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My 6 Favorite Stand-Up Comedians Working Today

What do you do when you have to take a long drive on your own? Me personally, I listen to stand-up comedians to pass the time. They’re always good for a laugh, and there are a lot of great CDs out there to choose from. You’ve got the classics, like George Carlin, and new guys, like Aziz Ansari. There’s also the added benefit of their voices sounding like there’s someone else in the car. Oh, the crushing loneliness…

“Don’t you hate pants?”

Nah, it’s not really like that, I promise. But ever since I started buying comedy albums, I’ve taken on a new appreciation for today’s stand-up comics. I’ve also discovered some really great talent, and I thought I’d take this week to share. Maybe next week I’ll get back to talking about superheroes…although this group would make a pretty great superhero team. Join me after the jump for my six favorite stand-up comedians, plus a few honorable mentions!


6. Louis C.K.


“‘I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. You live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of.”

What is there to say about Louis C.K. that a million better people haven’t said already? The man is a genius. A comedic genius. I like Louis because he’s gross but honest. He’s not a gross-out comic, he’s simply honest about how ugly, sticky and gross the real world is around us. Louis was semi-famous back in the day, but then starting with Chewed Up in 2008, and some of his earlier releases, Louis has been cranking out new material every year, and all of it is great. His TV show, Louie, is just as good, taking a blunt look at our dumb world. Personally, I think most of his best bits are about his kids and being a dad.


5. Patton Oswalt


“I fantasize and idealize myself as Bugs Bunny, but I know deep down I’m Daffy Duck.”

Geeky and chubby, Patton Oswalt is my kind of stand-up comic. He doesn’t let his celebrity go to his head, instead focusing on making fun of movies and telling fascinating and hilarious stories from his life — though his celebrity is pretty awesome. I love seeing Patton show up on my favorite genre shows, the guy is just that good. My favorite album is Finest Hour from 2011, with great riffs on Jesus’ super-powers, the magic of sweatpants and the possibility that the CIA bugs his car. There’s also a great bit on his 2014 album, Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time, where he tells the story of a casino show that taught him the meaning of ‘selling out’. Definitely worth a listen.


4. Aziz Ansari


“You can’t call anybody anymore. If you call someone, they’re like, ‘What? Are you on fire? Then quit wasting my time! Text me that shit!'”

Probably like a lot of people, I first met Aziz Ansari on Parks and Recreation, a great TV show. I didn’t even know he was a stand-up comic. But I snatched up a copy of 2010’s Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Aziz has a vivid personality. He’s very excitable, but always on point. Some of my favorite bits include Walking with Dinosaurs and every time he teases his cousin Harris, which has become a running gag in his albums. I don’t love hip hop artists like Kanye West or Jay-Z as much as Aziz, but he has some great stories about them.


3. Gary Gulman


“A cookie without sugar is a cracker.”

I’ve been a fan of Gulman since I was introduced to him on the second season of Last Comic Standing all the way back in 2004. His bit about cookies won me over immediately. This guy does the best cookie jokes — when he’s not picking on his own Jewishness. Gulman’s best bits are often about pop culture or consumerism, from cookies to Pepsi to the ridiculousness of the grapefruit. He takes the seemingly mundane foibles of everyday life — like how The Karate Kid doesn’t hold up today — and teases them apart.


2. John Mulaney


“I always thought that quicksand was gonna be a much bigger problem than it turned out to be.”

I knew John Mulaney’s TV show was going to fail from the first commercial. I think it was a clip of Martin Short’s character being unable to pronounce ‘Mulaney’. I’m not sure why anybody was supposed to find that funny. It’s a simple word. But somebody somewhere convinced John Mulaney to make a classic, 90s-esque, sitcom, and it predictably tanked. Thankfully, Mulaney himself is hilarious. He’s got two albums so far, The Top Part in 2009 and New In Town in 2012. Both feature Mulaney riffing on a variety of topics, like drag queens to the TV show Law & Order to that time he and a buddy played What’s New Pussycat 21 times on a restaurant juke box.


1. Kyle Kinane


“At this age, it’s really not a hobby. It’s just a drinking problem now.”

Kyle Kinane is a self-proclaimed “hipster janitor”. I discovered Kinane almost by chance a few years ago, and with three amazing albums under his belt, he’s my clear favorite. The man is hilarious, from his style, his friendliness, his self-degredation, and most important, his hopeful curiosity towards life. Here is a man who finds joy in even the weirdest bits of the world, like when he burned his laundry on his latest album, I Liked His Old Stuff Better, or his famous bit about watching a man eat pancakes on an airplane from 2012’s Whiskey Icarus. Bit after bit, story after story, weirdness after weirdness, Kinane is the man.


Honorable Mentions: Hannibal Buress, Maria Bamford, Tig Notaro, Todd Barry, Amy Schumer, Natasha Leggero, Nate Bargatze, Mike Birbiglia and more.

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About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on March 4, 2015, in Lists of Six!, My Life. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Great list! Aside from Gulman I would put all of these guys on my own list; I’ll check him out soon though!

    I’d probably have Bill Burr and Hannibal Burress in the running too, and Joe Mande (who wrote on Parks & Rec) had a great first album last year. But the guys on this list are the top tier for me as well.

    • Hannibal Buress was on this list until I remembered that Gulman exists. The guy is kind of obscure. I only know about him from that reality TV show back in the day, but I’ve kept up, and his albums are still great. I highly recommend Gulman.

      I don’t remember if I’ve heard any of Burr’s stuff, but I’ll check him out, and Joe Mande too, definitely haven’t heard of him. Thanks for the recommendations!

      And I should add Hannibal to the Honorable Mentions at the bottom…

  2. I tend to listen to Eddie Izzard quite a bit. His surreal approach to comedy suits me just fine 🙂

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