Some comedians step into the hallowed spotlight and try to simply be funny, maybe by noticing the minutiae of going to the shops like Michael McIntyre or garlic bread like Peter Kay. Other comedians take on the mantle of truth-speaker. Comics like these listed below have been called “preachers” to such an extent that it’s almost a trite comparison to make, because they’re not preachers just standing on stage spouting off lessons, they’re also making us piss ourselves laughing while dropping truth bombs. They’re better than preachers, they’re comedians.
With probably the longest spanning career in stand-up history, George Carlin was never anything less than an acerbic, insightful, and hilarious critic of politics who only got better as he aged. Widely considered a legendary political comedian, and rightly so…
Best quote: “Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.”
Probably one of the most popular comedians in the world today, CK has matured from being a quirky, surreal comic in his early career to making brilliant observations on parenthood, to now, where he’s occupying a similar space as great political comics like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin.
Best quote: “Women try to compete. They’re like, “Well I’m a pervert. You don’t know. I have really sick sexual thoughts.” I’m like, “No, you have no idea. You have no idea.” “Cause you see, you get to have those thoughts. I have to have those thoughts. You’re a tourist in sexual perversion. I’m a prisoner there. You’re Jane Fonda on a tank. I’m John McCain in the hut.”
Officially the 41st Best Stand Up Ever according to a Channel 4 poll, Stewart Lee is regularly attacked in the pages of right-wing rag The Daily Mail, proof if any was needed that Lee’s comedy is ruffling the feathers of the political establishment.
Best quote: “I actually love Catholicism, it’s my favourite form of clandestine global evil.”
A boozy, embittered, misanthrope genius, Doug Stanhope belongs on this list as one of the most insightful and funny political critics working in stand up today, regularly taking aim at anyone on the political spectrum.
Best quote: “Nationalism does nothing but teach you how to hate people that you never met. And all of a sudden you take pride in accomplishments you had no part in whatsoever, and you brag about — and the Americans’ll go “Fuck the French! Fuck the French, if we hadn’t had saved their ass in two World Wars, they’d be speakin’ German right now!” And you go, “Oh, was that us?” Was that me and you, Tommy, we saved the French? Jesus! I know I blacked out a little bit after that fourth shot of Jägermeister last night, but I don’t remember… I know we went through the Wendy’s drive-thru to get one of them “Freschetta” sandwiches that looked so alluring on the commercial, but then we ordered it and realised we had no money, and we had to ditch out before the second window, and those douchebags in line behind us with the bass music probably got our order and we laughed about that. But I don’t remember savin’ the French. At all! I went through the last ten calls on my cell phone and there’s nothin’ incoming or outgoing to the French, lookin’ for muscle on a project! I checked my pants, there’s no mud stains on the knees from where we were garroting Krauts in the trenches at Verdun. I think “we” didn’t do anything but watch sports bloopers while we got hammered. I think “we” should shut the fuck up!”
Of all the people on this list, Hicks embodies the ethos of the political, preacher comedian, always trying to touch a nerve and speak truth on stage.
Best quote: “Today a young man on acid realised that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the Weather.”