Comedy, like all forms of art, is completely subjective. Sure, the same could be said of music, movies etc. But few other art forms can engage, delight and offend like stand up comedy. And it's why we love it.
So we've put together a list, in no particular order, of our ten favourite comics working today. But we don't expect everyone's tastes to be the same; so if you disagree with our top ten just know that A) you can feel free to comment underneath with your favourites that didn't make the list, and B) we don't care.
We're joking. And there's a reason we're not comedians. LOL etc.
Amy Schumer might now be a household name, but the New Yorker, like a lot of the greats, spent long periods of time just going from gig to gig and only becoming recognisable to the wider public from stuff like Comedy Central Roasts. But she's now evolved into one of the funniest people on the planet and her opening monologue on this week's Saturday Night Live just further illustrated that. Schumer is not just a gifted writer (as is often the case with comedians) but also an excellent actress. If you haven't seen Trainwreck yet, do so asap. Something tells us she'll be around for a while.
Ask most comedians who they think the best of all time is and generally speaking you'll get a variation of 3 or maybe 4. Pryor, Carlin maybe Bill Hicks. But one that crops up again and again as a man who knows the craft and has a comedic skill set like no other is Jerry Seinfeld. The fact that he has all that sitcom syndication money yet decides to tour constantly and do a (rather brilliant) web show with other comics is a testament to how much he loves what he does. The personification of slick delivery from deft observations.
While he listed Eddie Murphy as a huge inspiration early on (and Murphy was superb when he did stand up), Rock arguably surpassed his hero when it came to cracking wise in front of an audience. He had an insane level of fame early on and continued to sell out huge areas no matter where he went; and there was a reason for it. Rock, while ostensibly shouting his punchlines, is an actually inherently smart comic whose comedy has a constant social underlining. The gun control/bullet control bit remains shockingly relevant and utterly hilarious to this day.
Pound for pound, Bill Burr might actually be the funniest man on the planet right now. A grafter who has been working the club scene for a couple of decades, he has a twice weekly podcast (The Monday Morning Podcast) that has built up an incredibly loyal following over the years. So much so that Burr's popularly has expanded exponentially as he goes from touring nationally and internationally in theatres, to touring pretty much every corner of the world and headlining Madison Square Garden - the holy grail for any comedian. An engaging, self effacing storyteller Burr isn't afraid to push boundaries and we love him for it.
Widely regarded for a long time as a 'comedian's comedian' CK really hit his stride when his material became more personal. Talking about his family on stage took him to relatable, dark depths that turned out to also be utterly hilarious. Known for writing a new hour of material every year, he's never less than brilliant and occasionally outright genius. We had needlessly been worried that such popularity may cause him to blunt his edges somewhat (also, he's rich and shit now), then he went on the season closer of the historic 40th season of Saturday Night Live and delivered almost 10 minutes of the most incredibly irreverent comedy you'll likely ever see on network television.
The 41st Best Stand Up Ever was always going to be on our list. He played Vicar Street in May, and a twenty minute lecture to an audience member using their phone was the definition of a comedian at the top of their game. He often borders on the line of performance art, and is seen as pretentious to many, but if a 24-minute bit on pear cider is wrong, we don't want to be right.
Not for the light-hearted comedy fan, Stanhope gets dark, very dark. It's not shock humour, nor is it needlessly offensive, it's no-puches-pulled satire from the nihilistic stand point of modern life. But if your the type of person who gets offended on the behalf of others, stay away, well away. He's playing Vicar Street in two weeks, have a look at this and decide if you need tickets. Extremely NSFW.
We weren't going to just put an Irish comic in the list for no reason, they had to deserve it, and as far as we're concerned Tiernan is one of the best long-form comics working today. Crooked Man, available on Netflix, was as manic as we've come to expect, but as honest and thought-provoking as you can hope for from a man telling jokes on a stage . If we had to send one comic from this country to conquer America, it'd be Tiernan.
A contemporary of a few on this list, Silverman came up with C.K. and Rock, and has managed to forge a hugely impressive career for herself. Having started in the early 90's, she's helped pave the way for the rise in female comics we see today with controversial bits on sexism, racism, and a lot worse/even more hilarious that we won't mention here. Not all good comics push the boundaries, but the great ones do. Here's a clip from one of her 'tamer' sets, it's one of her first filmed performances, and it made a cameo in an episode of Louie a few years back.
It's easy to forget that Rogan is one of America's biggest comedians, seeing as he's arguably better known for his UFC and podcasting exploits. His last special was easily his best to date, and judging by the reports coming from the Comedy Store, his next might even top it. Plus, he's helped launch the careers of comics likes Ari Shaffir, Joey Diaz, Duncan Trussell, and Tom Segura, so we've a lot to be thankful for. Now, look at him tear apart Game of Thrones readers like we've all been wishing we could for years, then get back to the podcast.