The Funniest Stand-Up Comedy


   

The laughDB database is dedicated to the funniest comedy movies, stand-up comedy and TV series.

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Stand-Up Comedy Sets sorted by Recently reviewed (descending) / page 1 of 12


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Gallagher: The Maddest posterGallagher: The Maddest
      1983 | USA | Laughs: 0.8 | imdb: 7.9
      

It was fun to see a slice of the 1980s for a moment, but it wasn't funny. We've moved on, and so has comedy. We've been exposed to so much great and appalling comedy since the time this set was tape that there is nothing left to salvage. Or perhaps there is and I didn't see it — I couldn't get past the twentieth minute. (Last viewed: November 2018)

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Jerry Seinfeld: Stand-Up Confidential posterJerry Seinfeld: Stand-Up Confidential
      1987 | USA | Laughs: 2.8 (Don't Bother) | imdb: 6.6
      

If you've seen Jerry's other sets, you can probably skip this one. It will mostly be material you're familiar with, but less-well honed.

At the beginning of the set, I was surprised by Jerry's timing and delivery, which reminded me very much of George Carlin's. The tape is peppered with short recorded skits. Far from increasing the interest of the piece, these are too goofy to be funny. (Last viewed: November 2018)

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Robin Williams: Off the Wall posterRobin Williams: Off the Wall
      1978 | USA | Laughs: 0.2 (Just Awful) | imdb: 8.1
      

Very loud, very frantic, very unfunny. I know everyone's supposed to love Robin Williams, but to me this set is garbage. The man's utter lack of sense of timing could be a side-effect of the coke—it's no coincidence that the shot of Robin walking to the stage shows him rubbing his nose. Maybe this indigestible material was always meant to be performed to drunks or people on drugs. For me stand-up comedy works when the comedian manages to create some degree of empathy or rapport with the audience. It's hard to have any empathy when the comedian is behaving like a crazed monkey. (Last viewed: November 2018)

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Jerry Sadowitz: Total Abuse Show posterJerry Sadowitz: Total Abuse Show
      1988 | U.K. | Laughs: 3.5 (Smirk) | imdb: 5.0
      

I had to skip through much of the first part because Jerry spoke too fast for me and I have a hard time with his Scottish accent — and that's coming from someone who spent two months in Glasgow (Jerry's town) a year earlier and thought he was doing pretty well understanding the locals.

Because of the "accent gap" it's hard to give the set a fair review, but if Scottish accents are no mystery to you, then I feel confident that this is a show you shouldn't miss, if only because it is utterly original, for its time anyway.

As the set progresses, Jerry's delivery settles to a more manageable pace. He uses so many props that it becomes funny in itself. He's also unashamedly "in your face", with great success. Part of the set relies on magic tricks. (Last viewed: November 2018)

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Jackie Mason: The World According to Me posterJackie Mason: The World According to Me
      1988 | USA | Laughs: N/A (Chuckle) | imdb: 7.7
      

In the first half of the show, Jackie Mason covers themes such as dating, searching for the "real me" and Ronald Reagan. One of his comic devices is to tell you that he can't stand jokes about Poles (or Italians) then immediately proceed to tell you one, a trick that is often funnier than the joke itself. Some of the material may not be acceptable to modern ears, but it can all be chalked up to the uncivilized ways of the previous century. The bulk of the show is really about Jews and Gentiles, and I don't think I've ever seen a stand-up comedian exploit that theme so thoroughly. Maybe Jerry Seinfeld or Larry David walked that landscape? Jackie Mason owned it, and for me that made the set worth watching, even though I never really laughed. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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Brian Regan: Nunchucks and Flamethrowers posterBrian Regan: Nunchucks and Flamethrowers
      2017 | USA | Laughs: 0.1 (Just Awful) | imdb: 6.0
      

As far as I can tell, Brian has lost whatever he once had. First off, he seems to be out of topics: the set begins with a weak segment about the scoring system of the game of tennis, and soon moves on to a discussion of various uninteresting aspects of American sports. Second, none of it is remotely funny. Perhaps Brian is confused by the contemporaneous political situation in the Trump United States and doesn't know his place as a comic in that sad place. To me, this unfunny show was a pathetic window into a decaying society. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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Rodney's Act posterRodney's Act
      2004 | USA | Laughs: 0.1 (Don't Bother) | imdb: 8.0
      

I've never been a fan of Rodney's in the movies but thought I'd give this highly-rated show of his a try. I want to like the guy—he looks like he would know how to make you laugh—but his brand of humor falls flat on me. It's a string of fast-paced one-liners which seems to draw laughs from the crowd, perhaps because it's mildly offensive for its time, perhaps because they're drunk. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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The Roseanne Barr Show posterOn Location: The Roseanne Barr Show
      1987 | USA | Laughs: 2.0 (Watch Once) | imdb: 6.4
      

Although it's not terribly funny, this show is an interesting watch because it's the only recorded stand-up special (at least that I could find) of Roseanne Barr who, right or wrong, is an icon of American comedy.

One interesting feature of the set is that at some stage Roseanne walks off the set and into a trailer, which is supposed to be where she lives with her kids and deadbeat husband. The show has a (boring) five-minute prologue in the trailer and an equally long closing section.

On stage Roseanne constantly chews gum for the first three quarters of the show, when she turns to eating junk food, still delivering her lines. I'd seen stand-up comics chug beer, but performing while eating was a new one for me. It's fair to say that Roseanne has a fun, energetic demeanor all of her own.

The themes include fat people, ovulating, reading maps, and a big long rant about men. I smiled and enjoyed this unusual show. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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Stewart Lee: If You Prefer a Milder Comedian, Please Ask for One posterStewart Lee: If You Prefer a Milder Comedian, Please Ask for One
      2010 | U.K. | Laughs: 1.7 (Don't Bother) | imdb: 8.4
      

This was the fifth show of Stewart's that I watched and the one I enjoyed the least, although some bits of it did make me smile. One of my problems with it is that Stewart does a long segment about the cast of a TV show that I'd never heard about (I guess that gives away that I either don't live in the U.K. or don't watch television). Even without that, it is his worst set up to 2018. But it's still attaching, if only for the unusual and memorable parts when Stewart harangues the crowd from the balustrade then sings a song on the guitar. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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Jim Gaffigan: Cinco posterJim Gaffigan: Cinco
      2017 | USA | Laughs: 2.0 (Don't Bother) | imdb: 7.0
      

At the start of the show, Jim quietens the applause by telling the audience their expectations are too high. The rest of the set proves him right. Usually Jim does well with mundane themes, but this time I found his treatment fairly unexciting. The themes included being fat, the seasons, cars, TV series, airports. He does warm up after about 45 minutes and hits a fairly funny three-minute streak. At some point Jim jokes that this might be his last show (one for each of his kids), and in truth I wouldn't be sad if he retired with this respectable body of work to make place for more motivated comedians. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed posterJim Gaffigan: Obsessed
      2014 | USA | Laughs: 4.6 | imdb: 7.6
      

After watching a disappointing show of Jim's from 2009, it was a surprise that this one (from five years later) would be so pleasant and entertaining. He looks quite relaxed as he delivers his seventy-minute set; I didn't see the time pass. The themes include overeating, weddings, food, seafood, alcohol, bars, and having five kids. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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George Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy DVDGeorge Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy
      1997 | USA | Laughs: 2.0 (Light-Hearted) | imdb: 8.5
      wikipedia

This set starts out with a fifteen-minute retrospective of George's career up to that point, a retrospective that isn't particularly funny. Then there are thirty minutes of stand-up which is not exceptional for George but has good moments and spans such themes as advertising, religion and food marketing. The final thirteen minutes or so is an interview of George by Jon Stewart, the host of the show, who makes him reflect on his craft and art. That was my favorite part because it's a chance to get to know George a bit more intimately, behind the mask of the comedian that he always wears on his HBO specials. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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Stewart Lee: 41st Best Stand-Up Ever! posterStewart Lee: 41st Best Stand-Up Ever!
      2008 | U.K. | Laughs: 1.8 (Chuckle) | imdb: 8.4
      

In this show, among other themes, Stewart talks about his mom's admiration for a stand-up comedian she once saw on a cruise ship. I found the set a little slower than the other of Stewart's that I'd seen, but in between the tedious fillers (there are several, such as the time when Steward mimes engraving a headstone) the bits when he actually talks are good. An enjoyable if occasionally dull show. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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George Carlin: It's Bad for Ya! DVDGeorge Carlin: It's Bad for Ya!
      2008 | USA | Laughs: 3.7 (Chuckle) | imdb: 8.6
      wikipedia

During this set, George looks and sounds physically uncomfortable. He's stopped smoking, he's gained weight, and he dies four months later of a heart attack. He was only 71 years old, but I'd guess that he had already said everything he had to say. Once you've expressed your disgust for people's overwhelming lack of critical thinking, it doesn't matter that things get worse and that a bush gets chased by a trump, you have nowhere else to go.

The delivery is not quite as fluid as on the previous sets, but the show is entertaining. Up to his last set, George was a funnier comedian than most of his younger colleagues. If you're a fan, you won't want to miss this set, not just as a touching goodbye to someone who'd been making people laugh since his handsome looks burned the video tape, but simply because it's good.

Fittingly, death is very present in the show. The themes include friends who die, what people do in heaven, trite sayings such as 'every child is special' or 'children are our future', having to listen to rubbish stories, the lack of critical thinking, the saying 'god bless America', swearing on the Bible, and rights. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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Jim Gaffigan: King Baby posterJim Gaffigan: King Baby
      2009 | USA | Laughs: 2.3 (Watch Once) | imdb: 7.9
      wikipedia

Perhaps his kids have grown up and it's now fine to have more 'mature' themes (what a strange use of that word), but this show wasn't as clean as I recalled Jim's earlier ones to be. The themes included bowling, laziness, camping, bacon, religion and overeating. To me the set was fairly boring: it felt like Middle America humor—plain and unchallenging. Maybe I'm asking for too much out of stand-up comedy these days. (Last viewed: September 2018)

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(This section: Stand-Up Comedy Sets)


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