The cover story of Time magazine, March 11, 2019 is about Julia Louis-Dreyfus. One part of the article is entitled “The 5 Funniest Stand-Up Specials Ever.” Ms. Louis-Dreyfus gives her 5 top choices. Three of the choices I can easily agree with. Richard Pryor, Live on the Sunset Strip (1982). Steve Martin, A Wild and Crazy guy (1978). For Ellen Degeneres, (see below)a 1996 performance is chosen. I’d go with a 12/18/18 performance entitled, Relatable. It was her first stand-up performance in 15 years. And as the title of her performance indicates, she is still indeed Relatable.
I would have to replace two of her choices (ie, Steven Wright and Paula Poundstone) with 2 individuals I wrote about in a different article. Specifically, George Carlin and Robin Williams. If you need a specific performance to judge these individuals’, I’d say: “Why?” You must have seen some of the many television specials by Carlin. His “7 dirty words” routine is an example of his genius. Other examples could be: “Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.” And “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”
And Robin Williams is my funniest favorite. Of his TV performances, my favorite may have to be 1988’s “A Night at the Met.” His show began with him realizing the 2 huge lights retracting into the ceiling looked like “Imelda Marcos’ earrings.” Williams gives everyone more jokes per minute than anyone. You get quantity and quality of his work every time.
As a 6thcomedian, I’d chose someone I haven’t seen lately: Bob Newhart. People familiar with his television shows may forget he started (as a bookkeeper turned) comedian. My favorite piece of his work was him trying to explain the rules of baseball in a telephone call to someone unfamiliar with the game. I suddenly realized how complicated the game we were born with was to a stranger.
Who would make your “best 5” list?