5 Paula Poundstone
One important aspect of stand-up comedy that is often lost in television broadcasts is audience participation and interaction with the comedian. But not the way Paula Poundstone does it. Yes, anyone who can riff on Pop-Tarts for more than three minutes demonstrates a truly unique talent. Except the talent part. (Unless you’re Jim Gaffigan.) Poundstone’s jokey and uninspired improvisation bares a certain resemblance to an illiterate Groucho Marx. And the garish outfits she wore on stage were about a rainbow wig away from something a clown would wear. Coulrophobia aside, we’re glad Paula’s career never really made it out of the nineties.
4 Larry the Cable Guy
NASCAR’s favorite stand-up epitomizes condescending humor. Lowest common denominator in a way that would make Jeff Foxworthy blush, he at least succeeds in finding his audience. He then proceeds to perpetuate the same stereotypes that lead to all Southerners being labeled as Rednecks. But (in my humble opinion) comedians shouldn’t just observe social customs, they should challenge them. Larry the Cable sends the message that being an underachieving moron is all right, if you can laugh it off. OK, fair enough. But when he starts invading my Prilosec OTC adds, I draw the line. Pretty soon, he’ll be telling me about how I can go to school in my pajamas.
3 Dane Cook
The most famous touring stand-up these days (Chris Rock doesn’t tour regularly anymore since he’s busy being Adam Sandler’s token friend), Dane Cook will ham up a joke set up till the leaves change color. A hypothetical example: “So, like, are you ever at the mall with your friends… You know, the mall? And you say to your friends, ‘Hey, friends, isn’t this a lovely day were all having together… here, at the mall?’ And then you’re friends all get together and talk about how much they love the mall?” Hyperbole aside, his punchlines aren’t half bad… if he could ever get to them. You know, at the mall?
2 Jon Lovitz
This one is truly sad, since we all know Jon Lovitz as a terrific character actor. For further proof, see any of his guest appearances on the Simpsons or his work on Saturday Night Live. This master thespian can usually do no wrong. Perhaps a bad manager or a desire to expand his range has caused him to recently expand into standup. Either way, he’s offering some of the most gimmicky, predictable material this side of Richard Belzer. And for a seasoned actor, his timing is inexplicably terrible. If you can sit through his portion of the Roast of Bob Saget, you should be given a medal for courageous fortitude in the face of blinding mediocrity.
1 Jeff Dunham
How many times can you see a puppet making a joke about the puppeteer having his hand up their backside before you puke out your own spleen? Jeff Dunham begs this philosophical question almost every time he takes the stage. Dunham’s puppets (who range from cliché to racially offensive to pitiably inane) seem to have a penchant for insulting an audience’s funny bone with a preponderance of lame sex and fart jokes. His best “loved” characters formed the basis of The Jeff Dunham Show on Comedy Central. (You have to at least give credit to Comedy Central for spewing limitless brain-dead claptrap into your living rooms.) In one of the best collective moves ever by American viewers, the show only lasted seven episodes.
These people really tickle our unfunny bone. As much as we love to laugh, we hate to be disappointed. Standing in front of people takes real brass cajones, even for the lady stand-ups. So, you’ve got to give a little respect either way. But when people this bad are seemingly so courageous, courage may no longer seem like such a desirable attribute. These comedians are more like naked toddlers running into a gunfight with baggies of cheerios. Sure, there’s courage; but what’s the point? We also had to toss a few more infantile comedians your way, just for shits and giggles.
Kathy Griffin — Fast-talking, high-maintenance… Do we really need to list the rest of the stereotypes?
Gallagher — It’s always fun to smash things, but mostly in heavy metal music videos.
Carrot Top — As funny as he is beautiful!