For some time now, platforms have been incorporating stand-up routines into their catalogs, comedy specials that were difficult to get your hands on here in Spain until very recently. Given that we understand how important a good laugh can be, and even more so lately, we’ve prepared a selection of nine flawless monologues guaranteed to put you in a good mood, which includes the stand-up routines of legendary comedians together with others who are still going strong.
1. George Carlin
The comedian who invited his audiences to reflect upon life while making them laugh. A bitter-sweet laugh, a product of the truth that hits you full blast in the stomach. A tireless student of language with the analytical ability to place society under the microscope and offer a critical view of any subject, while remaining an independent champion of the counterculture remains unique today. Like Lenny Bruce, who helped Carlin early on in his career, he was even arrested for his jokes, and some of his sets, such as the famous “seven dirty words”, even became the subject of debate in the United States Supreme Court and are comedy history today.
Monologue: “Life is Worth Losing” on YouTube.
2. Richard Pryor
After realizing that he was not being true to himself, Richard Pryor turned his routine around and thus revolutionized stand-up. He became famous for the use of the “n” word and racial issues, but his true key to success was how he laid himself bare talking about his personal life. He turned traumatic memories into hilarious sets, complete with imitations, jumping from a joke about dogs to comedy about the spanking his grandmother used to give him. There have been few comedians as influential as Prior, and his mark is clearly noticeable in the style of comedians including Eddy Murphy, Chris Rock or Dave Chapelle.
Monologue: “Richard Pryor Live in Concert”. On Netflix.
3. Bill Hicks
He presented himself to the public with a cigarette in his mouth, and with that friendly ‘c’mere’ tone of a pal who wants to share something with you, he demanded that the public think for themselves and question everything, including their own behavior. His monologues, laced with dark humor, attacked all established order, and tackled conspiracy theories. In response to people getting offended by his work, Hicks famously replied, “This idea of ‘I’m offended’. Well I’ve got news for you. I’m offended by a lot of things too. Where do I send my list? Life is offensive. You know what I mean? Just get in touch with your outer adult. And grow up. And move on”. A cult comedian from the 80s who was taken at a young age by pancreatic cancer, Hicks remains a reference today.
Recommended monologue: “One Night Stand: Bill Hicks”. On HBO.
4. Jerry Seinfeld
The Master of observational humor, he turns the daily minutiae into hilarious monologues. Comedy about “nothing” became the Seinfeld series, which he created with Larry David making himself the most popular comedian of the 90s. He has become an expert on what makes people laugh, a subject he never tires of reflecting upon during the “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” show, and that interests him much more than politics, and which was never a part of their routines. An agreement with Netflix led to him recording a new series of stand-up shows, including his recent “23 hours to Kill”.
Monologue: “I’m Telling You for the Last Time”. On Netflix.
5. Ricky Gervais
Currently more famous for his gags while hosting the Golden Globes, but in reality Ricky Gervais has long since made discomfort the hallmark of his humor, with series like “The Office”, or his stand-up routines in which he crosses every red line of what is politically correct while still being fun. The trilogy composed of “Animals”, “Politics” and “Fame” have consolidated his position as the modern-day star of British comedy. They’re living proof of the adage that you can joke about anything as long as the comedian is talented.
Monologue: “Humanity” – Netflix.
6. Phoebe Waller-Bridge
The Phoebe Waller-Bridge phenomenon came into being with a monologue called “Fleabag” which debuted at the Fringe, an alternative performing arts festival, in 2013. In the routing, British actress and screenwriter introduced herself to the audience and spoke to them as if they were friends, casually discussing their lives while making them laugh with anecdotes all the while as, little by little, the curtain is gradually pulled back to reveal a deep pain. The idea was to become the basis for the subsequent series “Fleabag”, which made Waller-Bridge a household name and would launch her on the road as a creator with a unique voice.
Monologue: “Fleabag” – SoHo Theater website.
7. Ali Wong
Her life changed when she went out on stage pregnant to release a tongue-in-cheek, punchline-filled monologue about being a mother and the expectations that come with it. It was a success, causing Ali Wong to be considered one of the funniest women in comedy today. Sponsored by Chris Rock, who discovered her while working as a screenwriter on “Fresh Off the Boat”, Wong has the talent of dynamiting taboos around being a woman of all kinds, as if it were the most natural thing in the world and not something to be rewarded for.
Monologue: “Baby Cobra”- Netflix.
8. Hannah Gadsby
She announced her departure from the world of comedy in the middle of a show saying she no longer wanted to continue making humor about herself. Until then, her routine consisted of a hilarious narration of her adolescence and youth as a lesbian woman in small town Australia. After announcing that she felt her attitude was having a negative impact, she broke into an emotional and gladiatorial speech where social critique pushed humor aside and grabbed the reins. That show, “Nanette”, catapulted Hanna Gadsby into the limelight. Of course, her abandoning comedy bombshell was a ruse written into the routine and Gadsby has recently returned with a new show titled “Douglas”.
Monologue: “Nanette” – Netflix
9. Andy Kaufman
Kaufman never described himself as being comical. But the truth is that all great comedians are those who can constantly control the reaction of the public, and Andy Kaufman had the public in the palm of his hand from the moment he stepped foot on a stage right up until he left (or returned), playing with their expectations, allowing the public to laugh at him only to later make them feel uncomfortable and then wowing them. From his collection of characters, probably the best-known is that of the “Foreign Man”, later becoming the legendary Latka in the series “Taxi” and with the help of his cronies (especially his friend Bob Zmuda) he invented an innovative routine that today is still fascinating audiences.
Recommended monologue: “Andy Kaufman on HBO” – YouTube.