Monday November 30th, 2009 - Chicago, IL
People frequently ask me who my personal favorite comedians are. I have no idea why, but they do. Then I’ll tell them and they’ll say “WHO?” I have a hard time differentiating famous from not famous people because to me, funny is funny. There are famous people I find funny, but there are probably a lot more the public hasn’t heard of that I enjoy more.
Not that it means a porcupine’s patoot, but here is a list of both the well known and the unknown comedians I personally find funny. Again, it’s a personal taste thing and nobody is right or wrong when it comes to questions of personal taste. Somebody buys buttermilk or it wouldn’t keep showing up on a shelf in the grocery store. This is only my opinion.
First, the famous ones. My all time favorite standup comic is Rodney Dangerfield. He’s a legend and his whole being makes me laugh out loud. His ‘no respect’ hook is not only the best one ever, it’s become a part of American pop culture. His look matched his jokes and he was brilliant as both a performer and a joke writer. He’s the king in my opinion.
Bill Cosby is also legendary. Who in standup history has reached a broader audience? If I had to pick the biggest standup comic of the 20th century it would be between Bob Hope and Bill Cosby and neither would be a bad choice. It’s like the Babe Ruth vs. Hank Aaron debate in baseball. Both were great, but played in different eras. I’d prefer not to pick one.
Bob Hope was great too, but he wasn’t on my favorites list. His work didn’t really have an impact on my generation or me personally, but I still respect him. I respect Bill Cosby too, but he makes me REALLY laugh. His standup is still funny today and he’s a master.
George Carlin was a monster too. What a major impact he had on comedy, especially in the later part of the 20th century. His style changed several times but he managed to crank out HBO specials and audio recordings and keep his name in the mainstream for a whole lot longer than most. I met him and he was humble and nice and that makes it even better.
Other big name comics I happen to enjoy include Woody Allen, Steven Wright, Dennis Miller, Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, Gilbert Gottfried, Emo Philips and Will Durst. I really don’t care what anyone else thinks, these particular comics make ME laugh and I’ll watch them if I see them performing anywhere. I like to study comedy and these guys I respect.
Other guys I find hilarious who might not be ultra famous would include a Brian Regan or a Mitch Hedberg. Both have cult followings and I’ve worked with both of them and am big fans of each. I’m very sad Mitch passed away, but he sure left a solid body of work to be proud of. Brian Regan is squeaky clean and very animated and I never get sick of him.
Here are some of the maybe not so famous ones to you, but I know them personally and happen to think are some of the funniest people anywhere. I’ll list them all in alphabetical order because I don’t want to favor any of them over the other. They’re all not only funny comics but some of my favorite people to hang out with too. I hope you’ll discover them.
Scotty Goff used to own the club Laffs in Tucson, AZ and I worked for him a couple of times. Most comics who book clubs can’t do both well, and Scotty suffered a little with it, mainly because he was and is a nice guy. He doesn’t own the club anymore but he’s still a super funny guy. His CD is called “Junk Drawer In My Head” and is on CD Baby. Get it.
Dwayne Kennedy is a guy I’ve talked about before. He’s around my age and a Chicago native and quite simply a brilliant comic mind. He’s also a super nice guy and one of my absolute favorite people, onstage and off. He’s been on Letterman three times now I think and has at least one CD. He doesn’t have a website right now, but trust me - he’s a gem.
John Knight is a friend from Pittsburgh I’ve known over twenty years. He’s laid back to the point of deadpan, but totally hilarious. His website is www.comedyknight.com and he has a killer CD called ‘Knight Lines’. One of my favorites and I recommend him highly.
Carl LaBove was Sam Kinison’s best friend for years but is an undiscovered diamond to most of the public. His style is nothing like Sam’s, which makes me respect him more. Every performance is a gift to that particular audience, as Carl likes to free form jazz style it much like I do. He’s theatrical and likeable and just plain funny. www.carllabove.com.
Vince Maranto is a Chicago friend I’ve known over twenty years and has some of THE best individual jokes I’ve ever heard. Great writer, funny guy. Can’t find a website but he does have a CD he makes at home on his computer. Still, it’s very funny. If you want one, send an email to email@example.com and please tell him I told you to. Vince is a good guy.
Also from Chicago is my good friend Jimmy McHugh. He’s also got a home made CD, but it’s worth it. He’s always been one of my favorite comics and his act is very solid and always funny. We work together a bunch and his site is www.chicagocomedyallstars.com.
I’m running out of space so I’ll just mention names. Steve ‘Mudflap’ McGrew is out of Denver and one of the best. www.stevemcgrew.com. Tim Northern is from Nashville but I think he’s in Louisville now. What a talent. Very unique. www.thetimnorthern.com.
Larry Reeb, aka ’Uncle Lar’ is a Zanies in Chicago icon. www.unclelarryreeb.com. One more from Chicago is Danny Storts, now in Nashville. www.comediansusa/DannyStorts. Danny was a mentor when I started and I’ll always be grateful for that. Super funny too.
Keith Stubbs breaks the mold of comics who book clubs. Most can’t do both very well, but Keith is a glowing exception. His clubs are always beautiful and well run, and he is an absolute killer comic. He’s in Salt Lake City and does morning radio there. I like to work for him whenever I can. His website is www.keithstubbs.com and he’s got several CDs.
Tim Walkoe is another Chicago powerhouse and is a favorite of all comics here. He’s a fast talking rhythm based comic, again much like I am. When we work a show together, it packs a wallop. We both like to give a crowd their money’s worth. www.timwalkoe.com. These are the comics I find the funniest. People ask, so I’m answering. Go enjoy them.