Here’s a debate — what are the top five funniest stand up comedy specials of all time? Well, we’ve done our best to narrow it down.
Since humor is a subjective experience, not everyone will find the same things amusing. On the other hand, it is generally acknowledged that most of the joke tellers on our list are pretty comical in their own right.
Some of the funniest comedians ever include Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Steve Martin, and Eddie Murphy. Without them, Hollywood’s biggest stars wouldn’t be around today, nor would stand-up comedy be what it is today.
That’s particularly true when you take into account how many of the top TV and film stars — including Kevin Hart, Robin Williams, Bill Cosby, Jamie Foxx, Steve Harvey, Chris Tucker, and Bernie Mac — are stand-up comedians.
In contrast to other lists, ours will instead focus on the 5 funniest stand up specials that have ever been produced. View our selections and justifications below, then sound off in the comments whether you agree!
5. Chris Rock: Bring the Pain
Bring the Pain, Chris Rock’s second HBO special, was the result of a laborious two-year tour where he meticulously honed both his content and performance until they were perfect—and they were. Rock’s career was given fresh life after Bring the Pain, which went on to lock down two Emmy Awards and put him on the Mount Rushmore of 1990s funnymen thanks to its emotional gags and timeless cultural allusions. Chris Rock at his very best.
4. Martin Lawrence: You So Crazy
Martin’s beginnings may be observed in his debut television special, You So Crazy, even though he is most known for his movies and television series. It contained impressions that served as the basis for characters such as Mama Payne, Sheneneh, and others. The content has also aged well, since many of the interpersonal connections between women and men and the significance of race in contemporary society are still poignantly relevant.
3. Kevin Hart: Seriously Funny
Although Kevin Hart achieved a lot after this special, including setting a record by selling 50,000 tickets at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, Seriously Funny shows the gagster at the height of his comedic prowess. The great majority of Kevin Hart’s jokes, like “It’s about to go down,” “Say it with your chest,” and others, went on to become memes in pop culture.
2. Dave Chappelle: Killin’ Them Softly
Three years prior to the Chappelle’s Show, Dave Chappelle’s first hour-long HBO special in 2000 introduced viewers to the man who would dominate the decade with his absurd insights and moving dialogues. And some of his jokes from this episode are just as frequently cited as the show’s most well-known skits. Dave Chappelle would be at his silliest in Killin’ Them Softly, showcasing his ability to make references and his observations on politics and race relations while staying open-minded and a champion of the underdog and expressing what viewers felt at the time.
1. Eddie Murphy: Delirious
Even though Eddie Murphy only performed standup for a short period before diving into acting full-time, he remains one of the finest comedians ever. In Delirious, Murphy is only 22 years old, but he already dominates the stage with the assurance of an accomplished performer. Delirious is intriguing because of the novice’s skill set. Not all of the content has held up well over time; in example, several passages are so LGBTQIA+ unfriendly that they are uncomfortable to view (for which the comic issued an apology in 1996). Murphy makes sharp, precise gags about Stevie Wonder, ghosts, families, and—perhaps most ironically—ice cream trucks. Delirious is hands down the funniest stand up special ever.
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