6 comedians everyone in your family can enjoy

Minimize your awkward family time and spend it laughing at standup instead

By Prachi Gupta

Published November 29, 2013 9:00PM (EST)

Because we choose our friends and not our family, Thanksgiving can sometimes be an awkward, cross-generational mix of people. Certain topics should be avoided almost categorically: religion, sex, politics (there may be others!). After gorging yourself, you might want to unwind with a movie or TV show -- but, just like dinner conversations, it'll have to be something that everyone can enjoy. Try to lighten the mood by watching stand-up from some of these comedians, whose work almost everyone in your family will be able to appreciate:

Ellen Degeneres

Quick-witted talk show host and comedian Ellen Degeneres focuses on observational humor with a dash of absurdism, much of which is based on her own neuroses. Degeneres has the ability to take those inner monologues we all have -- while debating what color of paint to buy, while procrastinating -- that we rarely share with others.

Mike Birbiglia

Part comedian, part essayist, Mike Birbiglia artfully tells stories based on his life and relationships that are both immensely funny and deeply vulnerable. Following the critical acclaim of "Sleepwalk with Me," based on his 2008 monologue about his troubles with a sleepwalking disorder, Birbiglia launched a second one-man show, "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend."

Bill Cosby

He may not quite be for everybody -- Cosby's comments on race have gotten a lot of criticism over the years. But Cosby, comedy's main crusader against profanity, has built a 50-year career examining relationships with his friends and family -- material that's relatable across generations and cultures.

Jerry Seinfeld

Considering that "Seinfeld" had such mass appeal in the 1990s, it's not surprising that comedian Jerry Seinfeld's brand of off-kilter, observational humor would appeal to almost anyone brought up in the same culture, or anyone who has ever eaten a pop tart.

Jim Gaffigan

Hot pocket king Jim Gaffigan, who often jokes about being lazy and eating lots of food, has made a career mocking suburban American culture with an often deadpan delivery.

Demetri Martin

Part comic, part wordsmith, Demetri Martin's heady comedy stems from peculiar observations and patterns he sees in our world, which he shares via flipcharts, guitar and harmonica.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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