In the late 1950s, a fresh, unconventional style of standup comedy emerged in sharp contrast to the standard "Take my wife, please" approach. It tackled such previously taboo subjects as sex, religion, drugs, and politics, and ushered in an avant-garde era of comedy that was decidedly more cerebral, satirical, and improvisational than before. Here are many of the maverick comedians who took those big risks years ago and paved the way for today’s current crop of outrageous, in-your-face comics. Many of these rare television performances have not been seen in 30 or 40 years. Carl Reiner & Mel Brooks (1966) Jackie Mason (1961) Bob Newhart (1966) Shelly Berman (1966) Bill Cosby (1965) Jonathan Winters (1961) Smothers Brothers (1974) Steve Martin (1977) Rowan & Martin (1964) Lily Tomlin (1975) George Carlin (1967 & 1975) Richard Pryor (1967 & 1974) Andy Kaufman (1977) Hendra & Ullett (1966) Billy Crystal (1976) Jay Leno (1978) David Letterman (1979)
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