Dark comedy isn’t for everyone, so if you find yourself to be in the party of the easily offended, it’s best to turn back now. For those of you willing to take the risk, or unwilling to read the intro paragraph, here are 15 dark comedians to keep you on your toes.

Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais

Netflix

Ricky Gervais is often labeled with crossing the line, but it appears his line is much further away than most people’s. Gervais tends to lean toward darker subjects while on stage, but also has created several shows with an underlying sense of despair like Derek and The Office.

“1st of December, World Aids Day….I don’t think it’ll ever take off like Christmas.”

Anthony Jeselnik

Anthony Jeselnik

Netflix

Jeselnik is often people’s first thought when it comes to American dark comedy. The one-liner comedian’s most recent special is Fire In The Maternity Ward on Netflix. 

“My great-grandmother threw herself in front of a bus. The police tried to say she committed suicide but the family knew she was just trying to stop civil rights.”

Tim Heidecker

Tim Heidecker, while not a traditional stand-up comedian, has managed to create an alter ego so dark, sad, egotistical, and manipulative that it would be completely unfair to keep him off this list. If you want to watch a comedy film with so much awkwardness and confrontation that it will leave you with a pit of despair in your stomach, I’d recommend his documentary, Mister America, wherein he runs for local office.

Jimmy Carr

Jimmy Carr

Netflix

Give Anthony Jeselnik an espresso and a laugh that sounds like a British dolphin and you’ve got Jimmy Carr. Carr has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years and it’s no surprise with his impressive wordplay and fearlessness on stage.

“British scientists have demonstrated that cigarettes can harm your children. Fair enough. Use an ashtray!”

Jim Norton

Jim Norton is pretty dark, pretty graphic, and pretty vulgar. A great choice if you want a stand-up experience where your mouth is open the whole time. Check him out on his radio show on Sirius XM with Sam Roberts, or watch his stand-up special Mouthful Of Shame on Netflix.

“I don't wear rubbers 'cause you can't catch it twice.” 

Frankie Boyle

Frankie Boyle

BBC 2

Frankie Boyle is a Scottish comedian who is not afraid of stirring up controversy, like when he received backlash for saying the Queen’s vagina was so old that it was haunted in 2009.

“People say that Steve Jobs died too soon. But I think it was a fitting metaphor for his company’s attitude to battery life.”

Doug Stanhope

Doug Stanhope's star has dropped a little bit since his height in the 2000s but you can still catch his full special The Dying Of A Last Breed for free on YouTube.

“I blew a speaker in my car today. Yeah, he was a motivational speaker. It left a bad taste in my mouth but I feel a lot more positive.”

Daniel Tosh

Daniel Tosh

Comedy Central

Daniel Tosh ruled Comedy Central with an iron fist for a few years after Tosh.0 premiered. Whether the show tickled your fancy or not, it’s hard to argue that his standup isn’t brilliant. Tosh has a delivery unlike any other and often dives into the specifics of morbid situations.

“Anal sex is a lot like spinach: if you're forced to have it as a child, you won't enjoy it as an adult.”

Dave Attell

Dave Atell really rides the line between silly and dark better than almost any other comedian out there. He prefers to work live rooms, but you can still watch his 2014 special Road Work on Amazon or his 2007 special Captain Miserable on HBO Max

“Yeah, I know, some people are against drunk driving, and I call those people ‘the cops.’ But you know, sometimes, you've just got no choice; those kids gotta get to school!

Jim Jefferies

Jim Jefferies

Netflix

If you haven’t watched a Jim Jeffries special yet, today might just be your day. Do yourself a favor and watch the dark comedy king of Australia’s latest special Intolerant on Netflix ASAP.

“Here’s the thing about people who believe in God: they’re f***ing stupid.”

Bill Hicks

Hicks was a rock and roll comedian who truly had no filter. While some comedians today may think he went too far at times, others describe him as the Kurt Cobain of comedy.

“There is good news for smokers. The surgeon general’s warnings are different on the sides of each pack. Mine says, ‘Surgeon General Warning: Cigarette smoking may Cause fetal injury or premature birth.’ Hey, f*ck it! just don’t get the ones that say lung cancer.”

George Carlin

George Carlin

Comedy Central

Often considered a “Mount Rushmore Comedian,” George Carlin wasn’t afraid to laser in on censorship, American hypocrisy, and sticking it to the man. 

“The real reason that we can’t have the Ten Commandments in a courthouse: You cannot post ‘Thou shalt not steal,’ ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ and ‘Thou shalt not lie’ in a building full of lawyers, judges, and politicians. It creates a hostile work environment.”

David Cross

David Cross

Comedy Central

David Cross pioneered the New York alt-comedy scene but has always set his comedic sights on darker topics like American politics and taboo subjects like abortion. I just caught his set at Asylum in NYC a few weeks ago where he managed to describe the Holocaust in grave detail and still get the laugh. I don’t recommend any of you try the same tactic.

“All my friends are always telling me how hard it is to have kids. 'Oh, David, it's so hard.' That's not hard. I'll tell you what hard is. Try talking your girlfriend into her third consecutive abortion. Yeah, that's hard, that takes finesse. You’re just inconvenienced.”

Stephen Lynch

One of the original pioneers of live musical comedy, Bo Burnham has said that Stephen Lynch was his biggest inspiration when he was entering the world of musical comedy. Stephen has slowed down tremendously in the last few years, but you can listen to his latest comedy release, a 2019 folk album entitled My Old Heart wherever you listen to music.

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