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 "Some people think that they can stand up in front of a room full of people, say something, and make them laugh. They hope they're right."

Stand-up comics frequently say that this form of entertainment is both the most difficult to perform and most rewarding. Even if certain comics make it into mainstream television and movies, they will often return to the stand-up circuit.


  • Al Murray: Best known for his work as The Pub Landlord
  • Allan Sherman
  • Anders Matthesen: Danish comedian, radio host, actor, musician and film director.
  • Andy Kaufman: He found comedy clubs the most receptive venues for acts which were closer to experimental theater than conventional stand-up. His Mighty Mouse routine was one of the highlights of the very first Saturday Night Live broadcast, and he was a frequent guest performer there and on the SNL Expy Fridays, where he refused to do a sketch about restaurant patrons smoking weed and got into a fight with Michael Richards. A Love It or Hate It performer [save for his success as Latka - an adaptation of one of his stage characters - on Taxi], but highly influential in his love of experimentation.
  • Aziz Ansari: Tiny Indian guy, huge hip-hop swagger. Best known for TV work on Parks and Recreation and Human Giant, as well as for playing an (extremely) exaggerated version of himself named RAAAAAAAANDY in Judd Apatow's cinematic love letter to Stand Up Comedy, Funny People.
  • Bill Bailey: Comedian and musician, he's also a fixture in film and TV, starring in Black Books, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and QI and appearing in Spaced and Hot Fuzz
  • Bill Cosby: His tales of childhood and parenthood became the basis for several TV shows, including the animated Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and the biggest sitcom of The Eighties, The Cosby Show. While he had other shows and films to his credit prior to these [such as I Spy], it's his '80s work, including copious commercial endorsements, that looks to be his biggest legacy beyond his original stand-up.
  • Bill Engvall: One of the Blue Collar comics, though his act contains very little material about Southern life. He is the creator of the famous "Here's Your Sign" routine, in which he proposes that stupid people should be given signs so that the non-stupid can easily identify them.
  • Bill Hicks: Best known for his scathing socio-political commentary.
  • Bill Maher: Known for his caustic criticism of religion and his darkly sarcastic tone.
  • Billy Connolly: Scottish folk musician, stand-up and actor, commonly known as "The Big Yin".
  • Bob and Ray
  • Bob Monkhouse
  • Bob Newhart: His signature stand-up routines were his "telephone conversations", in which the audience only heard his character's side of the conversation. He later headlined several successful sitcoms: Newhart and The Bob Newhart Show.
  • Bob Saget: He worked "blue" prior to and after his work on the family-friendly Dom Com Full House and America's Funniest Home Videos.
  • Brian Posehn
  • Brian Regan: A clean comic; he takes many of the oldest routines people have ever considered and works to make them funny again. Part of the humor comes from his general deprecation of himself, a sort of Obfuscating Stupidity that makes the material funny again.
  • Buddy Hackett: Known for his Borscht Belt style of Comedy.
  • Carlos Mencia
  • Cheech and Chong: stand-up comedians and actors known for their stoner comedy; recorded a string of successful albums and followed with a string of successful movies before breaking up; reunited in 2008
  • Chris Rock: Started out as a cast member on Saturday Night Live in the early 1990s, but quit that show due to creative differences and lack of good roles and has done stand-up ever since.
  • Christopher Titus: Explicitly calls his routine "Therapeutic Stand Up." Relates his extremely troubled life (lived with an alcoholic, chain-smoking womanizing dad who married and divorced five times and used Tough Love-cum-Comedic Sociopathy to make a man out of him, had a mom who was smart, talented, and a violent, manic-depressive schizophrenic [1], dated a woman who beat him up and used sex to manipulate him, married a woman who cheated on him with two guys, tried to kill him in front of their daughter, and tried to bankrupt him in court by claiming abuse, and lost his mom and sister to suicide) and life lessons he acquired because of it. Occasionally makes very serious comments about things like his mother's suicide, but always returns it to a joke. Had his own sitcom, Titus on FOX and is planning on a sequel that shows Titus years later in the aftermath of his divorce and following the death of his father (who died of a heart attack), his mother (who killed herself after realizing that her mental illness was at fault for everything that happened to her in life), and his sister (who killed herself after her boyfriend dumped her). He also fell into a bonfire while getting drunk at a beach party when he was a teenager. He won't let you forget that.
  • Craig Ferguson
  • Dane Cook: A comedian who has enjoyed a recent massive rise to prominence, including dramas and comedies in film. His style of humor is manic, varied and very disorganized, which has led to a massive Love It or Hate It internet audience.
    • He really gets bashed on a lot (Family Guy, Community, Scrubs) with the consensus being that he does simple, unfunny jokes and uses his full name very often.
  • Daniel Tosh
  • Dave Chappelle: Together with Chris Rock probably the most prominent black comedian/actor of his generation. He created Chapelles Show. His career abruptly ended when he decided the fame was becoming too much and people were laughing at his jokes for the wrong reasons. He has appeared on stand up stages, talk shows, and occasional independent projects, but he has had no desire to reclaim the fame he walked away from at its height.
  • David Cross: Bald, bespectacled actor and comedian known for his incredibly dark, ironic sense of humor. Is known for his acting work on Arrested Development (as Tobias), the Alvin and The Chipmunks films and Mr. Show. He had a feud at one point with Larry the Cable Guy.
  • Demetri Martin: An extremely intellectual comedian who does a lot of one-liners, and also heavily features drawings and musical accompaniment in his stand-up shows. Also had a TV show called Important Things With Demetri Martin and is a law school dropout (according to the UK comedy special If I...).
  • Denis Leary: A mixture of critiquing current culture and joking about his family and past, Leary is extremely fond of profanity. Many of his jokes are slanted towards black comedy. Currently is working on Rescue Me.
  • Dennis Miller: Notorious for his obscure historical and pop culture references as well as having a loquacious, yet vulgar vocabulary. Was on Saturday Night Live as a Weekend Update anchor ("That's the news and I am outta here!") from 1985 to 1991. Is currently a FOX News commentator, but does do the occasional stand-up special.
  • Dick Gregory
  • Don Rickles: (a.k.a. Mr. Warmth, The Merchant of Venom, The Czar of the Zinger); Don Rickles is one of the 20th Century's most famous funny men and one of the great masters of insult comedy. Unlike many insult comics who only find short-lived success, Rickles has enjoyed a sustained career in insult performance. For more than 35 years he has appeared in top showrooms in Atlantic City, Reno Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. He was a frequent guest of The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson; Johnny was the one who made famous Rickles' entrance theme, La Virgen de la Macarena which is played to this day whenever Rickles comes out. He has won two Emmys for a documentary about his life and career as a stand up comedian, "Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project". Was/is good friends with the late Frank Sinatra, the late Dean Martin, and Bob Newhart. For the younger generation he is more famous as the voice of Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story films.
  • Dylan Moran: Poetic drunken Irishman with a similar style to Eddie Izzard. Also visible in TV and film, as the central character of Black Books and a role in Shaun of the Dead.
  • Eddie Izzard: Responsible for translating the surreal style of humour of Monty Python into something you could do as stand-up, resulting in a definite shift in British comedy.
  • Eddie Murphy: Getting his start on Saturday Night Live (in the early 1980s when the show was floundering after the remnants of the original cast left and a new, not-necessarily-better cast was hired in its place), he branched into film with the Beverly Hills Cop movies in the 80's and The Nutty Professor and Dr Dolittle films in the 90's. Besides voicing Donkey in the Shrek films, his more recent films have mostly been looked down upon, though his role in the film Dreamgirls received an Oscar nomination.
  • Ellen De Generes
  • Emo Phillips: A comedian very committed to his stage persona (typically he only gives interviews as this character) as a Psychopathic Manchild twisting straightforward observations into the contorted perspective of his character.
  • Frankie Boyle: Despite doing a lot of TV--particularly Mock the Week--he never the left the stand-up circuit.
  • Gabriel Iglesias
  • George Carlin: A comedian famous for his dirty mouth, he was actually jailed because of his routine in the '70s. His routine also frequently takes shots at organized religion and drugs. Some of his acting roles include Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure and Dogma; not to mention the Conductor on Shining Time Station. He's the creator of the Seven Dirty Words routine. His later work (starting with What Am I Doing in New Jersey?) tended to be scathing socio-political commentary, and apart from the Seven Dirty Words routine, this is arguably what he is best known for today; Carlin himself regarded his later work as his best.
  • George Lopez
  • Gilbert Gottfried: Screechy, obnoxious comedian and occasional kids' show voice actor (he's Iago on the Aladdin movies, was the first voice of Dr. Bender on The Fairly Odd Parents, and the voice of the child-hating Tickle-Me-Psycho doll on Robotomy). Like Eddie Murphy, Gottfried was also an SNL cast member during its troubled sixth season, worth nothing because Gottfried back then didn't squint, had a full head of black hair, and actually had an indoor voice.
  • Jackie Mason
  • Janeane Garofalo: Stand-up comedienne who worked with Ben Stiller on The Ben Stiller Show and was a cast member on Saturday Night Live during its 20th season (1994-1995). Her time there was described once as "...being the Indian given the smallpox-infested blankets by the white settlers." [2]
  • Jasper Carrott
  • Jay Leno: Succeeded Johnny Carson as host of The Tonight Show'.
  • Jeff Dunham: A ventriloquist who uses a cast of puppets with myriad quirky personalities. Despite ventriloquism being a traditionally family friendly comedic skill, he should not be considered a kid friendly performer, although he is not overly vulgar.
  • Jeff Foxworthy: The most famous of the Blue Collar comics, and the creator of "You Might Be a Redneck". Sales of his various comedy records since the late 1980's has made him one of the best-selling comedy performers of all time.
  • Jerry Seinfeld: Observational humor taken to its apex with his own wildly successful self-titled sitcom. Despite his financial success, has remained fairly unseen since his show ended and still tours the stand-up community.
  • Jessica Hynes
  • Jim Gaffigan: Well-known for his bits about food, particularly his Hot Pocket routine, as well as numerous jokes making fun of himself, especially his pale skin. A gimmick of his act is that he will frequently follow up his jokes with disapproving comments about them in a different voice, as if to suggest that is what the audience is thinking.
  • Jimmy Carr: British comedian known for his black humor and deadpan delivery
  • Joe Rogan
  • John Pinette: French-Irish comedian (his stomach is Italian). His jokes center on his life, his travels, and food. Especially food. Also a talented singer. And for all that, he's probably best known as the carjacked fat guy in the final Seinfeld episode.
  • Jon Lajoie: though he does more parodies than actual routines.
  • Jonathan Winters: One of the pioneers of improvisation, his act has influenced many other comics including Robin Williams, which earned him a guest spot on Mork and Mindy. In some instances he is able to go on for hours about any particular subject, switching between different characters and different topics on the same subject. Has had several other television and movie roles.
  • Josh Thomas: Australian comedian who specializes in self-deprecating sex comedy.
  • Kathy Griffin: Her stand-up concentrates on her experiences with celebrities to the point that some stars actively avoid her for fear of becoming part of her act while others flock to her because they think she's funny. She had a long-running reality show called "My Life on the D List" which showed her attempts to build her career. Her mom has become a star in her own right thanks to her swearing and love of boxed wine.
  • Kevin Hart: Similar to Steve Harvey below, immensely popular in the African-American community but not very popular in the mainstream.
  • Larry the Cable Guy: Git-r-done! Another Blue Collar comic. Known to younger generations as the voice of Mater in the Cars films. Has quite a big Hatedom, many of whom are unaware that Larry is actually an Affectionate Parody comedy character performed by comedian Daniel Whitney.
  • Lee Mack: Standup comic and comedic actor best known for his role on Not Going Out and as a team captain on British panel show Would I Lie to You opposite David Mitchell. Northern, and slightly bitter about it.
  • Lenny Bruce: Not as famous as some of the comics whom he inspired, but his vulgarity and willingness to mock religious and social institutions in a time when such topics were off-limits helped make stand-up comedy what it is today.
  • Lewis Black: A comedian with No Indoor Voice, he usually rants about what he hates in politics and life in general.
  • Los Rayos Gama (Puerto Rican comedy group)
  • Louis CK: His work mostly centers around rather dark comedy, which is mostly based on his own life. He used to make jokes (and a TV-Show) about how shitty his marriage was, got divorced, and now he makes jokes (and a TV-show) about how shitty it is to be a single father in his forties.
  • Margaret Cho
  • Maria Bamford: A comedian that known for her portrayal of her dysfunctional family and self-deprecating comedy in the weirdest ways imaginable, as well as the many different voices she uses.
  • Martin Lawrence: Manic, black comedian who had his own show on FOX (which was canceled after the actress who played Martin's girlfriend, Gina, accused Lawrence of sexually harassing her) and was banned from ever hosting Saturday Night Live again after launching into a particularly disgusting monologue about women's hygiene.
  • Michael McIntyre: Hyperactive British observational comedian, frequent panel show guest. Broke through into the public eye in a big way after his appearance in a Royal Variety Performance. Responsible for two of the fastest-selling standup comedy DVD's of all time.
  • Michael O Connel: Wheelchair-bound observational comedian with Muscular Dystrophy, who bases a lot of his comedy on how people in wheelchairs are treated by people not in wheelchairs. His catchphrase is "First, I'd like to object to the use of the phrase Stand-Up comedy..."
  • Michael Winslow: The guy who makes noises on the Police Academy movies.
  • Milton Jones: British comedian whose style is characterized by clever one-liners and often features truly magnificent puns.
  • Mitch Hedberg: Combined observational humor with bizarre non-sequiturs. Famous for his laid back persona, he has been described as a stoner version of Steven Wright. Died of a drug overdose, turning some of his drug-related jokes into Funny Aneurysm Moments.
  • Mort Sahl: One of the first standup comics to deal in topical, political humor, Sahl was also the first to perform on college campuses and the first to hit on the idea of recording and releasing his performances on albums.
  • Neil Hamburger: actually the anti-humor persona of musician Gregg Turkington.
  • Norm MacDonald: Essentially what happens when a Deadpan Snarker and a Cloudcuckoolander have a kid. Famous for his ability to make the most mundane statements hilarious with his unique delivery. For the ultimate Norm MacDonald routine, see his performance at the Bob Saget roast. Was a Weekend Update anchor on SNL during its 20th season (making that the only reason anyone ever really watched that season back in 1994), but got fired in the late-1990s by NBC executive Don Ohlymeier for allegedly "...not being funny." Returned to host SNL on its 25th season (1999-2000) and claimed that the reason why he's so "Goddamn funny" is because the show has gotten worse since he left.
  • Patton Oswalt: A sort of geek-philosopher, who often uses pop-culture examples to give his take on real events.
  • Peter Kay: Observational comedy drawing on the distinctive culture of the north-west of England, with Memetic Mutation by the truckload. Wrote and starred many times over in Phoenix Nights and Max And Paddys Road To Nowhere.
  • Redd Foxx
  • Richard Belzer: Was a writer during the early days of Saturday Night Live (and once stood in for Chevy Chase on Weekend Update); has turned to drama since then.
  • Richard Herring: Started out as one half of the comedy due Lee and Herring, he went on to be a pioneer of using the internet for comedy. Has blogged EVERY DAY since 2003, and is particularly well known for his podcasts As It Occurs To Me and The Collings & Herrin Podcast. Is particularly fond of turning all his shows into Acronyms - so that As It Occurs To Me becomes 'AIOTM' (aiotm).
  • Richard Pryor: Considered the godfather of stand up comedy, he talked a lot about growing up in the slums and drug abuse.
  • Robin Ince
  • Robin Williams: Frantic, motor-mouth style comedy that doesn't let up. He calmed down a touch after he quit cocaine. Has had a varied career, ranging from comedies and dramas in movies as well as the television sitcom that made him a star, Mork and Mindy. Won an Oscar playing a psychiatrist in the film Good Will Hunting.
  • Ron White: The fourth and most vulgar of the Blue Collar comics, and the only one not to be a regular on the troupe's television series.
  • Ross Noble: The king of improv, he often creates an entire show out of the tiniest of comments or actions from the audience, as his surreal imagination jumps from one topic to another at lightning speed.
  • Russell Brand: Famous for his bohemian style of clothing, controversial behaviour and of women. His stand-up frequently focusses on his personal shame, and often included bits where he reads from and comments on newspapers.
  • Russell Howard: British comedian who has a generally optimistic view, and especially loves nostalgic stories about childhood and his crazy family.
  • Russell Peters: Famous Canadian stand up comedian of Indian descent.
  • Sam Kinison: A bitter, bitter man (especially toward women) with No Indoor Voice.
  • Sarah Silverman: Imagine Redd Foxx was reincarnated as a Jewish princess, and you've got the idea.
  • Sean Cullen
  • Shelley Berman
  • Stan Freberg
  • Steve Harvey: A very popular comedian in the black community but not as popular in the mainstream. He had a sitcom, The Steve Harvey Show, was in The Original Kings of Comedy. He now has hit it big, writing a book (Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man), having his own radio show, his own dating site (despite, or maybe because of the fact that he is on his third marriage), and is the current (as of 2/4/11) host of Family Feud.
  • Steve Martin: The king of goofiness. He merged his stand up routine with other performance art including musical numbers, skits and props. Known for his perpetually white hair since the 70's, he is also the leader in the number of times he has hosted Saturday Night Live [though Alec Baldwin has now hosted more episodes of SNL than Martin] and has had a successful string of film roles, often playing The Everyman.
  • Steven Wright: Known for his deadpan delivery and surreal stories with their own weird internal logic: "One time I parked my car in a tow-away zone. When I came back, the entire area was gone."
  • Stewart Lee: A favourite among other comedians, he is a Brit with a slow deadpan delivery, who does long, rambling routines in a self-referential style.
  • The Sklar Brothers (Randy and Jason): Twin brothers who do stand-up comedy together. Also known for their various skit-works on ESPN, playing twin dumbass DJs on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and voicing conjoined twin brothers, Biff and Chip, on The Oblongs.
  • Tim Vine: British comedian known for being a Hurricane of Puns in human form.
  • Victor Borge: a comedian who dual-classed in concert piano. (Better Than It Sounds.)
  • Tim Wilson: Comedian-singer from the South.
  • Woody Allen: Most famous for his film career, he started out as a stand-up comic in the early '60s.

Comedy Works

Stand-up Comedy tropes




  1. who was acquitted of murdering her abusive second husband during Thanksgiving dinner back in 1986
  2. In other words, she hated it there and left mid-season
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