Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone. This old proverb is only partially true. I've met people who have laughed until they cried, sometimes both at once. Comedians have the best of both worlds.

They laugh at you and laugh with you. It's like walking a line atop a fence only to split your care package in two. Jokes can bomb on stage but the best jokes aren't really jokes, they're truth bombs. Laugh at your own expense with these five comedians who told the truth instead of telling jokes.

1. George Carlin.

Rarely does a comedian's stand up hold up well over time. Watch any comedy special from George Carlin and you'll learn something new every time. The wordplay and clever irony between current events turns Carlin's comedy into raw and real social commentary. The consequences are this comedian's playground, pinpointing the foul play at work in society and the world. When the times aren't a-changin' George Carlin knows the reason why.

2. Dick Gregory.

A civil rights activist, a candidate during the 1968 U.S. presidential election, and a comedian? Dick Gregory gets around. His stand up uses the approach of humanism but with religious conviction and devotion. The punchlines show the people problems we face everyday. Instead of avoiding them, Dick Gregory is talking about them, looking for the right change while having a laugh along the way.

3. Bill Burr.

Stand up with Bill Burr is like a rage-filled therapy session. He thinks outside the box and colors outside the lines so you don't have to, even though we should. Whether he's defending the legacy of Arnold Schwarzenegger or questioning the limitations of an argument from a woman based only on the fact that she is a woman, the pasty redhead with a chip on his shoulder has plenty of self-deprecating humor to win you over too. That's what his Monday Morning Podcast is for.

4. Bill Hicks.

This Bill isn't dismayed by the truth or how ridiculous it is. The truth is stranger than fiction and Bill Hicks is self-aware of the role he has as an entertainer. He takes off the mask with his stand up and breaks down the dark humor that isn't so dark when you turn your lights on. The news is nothing new, the politicians are no longer people, and the people need to pull back that wool over their eyes.

5. Eddie Griffin.

Comedians use ironic language all the time. Some words are derogatory, but there are those who can make them sound like a regular figure of speech. Eddie Griffin does just that, almost with every third word he says. Vulgar as he is, nothing could be more vulgar than the hypocrisy of technology, politics, and cultural appropriation.


Comedy is no inside joke. Laughter shows that people not only understand the humor but also understand the situation the joke presents and represents. Green light your sense of humor and tell the truth, you'll know where the joke ends and the truth begins soon enough.