I was lucky enough to see Bill Hicks at the Comedy Workshop in Austin several years before he died. You could see
him burning out before your eyes -- he was the most intense person I've ever seen in my life. He was so brilliant, and so full of righteous rage.
An extremely complex person.
Also saw Seinfeld just before the show went on the air -- he was wonderful! I know it's not cool to like him anymore, but I do. Sometimes you want edgy, sometimes you don't.
And Stephen Wright, who is so subtle... and after his set, Sam Kinison showed up unannounced. Could there be a greater contrast between two people? Kinison was so stoned he could hardly enunciate words. Unlike Hicks, he was all anger and no substance... it was just scattershot hatred.
I love Robin Williams, but he was hard to watch in person -- it was back when he was doing drugs, and I just couldn't keep up with him. He was also sometimes just vulgar for vulgar's sake, which I don't enjoy. But he's brilliant, and I'd love to see him again, now that he's straight(er).
Robert Klein was just amazing, a fantastic show -- on top of being so funny, he's also a heck of good doo-wop singer. His version of "Since I Don't Have You" is still my favorite.
Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie, formerly of "Whose Line Is It Anyway," are such a perfect team -- I loved to watch them play off each other, and I'd be so thrilled to see them live, if they ever decide to tour! And I remember back in the late '60s, Al Franken had a partner named Tom Davis (who became a writer for Saturday Night Live
), and they were priceless.
My very first live comic was Steve Martin, back before his hair went white -- he opened for Neil Diamond in 1971.
I've never seen them in person, but old clips from the early '60s of Nichols & May (Mike Nichols, the director -- who is now married to Diane Sawyer -- and his then-wife Elaine May) are just brilliant.
And my all-time favorite stand-up comic is another one I've never seen in person, though I'd pay just about any price if I could: Bob Newhart. I grew up listening to his records, which still stand as some of the best comedy in history. I just love the guy!