Banish 2014's Woes With Our Stand-Up Comedy Picks NPR's Elizabeth Blair polled comedy-industry insiders to find out their favorite jokes of 2014. The results range from supermarket-checkout observations to a historically hysterical take on Oprah.
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Banish 2014's Woes With Our Stand-Up Comedy Picks

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Banish 2014's Woes With Our Stand-Up Comedy Picks

Banish 2014's Woes With Our Stand-Up Comedy Picks

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/373981768/374142464" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A news reporter, her editor and a duck walk into a bar. The bartender says, what are you drinking? The duck says, give me a Grey Goose. I've been telling these journalists some of the best jokes of 2014. Here's NPR's Elizabeth Blair.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: First, my favorite joke this year. It's by a real charmer from Villa Rica, Georgia, named Rod Man. It's about his confusion over the checkout line.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROD MAN: I don't know who started this little program of you check yourself out, but...

(LAUGHTER)

MAN: ...That is not what I'm trying to do. I'm a shopper. I came in as a shopper. I want to leave as a shopper - but yeah, 'cause they trick you to be an employee and get on the clock that day. You don't really have...

(LAUGHTER)

MAN: Yeah, you're not ready to be a worker at a grocery store. You don't - yeah, you don't have no kind of qualifications at all, but the lady tricked me. She's like, there's no waiting over here, sir. And, you know, I go over there, and she just walked the hell away. And I was like whoa.

BLAIR: Rod Man won this year's "Last Comic Standing" on NBC. Co-executive producer Page Hurwitz says his checkout line joke killed.

PAGE HURWITZ: It was so funny because he was able to take something seemingly mundane and trivial and just blow it up into the most hilarious story and hilarious joke.

BLAIR: Hurwitz says in past seasons of "Last Comic Standing," comedians have mined the same material for jokes.

HURWITZ: For a while, there were a zillion jokes about ADD, and, you know, there were a zillion jokes about, you know, online dating. And this season, we didn't see that. We saw that there was really quite a variety of material and styles.

BLAIR: Hurwitz says one of her favorites this year was a wicked-funny perversion of history by comedian Tracey Ashley.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRACEY ASHLEY: Could you imagine Oprah Winfrey in the Underground Railroad? (Imitating Oprah Winfrey) If you look under your chairs...

(LAUGHTER)

ASHLEY: ...Freedom.

(LAUGHTER)

ASHLEY: (Imitating Oprah Winfrey) You get a map. You get a map. You get a map.

BLAIR: Another female comedian made it to the top of Caroline Hirsch's list this year. Hirsch owns the comedy club Caroline's on Broadway. She singles out this year's Comedy Central special by Whitney Cummings.

CAROLINE HIRSCH: She looks like a Vogue model on stage, and she's just so smart and bright. And when you put that beautiful face together with what comes out of her mouth, I think it's even - it's even funnier.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WHITNEY CUMMINGS: It's not even weird, though, that guys think about sex. Like, we've accepted it so much as a society now. You know, it's so institutionalized. We've embraced it, you know? Like, there's just a restaurant called Hooters. That's just a restaurant.

(LAUGHTER)

CUMMINGS: Whereas there would never be a restaurant like that for women, you know, called, like, Dong's.

BLAIR: As a booker for "Conan," J.P. Buck is deep into who's got the best jokes on any given day. Buck figures, on average, he watches about 50 stand-up performances per week. So when he says...

J.P. BUCK: Bill Burr is the best working stand-up comedian today.

BLAIR: Comedy lovers listen up. Bill Burr is a storyteller. This is from a long joke he did for his Netflix special about old people getting in trouble.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BILL BURR: What did you think they thought? I mean...

(LAUGHTER)

BURR: And I got to be honest with you, too. People went too hard on that Clippers guy, man, I'm telling you. For an 80-year-old white guy, that wasn't that bad.

(LAUGHTER)

BURR: All right, dude, he didn't drop the N-word once. That's unbelievable for an 80-year-old white guy. The N-word should've been carpet bombed through that whole tape. He never said it once.

BLAIR: Leave it to the professional fool to make the most sense. Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

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