This is a given: If you put comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis C.K., and Ricky Gervais in a room together, tears of laughter will at some point stream from everyone's eyes. HBO did just that for its upcoming comedy special—which is appropriately titled Talking Funny—and the quartet sat down together to discuss the art of the joke, their individual paths to greatness, and dirty words. But what you might not expect from this Mount Rushmore of comedy (with apologies to Dave Chappelle, who would otherwise belong in the mix but took himself out of the running by choosing happiness over fame) is the incredibly insightful and academic discussion that makes Talking Funny one of the most hilarious learning experiences you'll ever take part in.
Obviously these Greats of Guffaw are intelligent dudes; they wouldn't be where they are without some seriously large brains. But to listen to them talk about the craft and the art of the joke is like being a fly on the wall during a Secret Society of Magicians meeting. The hour-long special is worth it just to listen to them break down a gay parody of Otis Redding's "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" that Louis C.K. heard in a smoky comedy club years ago.
There are also moments of eye-opening candidness. Seinfeld discusses his early self-doubt in the comedy scene; Chris Rock talks about the N-word (with Louis C.K. egging him on at every turn); and Louis C.K. recalls the moment when he realized he was using the F-word too much. Whatever machismo or look-at-me stage presence these guys are required to put on during their official performances is completely dismantled.
The hardest part about watching Talking Funny will be deciding which of these comedy masterminds you think is the funniest. For the record, I think it's a tie between Louis C.K. and Ricky Gervais.
Who do YOU think is the funniest of the four?
Talking Funny airs this Friday, April 22 at 9pm on HBO.
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom