Middle school and high school was my stand-up comedy phase. I never had the balls to actually attempt it myself, but I had a nearly insatiable appetite for watching it. It started Saturday nights when I was a kid, watching Comic Strip Live on Fox instead of SNL, and getting to see the likes of Rich Hall, Larry Miller and Dennis Wolfberg ply their trade from the tiny stage at Igby’s, and later the Laugh Factory. I had my Robin Williams phase, my Andrew Dice Clay phase . . . I would go to video stores hunting for stand-up tapes and invite a few friends over on Friday or Saturday night to stay up late and watch them.
And of course I kept up with the new guys, the up-and-coming young whippersnappers like Chris Rock and Eddie Izzard. I still say Bring the Pain, the 1996 Chris Rock HBO special featuring the infamous “Niggas vs. Black People” routine (which way too many clueless white guys took as permission to start dropping the N-bomb), is the funniest stand-up act I have ever seen . . .
. . . with the sole exception of Eddie Murphy’s Delirious, the best routine of which is embedded below. It’s the “Cookout” bit, where Murphy blends Richard Pryor’s mastery of profanity with Bill Cosby’s genius for storytelling, producing ten of the funniest minutes of solo comedy ever performed.