Listening to comedy lately I have been thinking about what makes comedy funny, and how they influence lives. I am going to give the top 5 favorite comedians and why I think they deserve that title.
- Richard Pryor – As a white person mostly growing up in a white community, it opened my eyes when I listened to him. Besides being funny, he talked about important social issues and helped people to see dishonest behavior. His difficult life helped him and others see that society had to change how it treats people who are not the mainstream. I hope that others grew as much as I did to respect the difficult life minorities have.
- George Carlin – He had many wise things to say, mixed in with some absolute garbage. No one has the corner on the truth, but he said many things that I still agree with. Society’s problems are a class struggle as President Obama said in his words “No greater challenge in these times than income inequality.” I have had articles that have shared scientific proof of the danger of income inequality on this blog. One day I hope that we treat people with respect than just as a tool to make someone rich.
- Bo Burnham – He speaks about the social issues of the times. He is creative and revolutionary with experimental comedy. It is remarkable how someone so young has wisdom beyond his years. With time and if he chooses to continue comedy he will have insights equally or more profound than Carlin/Pryor. Interestingly his strongest skill of misdirection he conflictedly uses. You get the sense that at some level he is misdirecting himself with his comedy. My perception is that he wants to go further in his statements, but doesn’t want to scare the audience too much. For example, when he did a joke in Make Happy he said the audience was pulling back a bit. I think he is acutely aware of how far his audience will go and wants to remain relevant but still wants to bring his insight into the mainstream. A difficult road for sure.
- Adam Wade – Instead of talking about the larger social issues indirectly, he speaks to the human condition directly. He shares his own painful and very funny experiences and shows the insanity of it. I rarely laugh listening to comedians because 99% are predictable and boring, but I laughed so hard at one of his bits I was crying. Like Bo above, he is a master of misdirection. You don’t see what is coming, because he didn’t see what was coming. Honestly, no one could see it, because people are bizarre at times. You aren’t challenged by your own values until you stop listening and then consider his actions. How would you have handled it? Would you have been as kind? Most famous comedians tend to be unkind to people who love them. My sense is that Adam is kind to everyone and that is a great message that comes across in a non-preachy way.
- Gabriel Iglesias – Wow is this guy silly? He uses lots of funny voices and silly situations and is fun. He doesn’t have any important messages but is still fun to watch.