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Top 10 Male Stand-Up Comedians

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Ryan Barnett. These guys get the biggest laughs: whether they’re talking about fatherhood, race relations, the American Dream or nothing, there is a group of stand-up comedians that is head and shoulders above the rest. Men like Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Cosby may have become famous thanks to television, while Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy took their comedy to film, but they’re all stand-ups at the core. In this video, counts down our picks for the top 10 male stand-up comedians of all time. For this list, we’ve chosen those male comics who defined and refined the art of stand-up comedy. Special thanks to our users CanadianDH and Miroljub Milisavljevic for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page!

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Script written by Ryan Barnett.

Top 10 Male Stand-Up Comedians

These men get the biggest laughs. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 male stand-up comedians.

For this list, we’ve chosen those male comics who defined and refined the art of stand-up comedy.

#10 – Louis C.K.

Louis C.K. is the biggest name in stand-up today, mastering the balance between quality and quantity. After building his rep in the ‘90s writing for shows like “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” Louis truly found his down-to-earth, razor-sharp comedic voice when he became a father. Since then, he’s dominated and transformed the art form with a stand-up-based TV series and by changing the way people consume comedy.

#9 – Chris Rock

His inauspicious run on “Saturday Night Live” and middling film career take nothing away from Chris Rock’s pre-eminence as a stand-up. Throughout his HBO specials, he’s shown himself to be insightful, brazen, and often the voice of reason in America. Not only is Rock unafraid to tackle political hot potatoes, he also covers romance, music, relationships and – you guessed it – race using his sometimes controversial and N-word-laden style.

#8 – Eddie Murphy

After decades of barely-passable family fare, it’s hard to remember how electrifying and hilarious Murphy was in the early ‘80s. His turn on “SNL” star got him noticed and his film career made him famous; but it’s his 1983 concert “Delirious” that showcased the real Eddie Murphy. Profane, politically incorrect and full of impersonations, it remains one of the greatest stand-up films ever, made when Murphy was only 22.

#7 – Jerry Seinfeld

Maybe the purest comic on our list, Seinfeld is so proficient an observational comedian he’s now emblematic of the style. Even without the use of expletives or any particularly racy material, Seinfeld became the top-earning comedian in the world, making “nothing” hilarious and becoming the “master of his domain.” He may have become a household name as a sitcom star, but he’s always carried stand-up comedy in his bones.

#6 – Robin Williams

Julliard educated and coke-fuelled for the first part of his career, Williams riffed his way to the top of the renowned Comedy Store in the 1970s, before breaking big on “Mork and Mindy.” Williams is a virtuoso performer of stream-of-consciousness banter and impersonations. No one beats Williams’ quick wit, improv abilities and versatility, and because of his wide-ranging themes, no one beats him in universality either.

#5 – Bill Hicks

Since his career was cut short after his death from pancreatic cancer at age 32, Hicks never reached the heights of the other comedians on this list. But, his legend and legacy have grown as his social critiques on the stupidity of daily American life have remained relevant. Though his material got him in trouble at times, Hicks is the smart, honest and nearly-forgotten genius of stand-up.

#4 – Bill Cosby

While his contemporaries used their soapbox for risqué routines, Cosby’s accounts of growing up in Philadelphia, marriage and fatherhood painted a wholesome but hilarious portrait of American life. Without cursing, using the N-word or discussing race, Cosby proved universal comedy exists – which is why his TV series are so successful. Through his stand-up, he became to fatherly voice for the Nation that almost no one can impersonate.

#3 – Lenny Bruce

After starting out cleaner, Bruce broke barriers in comedy and ensured the art form was never the same. His act combined sex, politics and religion at a time when sex, politics and religion were not fit topics for mixed company. The result was a lifetime of legal troubles for Bruce, with several charges of obscenity, but his legacy paved the way for the next comedians on this list.

#2 – Richard Pryor

Pryor was a profit. He translated personal experience into deep truths about the human condition, and reached a wide audience with his profane and colorful examinations of race and racism. By, as Bill Cosby once said, “drawing the line between comedy and tragedy as thin as one could possibly paint it,” Pryor became both a counterculture icon and a mainstream success, who influenced all who followed.

#1 – George Carlin

If Bill Cosby is the fatherly voice of America, George Carlin was the bristly uncle. Pryor was a profit, but Carlin was a workhorse, scrapping an hour of material every year to start from scratch – quite the accomplishment considering his career spanned over fifty years. Another comic who pushed the envelope far past its breaking point, Carlin made dissecting language, the status quo and everyday life his profession, and became the ultimate stand-up comedian in the process.

Do you agree or disagree with our list? Which stand up comedian would be in your top ten? Be sure to let us know and check out for more great top 10 lists!

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