And I thought we were all done with our mourning and general lauding of the late-great George Carlin. Since Carlin passed away back in June, there has been a lot said about the comedy great. Fans and critics have been throwing around accolades containing words like “genius” and “ground-breaking”. George is generally regarded as a “pioneer” and an “innovator”. We have already made our opinions known about Carlin who was a Cageboy icon.
But now, I read an item on MSNBC by Michael Ventre. Ventre thinks he knows a thing or two about comedy. Well, I’m here to tell you that Ventre is full of crap – you want the low-down on comedy? Once again, let the Cageboys be your guide. Ventre talks to notable comedy industry experts such as the owner of the Laugh Factory in L.A. and the VP of HBO Entertainment who makes the ABSURD observation that Dane Cook is the next George Carlin. Granted Dane Cook has a number of HBO Specials. GRANTED Dane Cook has sold out Madison Square Garden and a number of arenas around the country. So have Monster Truck Rallies and wrestling. Just because a lot of people go doesn’t make it good. Frankly, I don’t have the energy to bash Cook any further than to say that I’ve seen him, I’ve tried to watch his specials, I’ve turned it off. Not funny. There are no jokes there – just lots of wacky set-ups with no comedic resolutions. It’s like write-your-own punchline day at HBO. And from what I’ve read, many of Dane Cook’s routines are stolen from comedians like Louis C.K. – who is GENUINELY funny – and Joe Rogan.
And while we’re talking about comedians who steal jokes – when will people wake up and realize that Carlos Mencia is not funny? Not funny at all. His act was fresh and new back when Freddie Prinze did it in the 70’s and again when Paul Rodriguez did it and then it started to get stale when George Lopez was doing it. Fellas, I respect your ethnicity – the fact that you are Hispanic is not funny. You want to see ethnic humor done right – go see Chris Rock. Look at tapes of Richard Pryor. The ethnic part comes secondary to the humor part when it’s done right. Carlos Mencia’s whole act boils down to “Hey, I’m Hispanic. My family eats tacos.” Lame, dude. And I’ll just go ahead an be outraged and offended on behalf of Hispanic people everywhere. You know what’s offensive? The fact that you suck so bad, Carlos.
You know who else isn’t funny? Rich Little. How was that guy ever famous? Have you heard his comedy? He’s terrible. All his impressions – with the possible exception of his Johnny Carson – all sound the same. They all sound like Rich Little. And he tries, you know? That makes it all the more painful. He has jokes that have long, intricate setups and well thought-out punchlines. Everything a joke needs except humor.
In still more comedy news, I see where Cheech and Chong are reuniting for a Live comedy tour. Tentatively called the “We’re Out Of Money Tour”. No, seriously, Cheech and Chong are funny. Back in the 70’s, a lot of people probably poo-pooed their humor as just fadish latching on to the drug culture in America. But looking back, some of those routines hold up really well and really stand out as original. So, yeah, I’d go see Cheech and Chong.
This might become one of the great, raging Cageboy debates – but I’ll get the ball rolling with a quick rundown of who I find funny and who ain’t funny – ’cause I know these things. You’re just going to have to trust me.
George Carlin = legendary funny
Dane Cook = not funny
Carlos Mencia = not funny
Freddie Prinze = don’t remember it vividly, but I would guess not really all that funny
Paul Rodriguez = not funny
Rich Little = not funny
Chris Rock= wayyyyyy funny
Don Rickles = incredibly funny
Adam Sandler = surprisingly funny in a goofy and retarded way
Steve Martin = funny (only stand-up material analyzed for this scientific assessment)
Whoopi Goldberg = oh my GAWD not funny. How did Whoppi achieve comedy legend status?
Robin Williams = I really want to go NOT funny – but in small doses, he can be funny
Carrot Top= also surprising funny. You have to wade through a lot of garbage to get to the funny – but he has made me laugh – more so in off-handed comments than the actual prepared prop-comedy.
Louis C.K. = very funny. Does not translate to sit-com style comedy.
Patton Oswalt= this guy is wicked awesome funny. Out of the park hilarious. He does a bit about Carvel ice cream that made me pee myself. Ready for this? He might be the funniest guy on this list.
Gary Shandling= we love him. Larry Sanders rules. His standup is about a 6 out of 10.
Dice Clay = not so much
Louis Anderson – funny – family kind of funny
David Cross = that guy from Mr. Show. He’s funny but definitely an acquired taste
Janeane Garofalo – used to be funny – haven’t seen her stand-up in awhile
Bob Nelson– this is a Cageboy deity. He hasn’t been on the scene in quite some time – I believe he has a theater in Branson now. You might remember him from the Rodney Dangerfield specials? He did a routine about the college all-star football team where he did all kind of funny characters. Anyway, the Cageboys had the privilege of meeting Mr. Nelson once and in addition to being a very funny human being – he was a really super-nice guy. Bob got all heavy-Christian later in his career and his comedy suffered. Not that he worked dirty before the switch, he just kind of lost his edge.
Rodney Dangerfield– Hmmmmmm. Funny standup – not so much with the acting and his prepared skits from his many comedy specials blew chunks of dead bear.
Richard Lewis = no funny
Richard Jeni = The Patypus Man. Really funny dead guy.
Bill Hicks = also dead – also very funny.
Larry Miller = has all but abandoned stand-up for movie roles – but funny
Kevin Pollak = normally I’d go funny – but given the names on this list – I don’t think he really stacks up
Jeff Dunham= working with puppets usually disqualifies you from any consideration – but in Jeff Dunham’s case, he pulls it off. Funny.
Eddie Murphy= again stand-up alone in the mix. When I consider Eddie Murphy’s comedic net-worth, all I can focus on is his movie roles and SNL characters – which are hilarious. As for his stand-up, a couple of zingers come to mind – and maybe I need to go get an EM refresher – but all I can remember was that it was real dirty. Dirty is easy and therefore not funny.
Richard Pryor = Richard is know primarily as a dirty comedian – but Richard brought another element to the table that transcended the blue material. Funny.
Margaret Cho = not funny
Kathy Griffin= OMG funny, underappreciated funny. Go out and appreciate the comedy of Kathy.
Ellen Degeneres = funny
Rosie O’Donnell= here a shocker for the list. Funny. She’s a big fat, loud mouth personally – hate her politics – hate her issues – but the stand up is actually pretty funny. Lemme go ahead and get all my lesbian comediens out of the way….
Paula Poundstone = funny. I love a gal who rocks men’s suits on stage.
David Spade = semi funny.
Jim Breuer= spastic crack monkey. Funny noises and spaz attacks do not make for funny.
Bobcat Goldthwait = previous comments aside, the Bobcat is a talented comedian.
Bob Saget = Danny Tanner’s stand-up is a bit of a shocker in that it’s filthy and filled with unsavory imagery. That said, he CAN be funny but he’s definitely not for everybody.
Dave Attell= meh – take it or leave it
Norm Macdonald= former SNLer does some very fine stand-up
Earthquake = nope
Wanda Sykes = nope
Ralphie May = no
Ed Norton = no
Sam Kinison = dead funny. Had he lived and gotten over all that screaming stuff – he was a very funny guy. He would have gone on to do some great stand-up.
Dave Chapelle= wow funny. If you didn’t know anything about Chapelle – you wouldn’t guess in a million years that he’s funny. I suspect Dave has mental issues – but his stand-up kills. Go see him before he becomes unglued.
Lewis Black = yeah, funny I guess. I just don’t like the guy.
Richard Belzer = not funny. The Reagan impression does not work anymore.
Drew Carey= before he hosted gameshows and was way overexposed – Drew did standup. Yes, funny.
Bill Cosby = legendary funny. As for everything else – shut the hell up Bill and do the Buck-Buck routine.
Gilbert Gottfried = damn he is one annoying little man – but funny.
Damon Wayans = funny – but just barely hanging on. In his later work, Damon got lazy and went strictly for blue material and sexual material. Unless you have something really original to say in that topic area – not funny in most cases.
Jake Johnannsen = funny. His early stand up is really killer.
Victoria Jackson= former SNLer. She’s so darn perky and likable and not funny.
Andy Kaufman = now he’s all dead and everyone wants to jock him about what a creative genius he was and blah, blah, blah. I was too young to have an opinion one way or the other when he was on the scene. Innovative? Out of the box? Different? Definitely. Slap nuts funny? debatable. I will again shock the list with a No Funny.
Dennis Leary = you have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy Dennis – but yes, funny. In particular – check out the Comedy Central Roast and if you can your hands on his “Unplugged” musical special.
Dennis Miller= meh – not so much. If he was truly funny, he would have done better on Monday Night Football. I think we all know what Dennis’ problem is.
Lisa Lampanelli = if it weren’t for the roasts on Comedy Central, I wouldn’t know who she was. But she kills on the roasts and does some funny stand-up
Bill Mahr = is not funny.
Dana Carvey= he’s ok. I get tired of the voices. Write some great jokes for the voices and I’m with you. Saying “It wouldn’t be prudent” while dressed as Bush Sr. is not a joke. Amusing? Maybe – but not a joke. And if you do the Hans and Franz voice to imitate Arnold Schwarzenegger one more time – we’re revoking all your former SNL privileges and docking you your Wayne’s World money.
Bobby Slayton= The Pitbull of Comedy. Funny. He’s holding down the fort at the Hooters Casino in Vegas nowadays.
Jerry Seinfeld= yes, ok funny. Jerry tends to lean towards that Jerry Lewis and the Serious Business of Comedy route. A little pompous. Pull back on that, Jer – we want to like you.
Rich Voss = funny.
Steven Wright = original and funny – but the act has run it’s course.
Robert Wuhl= it pains me to even take a position on Robert Wuhl. He has some funny ideas – but I hate his delivery. He might be funny – but I don’t like the guy.
Robert Klein = nope not funny. He’s right on the cusp of making the funny list and then he pulls out that stupid harmonica and does that crappy “I Can’t Stop My Leg” bit for 20 minutes and stinks up the joint. No, you know what – he stinks. No funny for you.
I’m sure I overlooked plenty of great and not so great comedians. If you want a specific Cageboy ruling on anyone in particular – post a comment and we’ll size the bastard up for you. In the mean time – many, many standup DVDs are available from Netflix. Start lining up your own cavalcade of comedy and yuk it up – face it – you need a good laugh.