Love to laugh? So do I. Unfortunately, I don’t know a whole lot of stand-ups, so these aren’t my favorites so much as they are the only five that came to mind right away. Eh, regardless, they’re fun.
1. Ellen DeGeneres
I’ve openly gushed about my affection for Ellen many times, so it should come as no surprise that she’s my #1 comedienne. She barely has to try to make people laugh, just her vocal inflections and facial expressions are enough to make you grin along with her, as if she just winked at you and you love being in on the joke. She doesn’t have to stoop to being offensive or crude and her language is perfectly PG. Her monologues on her show qualify as mini-stand-up routines, but I’ve only ever seen her legitimate stand-up once, in her second HBO special entitled, “Here And Now” from 2003. It’s one hour of Ellen pointing out life’s strange quirks, like store packaging techniques (“You need scissors to get into scissors!”), movie theater etiquette (“Is the popcorn really that delicious we must shovel handfuls of it into our mouth?”), and cell phone reception (“Are the bangs shorter? THE BANGS!”), to name a few. We own the DVD and it’s memorable enough that my sister and I still quote it to this day. Random words like “peas” and the name Nancy always make me think of America’s favorite talk show host.
2. Robin Williams
Part of what makes Genie Robin so funny to me is his ability to switch accents (accurately!) faster than you can recognize what they are. (Seriously. Watch this.) I’ve loved him in every movie I’ve seen him in—Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, Patch Adams, Flubber, Jack, The Birdcage, Nine Months, Hook (to name a few) and of course, his legendary voice work, like in Fern Gully and Aladdin. The man’s mind goes a mile a minute, making him a hilarious interview subject on talk shows. A clip I scoured YouTube for but frustratingly couldn’t find is when he makes Ellen cry talking about Brad and Angelina’s new baby and Tom Cruise. One summer in early high school, I sat down with a friend to watch the DVD of his 2002 HBO special “Robin Williams Live On Broadway.” It was something my parents probably wouldn’t have appreciated me watching at 14-15 years old, which made the filthy language and sex jokes even funnier. The clip above is one of my favorites, as I still do not understand how people can enjoy playing golf.
3. Dane Cook
I, like most my age, discovered Dane Cook in college. Back before he thought he was a legit movie star and the hottest thing to come to stand-up comedy and became the most overrated comedian around today (my, ahem, personal opinion), he was pretty funny. In fact, I thought he was downright hysterical when I first started listening to him. I loved his sarcasm and his over-enunciation. In a single day, I listened to almost all of “Vicious Circle” on a trip to Philadelphia with some friends in 2007. I laughed so hard, I could barely breathe. And although I don’t care for him much anymore, I still quote him regularly. (“Google magic, my friends.”) The Oprah bit gets me every time. If he comes out with some new stuff, I suppose I’ll give it the old college try, ‘cause my college self liked to laugh at him.
4. Jeff Dunham
Yup, the one with the puppets. Jeff and his band of upholstered misfits was another college discovery. I walked in on my roommate watching Comedy Central and was like, “What the heck is this?” But I stuck around for a few minutes and started laughing. Seems everyone’s opinion of this ventriloquist is the same: “Oh, he’s funny!” *5 minutes later* “Ugh, that guy.” And it’s true that he became unpopular just as fast, if not faster, than he became popular, a too quick turnaround that makes you wonder if people are really just over the whole puppet thing. (Although Avenue Q is still going strong and Jason Segel is determined to make you love the Muppets again.) Anyway, I bought Spark of Insanity on DVD for my dad that year for Christmas, and for a while, it was all we watched in my parents’ house. We all had favorite quotes and a favorite puppet. Peanut was mine, so enjoy the clip above.
5. Chris D’Elia
I literally know nothing about Chris other than the fact that his drunk girls bit made me wheeze like a tea kettle. I had no clue who he was and had never seen any of his stand-up until a friend posted the above clip on Facebook late one night. I was getting ready to go to sleep, but clicked anyway and watched it on my phone in bed. I thought I was going to die, I was laughing so hard. My chest seized up and I had to remember to breathe. It brought me straight back to college and the fact that, at one time or another, all of my friends and I were those drunk girls. We danced to Rihanna and babbled nonsense, and yes, eight shots always equals too many. His facial expressions just put it over the edge. I’ve watched it so many times since then that the effect has completely worn off, but it had enough of an impact that from now on, I’ll be paying attention to Chris D’Elia.