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Personally, for stand-up comedy I'm a long-time George Carlin fan and have a deep devotion to Bill Hicks (whose stand up comedy might as well be literature). I'm also impressed at the way Dave Attell has managed to turn self-deprecation into art.
For movies, I edge toward dark comedy. The original "The Ladykillers" is a favorite, as is "Harold and Maude," "Kind Hearts and Coronets," "Divorce, Italian Style," "Dr. Strangelove" and so on. Love the British sitcoms, "Monty Python" and "Blackadder" in particular, and think "Arrested Development" is a classic piece of comedic storytelling.
For music, Randy Newman at his most biting, Tom Leher anytime, as well as Tenacious D. Was a big "Weird" Al fan as a kid, but I got over it.
I was an Allen Sherman fan as a kid, which is probably dating me: "My Zelda, my Zelda, my Zelda she took de money and ran wit' de tailor!" and "A Letter from Camp."
("I'm a gnu, g'how about you?")
I also grew up listening to Tom Lehrer and Allen Sherman -- but these were taped from the original LPs. Yay Seltzer Boy!
I picked up the original albums at a jumble sale - love Allen Sherman and Tom Lehrer!
There was a piece on Sherman on NPR recently that claimed his popularity dwindled when he "sold out," as was indicated by the change in cover photos. In the last one, "My Son the Celebrity," he was apparently showing off his Rolls, chauffeur, wife's mink, etc. On the back were notes making fun of it. That piece still p's me o.
I grew up watching Rodney Dangerfield and Comic Relief specials on HBO. (liberal-minded parents, can't you tell?) and miss that entire 80's era of comedy. Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, I love them all. I still find myself quoting Louie Anderson from time to time, and only recently while perusing Youtube, figured out that I was quoting him! ("You want some more stuffing? I've got some in the kitchen. Some more in the fridge. I've got some in the garage...")
I wonder if people realize that the stuff they watch/listen to as a child is imprinting their brain? I can and do love comedy now, but I don't know that any of it will ever make such a huge impression as the stuff I watched as a kid.
“Oh, we need the Falkland Islands... for strategic sheep purposes!"
Eddie Izzard is absolutely fabulous...he's an executive transvestite! And, he did a decent job on the Oceans movies. Not funny, but not terrible acting either, like everything Dane Cook did since he's been trying to be an Actor.
I went to a lot of live comedy shows in college and just after. Most of the people I love are not (yet!) big names.
From the recent Last Comic Standing, I really LOVED Matt Kirshen. If you have a chance, please see him. He's British and looks like a little like a lemur. Adorable.
Also good is Aaron Karo, who got his start with an email list called "Ruminations." You can check out the archives here. His is more of a college/twentysomething humor.
We grew up with the comedy albums of Bill Cosby and Allen Sherman - one of my brothers played them over and over so that he could memorize the routines/songs. I absorbed them, as well, and still can recite most of Cosby's "Wonderfulness" - especially The Chicken Heart that Ate New York City. TOOMP-toomp! TOOMP-toomp!
I enjoyed the improv show "Whose Line is It Anyway?" when it was a British import. I love Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles. I think Drew Carey's hosting on the American version took something away from it.
One of the funniest audio items ever done is Anna Russell's An Analysis of The Ring of the Nibelungs. Just one example: Describing Siegfried when he shows up in the story, she says, "He's very strong and he's very brave and he's very handsome and he's very stupid." Her synopis comes with perfectly apt musical illustrations. Famously, she gives you the 17 hour Ring cyle in 30 minutes.
The best part about this RenFest was that they had "taverns" set up, and if you're into bawdy music, all you had to do was just park yourself there and the entertainment came to you. Singing along was encouraged. It was great fun.
with Terry Thomas and Ian Carmichael