What are some great standup comedy shows, specials or DVDs that I should see?
November 25, 2011 7:26 AM   Subscribe

What are some great standup comedy shows, specials or DVDs that I should see? I'm hoping to find titles of shows and specials that are especially worth seeing, eg. "Kill the Messenger" by Chris Rock, or "Money Shot" by Whitney Cummings, etc. Extra points if the humour is still funny nowadays (I've seen some landmark performances that just seemed a little dated, perhaps because they've been so widely imitated). Thanks.
posted by surenoproblem to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
I was really impressed with Jim Jeffries' "I swear to God." Shocky-funny, but funny.

Bill Cosby "Himself" is a classic.

Eddie Izzard's "Dressed To Kill" is fantastic.

George Carlin's "Class Clown" was pretty excellent, but pretty dated since it was recorded in 1972.

Stephen Wright's "I Have a Pony" is pretty awesome, too, if you like schtick.
posted by Thistledown at 7:31 AM on November 25, 2011

Louis CK has had three specials in the last 10 years that are all top notch - I think Chewed Up is even on Netflix instant (although your spelling of 'humor' probably means you don't have netflix . . .)

Have you watched any of Eddie Izzard's stuff? He had a string of specials in the 90's that are varying degrees of awesome.

I think Chappelle's (two?) specials are notable as well.
posted by Think_Long at 7:31 AM on November 25, 2011

Freak by John Leguizamo, one of the best one man shows that I've seen live and became pretty popular. It's available on DVD and he essentially talks about his life growing up in a Cuban family in NYC. Hilarious. This guy is super talented--highly recommend!
posted by arizona80 at 7:36 AM on November 25, 2011

John Pinette- "I Say Nay Nay!" is hilarious!
posted by Hanuman1960 at 7:39 AM on November 25, 2011

Nthing Eddie Izzard's "Dressed to Kill". Probably the -smartest- stand-up performance I've ever seen. Just phenomenal.
posted by DWRoelands at 7:43 AM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Dressed To Kill is probably the best of all Eddie Izzard performances and some of the best standup ever done. You can find VHS rips of the ones prior to that (Definite Article, Glorious, Unrepeatable) floating around the internet and they're all worth at least one watch. Sexie, IMO is the weakest and I haven't seen Stripped.

The Comedians of Comedy performance film (not road film) is great. The road film is hilarious on its own, but it's more of a travelogue.

Zach Galifianakis Live at the Purple Onion is extreme hit-or-miss. Either you'll find it amazing, or you'll hate it.

Louis C.K.'s Chewed Up is great.

Jim Gaffigan's Beyond the Pale is good, but not great.

Stay away from Craig Ferguson's standup. He's awful.
posted by griphus at 7:43 AM on November 25, 2011

Mitch Hedberg and Dave Attell's Comedy Central Presents specials are great, too, but only as gateways to their CDs.
posted by griphus at 7:46 AM on November 25, 2011

Needs to be video?

Zach Galifianakis: Live at the Purple Onion is great.

Brian Regan's two specials (Standing Up and the Epitome of Hyperbole) are both great.

And really just about every moderately famous comedian has some sort of TV special, even if it's just a Comedy Central Presents or Premium Blend. This is probably just a US link, but Amazon has 200+ Comedy Central Presents available for streaming at $2 a pop. Of these, I am a big fan of the two Marc Maron episodes, Greg Berhendt, Jim Gaffigan, Jimmy Pardo, Maria Bamford, Mike Birbiglia, Paul F Tompkins...jeez, too many to name really. Damn, I miss when all these were on Netflix instant!
posted by mullacc at 7:51 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Maria Bamford

Oh, yes. I don't know if she has any of her own non-televised specials -- she's on the Comedians of Comedy DVD -- but just look her up on YouTube or something. She's an absolute genius.
posted by griphus at 7:59 AM on November 25, 2011 [4 favorites]

Magaret Cho's earlier stuff, especially "I'm the One that I Want"

Not a DVD, but David Cross' audio recordings are hilarious.
posted by lunasol at 8:00 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

David Cross' audio recordings are hilarious.

He's got a DVD out called Bigger and Blackerer. It starts off a little shaky, but its great.
posted by griphus at 8:01 AM on November 25, 2011

Nothing tops Dave Chappelle's Killin' Them Softly and For What It's Worth.
posted by cloeburner at 8:03 AM on November 25, 2011

Aziz Ansari, Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening.

posted by Exchequer at 8:04 AM on November 25, 2011

Damn. Exchequer beat me to it. Ansari kills in Intimate Moments.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:16 AM on November 25, 2011

Ron White, You Can't Fix Stupid and They Call Me Tater Salad.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:22 AM on November 25, 2011

Kevin Hart - Seriously Funny
posted by camneely at 8:32 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I remember picking out Dress To Kill to show to a group of visiting American students, none of whom had ever seen/heard him, and a good number of them became huge fans of Izzard as a result.

Comedy doesn't always travel well, in terms of availability or accessibility, but Stewart Lee's 90s Comedian is well worth seeking out: it's the set that was created in the wake of the whole Jerry Springer - The Opera hoopla.
posted by holgate at 8:56 AM on November 25, 2011

Patton Oswalt has a new special coming out Real Soon Now (and has a couple of other specials folating around), but do seek out his CDs. Feeling Kinda Patton and Werewolves and Lollipops are particularly good.
Steve Martin - Let's Get Small and Wild and Crazy Guy capture the magic of Martin as erupted into the national consciousness (and if you are interested in Martin, his book Born Standing Up is an amazing analysis of his career and the evolution of his material, plus the audio version has some kicking banjo music in parts)
I'm a big fan of Stewart Lee - If You Prefer A Milder Comedian Please Ask For One contains some rough chuckles but I am in awe of his staging of the Pear Cider rant at the end.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:04 AM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Came in to recommend Dressed to Kill! I had only barely heard of Izzard, and we stumbled across DtK on HBO at a friend's house. I had previously thought that "rotfl" was hyperbole, but I literally laughed so hard that I could no longer remain upright and fell off the couch, clutching my abdomen, tears running down my face, still laughing.
posted by KathrynT at 9:34 AM on November 25, 2011

I know you asked for pictures, but you should hear Bill Cosby in his early years: "To Russell My Brother Whom I Slept With" his sound effects are awesome. I still laugh after all these years from his "Chicken Heart" piece.

Cosby's currently touring so you may be able to find some clips online.
posted by effluvia at 9:49 AM on November 25, 2011

Spalding Gray skirts the definition of comedy, but as a monologuist who is frequently funny, he's unparalleled. I first heard of him when I was flipping between channels as a student while putting my coat on to go to class -- I spent two minutes watching a man at a desk talk in what turned out to be Swimming to Cambodia.

Two hours later I was still standing in the same place. I hadn't yet managed to put my coat on. Equally amazed at both the material and the fact that the possibly most compelling thing I'd ever seen in my life was a man behind a desk saying words.
posted by Shepherd at 10:55 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like Kathleen Madigan quite a lot. Also, if you can get a hold of a copy, check out Ken Jeong's set on The Kims of Comedy. This was before he had done any movies. Brings us to tears of laughter every time.

Somebody upthread said avoid Craig Fergusson, but I saw a special of his on Netflix (sorry, don't know the name of it off the top of my head) that I thought was hilarious. My hubby hated it though. Comedy is subjective that way.
posted by vignettist at 11:36 AM on November 25, 2011

Bill Burr, Why Do I Do This

And as mentioned above: anything by Brian Regan.
posted by The Deej at 12:13 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Stand-up tends to get dated pretty quickly for me, especially if I follow the comic. I did like all of the "Comedians of Comedy" specials that are on Netflix Instant.

Both of Eddie Murphy's stand-up movies are stone-cold classics.
posted by rhizome at 12:14 PM on November 25, 2011

Oh, Sarah Silverman's "Jesus is Magic" too
posted by rhizome at 12:16 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nthing Jesus is Magic, Killing Them Softly, Dressed to Kill.

Robin Williams "Live on Broadway" is killer (although pretty vulgar). Might be interesting to do a double-feature of that and one of his older specials.
posted by radioamy at 12:54 PM on November 25, 2011

Another Dress to Kill recommendation. It's arguably the best stand-up show of the past 20 years.
posted by scody at 1:40 PM on November 25, 2011

Mitch Hedberg is awesome.
For the slightly different, check out Henry Rollins.
posted by pyro979 at 2:31 PM on November 25, 2011

Bill Hicks. Just...see it.
posted by po822000 at 7:44 PM on November 25, 2011

Daniel Tosh's Completely Serious is one of the best specials I've seen in a long time. His follow-up was pretty good, but not as uproarious. And, pretty much everything that's been mentioned above.
posted by General Malaise at 10:42 AM on November 26, 2011

If you go down the Comedy Central Presents route, I recommend Chelsea Peretti's episode. She's hilarious and awesome.
posted by sharkfu at 5:49 AM on November 27, 2011

Dave Attell (old stuff -- look for 1995 HBO Comedy Showcase hour and 1997 HBO Comedy half-hour.)

Nthing Eddie Izzard. Dress to Kill is his best -- I became a standup comic after seeing the show live -- but Glorious is also excellent. Also N'thing Louis CK.

Sam Kinison -- Breaking the Rules (1987), Family Entertainment Hour (1991)

Arj Barker: Live (2006), Balls (2008), Forever (2010) A sadly underrated genius who may not have reached his prime yet. best known from Flight of the Conchords, he works the international circuit -- you're more likely to find him in Australia or England than the US.

I haven't seen Brian Regan's dvd's but he's an amazing comic and I can't imagine they're not fantastic. He is every dirty comic's favorite clean comic.
posted by msalt at 7:01 PM on February 17, 2012

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