Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Let me stand next to your fire

Oh, you know he'd laugh.

R.I.P. Richard Pryor.

In my book, Pryor stands with Cosby and Newhart as the great geniuses of American standup. (Carlin is a close fourth and everybody else is sucking wind.) His word association skit with Chevy Chase has to be one of the top 5 moments in Saturday Night Live history.

Thanks, Richard.


Blogger tommyspoon said...

What about Lenny Bruce? (Well, he was probably more of a "social critic" than a stand-up artist.)

I think you'd like Bill Hicks. He's an interesting combo of Pryor, Bruce,
Carlin and Daingerfield. Very smart, and very very funny. Died WAY too young (34 from cancer!).

8:47 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger John B. said...

Yes, you have the big 3 or 4 pegged...Carlin belongs in that group too. As much as I like Dangerfield's standup, he isn't in the same class with the rest.

All of the others are immitators in one way or another of Cosby, Newhart, Carlin or Pryor.

9:19 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger GrigorPDX said...

Oh my. Thanks for the laugh. I hadn't thought of that SNL skit for years.

Bang on on the top four. No contest. I can't say I agree with Mr. Spoon - neither Dangerfield and Bruce are quite in the class. I think you're right about Bruce being more of a "social critic" though. Dangerfield was a bit too much of a one-note. He was funny, but he didn't have the range of the others.

12:19 PM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Joe said...

For my money, while Bruce blazed the trail for Pryor (and Carlin), he doesn't break my top 5 in terms of demonstrated genius. (I'm guessing the 5 spot goes to somebody who did "news" comedy, like Mort Sahl or Steve Allen.) Whether that's an issue of innate talent or existing in an environment which was ready for him is an open question.

I have loved the bits of Bill Hicks I've heard. A great loss to comedy.

12:42 PM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger TeacherRefPoet said...

Although they're considered movie stars, Woody Allen and Robin Williams deserve consideration for the list. Especially Woody.

9:53 PM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Joe said...

Yes, Williams is either top 5 or close.

Truth be told, I don't think I've ever seen Woody Allen do standup. His movies, however, don't land him on my genius list. Sleeper was funny, Bananas was funny. Everything else was overrated.

(Well, except Purple Rose of Cairo... which was very good, but not funny.)

Yay! Difference of opinion!

8:24 AM, December 15, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, these discussions of "the greatest" . . . whether you're debating altheltes, films, leaders, whatever . . . always seem to descend into a discussion of the true pioneers vs. the all time greats. And the fact is, the two are often not the same.

For this specific discussion, you also have the fine line between the great stand-up commedians and all time funny men. Again, the two are not always the same.

My personal feeling is that Cosby is the greatest. Period.

But any discussion of modern comedy greats must include the two all-time trailblazers. Whether or not their comedy and style holds up today, Milton Berle and Jerry Lewis launched modern stand-up as we know it. In fact, in watching some of Pryor's earliest TV routines on the never-ending loup of A&E Biographies this week, Lewis' stamp is undeniable. No Jerry Lewis, I believe, would have meant no Pryor, no Robin Williams, no Jim Carey . . . heck, I'll throw in John Ritter.

Then again, no cocaine might have meant all the same things.

Now, in the interests of being completely contrarian . . . Carlin = one of the greats, but infintely overrated.

I'll gladly take Nipsey over Carlin any way. The smartest, most creative, underappreciated comic I can think of.


7:40 PM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger TeacherRefPoet said...

Now I have to locate some Woody Allen standup recordings. Maybe my parents have some? Or maybe I can treat myself to a Christmas present somewhere? Or treat you?

1:13 AM, December 16, 2005  

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