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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41. Bernie Mac

"I ain't scared of you motherfuckers" – it was the large-and-in-charge line that launched a career and turned Bernie Mac's appearance on the original Def Comedy Jam into a flashpoint. His legendary set solidified the Chicago native as a big, braggadocious comic with a peculiarly magnetic delivery and a habit of squeezing every last bit of air from his lungs to make a point ... especially if that point was embedded in one of his exasperated stories of child rearing. "See, I'm from the old school. I'll kick a kid ass," Mac would explain in Spike Lee's The Original Kings of Comedy concert movie, before imagining the boxing match he'd have with his sister's two-year-old. Politically correct he was not. But the late, great Mac's wide-eyed, foul-mouthed charms spoke directly to black audiences – and anybody savvy enough to catch on – in a way that put him head and broad shoulders above his peers.

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