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Some of the best standup comedians in the business aren’t exactly clean: Bill Burr, Dave Chappelle, Louis C.K., Jim Jefferies. Of course, there are plenty of unclean “comedians” who aren’t funny at all, so it’s not like vulgarity and swearing are necessary to evoke laughter from an audience.
And that’s what I like best in my standup comedy: those who are clean enough to be watched with the whole family, although I’m happy to let the occasional swear or crass joke through as long as it’s done with taste.
Here are some of the funniest standup comedians I’ve seen who tend not to rely on vulgarity, swears, or edgy topics for their laughter.
1. Brian Regan
Brian Regan is my favorite standup comedian of all time, bar none. He won my heart the moment I watched his I Walked On The Moon standup special, and I’ve been a huge fan of every special since. He’s a bit quirky at a times, but the crux of his humor is observational comedy, and in that his jokes are just so relatable.
2. John Mulaney
John Mulaney: underrated, absolutely hysterical. More than just the flow of his storytelling and his side-splitting anecdotes, it’s his unusual delivery that’s pretty much half of what makes his material so funny. The Comedy Central clip above is a great peek at his style and substance, so check it out!
3. Sebastian Maniscalco
So. Italian. And I love it! Sebastian Maniscalco explodes with energy and theatrics in every one of his specials, and he tells his uproarious stories with such vigor that you can’t help but get sucked into them. Of course he’s playing things up and is something of a caricature on stage, but so what? You’re laughing, aren’t you?
4. Jim Gaffigan
Jim Gaffigan’s lazy persona is totally unique and endearing, resonating with the lazy slob inside each of us. He has a bunch of trademark quirks in his delivery style: asking rhetorical questions to the audience, half-heartedly acting out his jokes, and using a high-pitched voice as a stand-in for the audience’s thoughts in reaction to his jokes.
5. Ryan Hamilton
Who knew that people from Idaho could be funny? Well, of course they can be, and Ryan Hamilton is a shining example. His humor is fresh and clean, mostly observational with a touch of playful self-deprecation here and there. What I love most is how he’s always smiling, and it just makes you want to smile along.
6. Kevin James
Kevin James has done well on TV (The King of Queens) and you may know him from a few hit movies like Hitch and Paul Blart: Mall Cop, but did you know he got his start in standup comedy? Yup, way back in 1989. And regardless of what you think of his TV show or movies, you have to admit: his standup is pretty funny.
7. Gabriel Iglesias
Gabriel Iglesias is warm, enthusiastic, funny, Mexican, and fat (wait, no, I mean “fluffy”). Plenty of reasons to love him, and millions of his fans around the world do love him. His trademark energy, storytelling prowess, and uncanny ability to mimic almost any sound effect necessary for those stories, all make him one of the most compelling standup personas to watch on stage—all without vulgarity and little swearing.
Who are your favorite standup comedians? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments because I’m always on the lookout for more clean standup comedians!