tosh’s earliest stand-up had me gasping and crying.

  • BD

    Bill Burr
    Tom Segura
    Joe Rogan
    Joey Diaz

  • Anonamom

    As far as Old School comics go, I loved George Carlin and Richard Pryor, both of whom I grew up listening too (lol… I love my parents), and of course Robin Williams. For modern comics, Dave Chapelle is always a must-see for me. I love going to stand-up shows. My favorite I have seen so far has been Bob Saget. Hilarious. I also liked Chris Hardwick.

  • AMDCer

    Lots of greats mentioned here, of course, but I’ll throw in Steven Wright. He was so different when he first came out – really opened the door for a different kind of stand-up.
    As kids, my brothers and I loved listening to our parents’ Shelley Berman albums. Not sure all of it would hold up today, but his delivery was terrific. Rave: just Googled him – he’s still alive!

    • anon

      I enjoy humor but not so much stand up. Steven Wright is one of the exceptions because he’s so compelling and unique.

    • anon

      “Everywhere is within walking distance if you’d got the time”

  • textdoc

    PoPvillagers, where do you get your exposure to comedy — particularly stand-up comedy?
    I recognize a bunch of the names people are listing (I guess for the comedians who are in TV shows), but when it comes to stand-up comedy, where do you see/hear it?

    • Emmaleigh504

      I get my stand up exposure from Netflix.

    • mkdgman

      SiriusXM comedy channels

    • Anonymous

      Youtube, for one. Tons of stand-up clips on there.
      Pandora, they have comedy channels; I assume other streaming music services do too.
      Comedy Channel, obviously.
      Live shows (Improv of course, and other venues around town).
      Also LOTS of comedians now have podcasts, some of which are more interviews or improv rather than stand-up, but they’re always plugging their stand-ups too.

      • yesjillsergeant

        Another vote for podcasts. A lot of comedians I’ve been exposed to over the past few years have been through Nerdist, The Joe Rogan Experience, and You Made it Weird

  • Emmaleigh504

    I think my favorite living comedian is Eddie Izzard. For a dead comedian, I think Carol Lombard is my favorite comedic actress.

  • Anonymous

    Brian Regan for me, if we’re talking stand-up.
    For comedic acting, I have to go with Will Ferrell.

  • bean

    Does Reggie Watts count? Because he’s the shit.

    Any current, local DC comedians that folks recommend?

    This question and this list is so great. I have to second Mitch Hedberg, Brian Regan, and Shannon McKinnon.

    • bean

      *Kate McKinnon!

      • bean

        Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph

  • boybert


  • IDontGetIt

    Johnny Carson
    Joan Rivers

  • MadMax

    Agreed on both Larry David and Dave Chapelle. I’ve been nearly in tears and unable to speak at moments due to the laughter their shows caused. Also a big fan of Louis C.K., although it’s not quite as much laugh out loud material. The chemistry Chris Farley and David Spade had as a tandem was unbeatable as well. I remember the hardest I think I’ve ever laughed was the first couple times I saw the old Mr. Bean episodes on BBC back when I was a kid. Physical comedy gets me every time.

  • jenster8dc

    Dead — Carlin, hands down. Although I gotta give a shout to the Marx Brothers, who made me laugh so hard ad a kid.
    Living — Man, this is hard. I’ll go with Eddie Izzard, Louis CK, and Chris Hardwick. And Ron Funches. And Jim Gaffigan. Shit!

  • anon

    Barry Crimins is pretty intense and relevant these days. He’s moved more towards activism than comedy but he’s a force

  • Cleo42

    Discovering Eddie Izzard at 15 made me a fan of comedy. Cake or death?!

  • Egad

    Larry David!

  • “Juice” Terry Lawson

    No one here will have heard of him. But Kevin Bridges is the funniest man alive. If you like those Scottish Twitter posts, or those Buzzfeed posts about Trump in Scotland, check him out. The man is a genius.

  • toodepressedforlaughs

    Lucille Ball ; The cast of Always Sunny

  • Nancy

    I’m an older lady – I loved the comics of the 60s/70s. My favorite was David Steinberg. But also loved Richard Pryer and George Carlin.

  • KaloramaRama

    Jackie Mason. Or Rodney Dangerfield. I guess I just really love Caddyshack.

  • anon

    No Andy Kaufman? … Or if you want modern day version there’s Reggie Watts

  • Suomynona

    Seen live: Henny Youngman, Richard Pryor, Franklin Ajaye, Eddie Murphy, Cheech and Chong, Steve Martin, Rodney Dangerfield, Huggy Lowdown and Chris Paul.

  • Mickey’s BFF

    Larry David & Dave Chappelle.
    Joan Rivers & George Carlin.

  • Contessa of Cleveland Park

    Showing my age: Mel Brooks. Sid Caesar.

    Dan Aykroyd. John Belushi. Steve Martin.

    And, truly obscure, does anyone else remember Pat Paulson on the Smothers Brothers?

  • Benjamin

    Doug Stanhope! Definitely Doug Stanhope! When Louis CK says he’s one of the best comics in America, you should pay attention.


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