There are a lot of people I could nominate in this category, a lot of people whose jokes are funny when you first heard them and funny when you hear them again and funny when you tell them to your friends. There are people who have classic routines: Bill Cosby talking about the beatings, Eddie Murphy's welfare burger (or his impression of Richard Pryor!). There are people who somehow redefined comedy, like the guy I was going to nominate for this, Jerry Seinfeld. (A show about nothing, and some of the best routines ever that I quote back and forth with Sweetie and who even the kids like. "I've got my arm on it!") There are the weird guys: Jake Johannsen, or Steven Wright.
But there can be only one best and I kept coming back to her: Ellen DeGeneres. This may come as a shock to those of you who know her only as a talk-show host and commercial-dancer. But Ellen is, or was, a stand-up comedian, and if you watch either one of her HBO specials (all I've seen of them) you will understand why I am so impressed. I didn't stop laughing when I watched either of them. They are funny, they are crazy, and they all tie together. In her second special, when she told the last joke, you suddenly realize how she tied up the entire show and that makes it even better somehow (and I won't ruin it for you.)
She's got the memorable one-liners, which if you've watched you'll recognize: ("M In The P." "Gloria Estefan.") She has the great stories, and she's so talented you just sit back after a show and realize just how likeable and funny and great she really is. I can't find video of it, but you can check out video clips from Ellen's show, and bits of her stand up, here.
Go, Ellen, the Best Stand-Up Comedian ever.