Rolling Stone presents an updated “50 Best Stand-Ups of All Time,” as of 2017

My friend Matthew Love just delivered unto us a new list/ranking worth debating over at Rolling Stone, sponsored by HBO’s new series about stand-up comedians, Crashing.

You can read Love’s take (he used to be Time Out New York‘s Comedy Editor) on each of the comedians at Rolling Stone, but here’s a bit of his explainer, followed by just the rankings for you to ponder:

“So you’d think assembling a list of the 50 greatest stand-ups of all time would be easy right? Riiiight. Ha!

In coming up with our version of a comic canon, we weighed artistic merit, technical proficiency and sense of timing, quality of their written material, their delivery and degree of influence — and often, their sense of what makes something, anything, funny. No disrespect to the foundational figures who shaped the earliest incarnations, but this list tiptoes past some of the early craftsmen and focuses on the unique voices who have helped to push stand-up forward in more recent days. These 50 stand-ups best embody what we have come to expect of our modern-day comedians: Someone who can wake us up to the weird, wonderful possibilities of the world around us, impel us to think differently about our own lives – and most of all, make us howl like blithering idiots.”

Big question before you scroll down…where do you think Bill Cosby stands now? OK. Now find out!

How many women do you think made the top 50?

I have some obvious and not-so obvious quibbling about who’s on the list, who’s missing, and where they’re ranked, and so forth (RIP Greg Giraldo, and where’s all-time great joke writer Emo Philips, for starters), but then I look back at how RS had Love compile the list, and there’s that sentence: “this list tiptoes past” and focuses on “more recent days,” so some comedians are getting more credit than perhaps a future list will grant them, respective to those who joked before them. But I’ll save my arguments for the comments section. Won’t you join me?

Rolling Stone’s “50 Best Stand-Ups of All Time” as of Feb. 14, 2017

  1. Richard Pryor
  2. George Carlin
  3. Lenny Bruce
  4. Louis C.K.
  5. Chris Rock
  6. Joan Rivers
  7. Jerry Seinfeld
  8. Bill Cosby
  9. Dave Chappelle
  10. Mort Sahl
  11. Steve Martin
  12. Robin Williams
  13. Bill Hicks
  14. Andy Kaufman
  15. Steven Wright
  16. Billy Connolly
  17. Bill Burr
  18. Kevin Hart
  19. Albert Brooks
  20. Mitch Hedberg
  21. Bob Newhart
  22. Jonathan Winters
  23. Don Rickles
  24. Eddie Izzard
  25. Eddie Murphy
  26. Rodney Dangerfield
  27. Redd Foxx
  28. Robert Klein
  29. Dick Gregory
  30. Woody Allen
  31. Sarah Silverman
  32. Patrice Oneal
  33. Janeane Garofalo
  34. Patton Oswalt
  35. Tig Notaro
  36. Daniel Kitson
  37. Sam Kinison
  38. Roseanne Barr
  39. Moms Mabley
  40. Garry Shandling
  41. Bernie Mac
  42. Phyllis Diller
  43. Amy Schumer
  44. Russell Peters
  45. Freddie Prinze
  46. Reggie Watts
  47. Elayne Boosler
  48. Margaret Cho
  49. Aziz Ansari
  50. Wanda Sykes

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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25 thoughts on “Rolling Stone presents an updated “50 Best Stand-Ups of All Time,” as of 2017

  1. Not listed in this Top 50: Emo Philips, Greg Giraldo, Ellen DeGeneres, Jim Gaffigan, Lewis Black, Norm Macdonald, Brian Regan, Billy Crystal, Doug Stanhope, Ray Romano, Dave Attell. Would you make room for any of them in your Top 50? And if so, whom would you bump out? Or is there someone else you feel is even more deserving of all-time praise?

      1. Exactly. Where are those folks. And sorry but ck ahead of chris rock? Kevin Hart ahead of Patrice O’Neal?

    1. Also not listed. Richard Jeni,Jackie Mason,Louie Anderson,Howie Mandel,Ricky Gervais,David Brenner,Drew Carey,The Amazing Johnathan,and not known by very many people in the U.S. Tommy Cooper.

    2. how the hell is tig Notaro on this list & Greg Giraldo & Doug Stanhope are left off. Thats completely insane. Nevermind leaving off Dave Attell & putting on Reggie Watts & Amy Schumer

    3. Dave Attell should definitely be up there. He’s a stand-up’s stand-up. He’s definitely above some names on this list: Amy Schumer (and I legit don’t hate her) and Aziz And Sri (he’s not even a stand-up). Norm needs to be up there too. I’m pretty baffled by this list; did Any actual stand-ups help assemble it? Why is Patrice O’Neal ranked so low?

  2. Pryor is not #!. Carlin is. (Well, not counting Mark Twain.) Actually, Pryor is way too high there

    1. Derry T Fontenot – I agree with you. Carlin’s humor was extremely clever and well constructed. I may be burned at the stake for saying this but Pryor is overrated. Everyone in the business is afraid to say it. And Amy Schumer? Really? Not even in the top 500.

  3. Schumer, Ansari, and Watts shouldn’t be anywhere near this list. Especially when the likes of Norm MacDonald, Colin Quinn, and Dave Attell are absent. Props for giving Patrice O’Neal a spot, albeit too low.

    1. Watts is a comedian? I could list 20 whom don’t belong on this list that are 10x as funny-wait, not 10x because for watts x=0-so I’ll just say 20 that actually get laughs, & that’s just off the top of my head.

  4. Norm, Attell, Regan…… List can’t be taken seriously without them not only on it, but towards the top.

  5. Comedy is subjective but whoever made this list doesn’t know shit about stand-up. I don’t want to point out all of the horrible rankings on this list but I mean, come on, Norm Macdonald is one of the most original comics of all time. Top ten comic of all time. He has tons of amazing material but he doesn’t spew out shitty comedy specials 4 times a year. “Me doing stand up” was amazing. If the people that put this list together knew Norm’s method as a comic or ever did a gig in their lives, they would realize how talented he really is. He has so much material that he just goes on stage with one major idea, one bit that he really likes, and builds his act towards that idea. Also, Attell, and Giraldo would be way up there if I were doing this list. I mean, Giraldo was one of the smartest and quickest guys on stage.

    1. I’ve still yet to see Anthony Jeselnik, Frankie Boyle or Jimmy Carr make one of these lists that is scandelous!

    2. thank you for this comment….this speaks absolute truth and the fact that he is not in the top 50 let alone top 5 makes me realize they dont know shit

  6. I didn’t see David Brenner. I always enjoyed his comedy and think him grossly underrated.

  7. How is Joe Rogan not on this list, but Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari are? Is this a joke? I guess not, since the list maker obviously doesn’t get jokes. Sheesh.

    1. a moronic many great comics should have been on here…cho, hart.etc…are you kidding? ..go get a job cooking hamburgers, you know nothing about comedy..

  8. A list without the King of Cringe (Ricky Gervais) is not one I can take seriously. Likewise, Norm MacDonald, Rogan and Colin Quinn all have to be top 50 easy.

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