Curtain Call: the Top 5 Shows Starring Standup Comedians

By TK Kelly February 27, 2013 View all posts (151)
Before TV executives were giving shows to horrible housewives, drunken orange teenagers, and hopeless child pageant queens, there was a magical time when people were given shows based on their talent and hard work. Many of those people were standup comedians. It used to be that a comic would work for years in hopes of getting noticed by an exec that wanted to build a show around him. And when that would happen, sometimes the result was truly something amazing. These are the top five shows starring standup comedians.

5 Louie (2010-Present)

Even though it’s only been on for three seasons so far, Louie has proven to be a huge hit, and a very different animal than the shows that comedians traditionally land in. He serves as the writer, director, star and editor for every single episode, and because of it has created something that is wholly his own. It’s at times hilarious and at other times extremely dark and sad, but it’s always interesting and always feels like something truly new.

Comic’s Memorable Moment:
In a priceless scene in episode 106 Louie absolutely destroys a woman who talks during his set. It’s uncomfortable and spectacular and exactly what she deserved. Watch it.

4 The Drew Carey Show (1995-2004)

This show was on for 9 seasons but it still somehow feels like it flew under the radar. It was certainly never the biggest comedy hit on TV, but week after week it was well written and genuinely funny. Drew’s workplace interactions with Mimi and Mr. Wick were always sharp, and were only topped by the ridiculous situations he got into with his best friends Lewis, Oswald, and Kate (We won’t speak of those blasphemous late seasons with that Kellie chick).

Comic’s Memorable Moment:
Drew had a ton of great moments on the show, but it’s hard not to go with the “5 O’Clock World” dance sequence he did that served as the show’s opening for many seasons. That chubby dude can move.

3 Everybody Loves Raymond (1996-2005)

Let’s be clear, not EVERYBODY loved Raymond. Some people found Raymond to be just okay, but there’s no denying the fact that this show was wildly popular and did offer up some genuinely riotous moments over its 9-season run. It’s a formula that’s been done before: dopey husband is constantly in trouble with the wife who’s always right. But Everybody Loves Raymond added a little something extra with some slightly edgy humor, and even ventured into the dangerous territory of admitting that the wife may occasionally be wrong (Say whaaaat?!).

Comic’s Memorable Moment:
Ray explains to his brother how a woman came onto him by bending him over and patting his ass repeatedly, while his wife Debra looks on disgusted, from the top of the stairs.

2 The Cosby Show (1984-1992)

The Cosby Show was probably the biggest sitcom hit of the 1980s, and the Coz himself was one of the biggest standup talents in the world. The exploits of Cliff and Clair Huxtable and their children Theo, Rudy, and those other ones no one really cared about, were a weekly staple for most American families’, as Cosby hilariously struggled with the complications of being a devoted father, husband and doctor (not to mention pudding salesman).

Comic’s Memorable Moment:
In season 6’s episode “Cliff’s Wet Adventure,” Cosby gets stuck going out to the store over and over, in what appears to be a monsoon, to pick up items Clair forgot to get for Thanksgiving dinner. And after his last trip, of course the sun comes out.

1 Seinfeld (1989-1998)

Is there even a question? Seinfeld is considered by most to be the funniest sitcom of all time, and it was formed around the standup routines of Jerry Seinfeld. With the ability to create the most hilarious bits around the most inane topics, Jerry served up a ton of material for Larry David and the writers to build on, and they took it all to the absolute highest level. Scene for scene, Seinfeld has more memorable and quotable moments than any other show in TV history, so it easily runs away with the top spot here.

Comic’s Memorable Moment:
In the season 8 episode “The Muffin Tops,” Jerry makes the mistake of shaving his entire body. The result is a hilarious bathroom interaction with Kramer and Jerry running off into the woods to scratch himself like an insatiable werewolf.

There you have it, the top five shows starring standup comics. We would like to apologize to all of those involved in classic shows like Sanford and Son, Bob Newhart’s shows, and Welcome Back Kotter, but we re honestly not old enough to remember them and not motivated enough to truly research them. But we’ve heard they were great. So that’s something, right?

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