They say laughter is the best medicine and if that is so, then everyone should take some time and watch the professionals of comedy at work.

Obviously, nothing compares to being in the audience at a great live stand-up comedy show, but thanks to technology, you can watch these shows in the comfort of your own home, using your computer or your OLED TV. If you don’t really know much about stand-up, you can start with this list of comedians we came up with. Now you’ve got no excuse not to laugh anymore.

 

George Carlin

Considered a true philosopher by many of his admirers, George Carlin was the thinking man’s comic, demanding that his audiences see beyond the myriad of stereotypes heaped upon them by politicians and advertisers. Carlin’s listeners were constantly challenged to step out of their comfort zones.

The undisputed champion of stand-up comedy, Carlin continuously defended the First Amendment and free speech while also showing contempt for those who abuse words. His “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” is a classic and it still feels remarkably relevant today.

 

Richard Pryor

If Carlin can be considered the brain of comedy, then Pryor is its heart – that’s how visceral he was. He openly shared his pain and admitted his faults to the audience completely exposing himself to the public, with all his failures and flaws.

Everything was on the table in Pryor’s comedy acts, even the darkest moments – from his heart attack to his cocaine habit. Jerry Seinfeld referred to Richard Pryor as “the Picasso of our profession” and that’s not surprising at all seeing how mesmerizing and fluid he was on stage.

 

Eddie Izzard

If you’ve ever watched stand-up comedy on YouTube using a computer or a smart TV, and this man dressed as a woman appeared as a suggestion – that’s Eddie Izzard. Don’t let his appearance fool you — there’s nothing dramatic or burlesque about his comedy.

Eddie Izzard actually makes intelligent comedy in the sarcastic British style. Always with a smirk on his face, he examines humankind’s achievements, failings and patterns in a brilliant, creative way.

Russell Peters

A Canadian citizen with Indian heritage, Russell Peters is probably the first stand-up comedy global superstar. Although not very well known in the American showbiz, the YouTube videos of his acts made him famous all over the world.

Peters plays with stereotypes, directing his jabs not only at those of Indian descent, but basically at any ethnicity out there. Nobody escapes his intimate, astute banter. Considering Peters’ unique niche, it’s not really a surprise that his audiences are generally very dynamic and racially-mixed.

 

Amy Schumer

In 2007 she appeared as a contestant on the fifth edition of the reality-show competition “Last Comic Standing”. However, what brought her recognition and five Emmy Awards nominations is her sketch show “Inside Amy Schumer”.

What makes Amy Schumer one of the most interesting comedians today is her particular sense of humor, which is both fearless and fierce.  She doesn’t mind shocking the audience to make a point and her comedy is very insightful while looking at how women are punished for seeking pleasure – in men, in food, in feminism, or in life.

 

Daniel Kitson

Another British comedian, Kitson has an incredible command of language and manages to make crafty stand-up while being extremely theatrical. It’s quite obvious from his acts that his comedy laid the groundwork for gifted storytellers like Christopher Titus or Mike Birbiglia.

Kitson has the unique talent of mixing trivial bits of biography like the death of an aunt or a negative review of his act with bigger, more philosophical issues, like the nature of time or individual perception.

Patton Oswalt

Oswalt’s obsession with comic books, genre literature and film made him the nerd of stand-up comedy. After all, this is the man who said “my geekness is getting in the way of my nerdiness” and who contributed quite a bit to the triumph of dork culture or the rise of the geeks in the new millennium.

Proving that even after 30 years on the stage he still evolves as a performer, Oswalt dedicated his latest Netflix special, ”Annihilation”, to his first wife who suddenly passed away in 2016. The act, powerful and hilarious at the same time, shows how strength can be found even in the most gruesome of tragedies.

 

Chris Rock

Chris Rock has managed to challenge audiences with his take on race, politics, and relationships. His public has to be ready to rethink issues otherwise taken for granted: a black man is born a suspect, or there would be no need for gun control if there was “bullet control”.

Some of Chris Rock’s acts are not only daring, but outright controversial and that makes him an interesting comedian to watch. He may come across as a poet, a preacher, and a boxer, all at the same time. If you like being challenged to think unconventionally, then maybe you should give this unique performer a chance.

 

Louis CK

Louis CK has been around for decades, but became the artist we now know only after his 2007 special named “Shameless”. He manages to deliver good comedy in a very intimate way, approaching his personal life or the lives of those close to him in an abrupt, honest, meticulous manner.

This self-deprecating social critic releases new material nearly every year and through these specials we have come to know him as a lazy, greedy, horny guy who just happens to be a dad. His comedy shamelessly shows us a culture of entitlement where “everything is amazing and nobody is happy”. Unfortunately, he became considerably less popular after being one of the targets of the #metoo movement (alongside so many other male public figures), with several women making sexual assault allegations against him.

 

Jerry Seinfeld

His sitcom might be renowned, but it’s on the stage where you can see the uncut, vigorous Jerry Seinfeld comic. He manages to approach topics using a clean, incredibly precise language and he makes the public take a step back and look at the big picture.

Obviously finding an inspiration in observational comedy pioneers like David Brenner and Robert Klein, Seinfeld carelessly dissects the trivialities of Western life: 98% of human activities are just a way of killing time and there is no such thing as a “happy” birthday.