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The oldest joke on record, a Sumerian proverb, was first told everyone the way back in 1900 B.C. Yes, it was a fart joke: “Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a adolescent woman did not fart in her husband’s lap.” Don’t feel snide if you don’t net it — something was definitely lost in time and translation (you acquire to imagine it was the Mesopotamian equivalent of “Women exist shopping”), but not before the joke helped pave the way for almost 4,000 years of toilet humor. It’s just a shame we’ll never know the designation of the Sumerian genius to whom they owe Blazing Saddles. But with the tower of comedy as a commercial craft configuration in the 20th century, and with advances in modern bookkeeping, it’s now much easier to allocate credit for innovations in joke-telling, which is exactly what Vulture set out to finish with this list of the 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy.
A few notes on their methodology: We’ve defined “joke” pretty broadly here. Yes, a joke can exist a one-liner built from a setup and a punch line, but it can also exist an act of physical comedy. Pretending to stick a needle in your eye, or pooping in the street while wearing a wedding dress: both jokes. A joke, as defined by this list, is a discrete moment of comedy, whether from stand-up, a sketch, an album, a movie, or a TV show.
For clarity’s sake, we’ve established certain ground rules for inclusion. First, they decided early on that these jokes needed to exist performed and recorded at some point. Second, with apologies to Monty Python, whose influence on concomitant comedy is tremendous and undeniable, they focused only on American humor. Third, they only included one joke per comedian. And fourth, the list doesn’t comprise comedy that they ultimately felt was bad, harmful, or retrograde.
The list was achieve together by Vulture senior editor Jesse David Fox; New York senior editor Christopher Bonanos; comedians Wayne Federman, Phoebe Robinson, Halle Kiefer, and Rebecca O’Neal; comedy historians Yael Kohen (author of We Killed) and Kliph Nesteroff (author of The Comedians); and journalists Elise Czajkowski, Matthew Love, Katla McGlynn, Ramsey Ess, Dan Reilly, Jenny Jaffe, Lucas Kavner, and The Guardian’s Dave Schilling. (Fox, Bonanos, Keifer, O’Neal, Czajkowski, Love, McGlynn, Ess, Reilly, Jaffe, Kavner, and Schilling wrote the blurbs.)
Without further ado, here are the 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy. They are listed below in chronological order, complete with video or audio. exercise the timeline slider to jump to different eras or specific comedians.
1906 Bert Williams, Alex Rogers, “Nobody”
1913 George L. Thompson, Monroe Silver, Joe Hayman, “Cohen on the Telephone”
1925 Charlie Chaplin, The Gold Rush
1927 Buster Keaton, The General
1929 Burns and Allen, “Lambchops”
1931 Will Rogers, “Bacon, Beans and Limousines”
1932 Laurel and Hardy, Hal Roach, James Parrott, H. M. Walker, The Music Box
1933 The Marx Brothers, Leo McCarey, Duck Soup Mae West, I’m No Angel
1934 Claudette Colbert, Clark Gable, outspoken Capra, Robert Riskin, It Happened One Night
1936 Fred Allen, Jack Benny, The Feud
c. 1937 Henny Youngman, ‘Take My Wife … Please.’
1938 Abbott & Costello, Who’s on First
1941 W.C. Fields, Edward F. Cline, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break
1948 Jack Benny, The Jack Benny Program Milton Berle, Texaco Star Theatre
c. 1950 Jean Carroll on Her Husband’s Pride Lucille Ball, Vivian Vance, I devotion Lucy
1952 Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Your point to of Shows
1953 Mort Sahl, Joe McCarthy Jacket
c. 1956 Redd Foxx, Laff of the Party
1957 Chuck Jones, Michael Maltese, Mel Blanc, Arthur Q. Bryan, Looney Tunes
1959 Billy Wilder, Joe E. Brown, Jack Lemmon, Some devotion It sizzling Nichols and May, Improvisations to Music
1960 Bob Newhart, The Button-Down intelligence of Bob Newhart
1961 Dick Gregory, In alive Black & White Lenny Bruce, American
1962 Vaughn Meader, The First Family
c. 1963 Steve Allen, The Steve Allen Show
1964 Stanley Kubrick, Peter Sellers, Dr. Strangelove or: How I scholarly to desist Worrying and devotion the Bomb Jonathan Winters, The Tonight Show
c. 1964 Moms Mabley, The Hip Cucko
1965 Tom Lehrer, The Vatican Rag Johnny Carson, Ed Ames, The Tonight Show
1967 Don Rickles, The Dean Martin Show
1968 Bob Hope, the Academy Awards Mel Brooks, The Producers
1969 Phyllis Diller, The Ed Sullivan Show
1970 Mary Tyler Moore, Ed Asner, James L. Brooks, Allan Burns, The Mary Tyler Moore Show
1971 Lily Tomlin, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In Cheech and Chong, Cheech & Chong David Brenner, The Tonight Show
c. 1972 Rodney Dangerfield, ‘I net No Respect.’
1972 Norman Lear, Carroll O'Connor, Sammy Davis Jr., Bill Dana, everyone in the Family
1973 Albert Brooks, Comedy Minus One
1975 Paul Mooney, Chevy Chase, Richard Pryor, Saturday Night Live
1976 Michael O’Donoghue, Saturday Night Live Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence, The Carol Burnett point to Elayne Boosler on male Sexual Hypocrisy
1977 Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman, Annie Hall George Carlin, George Carlin at USC Steve Martin, Let's net Small
1979 Richard Pryor, Richard Pryor: Live in Concert
1980 Leslie Nielsen, Robert Hays, Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Airplane! Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Brian Doyle-Murray, Douglas Kenney, Caddyshack
1982 Robin Williams, An Evening With Robin Williams
1983 Bill Cosby, Himself Andy Kaufman, David Letterman, Late Night With David Letterman
1984 Christopher Guest, Rob Reiner, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, This Is Spinal Tap
1985 Steven Wright, I acquire a Pony Whoopi Goldberg, Direct From Broadway
1986 Joan Rivers, Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show
1988 Roseanne Barr, John Goodman, Roseanne Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, John Landis, Clint Smith, Coming to America
1989 Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal, Nora Ephron, Rob Reiner, Estelle Reiner, When Harry Met Sally...
1990 Paula Poundstone, Cats, Cops and Stuff Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, Sam Simon, Jay Kogen, Wallace Wolodarsky, Dan Castellaneta, The Simpsons
1992 Kim Wayans, In alive Color Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Larry David, Seinfeld Bernie Mac, Def Comedy Jam
1993 Jeff Foxworthy, You Might exist a Redneck If ... Bill Hicks, Revelations
1994 Jim Carrey,Tom Shadyac, Jack Bernstein, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Margaret Cho, HBO Comedy Half-Hour
1995 Janeane Garofalo, HBO Comedy Half-Hour Chris Tucker, Ice Cube, F. Gary Gray, DJ Pooh, Friday
1996 Chris Rock, Bring the Pain
1998 Garry Shandling, David Duchovny, The Larry Sanders point to David Cross, Bob Odenkirk, Jay Johnston, Jill Talley, Mr. point to With Bob and David Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Darren Star, Michael Patrick King, Sex and the City The Farrelly Brothers, Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller, There's Something About Mary
2001 Gilbert Gottfried, The Friars Club Roast of Hugh Hefner
2002 Dave Willis, Matt Maiellaro, Aqua Teen Hunger Force
2003 Dave Chappelle, Neal Brennan, Chappelle's point to Jon Stewart, The Daily Show
2004 Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
2005 Steve Carell, Judd Apatow, Miki Mia, Seth Rogen, Romany Malco, and Paul Rudd, The 40-Year-Old Virgin Sarah Silverman, Jesus Is Magic Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Chris Parnell, Saturday Night Live
2006 Stephen Colbert, White House Correspondents’ Dinner
2007 Louis C.K., Shameless
2010 Marc Maron, Robin Williams, “WTF”
2011 Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Jessica St. Clair, Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Annie Mumolo, Paul Feig, Judd Apatow, Bridesmaids
2012 Lena Dunham, Girls Tig Notaro, Live
2013 Maria Bamford, exact Me About My current God! Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, the 70th Golden Globe Awards
2014 Hannibal Buress on Bill Cosby
2015 Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake, The Tonight point to Amy Schumer, Jessi Klein, Daniel Powell, Ryan McFaul, Inside Amy Schumer
NobodyBertWilliams, Alex Rogers“I ain’t never done nothin’ to nobody /I ain’t never got nothin’ from nobody, no time /And until I net somethin’ from somebody, sometime /I’ll never finish nothin’
for nobody, no time”Bert Williams was the most well-liked black comedic performer in America at the eddy of the 20th century. But his personage grew tremendously when he achieve the songs from his stage show Abyssinia to disc and cylinder. That record included the piece he was best known for, “Nobody.” It’s an upbeat tune whose buoyant arrangement runs perpendicular to its melancholy message of isolation and disappointment, a device that’s since become ubiquitous. The view at the seat of “Nobody” — laughing at the self-deprecation of an ill-fated schlemiel — was what fueled its tremendous success. And having a black man as the song’s tragic protagonist added to its novelty and ultimate comedic longevity, spawning a comic genre where vulnerability and ennui weren’t taboo, but welcome subjects. Released at a time when cylinder recordings were at their apex, Williams became widely known for the song, and he was forced to sing it at essentially every appearance he made, for the rest of his life.
Cohen on the TelephoneGeorge L. Thompson, Monroe Silver, Joe Hayman“Are you dere? terminal night de vind came unt blew down de shutter outside mine house, and I vant you to ship a car-pen-ter — a carp. Oh, never mind, I'll acquire it fixed myself.”
Though it began as a stage routine, “Cohen on the Telephone” is noteworthy for embracing two emerging technologies: the telephone and the phonograph. Developed in England by Joe Hayman, the definitive Jewish vaudeville monologue became bigger than any one comedian as it grew into a sensation stateside when American comedians devotion Barney Bernard, George L. Thompson, and most notably Monroe Silver took on the character of Cohen and recorded covers of the routine. Built on a classic misunderstanding-an-accent premise, it popularized the comedic device of hearing one half of a phone conversation. It was an undeniable influence on comedy legends Shelley Berman and Bob Newhart.
Dinner Roll DanceCharlie Chaplin, The Gold Rush
When The Gold Rush debuted in theaters, Charlie Chaplin was already the biggest star in pictures, but this film, which Variety called “the greatest and most elaborate comedy ever filmed,” cemented his situation in the industry. Legend has it that this sequence, in which Chaplin’s character dreams about entertaining Georgia, the dance-hall girl, with a yoke of forks and dinner rolls charmed audiences so much that in some cases they shut down the screening and made the projectionist respool the film so they could watch it again. This bit was something different for comedy at the time. It wasn’t just another cheap laugh; it showed that you could create a hilarious sequence that also propelled the plot forward. Because this scene was so joyful, it makes reality everyone the more depressing when the Tramp gets stood up for his dinner date. By being among the first on the silver screen to add a petite tragedy to his comedy, Chaplin raised the bar for the craft of jokes.
Buster Keaton and the TrainBuster Keaton, The General[As he sits on the front of a train, Johnnie Gray spots a railroad tie on the tracks in front of him; he grabs another railroad tie and, with perfect timing, clonks one into the other, causing one to flip out of the way and the other to plunge aside.]
Athletic is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot when talking about tightlipped films, but Keaton’s really deserve it: He was highly agile, performing everyone his physical stunts — many of them genuinely uncertain — without cuts, often in one take. The resultant films are accurate action comedies, precursors to The Blues Brothers or the movies of Jackie Chan. They are also, partly because of his filmmaking ambition and partly because he was successful enough to justify decent budgets, simply bigger and better-looking than most tightlipped films. Whereas Chaplin made intimate poetic miniatures that are admirable but can sometimes cloy, Keaton made broad, radiant murals that finish not require much adjustment of your mind-set. The General still works as a movie comedy, and it’s going on 90 years old.
LambchopsBurns and AllenBurns: finish you devotion to love?Allen: No.Burns: devotion to kiss?Allen: No.Burns: What finish you like?Allen: Lamb chops.Burns: Lamb chops. Could you devour two vast lamb chops alone?Allen: Alone? Oh, no, not alone. With potatoes I could.
Many early-20th-century vaudeville stars left the stage to serve power the burgeoning media of radio and TV, but few were bigger or brighter than George Burns and Gracie Allen. Their signature routine, “Lampchops,” carries with it the accurate vaudevillian spirit in that it joyfully delivers a petite bit of everything: Wit, wordplay, bits of physical business, and a diverting ditty about love, complete with soft shoe. In this eight-minute version recorded as a Vitaphone short, the savvy and dryly ironic Burns sidles up to the guileless Allen, who floats on her own cloud while defending her smarts and the understanding why she’s more than one woman (“My mother has a picture of me when I was 2”). In addition to encapsulating the duo’s deceptively facile chemistry, “Lambchops” makes abundantly lucid why the plucky Allen was a yardstick by which future “dizzy” dames — e.g. Chrissy from Three’s Company or Phoebe from Friends — would exist measured.
Bacon, Beans, and LimousinesWill Rogers“Well, because ’32 is an election year, see, and the Republicans always behold that everything looks well-behaved on election year, see? They give us three well-behaved years and one snide one — no, three snide ones and one well-behaved one.”
When Jon Stewart was hosting The Daily Show, there were many times when you could feel Stewart was truly bothered by the social injustice or the bonehead media pattern he was talking about, and even though Stewart was speaking from the heart, he could noiseless gain you laugh. That was what Will Rogers pioneered in the 1930s. With a down-home, backwoods charm, Rogers became a national pattern by discussing the government and his humorous, ratiocinative approach to what was wrong with it. In the midst of the stately Depression, Hoover introduced a plot designed to encourage local groups to serve with unemployment, and he asked Rogers to loom on the radio to serve promote this plan. What he got were these jokes. Every generation needs a Colbert to present the verisimilitude in an entertaining way, and Will Rogers was one of the first they had.
Laurel and Hardy vs. a PianoLaurel and Hardy, Hal Roach, James Parrott, H. M. Walker, The Music BoxOllie: That’s the house up there. birthright on top of the stoop.
Laurel and Hardy are hired to deliver a piano to a house in Los Angeles, and ascertain on their arrival that the door is at the top of a very steep, very narrow flight of steps. That’s it. The bare-bones premise allows it to become a absolute physical-comedy experiment: How many workable variations can they ring on “Piano goes partway up; piano goes back down”? It’s devotion a Bach fugue, with a theme and variations and then variations on the variations, although Bach’s keyboard ended up in better shape than this battered instrument does.
We’re Going to WarThe Marx Brothers, Leo McCarey, Duck Soup“They got guns /We got guns /All God’s chillun got guns”
There are a lot of different ways to express how you’re passion about the situation of the world. The Marx Brothers used insanity. In Duck Soup, Groucho is appointed the leader of the minuscule country of Freedonia, but when the neighboring country of Sylvania attempts to annex it, Freedonia goes to war. The final ten minutes of the movie start with the song “The Country’s Going to War,” in which the people of Freedonia excitedly sing about the coming conflict, but it slowly devolves into a minstrel point to in which the brothers sing “All God’s Chillun Got Guns.” The final battle is a rapid-fire bombard of jokes, similar to the Tommy gun Groucho uses to accidentally shoot his own soldiers. This section of Duck Soup appears briefly in Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters, when Allen’s character, in the midst of an existential crisis, has an epiphany that, rather than trying to understand everything about life, they should just bask in it. The Marx Brothers may not acquire been able to finish anything about the coming war, but they certainly gave us something to laugh about.
‘When I’m well-behaved I’m Very well-behaved … But When I’m Bad, I’m Better’Mae West, I'm No Angel
It’s almost a crime to pick just one of Mae West’s brilliant, bawdy quips, but it’s hard to stutter there’s a joke that more perfectly sums up West’s pithy, punchy power quite so well. A playwright who was once arrested for her risqué material, West wrote her best lines herself, including this one, from her hit film I’m No Angel, which provoked such shock and outrage with audiences that it helped contribute to the institution of the restrictive Hays Code in Hollywood. Before that, she was an early subject of FCC censorship. She was also an early advocate of LGBT rights and sexual freedom, and in the 1930s she reportedly bought the upscale apartment edifice she was alive in to coerce it to desegregate. At once a renegade, a box-office sensation, and an unlikely sex symbol, she reshaped the very rules of comedy. When she was well-behaved she was very good, but when she was bad, she was an absolute badass.
Lessons in HitchhikingClaudette Colbert, Clark Gable, outspoken Capra, Robert Riskin, It Happened One NightEllie: I’ll desist a car and I won’t exercise my thumb.Peter: What are you going to do?Ellie: A system everyone my own …
One of the earliest examples of the Depression-era screwball comedy, outspoken Capra’s charming road-trip film created an enduring template for escapist romantic fictions featuring temperamentally mismatched leads, with a handle of slapstick humor and motormouthed chaff worth reciting. Gable’s cocky newspaperman Peter Warne finds a chronicle and a devotion interest in Colbert’s Ellie Andrews, a headstrong heiress on the dash from the iron fist of her affluent father. The film’s signature bit is a visual gag in which Peter teaches Ellie how to hitchhike; after a half-dozen cars zoom by in rapid succession, Ellie steps up, hikes up her skirt to betray a petite leg, and the next driver immediately skids to a halt. The tactic betters Ellie’s chauvinistic counterpart, and firms up the model of the sassy, brassy woman whose sex appeal is a instrument subservient to the machinations of her clever mind. In the context of this modern Taming of the Shrew, the smart, sexy sensibility of this bit influenced a host of other lightly bawdy screwballs, and has been handed down to argumentative would-be paramours, from Moonlighting’s David and Maddie to Archer and Lana from Archer.
The FeudFred Allen, Jack BennyAllen: A certain alleged violinist should hold his head in shame.
This was the joke, which Fred Allen quipped in response to a child violinist who performed on his show, that was the start of the legendary “feud” between Allen and Jack Benny. Creating a fake rivalry to net attention was nothing current when the wry, clever Allen started taking shots at his longtime friend Benny on the air, but their commitment to the gag was. The two volleyed insults back-and-forth on their shows and made occasional appearances on each other’s programs, they ran a “Why I Can’t Stand Jack Benny” contest, and a three-round boxing match between Allen and Benny was advertised (though it would never reach to fruition). The pair kept the sideshow going for a decade. This blurring of the line between what is reality and what is comedy would befall again and again thereafter, with stately moments such as Andy Kaufman’s foray into wrestling, various comedians’ presidential runs, and, to some extent, the comedy of Sacha Baron Cohen. Allen never made the leap to television, which, sadly, leaves him in the shadows of that era’s comedic greats, but when it came to smart comedy that rewarded the audience for paying attention, nobody did it better than Fred Allen.
‘Take My Wife … Please.’Henny Youngman
It’s hard to stutter with authority exactly who invented the one-liner, but Borscht Belt comedian Henny Youngman (the man Walter Winchell called “the King of the One-Liners”) is arguably accountable for the most distinguished one ever. Just devotion how Groucho’s moustache, eyebrows, nose, and glasses became synonymous with “comedian,” “Take my wife … please” is the Platonic model of a joke. The format is one that is noiseless mimicked to this day: using a intimate phrase to draw people in, then taking a keen left turn. And though the joke is seen as shticky and hacky at this point, structurally it is deceptively elegant, as the setup is hiding inside what seems devotion a transition. Despite writing tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of jokes in his life, legend has it that Youngman’s most distinguished one was the result of an accident. When he first started working on the The Kate Smith Show, Youngman’s beloved wife, Sadie, brought a bunch of her friends backstage with her. Annoyed, Youngman brought his wife to the stagehand and said, “Take my wife, please.” The rest is history.
Who’s on FirstAbbott & CostelloAbbott: Who is on first.Costello: I’m asking you who’s on first.Abbott: That’s the man’s name.Costello: That’s who’s name?Abbott: Yes.
No lone sketch has imprinted itself on the American psyche in the terminal century more acutely than “Who’s on First.” This impeccably structured scene of baseball monikers and prickly pronouns was both the germ of Abbott and Costello’s incredible career and its crown jewel. The sketch itself endures for a number of reasons: Its simple premise delivering myriad laugh lines, the lucid schlemiel-schlimazel dynamic between performers, the leeway it provides for embellishment, and the rat-a-tat delivery gain it feel devotion a ramshackle Ford Model T gathering quicken as it barrels toward the edge of a cliff. As the collected and collected Abbott painstakingly explains his baseball team’s lineup — “Who’s on first, What’s on second, I-Don’t-Know’s on third” — Costello tumbles headlong into a misunderstanding made funnier by his infuriated and impotent yaps. Loving tributes to Abbott and Costello’s rhythms and antagonistic chaff can exist establish in countless buddy movies, as well as current projects by fans such as Quentin Tarantino and Jerry Seinfeld. The sketch’s history also tells us something about the American relationship with ownership of comedic material; while the act was drawn from similar vaudeville acts of the day, Abbott and Costello copyrighted “Who’s on First” in 1944.
W.C. Fields in LoveW.C. Fields, Edward F. Cline, Never Give a Sucker an Even BreakFields: I was in devotion with a pleasing blonde once, dear. She drove me to drink. That's the one thing I’m so indebted to her for.
The portly, hard-drinking comic spoke that line in his terminal starring role in a career marred by alcoholism. Off-screen problems aside, Fields establish a way to gain audiences laugh at and root for a character who hated children as much as he loved liquor and thumbing his red nose at societal norms. Generations later, we’d net Archie Bunker, Larry David, and dozens of other semi-lovable misanthropes, everyone indebted to Fields.
‘Your Money or Your Life …’Jack Benny, The Jack Benny ProgramCriminal: Your money or your life …Benny: [Pause.]Criminal: Look, bud. I said your money or your life.Benny: I’m thinking it over
This joke is reputed to acquire had the longest sustained laughs in radio history. Though that might exist an exaggeration, what it did finish was create the perfect joke to depict the medium’s biggest comedic star. Jack Benny had a lot of recurring jokes associated with his character: no matter how venerable he got, he always insisted he was 39; he was terrible at the violin; and he was very cheap. So when Benny’s character is walking home and is given the ultimatum “Your money or your life,” the studio audience is already dying when Jack takes a pause. When Benny finally says, “I’m thinking it over,” the audience explodes. It’s a joke that can only exist told by this character, when the audience is already anticipating how he’d react. This is the hard-to-write sort of joke that long-running succession like The Simpsons or recurring characters on Saturday Night Live need to constantly invent in order to surprise the audience. A joke that is perfect for the character, but is noiseless surprising to an audience — nobody nailed it devotion Benny.
Milton Berle in DragMilton Berle, Texaco Star Theatre“And now, ladies and gentlemen, introducing America’s No. 1 television star, your June bride, Mildred Berle ...”
It was 1948, a year into commercial-television broadcasting, and literally nobody had figured out what TV comedy would or could be. Berle had worked a million stages, starting in vaudeville, and had a clue: The ten-inch, black-and-white screen meant that almost nothing could overwhelm, and the broader the performance the better. Unsubtle shtick, ridiculous costumes, patter, a frantic, frenetic pace — it everyone turned out to exist birthright for the smudgy image on a ten-inch, black-and-white screen. Within a few years, TV grew slightly more sophisticated (and screens got bigger), and Berle’s career started to dash out of gas, but you can noiseless spot his comedic DNA in any club where a comic is capably humiliating a heckler in the back of the room.
Jean Carroll on Her Husband’s PrideJean Carroll“I’ll never forget the first time I saw him, standing up on a hill, his hair blowing in the pushover — and he too haughty to dash and net it.”
While there were other female comedy performers — in TV and movies, or as a fragment of double acts — Jean Carroll was the first to shatter through by standing alone onstage. Though called the “female Milton Berle” and the “female Bob Hope” (she had to exist compared to men, because there were no female comedians to compare her to), you watch her stand-up now and you behold a style uniquely her own. Her rapid-fire delivery that sneaks in punch lines as she blitzes her way through a monologue, devotion in the joke above, feels arrestingly contemporary, and might remind you of Amy Schumer or the way Jim Gaffigan delivers his punch lines in falsetto under his breath. She moved so quickly and was so ahead of her time, she literally tells the audience to ensnare up. Ed Sullivan got it, though, asking her to loom on the point to over 20 times. Watching those appearances was a adolescent Lily Tomlin, who dressed up devotion Carroll as a kid.
A Streetcar Named???Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Your point to of ShowsBlanche: Well, when I left the plantation, I went to current Orleans. And there I met a very wealthy gentleman who wants to marry me … [Stanley eats chicken as she continues to speak.]
Sid Caesar’s first TV point to was so successful that its sponsor couldn’t bow enough to meet audience exact and had to cancel the show. His second point to was so well-liked that it was cancelled so the network could shatter it into two different shows. Milton Berle figured out how to finish comedy on TV; Sid Caesar perfected it. Your point to of Shows was basically SNL before there was SNL: A guest host would perform sketches with Sid, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, and the rest of the players, and a song or two would exist performed. There had been parodies on television before YSoS, but this program was among the first to write parodies that capitalized on the specific strengths of its performers. Watch how in “A Streetcar Named” Sid, one of the greatest physical comedians who has ever lived, is given a number of physical jokes to perform, which don’t necessarily acquire anything to finish with the original film. Yet he is able to simmer down everyone of Marlon Brando’s legendary performance into 30 seconds of eating sloppily. Without Sid, there’s probably no Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Carol Burnett, Mad magazine, or SNL.
Chocolate Conveyor BeltLucille Ball, Vivian Vance, I devotion LucyLucy: Here she comes. [Lucy stuffs chocolates in her mouth, hat, and down her shirt. Puts hat on her head.]
As if being arguably the greatest American sitcom star of the 20th century weren’t an impressive enough achievement, Lucille Ball also broke huge barriers both on and off-screen. She was the first woman to run her own production company, the understanding CBS changed its intelligence about allowing multiethnic couples on television, and quite possibly the only reason Star Trek exists (no, seriously). Though I devotion Lucy may look almost obscenely wholesome now, at the time, chronicle lines devotion that of “Job Switching” — Lucy and Ethel net jobs while Ricky and Fred act as their housewives — were pretty envelope-pushing, not to mention the fact that it pioneered the three-camera, live audience setup, without which they wouldn’t have Cheers or Seinfeld or Friends or The vast Bang Theory. But what Lucille Ball (and Vivian Vance as Ethel) did in scenes devotion the forever-parodied chocolate-conveyer-belt scene was pave the way for generations of comedians to exist unabashedly funny, fearless, and no-holds-barred silly, everyone while writing their own rules.
Joe McCarthy JacketMort Sahl“Have you seen the Joe McCarthy jacket? It's devotion an Eisenhower jacket, only it's got an extra flap that fits over the mouth.”
In 1950s San Francisco, when audiences expected performers to grace the stage in jacket and tie, Mort Sahl shuffled into the spotlight in a disarming bright-red sweater and freshly pressed khakis, ever-present newspaper in hand. He was often mistaken for a student at the trendy hungry i club, and that unassuming appearance came in handy, as his biting topical humor was known to split the room. No topic was off-limits, no target was taboo, not even the communist witch hunts of McCarthy-era America. But Sahl made it palatable by speaking to his audiences in their own language, with unprecedented conversationalism and intellectualism. In the joke that helped him develop a cult following, for example, he invoked the then-popular Eisenhower jacket, in an accessible metaphor about oppressive government fear-mongering. Before The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, there was Mort Sahl, who besides being a tremendous influence on Woody Allen, was the progenitor of the challenging political comedy they know today.
Pickpockets vs. Peeping TomsRedd Foxx, Laff of the Party“What’s the inequity between a pickpocket and peeping tom? A pickpocket snatches watches.”
The incredibly prolific “King of the Party Records” was a revolutionary pattern in his day, trading in bawdy one-liners and long-winded yarns that transfixed black clubs on the Chitlin’ Circuit, as well as white crowds on the Vegas strip. Before he starred in Sanford and Son, Foxx establish his voice telling the sort of off-color jokes one might expect from a tipsy uncle letting loose after Thanksgiving dinner; audiences in early recordings of his multivolume Laff of the Party albums laugh with such unbridled enthusiasm, it’s facile to gain out the kindhearted of release he provided to otherwise polite ’50s audiences. The pickpocket joke is certainly just one of thousands Foxx had in his pocket, but it represents two things he loved most in a joke: wordplay and sex. Foxx’s taboo-busting outspoken talk earned him many admirers, though his most obvious descendants are cheerfully filthy storytellers such as Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy.
‘What’s Opera, Doc?’Chuck Jones, Michael Maltese, Mel Blanc, Arthur Q. Bryan, Looney TunesElmer Fudd [to the tune of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”]: “Kill the Wabbit”
There’s a understanding that, in 1994, 1,000 animation professionals named Chuck Jones’s masterpiece “What’s Opera, Doc?” the greatest cartoon of everyone time. It’s astounding how much chronicle and comedy they cover in such a short time. Parodying Richard Wagner’s operas (not to mention Disney’s Fantasia and arguably Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd’s total thing), it essentially tells everyone of “Ring Cycle” in less than seven minutes. Its density influenced, and will continue to influence, everyone cartoons that came after it.
What’s Opera Doc by MistyIsland1
‘Nobody’s Perfect.’Billy Wilder, Joe E. Brown, Jack Lemmon, Some devotion It HotJerry: I’m a man!Osgood: Well, nobody’s perfect.
Two jazz musicians accidentally witness a gang murder and creep on the run, disguised as women. The plot seems pretty innocuous today, but in the 1950s the Hays Code required films to exist “moral” and “wholesome,” so Some devotion it Hot, with it’s cross-dressing and hints at homosexuality had to exist made without the approval of the Motion Picture Production Code. Banned in Kansas and condemned by the Vatican, the film’s terminal line is just perfection, sharply capping off 120 minutes of subversive zaniness while at the identical time subtly hinting at the view that people should devotion whomever they want to love. The joke is hilarious yet oddly touching, subversive yet romantic, everyone while essentially summarizing the total movie; it’s no surprise that the film tops almost every list of best comedy films of everyone time.
Bach to BachNichols and May, Improvisations to MusicMay: Too many people deem of Adler as a man who made mice neurotic. He was more, much more.Nichols: Much more.May: Much more.Nichols: Much more ... Can you creep over a little? I’m falling off the bed.May: I'm sorry.Nichols: A stately deal more.
hough An Evening With Mike Nichols and Elaine May was the duo’s biggest censorious and commercial hit, it’s even easier to behold how revolutionary they were with their rawer debut, Improvisations to Music. There is just so much in this joke. There is the natural chaff and subtle heightening of improvised dialogue; the duo met earlier in the decade as members of the Compass Players, the seminal improv group that also included Alan Alda, Ed Asner, Shelley Berman, and Del Close, whose members, in the identical year as this record came out, founded the Second City. Beyond that, the joke is remarkable for how well it captured how mid-century, high-brow people talked. Nichols and May affectionately parodied beat trends and intellectual pretensions, in which pillow talk becomes a game of who-can-drop-the-impressively-most-obscure-literary-reference. (Their back-and-forth sounds devotion an Annie Hall outtake, and it came out 18 years prior.) After Nichols and May, and some of their peers, comedy would no longer exist primarily defined by a man in a tuxedo telling jokes in a nightclub. Still, what’s most enjoyable about the piece is hearing Nichols and May bask in each other: They were their own audience and above everyone they made each other laugh. It’s an influence you noiseless behold today, as comedy has become more insular, reliant on increasingly obscure references. The view of making comedy for yourself, your friends, and people who deem and undergo the world the way you finish was uncommon before Nichols and May, and fundamental to comedy after.
Driving InstructorBob Newhart, The Button-Down intelligence of Bob Newhart“Turn birthright here? [Pause.] Well, now that was my foible again. You behold I meant the next street. Not this man’s lawn.”
In the age of Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl, of social satire and the “subversive” comic, it was a wonder that a former accountant who looked devotion your dad’s best friend could achieve out best-selling comedy albums and become his own unique comedy institution. Bob Newhart always sounded devotion he was making up his act as he went along, which not only made him relatable, but exciting. In “The Driving Instructor,” his signature style is on display: a one-sided monologue in which you only hear the instructor’s befuddled responses, rather than the more unhinged student driver on the other side. Most of his bits followed this sort of “straight person, crazy person” structure, and this one is no exception. You also net a well-behaved sense of his expert timing; not many people could live inside a befuddled respite devotion Bob Newhart, and he went on to become one of the most-beloved comics of everyone time, influencing every understated comic who came after.
Dick Gregory on Segregated RestaurantsDick Gregory, In alive Black & White“I walked into a restaurant, which was the wrong restaurant, in Mississippi … I sit down, the blonde waitress walked over to me and I said, ‘I’d devotion two cheeseburgers.’ She said, ‘We don’t serve colored people here,’ and I said, ‘I don’t devour colored people nowhere!’”
There’s a head-scratcher at the seat of comic Dick Gregory’s career: Is he a comedian drawn to politics or the nation’s funniest politician? Early in his career, it was much more lucid which side of the fence he was on. After getting out of the military, Gregory told jokes in black and white rooms, got a leg up from admirer Hugh Hefner, and worked on TV appearances to stimulate thought and motivate action through comedy. Though his early shows had punchy one-liners about everything from space travel to drinking booze, his clear-eyed eye at black life in the segregated South will exist his legacy. This restaurant joke was one of the first to undercut segregation and discrimination in a public setting with bold intelligence and humility. Whether he had it in intelligence to deliver a spoonful of sugar to serve audiences grasp the medicine or simply channeled excited into laughs, it’s hard to say, but seminal jokes devotion the one above never betray a hint of bitterness. This concomitant of Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce, who noiseless performs occasionally at the age of 84, has touched thinkers irascible, e.g. Paul Mooney, and genial, e.g. Bill Maher.
How to Relax Your Colored Friends at PartiesLenny Bruce, American“Uh, did you acquire anything to devour yet? I don't know if there’s any watermelon left, fried chicken or dice or razors. We’ll behold if they can fix you up with something.”
The view of white guilt as a punch line feels devotion nothing current today, when publicly calling out people and organizations for racial microaggressions using the most up-to-date social-justice buzzwords is a viable path to online celebrity. But in 1961, when ally status wasn’t assumed or expected, Lenny Bruce’s “How to Relax Your Colored Friends at Parties” boldly indicted and lampooned his target audience, and said something essential and new. The speaker in this bit clearly has the best intentions, yet noiseless manages to converse almost exclusively in stereotypes or compliments steeped in unconfirmed generalizations. For example, in the above joke, he pokes fun not at the malicious racists, but the illiterate who mean well. It’s a line in the sand no one before Bruce had drawn. The joke also captures the fearlessness of Bruce’s comedy, unafraid to offend or paint himself as a villain for the sake of mocking injustice (see also: this bit). Though his comedy is of-a-time, this is ultimately why he continues to exist held in such towering regard. It’s not hard to behold his influence in George Carlin, Bill Hicks, and everyone political comedians of the terminal half-century.
The Kennedy ImpressionVaughn Meader, The First FamilyPresident Kennedy: I’ve got an essential conference in 15 minutes, so I must exist dressed in ten minutes, which means I shall acquire to ahead toward their bedroom with stately vig-ah.
It’s now a given that any sketch or late-night point to worth its salt will acquire someone who can impersonate the president, but there was a time when the exercise was unthinkable. Then came Vaughn Meader, with his dropped r’s and Harvard–New England accent. After honing his President Kennedy impress at nightclubs, Meader released The First Family, a record of JFK sketches. Despite its lighthearted tone, James Hagerty, President Eisenhower’s former press secretary and a top executive at ABC, called it “degrading to the president.” The American public didn’t agree, however, as the album was a sensation, becoming the fastest-selling record at the time. People nationwide were quoting the above joke. President Kennedy himself addressed the record, saying at a press conference, “Vaughn Meader was busy tonight, so I came myself.” Chevy Chase’s Gerald Ford, Dana Carvey’s George Bush, Jordan Peele’s Barack Obama: Comedy has a history of helping to shape public perception of a president — and it everyone started here.
The Human Tea BagSteve Allen, The Steve Allen Show[Wearing a suit festooned with teabags, Allen is slowly lowered into a vat of sizzling water, after which stagehands toss in lemon slices and sugar; the audience then comes up with teacups.]
There’s no way you net to David Letterman without Steve Allen, whose early TV career — including the first iteration of The Tonight Show, plus several other succession — was practically anarchic for network TV. He (and Ernie Kovacs, who’d exist everyone over this list had he not died adolescent in a car accident) just tried anything: camera tricks, man-on-the-street interviews true and mock, phone calls to random strangers that went off in uncanny directions. Letterman paid homage to Allen (and credited him) often and openly: His Alka-Seltzer suit explicitly mimics the teabag stunt, and he, too, drew on the endless comedy fountain that comes from watching street weirdos.
The War RoomStanley Kubrick, Peter Sellers, Dr. Strangelove or: How I scholarly to desist Worrying and devotion the BombPresident Merkin Muffley: Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!
The wheelchair-bound titular character gets the most laughs with his uncontrollable birthright arm and occasional outbursts that betray his loyalty to Adolf Hitler. But the best line of the film belongs to President Merkin Muffley, another of the three characters Sellers portrayed. The delivery is so forceful, so serious, that it takes a few seconds to realize how absurd the line is, as the world faces assured destruction. Civilization doesn’t horror nukes devotion it used to, but the sentiment of “Well, everything is fucked so they might as well laugh” makes this a timeless treasure and a peak of political satire.
The StickJonathan Winters, Jack Paar, The Jack Paar Program“Send in those vast cats! [Pause.] Uh, ship in the smaller ones.”
In the early days of TV, networks had leeway to experiment, play, and occasionally fail — and without this freedom, the country may never acquire scholarly about the warm and antic improvisational comic Jonathan Winters. After some early appearances on shows such as Omnibus, he establish a home on The Tonight Show during Jack Paar’s five-year stint as host. Occasionally, the audience would net a tang of his established characters, such as saucy venerable lady Maude Frickert; other times, Winters would exist handed a prop or two and then exist encouraged to let loose. One of Winters’s most distinguished appearances with Paar was on The Jack Paar Program, where he establish himself with a stick in his hand, stretching his rubber mug, and impulsively creating a succession of scenarios in rapid succession. As the comedian goes fishing, fights bulls, and reports to superior officers about seeing giant beetles, he often finds affluent characters as well as crisp punch lines. With the mental agility and physicality on parade here, it’s facile to understand why successive generations of comics, Robin Williams in particular, emulated Winters in every way they could.
The Hip CuckoMoms Mabley“They waited ten minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, half-hour, 45 minutes. Finally, the cucko, you know, oozed out. Had his dismal glasses on. Looked at him and said, ‘Man, what time is it?’”
At a time when most comedians of color were relegated to finding success only on the Chitlin’ Circuit, thanks to killer appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, mainstream audiences welcomed a “dirty venerable lady” stand-up named Moms Mabley into their homes with open arms. It’s unclear whether Mabley’s cuckoo-clock bit preceded her as a stock joke that she made her own or whether she originated the joke that would later exist covered by comedy greats such as George Kirby and Redd Foxx, but Moms was the one to achieve the joke on the map. Mabley’s unmistakable cadence and uniquely gravelly timbre took a piece of unquestionably hilarious writing on a theme (successfully hiding marijuana in a cuckoo clock during a police raid, after which time the cuckoo gets towering and forgets or neglects to coo for hours) that at the time would acquire been considered indelicate at best, and elevated it from just a solid joke to something that wouldn’t exist out of situation performed on the bluest comedy point to you could find.
The Vatican RagTom Lehrer“First you net down on your knees /Fiddle with your rosaries /Bow your head with stately respect /And genuflect, genuflect, genuflect …”
A Harvard mathematics professor starts writing amusing Cole Porter–inspired songs, self-releases an album, and before long is performing those songs every week on national television. “The Vatican Rag” is Lehrer’s satirical eye at the Second Vatican Council, which attempted to update the Catholic Church by getting rid of the hymns and bringing in some well-liked music. With jokes devotion the one above, Lehrer doesn’t just poke fun at a sacred cow, he slaughters it. “Weird Al” Yankovic cites Lehrer as one of his greatest musical influences, and it’s very facile to behold the connection.
The TomahawkJohnny Carson, Ed Ames, The Tonight Show[Ed Ames throws a tomahawk, trying not to hit the chalk outline of a cowboy. He hits the cowboy birthright between his legs.] Carson: I didn’t even know you were Jewish.
When people eye back on Johnny Carson’s career, a lot of the focus is on monologue jokes and the comedians he introduced to national audiences. The fact that Johnny was a natural performer who was quick on his feet is frequently forgotten. After Ed Ames, a co-star on TV’s Daniel Boone, ended up striking the chalk cowboy with a tomahawk, birthright between the legs, the audience exploded. Johnny waited for his moment, even going as far as to preclude Ames from retrieving the tomahawk before dropping an ad-lib that would live on in a million blooper specials for years to come. Johnny was quick on his feet, he was risqué without epigram anything dirty, and he knew how to spin a mistake into classic television.
Don Rickles on Pat BooneDon Rickles, The Dean Martin Show“Pat Boone, one of their stately stars, right? Has a daytime show. He’s marvelous, the way he comes out — ‘Hi, I’m Pat Boone!’ — what finish you want, a cookie? You’re making a fool of yourself and going nowhere, pal, and I’m a friend.”
While Don Rickles, a.k.a. “Mr. Warmth,” was making a designation for himself in mob-run Las Vegas casinos along with the likes of Shecky Greene, other comedians were getting tight fives together for The Ed Sullivan Show. Unlike those of his peers, Rickles’s act required time and space to explore, and most important, a high-profile audience to relentlessly mock. The Dean Martin Show provided a national television stage for his celebrity-insult act by putting him in his ingredient and re-creating a Vegas showroom, complete with stars of the day, such as Boone. Rickles is a model jester when mocking the powerful — even presidents — so the fact that Boone happened to exist drinking milk during his act was basically devotion a layup. The key to the joke might exist “and I’m a friend,” as Rickles’s shtick worked, devotion the best roasters since, because he insulted out of love. His fearlessly subversive act ended up making him a TV regular on The Tonight Show, a star of roasts, and an inspiration for future generations of insult comics. Simply put, Chris Rock wasn’t the first person to offer someone a cookie.
Bob Hope’s Oscar MonologueBob Hope, the Academy Awards“Welcome to the Academy Awards, or, as it’s known at my house, Passover.”
It’s hard to pick a lone joke of Bob Hope’s because he had a million of them. Well, maybe not a million, but he did acquire an 85,000-page “Joke File” which was scanned by the Library of Congress. Hope hosted the Oscars 19 times, and despite being one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, he was never even nominated for an Academy Award himself. Hosting the point to in 1968, he opened with one of his most distinguished jokes: “Welcome to the Academy Awards, or, as it’s known at my house, Passover.” With this one succinct joke, in his influential, unmistakable cadence, not only finish they net a funny, self-deprecating quip playing off his long career in point to business, but he also hints at how Hollywood views comedy. Sure, they everyone devotion to laugh, but is it art? Hope was America’s comedic embassador, and as fragment of his duties he inspired (and employed) countless comedians over the span of his very long career. But that didn’t weigh in he was going to net an Oscar nomination (He did net 5 Honorary Awards, though).
Springtime for HitlerMel Brooks, The Producers“Springtime for Hitler, and Germany /Deutschland is contented and gay /We're marching to a faster pace /Look out, here comes the master race”
Ah, irreverence! They grasp you for granted these days, as you are seemingly everywhere, but let’s not forget the pioneers. In The Producers, Mel Brooks set out to handle the untouchable: Holocaust jokes. To acquire the climax of your film exist an ironic song-and-dance number about the glory of Hitler and the Nazi Party was risky at the time, to stutter the least, and many studios and distributors wouldn’t handle it with a ten-foot pole. The film received wildly mixed reviews and it was an initial box-office flop. But apparently the world soon came to their senses, as Brooks nabbed an Oscar for his screenplay, while The Producers went on to become one of the most-beloved comedies of everyone time, eventually spurring a wildly successful Broadway musical of the identical name. Vulgar, satirical, and filled with ethnic jokes, Brooks’s early toil would creep on to inspire everyone from the Zucker Brothers to Trey Parker and Matt Stone, whose Book of Mormon wouldn’t acquire existed without The Producers as a precursor.
‘I Will Never Give Up. I'm in My 14th Year of a Ten-Day Beauty Plan.’Phyllis Diller, The Ed Sullivan Show
Nobody self-deprecated devotion Phyllis Diller, a accurate pioneer in the craft of making fun of oneself. She discovered that it helps a comic to not only acquire something “wrong” with themselves, but to also play it up, especially when introducing yourself. One of the first jokes a comedian writes is usually some configuration of “I know what you’re thinking,” followed by a self-administered pot shot to disarm the audience. For Diller, this manifested itself in wearing outlandish bag dresses and exaggerated hair and makeup, wanting the mob to only focus on her jokes. (Note: She had many TV appearances in the late ’50s and early ’60s, but as you can behold from her look, she was made for the late-’60s boom in color televisions.) For that, every comedian, male and female, owes something to Diller. Most immediately Joan Rivers, who honed her act by taking herself down a peg with one-liners about being an unmarried Jewish woman. Rivers wore cuter dresses, however.
Mary’s InterviewMary Tyler Moore, Ed Asner, James L. Brooks, Allan Burns, The Mary Tyler Moore ShowLou: You know what, you've got spunk!Mary: Well, yes …Lou: I abhor spunk.
These three words — “I abhor spunk” — uttered by Ed Asner as Mary’s soon-to-be boss, during the pilot’s job-interview scene, trenchantly captured exactly what it was devotion to exist a lone woman trying to enter the workforce in the early ’70s and the fundamental (proto–Leslie Knope vs. Ron Swanson) dynamic that would propel the point to through seven critically acclaimed seasons. And not only that, but it was being directed toward Mary Tyler Moore, an actress America fell in devotion with as Laura Petrie, the fictional wife of Dick Van Dyke. Incredibly poignant at the time, it also set a template for a charming yet clumsy female protagonist trying to acquire it everyone (see: Liz Lemon).
Ernestine Talks to Mr. VeedleLily Tomlin, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In“We are the phone company, Mr. Veedle. They are omnipotent. That’s potent with an omni in front of it.”
Tomlin’s Ernestine exploded after her appearances on Laugh-In. The phone operator was as vast as a fictional character gets, appearing on countless other late-night shows and in Tomlin’s own comedy projects, even interviewing Cher at one point (Cher!). Ernestine was insistent, with a mildly malign snorting laugh, and she pretended to exist your friend, which is what made her dangerous. This joke in particular hit the hardest, as the aforementioned “Mr. Veedle” was hypothetical to exist Gore Vidal. The total enterprise was subversive at the time, commenting on major telephone companies’ tendency to extort money and information from customers. Initially, Ma Bell tried to stop the bit from ever happening, though they later played nice and offered her a “community service award.” Tomlin is rarely given enough credit for her trailblazer status, crushing it as a “woman in comedy” and as a Generally Hilarious Human Person before SNL was even a thing. Her influence reached every sketch and character performer who came after her, from Gilda Radner to Mike Myers to Kristen Wiig.
DaveCheech and Chong, Cheech & Chong“It’s, it’s Dave, man, will you open up? I got the stuff with me.”“Who?”“Dave, man. Open up.”“Dave?”“Ya, Dave, c’mon, man, open up, I deem the cops saw me.”“Dave’s not here.”
A Mexican-American from L.A. dodges the draft and meets a half-white, half-Asian guy in Canada. They configuration a comedy duo. The source of their material? Marijuana. One sketch about a deal gone wrong due to a brain-dead smoker becomes a hit, leading to more hilarious albums about weed and music and race, then eventually a film franchise. It’s hard to convoke Cheech and Chong’s comedy “sophisticated,” but there is something singular about “Dave,” which is essentially a stoner “Who’s on First.” There’s a humanity in this short sketch, especially in Chong’s confused character. Stoner comedy is noiseless going stout today – if not more so today, as weed becomes more socially acceptable – and it can exist traced back to this three-word punch line. Big Lebowski, Friday, Pineapple Express, Half Baked, Broad City, etc.: everyone of it.
David Brenner on Gas-Station AttendantsDavid Brenner, The Tonight Show“Did you ever notice you creep into a gasoline station, the attendant’s directions always start the identical way: ‘Now eye buddy, tow out of the station.’ No, I want to drive the pumps for nine hours; I don’t want to tow out of the station.”
Did you ever notice: Four words that would creep on to define a generation of comedians, and Brenner was one of the first stand-ups associated with it. He used the phrase to start the above joke in his first Tonight Show set, and it would exist used in many more Tonight Show sets as his style became de rigueur during the ensuing comedy boom. Before Jay Leno or Jerry Seinfeld, there was Brenner, who, as Richard Lewis achieve it, was the king of observational comedy.
‘I net No Respect.’Rodney Dangerfield“I net no respect: I played veil and seek; they wouldn’t even eye for me.”
This is the joke that started it all. Dangerfield had the second half, but, as he told an interviewer in 1986, he needed to achieve something “in front of it: I was so poor, I was so dumb, so this, so that.” It was 1972, the year The Godfather came out. “All I heard was the word ‘respect,”’ he told the current York Times. “’You’ve got to give me respect,’ or ‘Respect him.’ I thought to myself: It sounds devotion a amusing image — a guy who gets no respect.” It was a game-changer for Dangerfield, who struggled for years under the designation Jack Roy. With a current image and catchphrase, he became a comedy star, edifice on the toil of Henny Youngman and Don Rickles to create one-liners that were darker, grittier, more specific. Comedians acquire an model age for their comedy, and it seems Dangerfield needed to exist a petite older and a lot more grizzled before America wanted to hear from him. By the time he really hit it big, in the ’80s, Dangerfield was already in his 60s. Old, but not too venerable to shove stand-up forward.
Archie Bunker Meets Sammy Davis Jr.Norman Lear, Carroll O’Connor, Sammy Davis Jr., Bill Dana, All in the FamilyArchie: Now, no prejudice intended, but, you know, I always check with the Bible on these here things. I deem that, I weigh in if God had meant for us to exist together, he’d-a achieve us together. But eye what he done. He achieve you over in Africa, and achieve the rest of us in everyone the white countries.Sammy Davis Jr.: Well, he must’ve told ’em where they were, because somebody came and got us.
It’s difficult to describe, at this distance, the shock waves that All in the Family radiated out into the network-TV pond. Most late-’60s sitcoms were the palest of pap, in the Munsters and Gilligan’s Island vein; unless you count the young-and-single status of the Marlo Thomas character on That Girl, it was tough to find even a hint of the social dynamics riving the country. Suddenly, a family in Queens with a racist dad and a lefty son-in-law was arguing — really vigorously! — over the Vietnam War and the dynamics of race, dealing with crime and hypocrisy and, in one episode, a very close convoke with a rapist. The succession almost never slid over into treacly Very Special Episode territory, either; the issue-oriented stuff was baked into its premise, and it usually stayed funny. The Sammy Davis Jr. episode upped the stakes with a personage cameo, and what an model personage for Archie to meet: black, Jewish, one-eyed, and wildly charismatic.
Comedy Minus OneAlbert Brooks, Comedy Minus OneAudioAlbert: Thank you, thank you, and well-behaved evening, ladies and gentlemen. I’m Albert.[Pause.]Albert: Wait a minute, how could you exist me?[Pause.]Script Included With RecordAlbert: Thank you, thank you, and well-behaved evening, ladies and gentlemen. I’m Albert.You: And I’m You.Albert: Wait a minute, how could you exist me?You: I didn’t stutter I was you. I said I was me.
Early in his career, the L.A.-based comic, actor, and director Brooks longed to cheerfully destabilize the staid realms of comedy with which he’d reach into contact. As he appeared on TV variety shows in the late ’60s and beyond, Brooks breathed current life into the venerable tropes of comedy by making the customary subterfuge involved in particular kinds of acts abundantly obvious. To wit, one of his earliest bits, on the Flip Wilson Show, featured him deconstructing ventriloquism by telling stock jokes and poignant his mouth in an obvious way; while it doesn’t look amusing on paper, Brooks’s knowing script and chipper delivery made it shine. On his first album, Comedy Minus One, he even invited you — yes, you — to net involved in the act. The title track, a routine about a trip to the garage, leaves vacant spaces for lines read aloud at home from a script, which was included on the inside of the album cover. Over the course of the scene, you — yes, you — essentially grift Brooks (and guest comic Georgie Jessel) while picking up everyone the laugh lines. Though, if you are just listening, which presumably most are, you’ll only hear Brooks and Jessel talking to no one. The smarts behind the experiment, and the verve with which it’s delivered, gain the jokes irresistible. It’s the sort of anti-comedy experiment that doubtless had an consequence on Andy Kaufman and Steve Martin, not to mention essentially every alternative comedian of the terminal 20 years.
Word AssociationPaul Mooney, Chevy Chase, Richard Pryor, Saturday Night LiveInterviewer: Jungle bunny!Mr. Wilson: Honky!Interviewer: Spade!Mr. Wilson: Honky honky!Interviewer: Nigger!Mr. Wilson: deceased honky.
“Word Association” was not even written by one of the show’s writers, as Pryor insisted the point to hire Paul Mooney for the week. Mooney is one of the all-time greatest comic minds on the theme of race, and this sketch showed just that. That “Nigger” –“Dead honkey” climax noiseless feels uncertain and revelatory, partly because of how direct and simple it is. Mooney wrote in his memoir it was the easiest thing he ever wrote, as everyone he had to finish was write what it was devotion to interview with NBC executives earlier in the week to toil on the show. As a piece of comedy, it demanded attention. It’s a role that comedy unfortunately has continued to play ever since: forcing people who devotion to believe that racism doesn’t exist anymore to confront that it does, and ideally laugh at how oblivious they were being. It’s arguably the most essential sketch about race ever written, and everyone comedy about race — whether by Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, or Key & Peele — follows in its path.
The King of ImpressionistsMichael O’Donoghue, Saturday Night Live
“There’s one thing I deem everybody agrees on, and that’s who the nicest guy in point to industry is. And, of course, I’m talking about Mr. Mike Douglas. Yeah! Yeah, reach on! You know, I was home the other day and I happened to ensnare Mike’s show, and a amusing thought occurred to me. I wondered: What if someone took very big steel needles, stutter 15, 18 inches long, big steel needles with true keen points, and plunged them into Mike’s eyes. What would his reaction be, huh? I deem it might creep something devotion this.” [O’Donoghue turns his back to the camera to prepare his impression. He turns back around, puts his hands to his eyes, and screams maniacally.]
SNL’s inaugural season left viewing audiences reeling for many reasons, not least among them the show’s penchant for raw, scabrous humor, and the cast’s irreverence toward the well-liked culture they were raised on. The grim prince behind much of the darkness was Michael O’Donoghue, a performer and writer distinguished for not only contributing to National Lampoon but creating pitch-black satires such as “The Vietnamese Baby Book.” In addition to teaching John Belushi’s keen strange man to converse English phrases such as “I would devotion to feed your fingertips to the wolverines,” O’Donoghue made himself known in SNL’s first year as an impersonator of sorts. Buck Henry came to the stage and informed the mob that the “king of impressionists” was on his way. O’Donoghue, dressed in Vegas-standard jacket and tie, amiably wondered what it would eye devotion if Mike Douglas had steel needles shoved in his eyes. The aggressive screaming and flailing that followed was a shock, and O’Donoghue’s wild commitment sold it as comedy. (Henry capped off the bit by asking genially, “Uncanny, isn’t it?”) The violent, gross-out gag was a gauntlet thrown down to its audience, a test to behold how far they were willing to go, and the reverberations of the signal can exist felt in generations of black-comedy acolytes.
Went With the Wind!Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence, The Carol Burnett ShowRatt: “That gown is gorgeous.”Starlet: “Thank you, I saw it in the window and just couldn’t resist it.”
One of the silliest and sweetest family entertainments ever to air on network TV, The Carol Burnett Show knew exactly how to gladden its audience. While Burnett and her supporting cast of inveterate gigglers were known for their recurring characters, vast performances, and breaking one another onstage, they also committed to opulent, crowd-pleasing movie parodies. The point to took on many classics, including Double Indemnity and From Here to Eternity, but it was their parody of antebellum Southern landmark Gone With the Wind — and one visual gag in particular — that stuck in fans’ minds. devotion Scarlett herself, Carol Burnett’s Starlet tears down and transforms her drapery into a stopgap gown when she looks to seduce Harvey Korman’s Ratt Butler. But when Starlet sashays down the long flight of stairs, draped in her drapes, it’s lucid she has overlooked one simple aspect of the alteration: the curtain rod, which sticks out two feet on either side of her shoulders. This sort of impeccable detail helped shove the movie parody to current heights, and a ripple of its influence was not only felt not only in burgeoning shows like SCTV and SNL, but in masterful visuals crafted by the likes of Key & Peele.
Elayne Boosler on male Sexual HypocrisyElayne Boosler“[Men] want you to scream ‘You’re the best’ while swearing you’ve never done this with anyone before.”
When Elayne Boosler arrived on the comedy scene in the 1970s, she broke ground for female comics with her brash, pro-sex material. A 1979 current York Times article highlighted her unapologetic approach to stand-up — she wasn’t self-deprecating, she wasn’t that interested in losing weight, and she wasn’t filled with shame about being a woman. In this joke, she’s giving voice to the woman’s perspective in dating and casual sex, at a time when female comics were few and far between. It was another decade before she became the first woman to acquire her own hour-long TV special (she had to self-finance it, however), and while she never became quite the mainstream-success chronicle of her peers, devotion Jay Leno and Andy Kaufman, she paved the way for every subsequent female comedian who wasn’t afraid to creep up against the boys.
Annie Hall’s IntroWoody Allen, Marshall Brickman, Annie Hall“There’s an venerable joke: Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of them says, ‘Boy, the food at this situation is really terrible.’ The other one says, ‘Yeah, I know, and such minuscule portions.’ Well, that's essentially how I feel about life — plenary of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it’s everyone over much too quickly.”
Allen’s masterpiece Annie Hall is jam-packed with jokes and moments that irrevocably changed comedy, but it’s the film’s distinguished fourth-wall-breaking intro that warrants mention, as it basically sums up Allen’s career in one joke. In it, the writer-director-star literally builds on the toil of his comedic predecessors, taking jokey-jokes and making them more introspective, neurotic, existential, and cerebral. Annie Hall was the terminal accurate comedy to win the Best Picture Oscar, beating Star Wars in the process. That’s fitting: The history of sci-fi cinema can exist divided into before and after Star Wars; the identical can exist said of Annie Hall and comedy.
7 Words You Can Never stutter on TelevisionGeorge Carlin, George Carlin at USC“Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.”
While Carlin may acquire had routines more philosophical than the one about the seven curse words one can’t stutter on television, there’s no denying this juggernaut of censorship and linguistic glee. Carlin was present at Lenny Bruce’s infamous obscenity arrest, and was arrested under similar circumstances himself, so his evolving examination of the nation’s selective prudishness was fueled by very true experiences. The routine encapsulates Carlin’s insatiable drive to examine hypocrisy in their culture — exist that hypocrisy in the realm of religion, language, or politics — and his determination to open his audience’s eyes about the rites and rituals holding society back. Even as Carlin punctuates his speech with a rhythmic, recurring loop of the seven words, his erudition and incisiveness gain the bit the most quick-witted dissection of swear words to date. Carlin revisited the routine for the better fragment of the decade. It was first heard on his 1972 record Class Clown, but it’s most iconic performance might’ve been when he finally performed it on television, in his 1977 HBO special, which provided a warning before he went into it. Of course, comics can stutter almost anything they want on TV these days. The relaxing of their national morals may acquire a lot to finish with it, but surely Carlin’s crusading had some sway. The bit’s repercussion can also exist felt with profane, brainy boundary-pushers devotion Bill Hicks and Patrice O’Neal, and shows like Inside Amy Schumer.
‘Excuuuuuuuuuse Meeeeeeeee!’Steve Martin, Let’s net Small
Taken from his 1977 debut album, Let’s net Small, Steve Martin’s “excuse me” bit is an incredibly layered moment of comedy. He starts off playing the banjo, tells the audience he’s going to gain a bit of a departure from his commonplace routine, asks for humor lighting, and then goes into a seemingly off-script diatribe about how the backstage crew isn’t meeting his standards, leaving the mob wondering if this is fragment of the point to or just a comedian being a bit of a diva. Then he finally gets to the punch line, two simple, drawn-out, overly exaggerated words: “Excuse me!” And then he just goes back to playing his banjo, seemingly letting the audience know that it was everyone just a brilliantly crafted inarticulate joke. It’s the purest articulation of anti-comedy you’ll find: It’s a comedy show, so people are expecting something amusing to happen, what would exist really surprising (and thus really funny) is if something unfunny happened. (Yes, explaining the humor dries it up a little. Sorry.) This joke exists as a sort of patient zero for which so much comedy can exist traced that it’s almost silly to gain a list. Even so: The Simpsons, Mr. Show, Wet sizzling American Summer, Norm Macdonald, Tim and Eric, and oh so many other alternative comedians, past and present, followed in Martin’s footsteps. The fact that the joke created a national catchphrase and made Martin an unprecedented stand-up megastar is a testament to how revolutionary it was.
Richard Pryor on His Heart AttackRichard Pryor, Richard Pryor: Live in Concert“Thinking about dying, ain’t ya? Didn’t deem about it when you was eating everyone of that pork!”
The man an overwhelming number of comedians and comedy fans will espouse as the best of everyone time, Pryor was at his loopy, confessional, raucous, and blue best in the live setting. It follows that Pryor’s filmed performances, Live on the Sunset Strip and Live in Concert in particular, are indisputable powerhouses. The latter sees Pryor sweating through his shirt and twitching behind his mustache, sticking and weaving as he moves from topic to topic, not unlike the fighters in his bit about boxing. As usual, Pryor makes stray observations about race as readily as he delves into drug addiction, and reveals his vulnerabilities as quickly as he gets political. He also depicts a lot of atypical things, the most memorable of which is a heart attack. It’s a scary and elegant theme Pryor lays unpretentious without hesitation, twisting his cadaver on the floor as he remembers some stately coerce stopping his breath and even scolding him, “You know black people acquire towering blood pressure, anyway, don’t you? Watch your diet!” It’s an unfettered and pleasing bit that has inspired a horde of comics, including Chris Rock and Louis CK.
‘I Am sober ... and Don't convoke Me Shirley’Leslie Nielsen, Robert Hays, Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Airplane!Rumack: Can you soar this plane, and land it?Ted: Surely you can’t exist serious.Rumack: I am sober ... and don’t convoke me Shirley.
Airplane! is arguably the quintessential cinematic case of brilliantly dull humor, and this joke may exist the stupidest — and therefore, the best. The 1980 classic abounds with quotable one-liners and layered jokes that help with time, but no one steals the point to more than the straight-faced Leslie Nielsen imploring Robert Hays to land their out-of-control plane. It’s been named one of the American Film Institute’s “Greatest Movie Quotes of everyone Time,” and its genius is in its homophonic simplicity: It’s funny, I can stutter from experience, to both a minuscule child and a professional comedy critic. It’s the kindhearted of quip that thousands of screenwriters acquire attempted to mimic — how could Austin Powers, Zoolander, or countless Will Ferrell and Melissa McCarthy characters exist without this one line?
The Dalai Lama StoryBill Murray, Harold Ramis, Brian Doyle-Murray, Douglas Kenney, CaddyshackCarl: So they finish the 18th and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, ‘Hey, Lama, hey, how about a petite something, you know, for the effort, you know.’ And he says, ‘Oh, uh, there won’t exist any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.’ So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.
In the late ’70s and early ’80s, improv theater Second City’s influence on American comedy was ever-present, and you didn’t acquire to eye much further than Saturday Night Live, with John Belushi, Gilda Radner, and Dan Aykroyd everyone cutting their teeth on the show. And then there was Bill Murray, the man Second City alum Harold Ramis frequently called the best verbal improviser he’s ever seen. So when Ramis had a haphazard to direct the improv-heavy Caddyshack, he let Murray off the leash. The Dalai Lama scene is a hilarious testament to improv training and the ingenuity of the human brain, influencing essentially everyone comic performers that came after it. Now, every actor in a comedy is asked if they got to improvise lines on set — this joke is why. And then there is the ironic tag – “So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice” — which set the tone for many comedic protagonists thereafter. Vince Vaughn’s entire career is basically that line.
‘Cocaine Is God’s way of epigram That You’re Making Too Much Money.’Robin Williams, An Evening With Robin Williams
Coming, devotion everyone Williams’s jokes, in a tornado of riffs, this is the defining joke of the 1980s Comedy Boom, a time in which too many comedians made too much money and spent it on too much cocaine. Williams, with his struggles with ill-treat and his manic stage persona, embodied this better than anyone (though he said he never performed high). Seven months before he taped the HBO special in which the joke appears, Williams was out with his friend John Belushi; the next morning Belushi would exist establish deceased of a drug overdose. Williams was never known for being the most confessional comedian, if only because he never stayed on a topic long enough, but there is a powerful verisimilitude to his most distinguished joke.
Bill Cosby on Raising a Football PlayerBill Cosby, Himself“Hi, Mom!”
Okay, they requisite to compartmentalize here and deem Cosby, difficult as it has become, exclusively on the merits of his stand-up career — because those merits are staggering. Time was, his material about life and family bridged racial gaps and explored the role of modern fatherhood in a way that gave tower to such comics as Ray Romano, Louis C.K., and Jim Gaffigan. “Hi, Mom!” was the perfect distillation of his comedy sharply articulating the unique frustrations and thanklessness of being a parent — specifically, in this case, the overlooked one. It was such a simple, evergreen bit that Carlos Mencia would exist accused of nabbing it decades years later. Himself would also encourage NBC executives to give Cosby, who already had a few failed TV shows under his belt, another try on the minuscule screen. The resulting effort, The Cosby Show, was groundbreaking and beloved, until it could exist no longer.
Andy Kaufman’s Adopted ChildrenAndy Kaufman, David Letterman, Late Night With David LettermanLetterman [screaming backstage]: Andy! Andy, are you close to doing this?Kaufman [from backstage]: In a minute. I’ll exist ready in a minute.Letterman [to the “adopted children”]: Okay, umm, well, this will exist nice when Andy comes out here.
Kaufman and Letterman are, of course, two comedy legends, each with many bits that could acquire a situation on this list. But there is something nice about putting them together, as they were kindred spirits in expanding the sense of comedy and entertainment. Kaufman was a frequent guest on Letterman’s Late Night, with each appearance pushing comedy forward, or at least sideways. The joke here, which plays out over 12 hilarious, clumsy minutes, is that Kaufman has adopted three children; however, instead of babies, they’re three grown black men, Herb, George and Tony (a.k.a. Tino). What could acquire been a one-off sight gag turns into an even longer bit as Letterman interviews them, with Andy disappearing for a stretch and returning to finish his dead-on Elvis impersonation. This appearance isn’t as distinguished as when he was fake-assaulted by wrestler Jerry Lawler in 1982, but it is most indicative of what these two brought to comedy. Kaufman, at his best, pushed the buttons of comedy with a childlike innocence; Letterman did so with a bemused irony. Kaufman would pass away less than nine months after this appearance; it’s trite to say, but it’s very true: Comedy was never the same.
Goes to 11Christopher Guest, Rob Reiner, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, This Is Spinal TapMarty: Why don’t you just gain 10 louder? And gain 10 exist the top number and gain that a petite louder?[Pause]Nigel: These creep to 11.
While it certainly owes something to the Beatles’ A hard Day’s Night and Albert Brooks’s reality-TV predictor Real Life, This Is Spinal Tap advanced the core and style of the mockumentary and defined its future. The film follows the tumultuous comeback of vapid, leopard-printed rock trio Spinal Tap, played by Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, and Michael McKean. This scene between Guest’s idiotic Nigel Tufnel and blandly accepting documentarian Marty DiBergi, played by Rob Reiner, perfectly illustrates the combination of structure and play that makes the movie its own sort of comedic Stonehenge. While the clueless Nigel insists that the vast numbers on the dials of the band’s amps gain them special, Guest & Co. perfectly skewer the pretensions of pop musicians with a conjunction of character, improvisational wit, and comic timing. Without subtle but seminal moments devotion this one, there would exist no fourth-wall-busting comedy such as The Office — not to mention Guest’s latter-day treats Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show.
Steven Wright’s BurglarSteven Wright, I acquire a Pony“I came home the other day and everything in my apartment had been stolen and replaced with an exact replica. I couldn’t believe it. I said to my roommate, ‘Look at this stuff, it’s everyone an exact replica.’ He said, ‘Do I know you?’”
One-liners are as venerable as comedy itself, but few comics acquire mastered them as fully as Steven Wright, whose 1985 album I acquire a Pony is brimming with smart, tight jokes. Everything about Wright’s manner — his stoicism, his precise wording, his refusal to interact with the audience — made him a superstar during the ’80s boom, and his competence to identify banal aspects of life and spin them into absurd ideas remains unmatched. Of everyone his jokes, this one about exact replicas stands out for its imagery and many layers — it tells a petite chronicle with extreme brevity. It’s obvious why and how Wright inspired legions of other comics, most notably the late, stately Mitch Hedberg — he of “I used to finish drugs. I noiseless do, but I used to, too” — but also the likes of Demetri Martin, Myq Kaplan, and Zach Galifianakis.
Surfer ChickWhoopi Goldberg, Direct From Broadway“So I creep home and I go, ‘Mom,’ and she goes, ‘What?’ And I go, like, ‘I’m devotion totally PG.’ And she goes, ‘Oh, you’re in a movie.’ And devotion finally I got it, you know. And it’s like, ‘No, I’m not in a movie. I’m, like, totally with child, devotion Mary was with Jesus, except I know who the father was.”
Before she was an EGOT winner, Whoopi Goldberg, more than any comedian of her generation, made stand-up more theatrical. Getting her start as an actress, she was given opportunities at stand-up clubs devotion the Belly leeway at L.A.’s Comedy Store, which, unlike the famed Original Room, was more open to experimentation and, more notably, women. There, without a late-night set in her sights, she was free to finish a point to that would dash well over an hour. Eventually, with the serve of director Mike Nichols, she brought her point to to Broadway. Filmed for HBO as Direct From Broadway, the above joke was told by Goldberg in character as a California surfer girl (not Valley girl) who gets pregnant by accident. The comedy comes from how specific and well-drawn the character is. Along with the likes of Sandra Bernhard, Goldberg’s blurring of stand-up and storytelling one-man shows changed the game, with John Leguizamo in the ’90s and the Mike Birbiglias of the world today following in her footsteps.
‘No Man Has Ever achieve His Hand Up a Woman’s Dress Looking for a Library Card.’Joan Rivers, Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show
It’s no facile exploit to fight in heels, but Joan Rivers made a career out of it. She had moxy, smarts, and stamina, and she never apologized for her jokes. After finding her voice at Second City in early ’60s Chicago, Rivers invaded the downtown current York boys’ club at the acerbic halt and the Gaslight Cafe, playing alongside Woody Allen and Bill Cosby. She made a stout connection with Johnny Carson and, from there, she took off — writing, hosting shows, touring, and exhibiting the toil ethic of a carpenter ant until the halt of her life. devotion many other comics with a vast catalogue of one-liners (and in Rivers’s case, a physical card catalogue), Rivers reused material when it suited her. This joke was one Rivers had used for years, but used here in reference to Christie Brinkley, represents a midpoint between Rivers’s downtown years and the red-carpet years yet to come. Though she was often catty and brutal, Rivers’s best stuff weighed in on the life of women in America — their struggles with romance, their bodies, and with the patriarchy in general. This line completely sums up Rivers’s understanding of what a woman is up against despite lip service from men. There are some gossipy comics, e.g. Kathy Griffin, who owe their careers to Rivers, while others devotion Whitney Cummings and Chris Rock just took a cue from her competence to craft a pointed zinger.
Roseanne on Working MothersRoseanne Barr, John Goodman, RoseanneDan: Fixing the sink is a husband’s job, and I am the husband.Roseanne: And I’m the wife, so it’s my job to finish everything else.Dan: Oh, don’t give me that.Roseanne: Oh, well, it must exist true. I achieve in eight hours a day at the factory and then I reach home and achieve in another eight hours. I’m running around devotion a maniac, taking back —Darlene: Mom, where’s the tape?Roseanne: In the bathroom, third drawer.
It’s almost shocking to eye back on Roseanne’s pilot through the lens of today’s network comedies. The pilot is messy, the jokes aren’t rapid-fire or referential or filled with snark, and the characters are unwieldy and normal-looking, without a Token sizzling Person in the bunch. They yell at each other and over each other, and don’t look to keeping that anyone can hear them. Even the studio audience feels more real, like they’re genuinely enjoying themselves and haven’t been neutered by machines. The point to was revolutionary in its rectitude and in its portrayal of a lower-middle-class leading woman as a working mother, something previously unseen on network TV. This joke captured Roseanne’s character perfectly, as she can’t even gain a point about how hard it is to exist a working mother without being interrupted by one of her kids. The show’s success — it was one of the five highest-rated TV shows during its first five years on the air — sparked at least a few subsequent comedies, like Grace Under Fire and Reba, though nothing on air since has captured Roseanne’s tone in quite the identical way.
The Barbershop SceneEddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, John Landis, Clint Smith, Coming to AmericaSaul: What about Rocky Marciano?Clarence: Oh, there they go. There they go, every time I start talkin’ ’bout boxing, a white man got to tow Rocky Marciano out they ass. That’s their one, that’s their one. Rocky Marciano! Rocky Marciano! Let me command you something, once and for all-Rocky Marciano was good; but compared to Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano ain’t shit.Saul: He beat Joe Louis’s ass.Morris: That’s right, he did whoop Joe Louis’s ass.Clarence: Joe Louis was 75 years venerable when they fought.
The spirited back-and-forth in this scene from Eddie Murphy’s prime is impressive even before you deem the fact that Murphy is playing both Saul and Clarence. This was the first, and arguably best, time they saw Murphy tow off what would become his signature multicharacter act. It was a perfect setting: Depicting barbershop culture that was never before seen on the vast screen, it allowed Murphy to finish what he did better than anyone — talk shit and embody very specific characters. The vast payoff comes at the end, but everything Murphy says leading up to it is equally hilarious. Even if you watch today, it’s noiseless incredible how much of a comedy powerhouse Eddie Murphy was. Murphy was the biggest comedy star of the second half of the century, bringing a vitality and sense of now to comedy. It’s hard to compare his stardom to any one comedian; the closest approximation might exist that he was devotion the entirety of the original cast of Saturday Night Live’s influence condensed into one person.
‘I’ll acquire What She’s Having.’Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal, Nora Ephron, Rob Reiner, Estelle Reiner, When Harry Met Sally ...
When Harry Met Sally… was the launching pad for a seemingly endless string of romantic comedies, everyone of which tried to replicate the magic of this perfectly crafted scene. Meg Ryan, with a brilliant idea and a perfect performance, blew up the conventions of flirty dialogue, pushing the classic rom-com tension to never-before-seen heights. And then director Rob Reiner cuts to his mom, Estelle, who delivers the most-repeated line from the most distinguished scene in the history of romantic comedy. (We dare you to deem of a more oft-quoted moment in a rom-com. What are you gonna say, “You had me at hello”? Child’s play!) It’s a jokey-joke, almost Catskillian in its delivery and Jewishness (Estelle met Rob’s father, Carl, when she was a set designer in the Catskills), which, in a way, connects the joke to those days. It’s a direct line: Woody Allen updates the Borscht Belt, and When Harry Met Sally updates his update.
Paula Poundstone on Pop-TartsPaula Poundstone, Cats, Cops and Stuff“I actually devour a box of Pop-Tarts a day. I’m not haughty of that.”
Everything about this 1990 bit from Paula Poundstone’s HBO special Cats, Cops and Stuff feels effectively joyous. It was spurred by a yoke in the front row handing her a box of Pop-Tarts — “So you’ve been reading Tiger Beat?” she asks when they confess that they knew they’d brought her favorite flavor — but evolves into a meditation on her long-standing relationships with the pastry. It has the everyday feel of the observational comedy of the 1980s, but it hints at the alternative scene that would soon spring up — the bit started with her simply reading the box onstage to fill time. Unlike many female comedians of that time, Poundstone’s material had petite to finish with her gender, instead opting for relatable silliness for anyone. She would creep on to exist so associated with the brand that she produced a special video for them. It would’ve been hard to guess at the time, but the bit foreshadowed a lot of food-based humor to come: Jim Gaffigan on sizzling Pockets, Patton Oswalt on KFC distinguished Bowls, Paul F. Tompkins on cake vs. pie, Brian Regan on Pop-Tarts, and, oddly enough, an older Jerry Seinfeld on Pop-Tarts.
Homer Jumps the GorgeMatt Groening, James L. Brooks, Sam Simon, Jay Kogen, Wallace Wolodarsky, Dan Castellaneta, The Simpsons
When “Bart the Daredevil” aired in 1990, The Simpsons wasn’t yet the greatest sitcom on television — but the episode helped the point to grasp a giant leap in that direction. That a sweet scene of well-behaved parenting and father-son bonding between Homer and Bart would lead to this string of perfect stupidity is an case of the point to at its finest — a first-rate comedy with heart. But once Homer takes off on the skateboard, the relentlessness of the gag — the endless brutality, the dull repetition — opened the point to up to current levels of absurdism that would become its trademark. It wasn’t long after that they saw the emergence of the early 1990s alternative comedy scene, one that relished in silly, ridiculous, and often pointless comedy. It was a rejection of the more traditional stand-up that dominated in the ‘80s, and The Simpsons’ offbeat influence could exist seen in shows like Late Night With Conan O’Brien, Mr. point to With Bob and David, The State, The Ben Stiller Show, The Upright Citizens Brigade, Family Guy, and South Park, to stutter nothing of an entire generation of comedians.
Benita ButrellKim Wayans, In alive ColorBenita Butrell: [To police officer] Don’t you stutter nothing snide about Ms. Jenkins. She’s a fine woman, fine woman. Wouldn’t grasp nothing from nobody. That’s a fine woman, honey. Don’t you talk about Ms. Jenkins, or I'll eddy into Ice-T on your ass. Don’t talk about Ms. Jenkins. She’s a fine woman, fine woman. [To camera] Just don’t eddy your back on her. Woman’s fingers are stickier than a booger in a jar of honey. I ain’t one to gossip, so you didn’t hear that from me.
Before In alive Color, you couldn’t find a comedy point to where blackness was the default setting. On an episode of “WTF,” Chris Rock explained his crave to exist on In alive Color instead of SNL: “I wanted to exist in an environment where I didn’t acquire to translate the comedy I wanted to do.” It was the environment in which Kim Wayans was able to play Benita Butrell, an older, black neighborhood gossip, whose comic hook was not based on her being black nor female. This joke, which is set during the L.A. riots, ends with her distinguished catchphrase, and noiseless crackles with a specificity of language and character. Even if the dearth of commonality of experiences, references, and cultural tropes created a chasm between what In alive Color was doing and what mainstream sketch-comedy audiences had reach to expect, the show’s tenure and popularity narrowed the gap enough for creators of color to gain craft that is now, rightfully, considered universal.
A point to About NothingJerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Larry David, SeinfeldJerry: So they creep into NBC, and they stutter they acquire an view for a point to about nothing?George: Exactly.Jerry: They say, “What's your point to about?” I say, “Nothing.”George: There you go.Jerry: I deem you may acquire something here.
In classic Seinfeld fashion, this joke is from the season-four episode “The Pitch,” which is built around a quotable line. Despite it being used to define the point to within the show, “a point to about nothing” went on to define Seinfeld too. Yes, Seinfeld was about “nothing,” in that it focused on the minutiae of everyday, not unlike Seinfeld did in his stand-up. But Seinfeld was also about nothingness, it was about meaninglessness. As Larry David famously achieve it, “No hugging, no learning.” It’s cynical comic tone, which was unlike anything at the time, went on to dominate much of the television comedy that would reach after it.
‘I Ain’t stupefied of You Motherfuckers.’Bernie Mac, Def Comedy Jam
Like some other examples on this list, the chronicle of this joke has become a sort of legend shared among comedians. When Russell Simmons created Def Comedy Jam, black comics who’d spent as much as decades toiling in obscurity knew they could exist very publicly made or broken. Backstage tensions were understandably high. And during this taping of the show, the audience was rough, booing the comedian who went on before Mac. Bill Bellamy warned Mac before his set, “Be watchful out there — this audience is tough.” To which Mac replied, “I’ve been going at this too long — I’ve worked too hard — I ain’t stupefied of ‘em!” What did Mac do? He goes onstage, picks up the mic, and tells the audience exactly that. Instantly, the audience explodes in laughter. The moment captured so much about what was exciting about black comedy at the time. There was this urgency, this bravado, a bigness that demanded attention. Zoom out from this joke, and you net Martin Lawrence; you net the rest of the Original Kings of Comedy, Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, and Cedric the Entertainer, who, along with Mac, released a tremendously well-liked Spike Lee–directed stand-up feature film in 2000 (and the subsequently released Queens of Comedy, featuring Laura Hayes, Adele Givens, Sommore, and Mo’Nique); you net BET’s Comic View, of which Kevin Hart was the host of in 2008 — you net the entire ’90s black comedy boom. There’s a understanding over 3 million acquire watched the clip on YouTube.
‘You Might exist a Redneck.’Jeff Foxworthy, You Might exist a Redneck If ...“If you creep to the family reunion to meet women, you might exist a redneck.”
This is one of many jokes that ends with the identical punch line — “you might exist a redneck” — on Jeff Foxworthy’s giant debut record, entitled You Might exist a Redneck If … The joke, devotion everyone the jokes, is a perfect, weightless remonstrate — a comedic disco ball that looks stately but is totally hollow inside. The economy of language and the vividness of the pictures Foxworthy paints are quite astounding. Other examples from the identical record include, “If you’ve ever been too drunk to fish, you might exist a redneck,” and, “If your dad walks you to school because you’re in the identical grade, you might exist a redneck.” Foxworthy plays with the identical rural-Southerner stereotypes, but to an audience of pastoral Southerners, it’s not satire but an opportunity to laugh at oneself. This one joke broke Foxworthy into the mainstream, launched a merchandising bonanza, and spawned the Blue Collar Comedy Tour – not to mention the chicken-fried, low-brow comedic aesthetic associated with the troupe. In fact, culturally homogenous stand-up tours blossomed thanks to Foxworthy. You might equate this with a kindhearted of Gulf of Tonkin incident for comedy, but just devotion a corny pop song, this joke can never exist dislodged from their consciousness.
‘By the Way, If Anyone Here Is in Advertising or Marketing … murder Yourself.’Bill Hicks, Revelations
In his 1993 special Revelations, released not long before his tragically early death, Bill Hicks had a lot to net off his chest. Having spent 15 years looking for an audience, he had establish some success in Britain, decrying the evils of American culture to a receptive audience. And the subjects of his current bugaboo were advertisers and marketers. With his constant assurances that “there’s no joke here,” Hicks’s bit is pure, collected loathing, slowly edifice into an expression of impotent rage at the situation of the world. It’s a stately bit that hints at everyone the brilliant ideas he could acquire explored if he had lived; for one, his Über-liberal politics and disdain for the traditional stand-up could acquire placed him well in the alternative comedy scene that was just developing. His most direct comedic descendant is probably Doug Stanhope, but his attitude of fury inspired a generation of satirists of everyone stripes.
Ace Ventura Butt DetectiveJim Carrey,Tom Shadyac, Jack Bernstein, Ace Ventura: Pet DetectiveAce Ventura [turned around, bent over, and holding his butt cheeks]: Excuse me, I’d devotion to ass you a few questions.
In one of many gleefully dismissive reviews of Jim Carrey’s first wildly successful star vehicle, Owen Gleiberman wrote, “Carrey suggests an escaped mental patient impersonating a game-show host — and, what’s worse, his hyperbolically obnoxious shtick is the total damned show.” The next decade of studio comedies, however, came to exist defined by this particular brand of outrageously broad, lunatic lead character whom you either loved unconditionally or deeply despised (see: Tommy Boy, Austin Powers, Zoolander, basically every Adam Sandler movie). These movies were also noteworthy for being PG-13, an MPAA film rating that studios really started figuring out how to grasp advantage of in the ’90s. Talking out of your butt isn’t edgy to the adults who reviewed the film (or films devotion it), but it was exhilarating for the teens who went to these movies in droves, thanks to their PG-13 rating.
Ass MasterMargaret Cho, HBO Comedy Half-Hour“My parents are very conservative, but surprisingly gay-positive. In the late ’70s they owned a bookstore in San Francisco on Polk Street, which then was a huge gay mecca. And my mother, for some reason, was in freight of the gay pornography section. So every day she’d walk over there: ’I don’t know why they acquire this book! Moran, what is an ‘ass master?’’ ‘Mom, I acquire no view what an ass master is. Is it devotion a Thigh Master?’ ‘I don’t know, is it a master of the ass? What is it? What is ass master?’”
After opening for Seinfeld, appearing on The Arsenio Hall Show, and developing All-American Girl for ABC, Margaret Cho was riding towering when she recorded her HBO comedy half-hour in 1994. All-American Girl would subsequently flop, in fragment due to the network’s mishandling of its Asian and Asian-American characters, but in retrospect it’s wonderful to deem a network tried to package Cho’s comedy into a traditional sitcom at all. In both her early sets and her later, edgier material, Cho explores a cross-section of life (being a child of immigrants, Asians’ and Asian-Americans’ lives, racism, LGBTQ issues, women’s rights, and a ton of sex) no one else was serving up at the time (if ever), and definitely not with Cho’s signature honesty. Listening to her special over 20 years later, Cho’s voice is both genuine and outrageous, and confessional without passion self-deprecating — a mix that feels novel even in today’s comedy world, and one that explains her huge following in the late ’90s into the 2000s. The calling card of Cho’s earlier work? A joke entitled “Ass Master,” in which her Korean-American mother asks questions about the gay porn sold at their family’s San Francisco bookshop. In this one joke, Cho includes confessional storytelling, impressions, queer life, family, and sex. This competence to exist everyone things within one bit, now common in the post-alternative comedy scene with stand-ups devotion Chelsea Peretti, James Adomian, and Kyle Kinane, was Cho’s brand on the early ‘90s.
Janeane Garofalo’s NotesJaneaneGarofalo, HBO Comedy Half-Hour“I acquire a piece of paper, don't intelligence me. I am a professional, but I acquire a lot of Nutrasweet in my system and I don’t acquire a well-behaved short-term memory. I have, you know, a lot of things I want to argue with you and I don’t even bethink what they are. I acquire them on a piece of paper. Don’t intelligence me. If I glance over, it’s not because I don’t care, it’s because I can't bethink anything.”
Before 1995, thanks to appearances on The Ben Stiller Show and the movie Reality Bites, Janeane Garofalo was already an alternative-comedy staple. But with her HBO special, for which she brought notes onstage with her, she was accountable for delivering alternative comedy to the masses. It was the creep that swiftly removed the showbiz-ness from stand-up and whatever residual Las Vegas glamour it once had. Stand-up was free to exist messy, loose, and, most important, honest. Thanks to Garofalo (and some of her peers, devotion Marc Maron) verisimilitude — not stage presence or keen writing — became stand-up’s most prized asset. Comedy changed, and in eddy comedy audiences changed. No longer did people want to behold a polished act; they wanted to behold whatever’s new, whatever’s currently happening in the comedian’s life. Whom did she influence? Everyone.
‘I’m Gonna net You towering Today’Chris Tucker, Ice Cube, F. Gary Gray, DJ Pooh, FridaySmokey: I know you don’t smoke weed, I know this, but I’m gonna net you towering today, ’cause it's Friday, you ain’t got no job, and you ain’t got shit to do.
That line, said by Chris Tucker’s Smokey, and Ice Cube’s character Craig getting fired on his day off set the stage for the events that grasp situation in Friday. On the surface, it’s one of many weed jokes made throughout the movie (most of which was filmed on the street where director F. Gary Gray grew up, with actors told not to wear red clothing devotion Bloods gang members because this was Crips territory), but it also reveals more about these two best friends alive in South Central L.A. It’s the sort of joke people gain when they can’t talk honestly about how hard they acquire it. That’s what makes Friday so singular: Not only did it find a way of communicating what life was devotion in the neighborhood while keeping things fun, it paved the way for a certain tone of comedy that is simultaneously grounded and broad. You don’t have Barbershop without Friday; you don’t acquire essentially every Seth Rogen movie without Friday.
Black People vs. NiggasChris Rock, Bring the Pain“Who’s more racist, black people or white people? It’s black people! You know why? Because they abhor black people, too!”
Chris Rock’s 1996 special Bring the Pain cemented the SNL and In alive Color alum’s status as a necessary voice on race in the United States, and this joke in particular was a revelation. It articulated complex, largely unspoken ideas about race that moved beyond the black-white dichotomy and challenged audience members of everyone races. Exploring such a sensitive matter with controversial language was a high-wire act — consider: “There’s some shit going on with black people birthright now. There’s devotion a civil war going on with black people, and there’s two sides: There’s black people, there’s niggas. The niggas acquire got to go” — and Rock has talked about the months he achieve into making it work. While Rock’s forceful delivery and restless pacing serve sell it, the joke works because of its classic, unimpeachable structure: It’s simply a relatable, culturally savvy joke about one of the most contentious subjects in modern America, and its legacy looms over any comic who discusses race.
David Duchovny’s smash on LarryGarry Shandling, David Duchovny, The Larry Sanders ShowLarry: So, they acquire this vast final point to tonight and Kevin Costner drops out.David: Oh, shit.Larry: And, you know, it’s the terminal night of the show, so would it exist imposing to exact you if you would finish the show?[David, who is wearing a bathrobe, uncrosses his legs.]
Arguably the best backstage comedy of everyone time, The Larry Sanders Show is certainly the best “onstage-backstage” comedy of everyone time. Tonally, they had never seen anything devotion it before, and the point to paved the way for other dry, clumsy single-camera comedies to come, like The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Many of the best Sanders episodes built a conflict behind the scenes and then let it play out under the radiant lights of Larry’s nightly talk point to (see: almost every subplot involving Jeffrey Tambor’s unhinged sidekick, Hank). The point to also allowed its personage guests to stretch unpredictable muscles and undercut their public personas (remember John Ritter and Gene Siskel almost beating the crap out of each other? ) — a tactic that also did wonders for Ricky Gervais’s Extras years later. David Duchovny’s recurring appearances were a accurate highlight, as his sexuality and workable “crush” on Larry was a source of confusion and discomfort. Duchovny confirmed to Huff Post a few years ago that the total thing was actually his idea, explaining that it preceded everyone the “bromance baloney” that came after. The tension was real! The saga culminated in the finale when he flashed Larry his junk, Basic Instinct–style.
The chronicle of EverestDavid Cross, Bob Odenkirk, Jay Johnston, Jill Talley, Mr. point to With Bob and David“Nobody takes me seriously. I, who conquered Everest, am portrayed as a bumbling fool …” [He trips and gets his hands dash over by a car]
“The chronicle of Everest” is not a sketch about Everest; it’s a sketch about a man brought low by a collection of 200 glass thimbles. It’s also an exquisite mix of smart and stupid, comedy and anti-comedy: the combination that made Bob Odenkirk and David Cross’s Mr. Show the ’90s touchstone of hip comedy. Producing network HBO was smaller then, so Mr. Show still managed to feel underground, and stuck in the minds of many comedy nerds (some of whom went on to gain sketch shows of their own, i.e. Human Giant and Portlandia). In the sketch, haughty climber Jay Johnston attempts to command his family about summiting the Himalayan peak but repeatedly whacks into said thimble collection on his way to the floor instead. As with most Mr. Show scenes, the pratfall at the seat of “Everest” comes in a dazzlingly ornate frame. The climber soon finds his alive leeway folly, not his wonderful deed, has been immortalized in film. Distraught, he wanders from the cinema and performs one final plunge on the street as onlookers jeer; thus, the sketch’s accurate title is revealed as one terminal over-the-top gag, “The chronicle of the chronicle of the chronicle of Everest.”
Anal-Sex ConversationSarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Darren Star, Michael Patrick King, Sex and the CitySamantha: everyone I’m epigram that this is — this is a physical expression that the cadaver was, well, it was designed to experience. And P.S., it's fabulous.Charlotte: What are you talking about?! I went to Smith!Samantha: Look, I’m just epigram ... the birthright guy, and the birthright lubricant ...[Carrie, Miranda, and Samantha start laughing. The cab driver starts laughing. The car hits a pothole.]Charlotte: What was that?!Carrie, Miranda, Samantha: A preview!
While many critics fault Sex and the City for failing to offer realistic, fully fleshed-out female characters (and lapsing into couture porn on more than one occasion), its fans cherish it for what it was: a slapstick female-centric comedy that ushered in a current and refreshing way to talk about sex. While SATC’s sexual quandaries ranged widely from the filthy to the absurd, sex jokes were never throwaway, serving instead as a jumping-off point for a larger cultural conversation about devotion and dating. Season one’s anal-sex cab-ride conversation is a hallmark of the series’ ideas about comedy: jokes as both a language between female friends and a virtual necessity when negotiating the ridiculous world of dating. (Only a few weeks?!?!) That a point to could essentially exist a years-long conversation between four women and an undeniable runaway hit changed the game for the comedy of Amy Schumer, Girls, and basically any point to in which ladies talk frankly, and hilariously, about sex.
‘Is That … Hair Gel?’The Farrelly Brothers, Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller, There's Something About Mary
he Farrelly Brothers had already established themselves with Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin, but then there was There’s Something About Mary and the “hair gel.” If Cameron Diaz putting a wad of Ben Stiller’s semen in her hair pushed gross-out comedy to a point never before seen (seriously, until Girls, can you deem of how many other times you’ve seen semen in film or TV?). The crazy thing is the film, with this joke prominently featured in its advertising, made nearly $370 million worldwide, which was the most ever made by an R-rated comedy (and currently is only surpassed by The Hangover and The Hangover II). It established what is now known as the hard-R comedy, a phenomenon that would really grasp hold in the ’00s. MPAA-pushing comedic set pieces are now unavoidable, but it was There’s Something About Mary that stuck its flag in the genre of joke. To this day, that flag sticks birthright up devotion Mary’s hair.
Too SoonGilbert Gottfried, The Friars Club Roast of Hugh Hefner“I acquire a flight to California. I can’t net a direct flight — they said they acquire to desist at the Empire situation edifice first.”
In the wake of 9/11, there was no consensus on how to revert to making fun of the world. current York–based late-night shows like Letterman, The Daily Show , and Saturday Night Live opted for sincere, gentle returns, while The Onion put out its finest paper to date. But only three weeks after the attacks, Gilbert Gottfried rejected the niceties at The Friars Club Roast of Hugh Hefner, where he told this joke and received a chorus of boos and “too soon” from the audience. (In response, Gottfried went into a legendary rendition of the backstage joke “The Aristocrats.”) It’s hard to stutter it was the first joke to net the “too soon” treatment, but it was definitely not the terminal (it wasn’t even the terminal for Gottfried), as the debate over how comedians respond to tragedies has been going ever since, especially with the tower of social media. With this joke, however, in hindsight, people yelled “too soon” too soon; his joke was doing what comedy should do: not mocking the victims or belittling legitimate suffering, but finding the honest humor in real-life horror during a sensitive time.
The Foreigner BeltDave Willis, Matt Maiellaro, Aqua Teen Hunger ForceIgnignokt: Well, how will you devotion the belt when you’re glacial as ice? [The Mooninites freeze Carl and pilfer his porn.]
To focus in on any one moment of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, the low-fi animated succession about humanoid fast-food items, is to hit directly on the sort of full-throttle absurdism that has reach to depict Turner’s entire Adult Swim programming block. In the first of its 11 seasons, ATHF set the tone of its mayhem with antagonists including the snotty 2-D delinquents the Mooninites. In the episode “Revenge of the Mooninites,” Ignignokt and Err acquire a miraculous belt that provides “all the superpowers of ’70s supergroup Foreigner,” and proceed to torture their heroes — evoking Foreigner’s song “Cold as Ice” to freeze one character stiff and giving another “Double Vision.” (Eventually, white-trash neighbor Carl turns his own head into a Connect Four board by invoking “Head Games.”) This bizarre twist on pop culture represented the network’s maximalist current grasp on late-night stoner comedy: clever rather than slack-jawed, and stuffed with so many jokes that missing one doesn’t matter. Without notions devotion the Foreigner Belt, there would exist no frenetic Tim & Eric segments, no “Too Many Cooks,” and certainly no weird, random venerable Spice and Skittles commercials on national TV.
Black White SupremacistDave Chappelle, Neal Brennan, Chappelle’s Show[Clayton Bigsby removes his KKK hood to betray he’s black. The white-supremacist rally attendees are stunned. One woman throws up. A man’s head explodes.]
Before Chappelle’s Show, the world had enjoyed sketch shows featuring predominantly black casts, but never before had the realities of race relations in America been presented so irreverently. Opposed to sketches devotion “Word Association,” which confronted racial tensions head on, Chappelle and his co-creator used ridiculous premises to underline the absurdity of the national environment. grasp the show’s best (though it will never match “I’m Rick James, Bitch” in popularity) sketch, which aired in the premiere episode. Chappelle plays a blind, black white supremacist. It’s a concept that is equal parts silly and brilliant. By having the white supremacist exist black, it underlines how insane the concept of racial prejudice is, considering what they deem of as race is just a social construct. It will gain your head explode. It instantly changed comedy about race in this country, as Key & Peele played with a few years later. The sketch, and the show, in general, also changed the public conversation about social responsibility and comedy. What kinds of jokes is it okay for which kinds of people to tell? And to repeat? Are the ones on comedians of color to ensure that their white fans don’t misinterpret their intentions? Chappelle set up the sketch by epigram that the friend he had played it for said it would set back black people, foreshadowing a time when comedy was scrutinized devotion never before.
Bush vs. BushJon Stewart, The Daily ShowStewart: “Tonight it everyone changes. We’re gonna acquire an honest, open debate between the president of the United States and the one man they believe has the insight and the cojones to stand up to him. So, first, joining us tonight, George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States. Welcome, Mr. President.”Clip of President Bush: “Good evening, I’m pleased to grasp your questions tonight.”Stewart: “Well, thank you very much, sir. I’m pleased to exact them. Taking the other side, joining us from the year 2000, Texas governor and presidential candidate, George W. Bush.”
When Jon Stewart took over The Daily Show in 2000, he couldn’t acquire known that one of history’s most ridiculous presidential elections was only months away, or that his election-coverage name, “Indecision 2000,” would eddy out to exist so prescient. In the following years, the slow-moving train wreck of the Bush administration gave Stewart and his team an wonderful opportunity to build their fledgling late-night point to into an institution, one that would eventually host presidents and prime ministers. This segment was one of the show’s earliest and finest moments of righteous indignation, using a format that would become a staple of the show: employing contrasting video clips to highlight someone’s hypocrisy. Digging through the archives of Governor Bush’s 2000 presidential election and comparing his statements with 2003’s President Bush in the run-up to the Iraq War, The Daily Show was cleverly using resources available to any intelligence organization to provide the sort of accountability journalism that the media was failing to do.
‘Boy, That Escalated Quickly!’Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
The Adam McKay comedy that helped set the tone for an era of Will Ferrell blockbuster comedies is also a touchstone of millennial culture. For a movie that was endlessly quotable, one scene’s staying power has lingered on in particular: after the epic fight scene, the discussion back at the newsroom. The self-referential scene is the epitome of what would reach to exist defined over the next decade as an ironic, new-wave of comedy, in which doing something absurd must immediately exist followed by pointing out its absurdity. It’s a nifty trick you’ll behold basically every night at any of the Upright Citizens Brigade’s four theatres. Where early eras of improv rewarded commitment to the scene, UCB, which McKay was fragment of in its early stages, allows for a have-it-both-ways detachment: You’re in the scene, but you’re also outside the scene. You murder someone with a trident; you point out that you murdered someone with a trident. Outside of improv, or true life for that matter, the line also reflects the internet’s devotion of pointing out things. “That escalated quickly” became another way to stutter “that happened.”
‘Nooooooo, Kelly Clarkson!’Steve Carell, Judd Apatow, Miki Mia, Seth Rogen, Romany Malco, and Paul Rudd, The 40-Year-Old Virgin
It’s hard to credit anything other than the scene in which Steve Carell actually has his incredibly hairy chest waxed as the leavening that super-=charged the Judd Apatow empire of heartfelt R-rated comedies. It’s a one-take, expletive-fueled tour de force, punctuated by almost “adorable” outbursts, devotion the one mentioning American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. Carell sacrificing his cadaver for the bit was the ultimate creep for his character: a good-natured guy falling victim to hypermasculine peer pressure, especially at a time when “metrosexuality” had emerged and disrupted gender politics on a broad, pop-culture level. As for Carell’s counterparts, including his waxer, their genuine reactions of hilarity and horror give it that blooper-reel feel, devotion you’re already watching the even-funnier deleted scenes, a technique that seeped into just about every partially improvised movie to follow.
‘I Was Raped by a Doctor … Which Is So Bittersweet for a Jewish Girl.’Sarah Silverman, Jesus Is Magic
By 2005 Sarah Silverman was a well-known comedian without a full-length stand-up special. distinguished for her controversial, off-color jokes, she kicked off her concert film, Jesus Is Magic, with this provocative line, which embodied everything that made her a groundbreaking comic: her willingness to play with stereotypes while challenging the boundaries of tang via her cutesy, ditzy alter ego. Though, for better or worse (oft for worse), the joke did kick off a trend where it seemed every comedian needed to acquire a rape joke. Still, her provocative persona always had more depth and vulnerability than most shock-jock types, and in this perfectly formed one-liner is the seed of her later, more infuriated material about rape. Without Silverman, who had previously bounced between clubs, alt scenes, and sketch comedy, there would exist no Amy Schumer or Anthony Jeselnik, though her influence can exist felt across the entire comedy spectrum.
Lazy SundayAndy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Chris Parnell, Saturday Night LiveParnell: But first my hunger pains are stickin’ devotion duct tape /Samberg: Let’s hit up Magnolia and mack on some cupcakes /Parnell: No doubt that bakery’s got everyone da bomb frostings /Samberg: I devotion those cupcakes devotion McAdams loves Gosling
The Lonely Island didn’t create the “viral video” or the SNL Digital Short, but it brought the former into the mainstream and the latter into the 21st century. The first of their silly sing-along videos, “Lazy Sunday” couldn’t acquire been timed better: It premiered literally two days after the official launch of YouTube. Granted, NBC didn’t quite understand the power of virality at that point — the network removed “Lazy Sunday” from the video-sharing site and restricted it to iTunes (albeit for free) — but the video spread around the internet nonetheless. (Years later, it rightfully establish a permanent home on YouTube.) While “Dick in a Box” may acquire been the best video, and “YOLO” arguably their best song, the perfect blend of catchy tune, simple video, and goofy view in “Lazy Sunday” spawned, for better or worse, a sea of imitators.
White House Correspondents’ DinnerStephen Colbert“Now, I know there are some polls out there epigram that this man has a 32 percent approval rating. But guys devotion us, they don’t pay attention to the polls. They know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in ‘reality.’ And reality has a well-known openhanded bias.”
Showing up to hear Stephen Colbert, or Colbert’s bloviating right-wing pundit character “Stephen Colbert,” at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2006 must acquire been one of the biggest missteps of George W. Bush’s presidency — minus his signature policy decisions, of course. Never did the former Colbert Report and current Late Show host Colbert prove his fearlessness more than during this jaw-dropping 20-minute set. Heedless of Bush’s grim visage or the stunned discomfort of those in the audience, Colbert continued his comedic assault just feet away from the POTUS. Directly addressing Bush throughout, Colbert mocked the president’s penchant for hollow photo ops and likened the flailing administration to the Hindenburg. The joke above exemplifies Colbert’s set, ironically linking the conservative Colbert character with Bush to poke at the POTUS’s longstanding beef with the media and disinterest in public opinion. The up-close-and-personal delivery of this barb, among others, refreshed political satire by making it feel immediate, dangerous, and necessary.
Louis C.K. on His KidsLouis C.K., Shameless“The other kid they have, she’s a girl, and she’s 4, and she’s also a fucking asshole.”
In an alternate universe, Louis C.K. could acquire easily remained a very good, underappreciated current York stand-up, another middle-aged white dude performing at the Comedy Cellar every night. But in his 2007 HBO special Shameless, he called his 4-year-old daughter an asshole, and things shifted. The rectitude of his perspective as a father genuinely trying to engage with his kids, while noiseless seeing the world through the eyes of a cynical comic, was cathartic for parents and eye-opening for nonparents, and shone a light on the darker corners of that intimate, fundamental parent-child dynamic that is rarely explored. It would inspire legions of stand-ups to pick apart their own relationships and biases, and upped the ante for soul-baring onstage.
Marc Maron on His Adam Sandler JokeMarc Maron, Robin Williams, “WTF”Williams: It’s also when you finish jokes about distinguished people or anybody and then you dash into them.Maron: Well, Sandler never forgave me for something.Williams: Are you serious?Maron: Kinda. I did this joke where I used as a descriptive, you know, I mocked Adam Sandler fans. And then I dash into him at the Improv one night, and he was like, “I hear you're talking about me.” And I’m like, “Yeah, I did it on television.”
Around 2009 and 2010, a second comedy boom exploded, during which fans developed a different relationship with comedy: Self-proclaimed “comedy nerds” were as interested (if not more interested) in comedians’ backstage life as they were in their crafted jokes. And Marc Maron’s conversation with Robin Williams, on the 67th episode of “WTF,” was its breakthrough. Here was a legend having the sort of outspoken conversation about comedy and being a comedian that was previously relegated to green rooms and road gigs. Maron and Williams trade stories, and Maron brings up an venerable joke and the beef he has with another comedian (a theme of early “WTF”s) that resulted from it. It was conversational, it was inside-baseball, and hundreds of thousands of people heard it.
Wedding-Dress Food PoisoningKristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Jessica St. Clair, Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Annie Mumolo, Paul Feig, Judd Apatow, BridesmaidsLillian: It’s happening. It's happening. It’s happening. [She kneels in the middle of the street.] It happened. It happened.Whitney: Oh, no. Don’t you dare destroy that dress.Annie: You’re doing it, aren’t you? You’re shitting in the street.
Four years after Christopher Hitchens penned a Vanity Fair essay arguing that women aren’t funny, out came a film that would change the conversation about women in comedy for the next decade. Its success proved that an all-female cast could gain an R-rated, Judd Apatow–sized hit comedy for everyone genders to enjoy. And nothing said that louder than the scene in which they everyone collectively shat their dresses. Despite being an outrageous sequence of events, it has subtlety as well: You never actually behold poop (although you finish behold plenty of vomit) and they don’t try to gain scatological humor effectively look “sexy” just because it’s coming from a woman (think: Harold and Kumar creep to White Castle). Instead, there is something almost punk rock about Maya Rudolph kneeling in the street in her pristine, white wedding dress.
Voice of My GenerationLena Dunham, GirlsHannah: I deem I may exist the voice of my generation. Or at least a voice. Of a generation.
Girls, more than any other piece of comedy of its generation, illustrates the adolescent person’s never-ending battle between irrational confidence and extreme self-loathing — something this joke typifies. When the point to premiered, this quote was used by critics to hammer the show’s navel-gazing, yet it deftly made light of and satirized the craft of personal mythologizing. They acquire to assume Dunham knew that her point to would stand for an entire demographic, and, in a way, it has. Through her narcissism, emotional sensitivity, confusion, and desperate requisite for belonging, Hannah really is the voice of her generation. That voice has inspired comedies like You’re the Worst and Master of None to continue mining the identical complex, fraught landscape of depression, ambition, and identity, without blinking.
‘Hello, I acquire Cancer.’Tig Notaro, Live
Before 2012, Tig Notaro was an alternative-comedy darling whose performances relied heavily on goofy nonsense. But with one unforgettable set at L.A.’s Largo, she changed the trajectory of her career and raised the bar for onstage honesty. The months preceding her performance had seen her suffer from life-threatening C. diff, shatter up with a partner, and lose her mother in a tragic accident; then, just before the show, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This one heartbreaking line kicked off one of the most essential stand-up sets of everyone time and immediately became the stuff of folklore, as comics and audience members described the stunning show.
Maria Bamford on How People Talk About Mental IllnessMaria Bamford, Ask Me About My current God!“People don’t talk about mental illnesses the way they finish other illnesses. If I was like, 'Wow, apparently Steve has cancer. It’s like, ‘Fuck off! They everyone acquire cancer, right?'“
Ever since Richard Pryor, comedy has been open to the confessional; stand-ups acquire been free to talk about the darker parts of their minds. But what if those darker thoughts aren’t quirky or comically uncanny or “what everyone’s thinking,” but something seriously wrong? Over the terminal decade, Bamford has been pushing comedy in this direction. She tackles the twists and tangles of her intelligence as a really smart, amusing cat would a ball of yarn, batting at it in wonderment to the delight of everyone who are fortunate enough to witness. And she is battling the stigma around mental illness, and comedy about it, by writing the above perfect joke, taking even directly at the stigma. The well-behaved intelligence is it seems to exist working, if the rise of sadcoms and shows with depression and mental-illness chronicle lines like BoJack Horseman, You’re the Worst, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are any indication.
Tina and Amy Host the GlobesTina Fey, Amy Poehler, the 70th Golden Globe AwardsPoehler: I haven’t been following the controversy surrounding Zero dismal Thirty, but when it comes to torture, I trust the woman who spent three years married to James Cameron.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler weren’t an unknown quantity when they were tapped to host the Golden Globes in 2013, but history has shown that not everyone stately comedians gain for stately award-show hosts. Fey and Poehler started off with relatively safe monologue jokes, and it was with this line, halfway through, that they sharpened their focus. Drawing attention to Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, Poehler attacked not her controversial film but her less-than-beloved ex-husband. The result was an almost-perfect joke; tightly constructed, perfectly paced, amusing even if you really didn’t know the details and funnier noiseless if you did. Its repercussion was instant. Listen to how the leeway reacts: After the initial wave of shock echoes through the room, a genuine laugh follows. Much more than a personage roast gag, the joke set up the pair’s perspective as truth-telling, unabashedly pro-women joke-slingers with no fear.
Hannibal Buress on Bill CosbyHannibal Buress“He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up, black people. I was on TV in the ‘80s. I can talk down to people because I had a successful sitcom.’ Yeah, but you raped women, Bill Cosby, so that brings you down a yoke notches.”
Hannibal Buress probably didn’t set out to bring justice to dozens of women or spark a national dialogue about sexual predation when he started explicitly referring to Bill Cosby as a rapist in his stand-up. This joke wasn’t even ready for wide release — it became public via a grainy cell-phone video. But its repercussion was monumental, getting people talking about accusations that had dogged the venerable Cosby for years. And the context matters: Buress, one of today’s most successful adolescent black comics, took even at perhaps the most iconic black comedian in history; the joke itself is about getting out from under his glaring disapproval. In doing so, he did what so many comedians claim to finish but rarely deliver on: busting taboos, speaking the unspeakable, making enemies. Whether or not it was his intention, Buress’s words brought results: There’s almost certainly a direct line from his joke to Cosby’s recent indictment, and it’s in this current environment that comedian Beth Stelling recently came forward with her own chronicle of ill-treat in the comedy community. As influence goes, it’s hard to deem of many jokes that had more impact.
Bitch Better acquire My MoneyEllen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake, The Tonight Show
The night after Stephen Colbert debuted as the host of The Late Show, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon reportedly wanted to asseverate the dominance of his show and sensibility. He did so with the sight of Ellen DeGeneres doing her best Rihanna impression, waving her hand around devotion a gun, and mouthing the words to “Bitch Better acquire My Money” while Justin Timberlake looked on. Was it funny? Nope. But it confident was fun! And it makes sense, as during his time in late night Fallon pushed a style of comedy that equated fun and funny. Better yet, DeGeneres, who after a career as a respected stand-up arguably pioneered that style with her daytime show, was at the seat of the act. Of course, it went viral: This style of populist comedy goes down easy, and spreads even easier.
12 angry Men Inside Amy SchumerAmy Schumer, Jessi Klein, Daniel Powell, Ryan McFaul, Inside Amy Schumer“I don’t deem she’s protagonist-hot …”“But Kevin James is?”
In many ways, 2015 was Amy Schumer’s year, in big fragment because her Comedy Central show, Inside Amy Schumer, cemented its situation in the comedy canon. With this episode-long sketch, a perfect re-creation of the 1957 film 12 angry Men, Schumer achieve the audience in her shoes — that is, as a very amusing person judged more by some for her looks than her talent — and produced one of the funniest, sharpest half-hours of television in recent memory. There are too many lines to select the most perfect (“Oh, Amy. I didn’t behold you there. I thought you were a garden gnome”) but the heart of the piece — that 12 men must resolve if Schumer is “hot enough” to loom on television — is the sort of brutally hilarious view that rarely makes it on television. Along with her pitch-perfect Friday Night Lights parody, the memorable “Last Fuckable Day,” and the Emmy-winning “Girl, You Don’t requisite Makeup,” Schumer establish herself leading the way in 2015 as such excellent feminist comedy as Broad City and Sisters took over the landscape.
ANNAPOLIS, MD — Yet another ranking shows that Blue situation Maryland voters like, maybe even love, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. The ranking — at the halt of a sometimes contentious legislative session where Hogan battled Democratic lawmakers over school improvement and renewable energy — is a well-behaved mark as the first-term GOP leader gets ready for his re-election effort.
According to Morning Consult, Hogan's constituents give him an approval rating of 73 percent to a 16 percent disapproval score. Only 11 percent of those sounding off said they didn't know how to grade Hogan. (Get Patch's daily newsletter and real-time intelligence alerts, or devotion us on Facebook. Or, if you acquire an iPhone, download the free Patch app.)
The current ranking gives Hogan even higher marks than a late February Goucher Poll, which showed that nearly two-thirds of Maryland residents gave him towering marks for his first time in office. In the Goucher Poll, 63 percent of Maryland adults approved of the job Hogan is doing as governor, 17 percent disapproved, and 20 percent didn't know. The towering poll numbers came despite attempts by opponents to tie him to the unpopular policies of President Donald Trump — Hogan didn't champion Trump and refused to vote for him in November.
According to Morning Consult's governor approval rankings, the two most well-liked governors are Republicans in traditionally blue states: Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Hogan of Maryland. Both governors acquire reputations as shrewd, bipartisan dealmakers who value results over party purity, and their constituents look to cherish that style. Three-fourths (75 percent) of Bay Staters sanction of Baker, while 17 percent disapprove. In Maryland, 73 percent sanction of Hogan.
The governor's executive order that moved the official school start date to Maryland public schools until after Labor Day weekend received nearly 70 percent champion of residents polled in recent months, although it enraged teacher unions and many of the state's school boards. Hogan called the change common sense, and said the only difficulties were created by "unreasonable teachers union contracts."
The least liked governor is current Jersey's Chris Christie, who Hogan had supported in his short-lived dash for president in 2016. Hogan's public decision not to endorse or vote for presidential candidate Donald Trump was e a well-behaved creep in the eyes of many Marylanders; the governor said he wrote in his father for president.
The 10 most well-liked governors are:No. 1 Massachusetts, Charlie BakerNo. 2 Maryland, Larry HoganNo. 3 North Dakota, Doug BurgumNo. 4 Vermont, Phil ScottNo. 5 Arkansas, Asa HutchinsonNo. 6 South Dakota, Dennis DaugaardNo. 7 Nevada, Brian SandovalNo. 8 Delaware, John CarneyNo. 9 Tennessee, Bill HaslamNo. 10 Texas, Greg Abbott
Of the 10 least well-liked situation leaders, eight are Republicans, one is an Independent and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy is the sole Democrat on the list.
According to the rankings, these are the least well-liked governors in America: Chris Christie (R-NJ)Sam Brownback (R-KS)Dannel Malloy (D-CT)Rick Snyder (R-MI)Mary Fallin (R-OK)Bill Walker (I-AK)Bruce Rauner (R-IL)Scott Walker (R-WI)Susana Martinez (R-NM)Robert Bentley, who struck a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to misusing of crusade funds in connection with a sex scandal that dogged the embattled politician and resigned on Monday (R-AL)
Methods for rankings:
Morning Consult says more than 85,000 registered voters across America evaluated the job performance of their governors from January 2017 through March 2017 to determine the latest rankings. Click here to behold the plenary methodology.»Photo of Gov. Larry Hogan courtesy of governor's office
Feroze Dhanoa (Patch National Staff) contributed to this report
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