Darkest Signature Gags in the History of Comedy

Darkest Signature Gags in the History of Comedy

Comedy is supposed to make you feel happy, right? Right? Generally, that’s the case but some stand-up comics are known for finding scraps of humor in the murkiest subject matter known to man. So throw on some dark sunglasses, pour yourself a few fingers of bourbon and settle in for some unsettling comedy courtesy of some of our grimmest comic voices. You got somebody to drive you home, right?

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John Mulaney’s Intervention

The carefree days of playing too much Tom Jones at the Salt and Pepper Diner were long gone by the time Mulaney recorded his latest special, Baby J. The entire hour is funny but bleak, mapping Mulaney’s journey from addiction to intervention to rehab. Is Mulaney grateful to the friends who gathered to get him professional help? Not particularly. “It was all comedians,” he complained, “yet no one said a funny word the entire night.”

Sam Kinison’s Solution for World Hunger

The bit that really got Kinison noticed was his plan to end world hunger. It was a pretty simple scheme: Stop sending them food and deliver luggage and U-Hauls instead. That’s because, in Kinison’s opinion, bringing food to the middle of the desert doesn’t make as much sense as those people MOVING TO WHERE THE FOOD IS! To shock was never a goal,” Kinison told Tom Alesia. “I found a twist on something that’s already there — (Ethiopians) should move to the food; moving out of the desert should be rule one.”

Bill Hicks Watches Too Much CNN

How do you pick Hicks’ darkest signature gag when the correct choice could be “any of them?” Despair was the comic’s modus operandi, and he had no trouble spitting ugly vitriol at any audience member who crossed him. He was a comic who literally divided audiences. As he says in a video archived by the We Are Funny Project, “Last night, I had an incident in a club wherein half the people were applauding and the other half left.”

Doug Stanhope’s Street Rants

In this series of rants, Stanhope paces urban streets telling dark truths, a bottle of something hidden by a brown paper bag in his hand. “There is no such thing as laughing at something you shouldn’t,” Stanhope wrote in an article for a Scottish newspaper, as reported by The List. “You should laugh everywhere you can find even the slightest glimmer of humor. Life is a series of heartache, tragedy and injustice, punctuated by a few cocktails and that one trip to Reno. The more you can laugh at the ugliest parts, the better off you are.”

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