Looking for new, intellectual, stand-up comedians
November 12, 2013 11:50 AM   Subscribe

The other night I dumb-lucked into the last ten minutes of the new Dana Gould stand-up special, and I loved it. And it got me thinking about how much I love intellectual stand-up comedy. Who else might I like?

In addition to Gould, I'm a big fan of Patton Oswalt, Louis CK and Eddie Izzard. Always loved Steven Wright, Mitch Hedberg, Bob Newhart, etc. I recall really liking a special that Greg Behrehndt did 10 or so years ago, I vaguely recall that it went into pretty emotional territory (something about a toaster, and his dad not playing ball with him?) and was as much storytelling as jokes.

My only caveat: Gould and Oswalt are at the upper limit of my tolerance for cynicism or negativity, so people like Bill Hicks and early George Carlin are right out.

Who else might I like, and what are their best routines/specials? Bonus points if they're on Netflix, Amazon Instant or YouTube.
posted by jbickers to Media & Arts (45 answers total) 173 users marked this as a favorite
 
Aisha Tyler
posted by humboldt32 at 11:57 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Will Franken. He's like a combination of William S. Burroughs and Jello Biafra.
posted by Rykey at 11:58 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Demetri Martin

'Important Things' with Demetri Martin is a must watch (short-lived Comedy Central show currently on Netflix), so are these specials:

If I: SLYT
Demetri Martin. Person. : Amazon link

I'd start with 'If I'.
posted by mysticreferee at 11:58 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


If there are any Comedians of Comedy specials (not the road film, but the actual "Live At Wherever" ones) on Netflix, check those out.

You might also like Aziz Ansari and John Hodgman's specials as well.

Brian Posehn -- who is part of the Comedians of Comedy, along with Patton Oswalt and Maria Bamford -- has a special on Netflix as well but it may be a little rough. It's called The Fartist and if you enjoy his stuff in Comedians of Comedy, give it a shot.
posted by griphus at 11:58 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Paula Poundstone's stand up is awesome. And while he might not meet your negativity requirement, I don't think anyone challenges the audience more on obscure references than Dennis Miller.
posted by cecic at 11:59 AM on November 12, 2013


Dylan Moran!
posted by torisaur at 12:01 PM on November 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


John Mulaney is fantastic.
posted by bluecore at 12:06 PM on November 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Mike Birbiglia
posted by juliplease at 12:07 PM on November 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


Greg Proops has a weekly podcast (and occasional Film Club) that is AWESOME.

Smartest Man in the World on iTunes.
posted by jbenben at 12:11 PM on November 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


John Mulaney
Hannibal Buress
Maria Bamford
Moshe Kasher
Bill Burr (maaaaaybe)
Mike Birbiglia
Eugene Mirman

Most of these can be found on netflix and/or spotify.
posted by melissasaurus at 12:14 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Edit: The Greg Proops podcast IS him doing the show stand-up style in front of a live audience.
posted by jbenben at 12:18 PM on November 12, 2013


Thirding Mike Birbiglia. In particular I think you would enjoy My Girlfriend's Boyfriend. It's on Netflix.
posted by payoto at 12:25 PM on November 12, 2013


I was young in San Francisco in the 80's and I'd go down and watch these guys do their stuff on Live 105 in the morning. Some of them are still doing their thing.

Also, do check out @midnight on Comedy Central. I peed myself I laughed so hard.

Greg Proops is hilarious and right on, you've seen him on Whose Line Is It Anyway. He's also a mench, a super-nice guy.

I love Will Durst, check out some of his stuff online. I don't know if he's in your age bracket, but he was sharp, sharp, sharp back in the day.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:26 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


In addition to what everyone else has mentioned, I'd add Jim Gaffigan, Kyle Kinane and John Oliver.

You might also check out John Oliver's New York Stand Up - the first 2 seasons are on Netflix, and it has 3-4 comedians per episode, so you get a chance to see a number of them and perhaps will find more that you like. (Several of the people mentioned in the answers have appeared on his show.)
posted by dotgirl at 12:26 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Simon Amstell. He straddles the line of cynicism vs. idealism--he's prone to squeaking out, in the middle of routines, "We're all going to die!" but the fundamental problems he grapples with are those of finding deeper meaning in life (he's got a particularly Buddhist bent to his comedy).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:27 PM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Peter Sagal of NPR -
Brilliantly funny and intellectual.
posted by Kruger5 at 12:27 PM on November 12, 2013


I saw Marc Maron once and I think he might fit your criteria. He is a little bitter, but not like Bill Hicks level of bitter. His stand-up was very meta, a lot of material about the craft of being a comic and his approach to writing. He has a very popular podcast, which is very good, though the first fifteen minutes is just him ranting and it often gets tiresome. I think he just released a stand-up special on Netflix.

I'll second Paula Poundstone. I saw her do stand-up and she was one of the funniest, most brilliant, quickest-witted people I've ever seen.
posted by bondcliff at 12:28 PM on November 12, 2013


Jamie Kilstein. Profane, funny, political, smart.

Here is Jamie on Conan O'Brien taking down the use of drones with humor.

And here's a set he did about rape culture and why Glenn Beck hates him.

He has a double CD out now that is awesome. He and his wife, Allison Kilkenny, host the must-listen podcast Citizen Radio.
posted by Kitteh at 12:32 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Paul F Tompkins'. His stand-up special Laboring Under Delusions is on Amazon instant.
posted by littlesq at 12:54 PM on November 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Tig Notaro definitely
Jen Kirkman
Todd Barry
Andy Kindler

Seconding: Paul F Tompkins, Eugene Mirman, Maria Bamford, John Mulaney, Hannibal Burress

I recall really liking a special that Greg Behrehndt did 10 or so years ago, I vaguely recall that it went into pretty emotional territory (something about a toaster, and his dad not playing ball with him?) and was as much storytelling as jokes.

Then definitely check out the podcast Greg does with Dave Anthony called Walking the Room. I'd also recommend Dave Anthony's new album (Shame Chamber) but it's pretty negative. But the two of them together is a good balance.
posted by mullacc at 1:00 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seconding Marc Maron. His negativity and bitterness is mostly directed at himself, so you should be fine.

Stewart Lee is quite good as well. Plenty of him available on YouTube, but I can't speak for Netflix.
posted by GrapeApiary at 1:03 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also Cameron Esposito and the stand-up comedy podcast she hosts called Put Your Hands Together. Unlike most chat-based comedy podcasts, PYHT is actually a recorded stand-up show at the UCB in LA.
posted by mullacc at 1:04 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are great brits! Josie Long and Daniel Kitson are two of them.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:07 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kumail Nanjiani, and seconding Cameron Esposito, who had a rather extraordinary network debut recently.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:09 PM on November 12, 2013


It's not quite stand-up, but check out the comedic stylings of Scharpling and Wurster while you can. Patton Oswalt is a regular guest and tries to explain the Best Show's genius in a YouTube clip in the link.

Tonight at 9 EST!
posted by Beardman at 1:11 PM on November 12, 2013


Bill Burr.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:13 PM on November 12, 2013


I'll throw in a curveball of Karl Pilkington. He is a genius.
posted by 0 answers at 1:15 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Marc Maron, Pete Holmes, Maria Bamford, Baron Vaughn, Todd Barry, Kumail Nanjiani, Hannibal Buress, Moshe Kasher, Tig Notaro
posted by charlemangy at 1:16 PM on November 12, 2013


Short bit by Andy Zaltzman about Adam Smith's invisible hand.

Also, this season of CC's Half Hour was all great.
posted by General Malaise at 1:26 PM on November 12, 2013


Reggie Watts!
posted by brinkzilla at 1:42 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


You should also check out Dana Gould's podcast to get a lead on other comedians; he typical has several guests on each episode, so you can get a sense of their tone and comedic voice.
posted by Elsa at 1:52 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]




Todd Barry

Funny, but definitely cynical. In fact, dry cynicism is his delivery and, essentially, his routine.

I find Margaret Smith brilliant. Deadpan, smart, witty. Not so "new" but true comedy is always funny.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:03 PM on November 12, 2013


Wyatt Cenac is GREAT live. Super sharp.

Also: I love Mitch Hedberg more than most people but calling him intellectual strains the limits of credulity :)
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:13 PM on November 12, 2013


Stewart Lee is great, albeit really dry and very English.
posted by goo at 2:38 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Robin Ince might work for you. He's an English humanist comedian with an occasional scientific slant.
posted by peteyjlawson at 2:55 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pandora is a great resource for comedy albums that are 2-3 years old. It is also categorized, so 'Political Comedy' is a goldmine of comics not talking about their farts... unless their farts are political for some reason.

Personal Favorites in the 'likely to be lighter'
Al Franken (Duh)
Myq Kaplan
Maria Bamford
Darryl Lenox
Alonzo Bodden
Simon King
Russell Peters
Dan Cummins
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:56 PM on November 12, 2013


Hari Kondabolu. He's a little cynical, but no more so than Eddie Izzard, I think.
posted by wintersweet at 4:07 PM on November 12, 2013


Stewart Lee's anti-Islamic standup bit is pretty intellectual. "You said, 'Do jokes about Islam!' I just did. 'Not like that, Stew. Not where you have to know anything.'"
posted by Lexica at 6:52 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not sure if it qualifies as "intellectual" but I think Jake Johannsen's "I Love You" is pretty sharp.
posted by frenetic at 7:02 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Donald Glover

Patrice O'Neal
posted by mermily at 7:08 PM on November 12, 2013


I'm not sure if he qualifies as a comedian, but Richard Feynman was kinda smart. And funny as hell in "Surely you're joking..."

Also liked the wit and wisdom of Julia Sweeney in Letting go of God.
posted by sixpack at 7:12 PM on November 12, 2013


Bill Bailey is your man. British, oddball, intellectual.

He performed a night of stand-up comedy and classical music education backed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra a few years ago. I'd never heard anything like it. A sampling. Another. And one of my favorite bits from an earlier comedy special, Part Troll.
posted by duffell at 9:01 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bill Bailey, I'll say. Also, Dara O'Briain and Dylan Moran.
posted by Skyanth at 9:06 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sarah Silverman in _Jesus Is Magic_ -- and she has a new HBO special a week from tomorrow night.
posted by DMelanogaster at 1:39 PM on November 16, 2013


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