Jerry Seinfeld – Jerry developed interest in stand-up comedy after brief stints in college productions. Like a true artist he struggled in local clubs and Catskill Mountain resorts until his career was boosted by an appearance on a Rodney Dangerfield HBO special. Career took off after a spot on Carson, Letterman and the Merv Griffin show. His latest, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee has reaffirmed his position as one of the wittiest comics ever.
Richard Pryor – Fans of this outrageous comic genius are encouraged to see his live specials Richard Pryor: Live and Smokin’ (1971); the dynamic Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979); Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982) and Richard Pryor… Here and Now (1983).
Chris Rock – Rock has been in stand-up comedy for several decades. He made his big screen debut in Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) and spent three years on the cast of Saturday Night Live(1975). After a brief hiatus, Rock is back touring full force to fund his ‘divorce settlements’ which he has often griped about on his shows.
Bill Burr – Bill Burr’s first hour-long special, Why Do I Do This?, took place in New York in 2008. Burr’s special Let it Go was recorded at The Fillmore in San Francisco and premiered on Comedy Central two years later. This was before his Netflix specials which became insanely popular. Burr has been referred to as a “comedian’s comedian” by observers of the US stand-up comedy circuit.
Dave Chapelle – Chappelle has been called the “comic genius of America” by Esquire , “the best” by a Billboard writer. In 2017, Rolling Stone ranked him No. 9 in their “50 Best Stand Up Comics of All Time. Never to shy away from contentious issues, Chapelle often mocks the ‘American’ way of life, gun violence, treatment of minorities. His treatment of the topics might seem flippant but is often layered with context and self-derision.
Steve Martin – Since the 1980s, having branched away from comedy, Martin has become a successful actor, as well as an author, playwright, pianist, and banjo player, eventually earning him an Emmy, Grammy, and American Comedy awards, among other honors. In 2004, Comedy Central ranked Martin at sixth place in a list of the 100 greatest stand-up comics. He was awarded an Honorary Academy Award at the Academy’s 5th Annual Governors Awards in 2013.
Sarah Silverman – Silverman was a writer and occasional performer on Saturday Night Live, and starred in and produced The Sarah Silverman Program, which ran from 2007 to 2010 on Comedy Central, for which she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
Louis C.K. – C.K. began his career in the 1990s writing for comedians including David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Dana Carvey, Chris Rock, and also for other comedy shows. Also in this period, he was directing surreal short films and went on to direct two features—Tomorrow Night(1998) and Pootie Tang (2001). In 2001, C.K. released his debut comedy album, Live in Houston directly through his website and became among the first performers to offer direct-to-fan sales of tickets to his stand-up shows, as well as DRM-free video concert downloads, via his website. Tainted by the #MeToo allegations for a very ‘brief period’, Louis has been welcomed back by fellow comedians and fans.
Robin Williams – Born in Chicago, Williams began performing stand-up comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, and is credited with leading San Francisco’s comedy renaissance. After rising to fame playing the alien Mork in the sitcom Mork & Mindy, Williams established a career in both stand-up comedy and feature film acting.
Tig Notaro -Notaro said that since her cancer diagnosis, she has shifted not to darker comedy but rather to personal comedy. Her acclaimed album Live was nominated in 2014 for the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. The special Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted was nominated in 2016 at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special.
Photo Credit- ANDREW HETHERINGTON/REDUX