When It Comes to Comedy, These Are the Top Two

It seems as though it’s in the darkest times that great comedy is created. And there hasn’t been a shortage of dark times in our world. Lately, we’ve been in one of the more difficult periods of the last decade or so, which is why it’s an appropriate time to distract ourselves with comedy.

George Carlin and Richard Pryor

George Carlin and Richard Pryor. Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Today there are more comedians than ever before (thanks to Netflix, in part). But just because there are lots of comedians doesn’t mean they’re all that good. Call me nostalgic, but it seems as though the best are long gone. Here are two of the best comedians to have ever graced the stage…

The Great George Carlin

They called him the hippie sage, the linguist, the First Amendment activist, and an undisputed stand-up champion. George Carlin went through an early “square” phase that suited the mainstream-friendly outlets.

George Carlin

George Carlin. Photo by Deborah Feingold/Corbis via Getty Images

But then he grew a beard, found drugs, and his voice. He was a pro at putting his audience out of their comfort zone and making them laugh at the same time. Just watch Jammin’ in New York or Carlin at Carnegie, and you’ll never look back.

The One and Only Richard Pryor

Like all great artists, Richard Pryor went through an evolution in his career. He sprung up from a disturbing childhood which shaped the basis of his early act. Like Carlin, he too went through a clean-cut Cosby kind of phase, that is until he found drugs and his act.

Comedian Richard Pryor

Comedian Richard Pryor performing on stage at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago, Illinois, July 28, 1978. Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Once he got to San Francisco, he became outspoken, unfiltered, and unbeatable. His specials Live in Concert and Live on the Sunset Strip proved just how untouchable Pryor was.

May both Carlin and Pryor rest in peace… and humor.