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Bill Maher’s Message to Radical Muslims & A Note on the Need for Objective Comedy Rankings

May 6, 2010
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Our culture is better, but if you don’t get that and you still want to kill someone over a stupid cartoon, please make it Garfield.

The whole tirade is about as funny as Bill Maher gets, which is pretty funny.  Not quite Chris Rock-funny, but well beyond Gallagher-funny.  I’d like an objective comedy scale.  It would go something like this:

  • Margaret Cho
  • Gallagher
  • Colin Quinn (hosting Weekend Update)
  • Dane Cook
  • Robin Williams
  • Dennis Leary
  • (Every no-name comedian who you watch for 45 seconds to 5 minutes before changing the channel)
  • Carrot Top
  • Bobcat Goldthwait
  • Artie Lange (standup)
  • Earth Quake
  • Zach Galifianakis
  • Patton Oswalt
  • Sarah Silverman
  • Mitch Hedberg/Henny Youngman
  • Bill Maher/Louis Black
  • Artie Lange (on Stern)
  • Robert Schimmel
  • Jon Stewart
  • Louis CK
  • Rodney Dangerfield
  • George Carlin
  • Chris Rock

Unless noted, this list refers only to standup comedy.  TV & Movie performances are not really in the mix.  If you haven’t figured out that the list is in ascending order, it is.  If you believe that the list is in descending order, you probably have a brain tumor.  I have to move past Cho, Gallagher, Quinn, Cook & Williams before I even crack a smile.  Honestly.  Ian and I used to play a game during college.  We’d watch Colin Quinn on SNL reruns and not laugh.  That was the game. 

Dennis Leary is good for about 8 seconds worth of chuckles.  Any longer, and I just want to punch him all about the head, chest, and neck.  Plus, Leary stole Bill Hicks’ jokes.  Which brings me to another point: there are some comedians -Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, Sam Kinison and Hicks- who have great reputations and funny jokes, but I never got into their styles of delivery;  I left them off the list because I couldn’t rate them fairly.

There is a large gulf  between Carrot Top and Artie Lange.   Bobcat Goldthwait was the only person I could think of at the time, but there should be 4 or 5 other guys in there.

Also,  I had to Google “stand up comedy one liner overdose” to recollect Mitch Hedberg’s name.

Finally, Zach Galifianakis’ standup act has one of my favorite jokes of all time in it:  My girlfriend looks a little like Charlize Theron.   And a lot like Patrick Ewing.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. JoJo permalink
    May 6, 2010 10:08 am

    i’m inclined to say dane cook is the worst comedian, but the only evidence i have for him even being a comedian is that i’ve seen him on comedy central. although he could just be a commercial, which are also on comedy central and not funny.

  2. JoJo permalink
    May 6, 2010 10:11 am

    also, patton oswalt deserves better. his ted nugent bit- he rocks so hard he can change the physical properties of things- is classic.

  3. JoJo permalink
    May 6, 2010 10:47 am

    fancy baseball stats these days often include scales relative to a league-average player. so, for example, WAR is ‘wins above replacement’: how many more wins than a random AAA call-up or waiver-wire player does a given player generate?

    some players actually have negative WARs, though. your comedy scale seems analogous. ‘every no-name comedian’ is your replacement player, the anonymous average minor league hack. some famous comedians with big league playing time are hanging around on reputation alone, presumably, and so despite being worse than a nobody, are still taking up a roster spot and wasting our time.

    • Barry permalink*
      May 6, 2010 10:52 am

      Right, but objectivity is the problem. Take Robin Williams. Please.

      Wakka wakka.

      I suspect that most people disagree with me about his placement on the list. We need some objective criteria. Of course, if they disagree with my feelings, they’re wrong. So let’s work on that.

  4. JoJo permalink
    May 6, 2010 11:17 am

    the etymology of objective is ‘to throw against’, i.e. to bounce off of. so, if you throw a tomato against a comedian, and it bounces off him, he’s objectively bad.

  5. Maria permalink
    May 6, 2010 12:10 pm

    Robin Williams deserves better, and Sarah Silverman should be moved down a few notches – TUNITDANANATCH.

  6. KG2 permalink
    May 6, 2010 12:15 pm

    Margaret Cho definitely belongs at the very bottom. Years ago, two gay friends dragged me to one of her shows. It was one of the worst experiences of my young-love-of-standup-comedy life. They, however, loved every single second of it. Particularly the jokes that simply mentioned George Bush and the gays in the same sentence. I thought they were going to implode from all the laughter as I sat there glaring at them in utter disbelief.

    Also, I think you left some off the list…maybe you don’t like his delivery either, but I grew up listening to Bill Cosby’s “Himself” on long car rides with my father, and I will always love his standup. Although, I haven’t heard it in years. Also a fan of Jim Gaffigan…Beyond the Pale is pretty good! And Hedberg always made me laugh! Love your list though!

    • JoJo permalink
      May 6, 2010 1:06 pm

      margaret cho exemplifies the subjectivity of comedy, and so rightly deserves last place on this list.

      that is, the only people that like her, as far as i – and KG2- can tell, are those who identify with her (as gay(ish), asian, liberal, whatever.) without that subjective connection, there is little objective appeal to the humor.

      she wins the “groundskeeper willie ‘have you ever noticed that golfers from the north of edinburgh golf like this'” award.

      • Barry permalink*
        May 6, 2010 1:12 pm

        I love gays, asians, and liberals. She just sucks at being funny. I would gladly use a tomato to develop an objective test all over her face.

  7. JoJo permalink
    May 6, 2010 1:16 pm

    necessary but not sufficient, BarBar.

    identifying with her as asian, etc. seems necessary for liking her, although (and putting aside whether having an affinity for a group is the same as identifying with that group) probably not sufficient, what with her not being funny and all.

    • Barry permalink*
      May 6, 2010 1:18 pm

      We can all agree that logic is funnier than Cho.

  8. Aaron permalink
    May 6, 2010 2:02 pm

    I agree that Robin Williams deserves better. Likewise Zach Galifianakis. And drop Maher below Colin Quinn… he’s far less funny and more self-righteous than Dennis Miller, which is saying quite a bit. Also, it’s important to me that Eddie Murphy circa 1984 & Don Rickles circa 1971 share the top spot. Can that be arranged?

    • Barry permalink*
      May 6, 2010 2:22 pm

      Eddie Murphy bitched about “faggots” far too much; it’s ugly. Especially because he’s gay. You’re right about Maher’s self-righteousness; he could drop a few spots, but certainly not below Colin “I am not funny. At all.” Quinn.

    • Barry permalink*
      May 6, 2010 2:24 pm

      Good call on Rickles, though.

      HOLY SHIT! I forgot Gilbert Gottfried. Say what you will about his annoying persona – when he appeared at the Hefner roast and claimed that Ice T stole his “I’ma fuck all you white bitches” line, he KILLED. Then the 9/11 joke (I couldn’t find a plane that didn’t stop over at the Empire State Building) followed by his Aristocrats. What a set! Legendary.

      • JoJo permalink
        May 6, 2010 2:38 pm

        gottfried’s ‘dirty jokes’ is available for instant viewing on netflix. it is just what it sounds like. great stuff.

      • Barry permalink*
        May 6, 2010 2:40 pm

        I have the CD. I think it’s very funny that there’s a joke with the punchline “fill up her cunt with shit”.

  9. Barry permalink*
    May 6, 2010 7:14 pm

    Oh! David Cross! His standup album is really good!

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