50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time

From old-school nightclub veterans to alt-comedy legends, Patton Oswalt to Pryor, our picks for the greatest to ever grab a mic

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4. Louis C.K.

The tall redhead had been working comedy clubs across the country for decades, making his bones along with countless other stand-ups. But somewhere around the time he called his four-year-old and asshole and imagined his wife giving him the "saddest handjob in America," the next-level artist we now know as Louis C.K. was reborn with a vengeance. Staring with his 2007 special Shameless, he turned a guy slinging dick jokes and absurdist one-liners into a guy slinging dick jokes and rigorously honest stories about his life and those closest to him. Since then, C.K. has challenged himself to deliver on an unprecedented scale: The self-deprecating social critic has crafted many hours of new material, one almost every year, and let the material go after recording it. In these specials, he not only mapped the mind of a lazy, horny, gluttonous dude who happens to be a dad, but a culture of entitlement in which "everything is amazing and nobody is happy." This is what a comic genius looks like.

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