10 of the Best Stand Up Comics

Since I've often spoken of this blog as dealing with gaming as well as other forms of entertainment from time to time, I think it's high time I've followed through on this...

Many of us like to kick back and enjoy some laughs as we watch our favorite stand-up comedians poke fun at various aspects of our lives, and the world in general. They have this way of taking our mind off the stresses of our daily lives, and more importantly, taking a step back and laughing at aspects that we can relate to. It wasn’t easy, but I’ve come up with a list of my personal favorites, while factoring in their legacy on the scene and the overall quality of their craft.

So sit back and enjoy as I countdown who I believe to be some of the funniest stand-up comedians to have graced the spotlight, complete with video clips!

* Keep in mind, I’m focusing mainly on personalities whose primary focus is stand up.

#10: Sarah Silverman

“I graduated from high school, and they’ve got a big drug slogan ‘just say no.’ I think it’s really lame. I think it should be a much cooler slogan. Like, just say ‘I’m good for now.’ That would work. ‘I’m all set, thank you.’”
Don’t let her innocent appearance fool you. Sarah Silverman’s style of comedy is anything but - her routines are often raunchy, shocking, and pushing the envelope (as you will find is a common theme with many on this list). Though, she stands apart to her peers as she brings in a sort of sweet and sarcastic persona along with her dirty sense of humor, acting as a perfect juxtaposition that only seems to make her material funnier. Delivery/timing is a large part of humor, especially when it comes to stand-up, and Silverman is perhaps the greatest example of this on my list.

#9: Mitch Hedberg

"I don't need a receipt for the doughnut. I'll just give you the money, and you give me the doughnut... end of transaction. We don't need to bring ink and paper into this. I just can't imagine a scenario where I would have to prove that I bought a doughnut."

A strange and subdued man with a carefree persona, this comedian proves that you don't necessarily
need a stage presence to capture your audience's attention. Hedberg let the material speak for itself. He brought instant laughs with his rapid fire, one-liner style of comedy, a style that you will find I prefer, as you really get your money's worth. Hedberg's over-the-top randomness makes you want to hear what he says next. Unfortunately he passed away earlier this decade, but he will remain one of the funniest and most unique stand-up acts.

#8: Lisa Lampenelli

"Betty White is so old that on her first game show ever, the grand prize was fire."

Known as the Queen of Mean, and for good reason. Her raunchy and trash talking routines are up
there with even the more controversial and shocking comedians. Lisa is a frequenter on the Comedy Central Roast, where her skills in poking fun at others are put to good use. In her own stand-ups, however, it is race and ethnicity that is her primary fodder for comedy, and believe me when I say, NO ONE is spared. Behind the seemingly ruthless and cynical exterior however, Lisa Lampenelli's message (for my money anyway) is one of equality; that we are all EQUALLY flawed and fun to laugh at in our own ways.

#7. Dave Chappelle 

"Somebody broke into my house once, this is a good time to call the police. But, nope. The house was too nice. It was a real nice house, but they’d never believe I lived in it. They’d be like, he’s still here!"
Beginning in minor film roles, most notably in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Half Baked, and The Nutty Professor, Chappelle got his break through on the ridiculously funny sketch comedy show appropriately titled, Chappelle's Show. The show became a massive success, as he demonstrated his vast array of comedy skills, using race as a primary subject to poke fun at, as well as celebrities, and everyday situations in life. His show holds some of the most famous sketches and one liners in recent TV history, including the hilarious spoof of Rick James, Lil Jon, and a classic skit with comedian Wayne Brady.

#6. Lewis Black

“I watch some CNN and a lot of Fox, because it helps me get irritated.'”

There is something about Lewis Black's angry political rants that just brings a smile to my face. It's like he is talking about everything that angers me, and adding a humorous twist to it. He constantly reminds us of what is wrong and stupid in the world, while doing so in an entertaining fashion. His unique style of rage is another perfect example of how delivery is a major factor in delivering a good routine, and Lewis Black has got it down to a science, along with his punchlines that truly pack a punch.

#5. Chris Rock

"I live in a neighborhood so bad that you can get shot while getting shot."

As a writer, actor, and producer, Chris Rock has made his mark on the entertainment world with his comedy. However, he is perhaps best known for his stand-up, as he has been for nearly two decades. Like many great comedians, Chris Rock gives a sarcastic and cynical edge to his routines, which are often insightful while making us laugh at the same time. His “in your face”, angry style keeps us hooked, providing plenty of shock laughs.

Racial issues are at the forefront of his rants, but nothing is off limits; everything from relationships, to rich people, to politics, to aids. The targets of his mudslinging often make up a large portion of his very audience, but that's just how Chris Rock is; he is not afraid to offend anybody, even his own listeners, at the expense of getting his message out.

#4. Zack Galifianakis

"I’ve got a lot of growing up to do. I realized that the other day inside my fort"

This man seemingly came out of the blue in his breakout hit movie, The Hangover. However, few people recognize him in his role as a ridiculously funny stand-up comedian. Galifianakis uses the Stephen Wright/Mitch Hedberg approach of one liners and random insanity, but brings it another level over the top with his piano playing and often animated style on stage.

He is very engaging with his audience as he frequently shouts at someone for being too loud and disruptive during his show, or attempts small talk with a random person in the front row. This often makes for uncomfortable confrontations with individual audience members, but this uneasy awkwardness is what Zach thrives on most and somehow adds to the humor. Galifianakis has perfected the persona as the clumsy and awkward, borderline creepy comedian, while shocking you when you least expect it, with outbursts of extremely funny and witty one-liners.

#3. Bill Hicks

"A lot of Christians wear crosses around their necks... You think when Jesus comes back he ever wants to see a cross?"

This man's routines are probably the heaviest hitting and shocking that you will find. But controversy is very often a quality of true artists, as it points out the flaws in our society, and Bill Hicks has certainly achieved that with his stand-up.

He forces you to listen as he angrily calls out the people in charge, from marketers, to politicians, and even religion, while outright condoning drugs, particularly the illegal varieties. He is essentially a republican's worse enemy, and I find that usually tends to make for good comedy. Bill Hicks hits you relentlessly with a heavy dose of humor, and often overwhelming truths, and he does a damn good job at it. While he sadly passed away in 1994, his satire of elitism and ignorance will forever leave a legacy on not only the world of comedy, but of society.

#2. Stephen Wright
"Ok, so what's the speed of dark?"

The above quote sums up Wright's style perfectly; short and to the point. Taking the reigns from comedians like Rodney Dangerfield, Stephen Wright has almost undoubtedly become the undisputed king of the one liners. Using an abstract and a near philosophical approach to his routines, Wright hits you rapid fire with strange quotes that both boggle the mind with their implications and make you burst in laughter at their sheer madness. 
Being that his routines are often philosophical in nature, his topics range from the very real to the surreal and the supernatural. He creates a taboo on the seemingly simple concepts we think we know to be true. His monotone and dull style of delivery on stage juxtaposes his crazy and thought provoking words, and allow his listeners to more easily take in all of what he is saying with minimal distraction. Wright is a great example of how content itself reigns supreme over stage presence and delivery.

#1. George Carlin
"I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death."

Since his early years as a comedian back in the early 70s, Carlin has found a way to remain on the forefront of controversial comedy, and continued to outdo himself with each new routine. He kept people talking, with both positive and negative reactions to his raunchy style of comedy, pushing the boundaries of what was considered acceptable for radio, and later television and movies. He is perhaps best known for his seemingly childish and immature "the seven dirty words" routine, but don't let that fool you; as he was also one of the most intelligent and insightful comedians, if not entertainers, in the world. He brought people in with his silly discussions about "where to put your stuff" and stupid drivers, and he kept their attention with his hard-hitting rants of society and politics. Despite his tragic passing, he remains the standard of comedy, which many comedians still emulate in one way or another to this day.

And there you have it, the 10 comedians who have given me, and many others, the most laughs. Obviously, it boils down to subjectivity, as any complied top 10 list will (and particularly a topic with so many great choices), but I tried my damnedest to keep a nice balance between the people who I PERSONALLY enjoy most, along with those who have made the greatest impact and drawn the most attention in the comedy world in