Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Canon Review List-A-Mania: Top Eight Stand Up Comedians

Today's post comes from an idea by reader Maggie W. who wanted a list of the top stand-up comedians of all-time. So here is the list of The Canon Review's Top Eight Stand-Up Comedians. Why eight, you ask? because eight was the first number that popped into my mind. Like other lists of this ilk, this list is just my personal opinion, so if your favorite comedian is left off or you want to create a list of your own, than feel free to do so. I must warn you that some of the accompanying video clips will have some strong language.

8. Denis Leary

This may be a controversial selection, but when he was doing stand-up, Leary was one of the funniest comedians around. I know that people have accused Leary of stealing Bill Hicks' routine, but it's not as if Hicks was the only angry comedian to ever exist. Yes, there may have been some similarities, but there are also a lot of differences and Leary's material and ranting style gives him a unique style all of his own.


7. Chris Rock

Rock's taste in movie roles may leave something to be desired, but there's no doubt that he's one of the most popular stand up comedians of the past 20 years, and for good reason. Rock is edgy, perhaps a bit too in-your-face for some audiences, but he also is a very entertaining comic. 

6. Jerry Seinfeld

 I will admit that my love for the show Seinfeld has influenced his placing on this list, but it is my list so oh well. Besides, if Seinfeld wasn't so good at stand-up, he never would have gotten his own sitcom in the first place. Still, judging by his stand-up alone, Jerry Seinfeld is quite humorous.

5. Bill Cosby

One of the few comedians on this list that doesn't swear a lot, Cosby has built a legendary career with his wit and excellent storytelling skills. A true legend, even if he did star in Leonard Part 6.

4. George Carlin

Nearly every stand-up comedian over the past 40 years, including a lot of people on this list, were heavily influenced by the wit and style of George Carlin. His biting, angry style often dealt with social issues and language, and about how much he despises people and their rules and regulations. A hell of a funny man, I even read a book of his (Brain Droppings) and it was probably the funniest book I have ever read, although I haven't read many funny books, so take that with a grain of salt.

3. Bill Hicks

A little like Carlin, although Hicks talked more specifically about the government and the media's negative influence on society. Hicks would often make people think, as well as laugh. Unfortunately, Hicks died young at 32 in 1994. One must wonder what material Hicks could have come up with during the George W. Bush presidency.


2. Rodney Dangerfield

The man still gets no respect, as he only gets number two on the list. Dangerfield's schtick is probably the most imitated comedy act ever. Dangerfield's routine was self-depreciating and pessimistic, but he told his jokes and one-liners in such a snappy fashion that you couldn't help but laugh at them. Plus, he was Al Czervik in Caddyshack, the funniest character in one of the most hilarious movies of all time.


1. Sam Kinison

Our number one comedian made a name for himself at a show for young comedians hosted by our number two comedians. Like Dangerfield, Kinison was also self-depricating, but unlike Dangerfield's use of snappy one-liners, Kinison would rant and rave and often sounded like a "fire and brimstone" preacher, which, oddly enough, he was before becoming a comedian. Kinison was also known for his trademark yell and his anti-religious rants. Unfortanetly, Kinison died young in a car accident at the age of 38 in 1993. Nevertheless, he's number one on The Canon Review list of top stand-up comedians.

Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any ideas for future posts on The Canon Review, than by all means let me know about them so I could get cracking on them, either by leaving a comment or by e-mail at


  1. I watched all those videos, and I think Cosby wins for funniest. The last line is the best; "I didn't come here to tell you that." I mean, it was just so perfect.
    Leary is funny, but I didn't find that video too good. But overall, I agree with most of them. :D

    But you know Mitch would be on mine.

  2. Yeah, there were probably a couple of videos on there that weren't quite the best representation of the comic's humor, and for that I apologize. I figured Mitch Hedberg would be on your list, probably in the top three, I assume. He's decent, but there are quite a few comedians I just find funnier than him.