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The Mount Rushmore Of Stand-Up Comedy


Devon Malcolm

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I was just watching this:-

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFSsdSpLCkI

 

Near the start, Jerry Seinfeld states that Don Rickles is on the Mount Rushmore of stand-up comedy with Richard Prior, George Carlin and Bill Cosby. I find it hard to disagree with that. But do you? I might try and find a place for Lenny Bruce but I'm not sure who you would shift.

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Rickles back in the day was a true force of nature. He could be calling you all sorts and you'd be laughing hard about it; the only bloke that got away with taking the piss out of Sinatra without having a visit later in the evening. He's obviously slowed down a lot in the past ten years, but for decades before that nobody was as quick as Rickles with a comeback. I suggest watching him on the Tonight Show or Late Show - also check out the Dean Martin Roasts, brutal.

 

Eddie Murphy in his prime is in with a shout too, seeing how influential he was in his prime.

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Hicks has to be a huge contender, doesn't he? I absolutely love him. There's a lot of his earliest shows on YouTube now and he was really good when he was younger and mosy of his comedy was less serious. In that regard, his career arc was a lot like Carlin's - started silly and then got serious.

 

Not sure who I would shift for him though! The problem with Rickles is there are not that many full shows around from him but they are well worth seeing. His timing is amazing.

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I think Hicks is overrated. I like him & he's important but for me there are far more consistently funny acts.

 

Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Woody Allen & Lenny Bruce would be my picks.

 

Bruce's stuff hasn't aged well at all but you can't deny his legacy. Woody Allen only seems to get mentioned in lists by other comic as opposed to the public. His self deprecating approach was almost unheard of at the time & he was a million miles from the archetype of a comic at the time. His writing was incredible though & most of his early stuff still stands up now.

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I think Hicks is overrated. I like him & he's important but for me there are far more consistently funny acts.

 

I've never seen a show from Hicks that I didn't laugh my arse off at. Actually, now that I say that, I could say the same of Doug Stanhope. If he does a couple more DVDs / specials as good as those he's done so far then he would be a contender.

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I agree that Hicks is overrated. Not that he wasn't brilliant, but his legend has outgrown the body of work we actually have to judge him on, at least for me. I'd have Carlin, Prior, Lenny Bruce, and then I struggle with the 4th one. I absolutely love Stewart Lee and Stanhope, but I feel remiss putting them up on the same platform as the other three.

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Again, I think Stanhope's peaked. His last special (Beer Hall Putsch) was pretty good but for me he'll never top 'Die Laughing' & that's over 10 years old now. If we're talking modern(ish) American acts then Louis CK, Chris Rock & Jerry Seinfeld are up there. Louis CK is super consistent & writes pretty much a new hour every year. He's in the top 5 sets I've seen live, absolutely incredible stuff.

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I really enjoyed Beer Hall Putsch but I agree it wasn't his best. That said, it was good to see him more positive about his stand-up.

 

I like Louis CK but he's never done a show that I thought was absolutely great, but he certainly has a consistency, if you REALLY like him, that would have you think that of him.

 

I don't want to do a British Mount Rushmore because I can't count Dave Allen and he belongs on one somewhere.

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I really enjoyed Beer Hall Putsch but I agree it wasn't his best. That said, it was good to see him more positive about his stand-up.

 

100%. This is exactly what I thought after I saw it. For a while he seemed to be doing what he thought audiences wanted as opposed to what he wanted to do & it showed. He seemed rejuvenated & with more of a sense of purpose.

 

I like Louis CK but he's never done a show that I thought was absolutely great, but he certainly has a consistency, if you REALLY like him, that would have you think that of him

 

I'd like to think I could be objective. There's comics I love but will readily admit if their output has dipped or if it seems their motivation has waned. A British one would be really difficult IMO. Connolly & Allen would be in mine but the other two would be a nightmare to pick. Bob Monkhouse might be in there & I'm not sure if you can count Spike Milligan as a stand up? Likely more a comedic performer.

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You can't have Allen, he was from Dublin! That's the problem! Unless you did a UK & Ireland one in which case he would have to be on it. He was the first stand-up comedian that I really loved. There's loads of his stuff on YouTube as well, which is brilliant. If I did a UK & Ireland one I would go Allen, Connolly, Lee and Sadowitz.

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Carlin has to be up there, Pryor was outstanding, Dangerfield and Woody are both great shouts and Louis CK has the best shout of the modern day comedians I think. Tough call but would probably go Carlin, Pryor, Dangerfield and Louis Ck, if only from looking it from a 'stand up' POV when my favourite Woody Allen stuff has come from films. Great topic.

 

*Edit* Fuck, how can you not have Rickles? Almost universally loved (I've never heard anyone say a bad word about him) and as mentioned had some great moments with my favourite entertainers in Sinatra and Deano. Sorry Louis, you're out...

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