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September 26, 2010 9:14 AM   Subscribe

Comedy's 17 Favorite Comedians

Splitsider asked the comedy industry's veterans, insiders and hangers-on who they thought were the funniest. This list of 17, sprawling over two pages, is the result.
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posted by Flashman (72 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, what a shitty list. I love that people who write such lists feel the need to write a paragraph or two of masturbatory prose for every candidate. And by "love" I mean "maybe not love so much."

Louis deserves the top spot, surely. His show is unexpectedly deep and kind of breathtaking. But Amy Poehler? Really? I haven't seen Parks and Recreation but in her days on SNL and in shitty films she consistently overworked all her jokes and ruined punchlines. Has she stopped sucking?
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:39 AM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only ones on the list with the real staying power are the ferns. Those things have been around since Carboniferous period never mind all week.
posted by srboisvert at 9:51 AM on September 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Well, this shows me how very out of touch with modern comedians I am. I'd only heard of about half of those.

Louis CK is an odd one, for me. He's a beard-stroker comic. By that I mean I watch his stuff with appreciation, and I admire the way he deals with serious and edgy material, and how he's not afraid to be "offensive", black, ironic and all the stuff I love my comedy to be. And yet he never, ever actually makes me laugh. Which is... a problem.
posted by Decani at 9:51 AM on September 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I haven't watched Letterman for ages. His ham-handed and clueless attempts at active listening during Aziz Ansari's story made me feel embarrassed on his behalf.

Rory, you should definitely give Parks and Recreation a shot. I think it's hilarious, and she turns in a much more subtle performance than in her earlier work.
posted by ErikaB at 9:53 AM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


This appears to be the opposite of that list.
posted by jeoc at 9:55 AM on September 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought this was a pretty solid list, but (since every list post has to have a bunch of "but what about" comments) the omission of Paul F. Tompkins is unforgivable.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:05 AM on September 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Comedy's 17 Favorite Comedians

By "Comedy's" we mean "12 random people".
posted by delmoi at 10:09 AM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, Letterman would pretty much not be Letterman these days without the hamhandedness. He pounded that interview with Joaquin Phoenix the other night into the ground until it was deader than dead.
posted by blucevalo at 10:19 AM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hopelessly skewed towards unfunny Americans.
posted by fire&wings at 10:35 AM on September 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ok, Donald Glover may not meet your standards for best comedian of comedy but I would like to take a moment to point out Community is awesome, you should watch it before they cancel it and instead make a show about an indian call center or something and three years from now you find it on Netflix and realize, "Hey, Community is awesome. Why didn't I watch this when it was on the air?"
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:36 AM on September 26, 2010 [19 favorites]


Best of Lists are, of course, always kinda contentious, but goodness a best of comedians list has got to be like loading a pistol blindfolding yourself before shooting. Few things are more subjective than comedy.
posted by edgeways at 10:54 AM on September 26, 2010


People, people! Remember that this list is made by comedians. You have to keep in mind that, apart from the very famous ones, comedians are the least funniest people on earth.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:01 AM on September 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I used to really enjoy "best of" lists, but they're just so damn rampant and pointless anymore. You can stop listing any time now, Internet.
posted by davebush at 11:05 AM on September 26, 2010


fire&wings: "Hopelessly skewed towards unfunny Americans."

Well the list isn't awful but yes. I'd gladly trade half those comedians for Bill Bailey.
posted by yaymukund at 11:08 AM on September 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Great timing, as I just watched a youtube video of Louis CK doing some extremely offensive, not that funny material that honestly was just awkward to watch. And yet I enjoyed it, mostly for the fact that CK posted it himself, describing it at "very fucked up jokes that I mostly never told again." He really does just kind of puke up random stuff just to see if there's any funny there. Sometimes there's not, but that's some interesting puke.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:11 AM on September 26, 2010


This list is dead on--these are comedians that make comedians (and other comedy nerds) laugh, more so than regular folks. Especially Amy Poehler...wtf Rory have you never heard of the Upright Citizens Brigade? Parks and Rec, also is subtle genius. And Louis makes us comedy nerds laugh like crazy because we can't believe he's saying stuff like that and getting away with it.

Add to this list: Kyle Kinane, Nick Thune, Kristen Schaal and a bunch of older folks like Jimmy Pardo, the Sklar Brothers, and Paul F. Tompkins who are still kicking ass and drawing big crowds of devoted fans.

Oh and if you don't agree you have no taste. El o El Smiley Face, El o El Smiley Face.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:11 AM on September 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hah, whoops, here's the clip.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:12 AM on September 26, 2010


Has she stopped sucking?

Amy Poehler was part of the Upright Citizens Brigade and was a member when they had their amazing television program in the late 90s. So shut it, bongboy.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:37 AM on September 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why would they describe Between Two Ferns as "consistently funny" when the sample they included was so amateurish and sucky?
posted by rocket88 at 11:39 AM on September 26, 2010


But Amy Poehler? ... Has she stopped sucking?

Yes. She didn't get off to a great start on SNL, although she and Seth Meyers eventually did a great job with "Weekend Update." (I didn't like much of either's work prior.) But Parks and Recreation is a good show, and she's good on it.
posted by cribcage at 11:42 AM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Very pleased to see Hannibal Burress on this list, would personally have placed him much higher. No new comic has made me laugh as hard as he this year. I fully expect his name to be everywhere one year from now.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:14 PM on September 26, 2010


A few of these are in The Comedians of Comedy, which is a decently entertaining documentary. Galifianakis is particularly interesting. He's almost in touch with reality. It sort of feels like an act, but then it seems like an act within an act within an act. It is just acts all the way down, and you get the sense that he really does have a tenuous grasp on reality. But in a funny way.
posted by jeoc at 12:17 PM on September 26, 2010


Why would they describe Between Two Ferns as "consistently funny" when the sample they included was so amateurish and sucky?

You should watch more Between Two Ferns. They're supposed to be amateurish and awkward and terrible. It is hilarious. I especially recommend the Steve Carrell interview.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:24 PM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm pleased to note that I'm unfamiliar with lots of these people. I know what I'm doing tonight. The ones that I do know are well placed. I'm glad Aziz Ansari made it.

Also, Parks and Recreation was waaay better than I thought. I assumed it was a ripoff of the American Office, so I wasn't interested. It's much better, though.
posted by cmoj at 12:44 PM on September 26, 2010


I guess the online editorial tendency toward SEO and sensationalism means we'll never get a list titled "17 Comedians that people in the industry quite like, but your mileage may vary", but that's what this list is, and my mileage varied.

Also, I've avoided Louis CK because I thought he was Andrew WK whose music, though I've never heard it, seems like it would be out of my comfort zone.
posted by doublehappy at 12:49 PM on September 26, 2010


I hadn't been familiar with Maria Bamford outside of Tom Goes To The Mayor, but that clip had me in tears, I was laughing so hard. And it's great to see Aziz getting props, too.
posted by ShawnStruck at 12:58 PM on September 26, 2010


Yeah, a lot od these people on the list are perennial "commedian's comedians," with all the baggage that come with that sort of sobrioquet. Its really an admiration of their craft reather than a measure of how funny they are. If you want to get inside baseball, especially standup comedians, I highly recommend Marc Maron's WTF podcast. His guests are mostly other comedians, and they talk shop for an hour or so. You'll find a consistent theme in their picks of favorite comics-- they're the ones who aren't necessarily funny in the conventional sense but who will often take the audience to some strange and dark places over the course of their act(s).
posted by KingEdRa at 1:20 PM on September 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just watched Louis CK: Chewed Up recently and found him to be pretty funny, but there were a few moments when he was going along great and getting good laughs, and then he would cross this line. It's hard to explain, but the jokes just went into this "things people really don't talk about in public on a stage" kind of place.

I must have noticed it 3 or 4 times. He could have stopped before he crossed those lines, but he just went with it and mostly (IMHO) it wasn't worth it. He should have just stopped.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:22 PM on September 26, 2010


the jokes just went into this "things people really don't talk about in public on a stage" kind of place.

I think, for better or worse, that's what interesting about Louis CK.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:24 PM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok, Donald Glover may not meet your standards for best comedian of comedy but I would like to take a moment to point out Community is awesome , you should watch it before they cancel it and instead make a show about an indian call center or something and three years from now you find it on Netflix and realize, "Hey, Community is awesome. Why didn't I watch this when it was on the air?"

I love Donald Glover, but in the context of Community you really can't mention Glover without also talking about Danny Pudi. Troy and Abed are fine apart, but together they're like some kind of comedy superhero duo.
posted by kmz at 1:30 PM on September 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


I just found out Larry the Cable Guy is still making money. This... angers me...
posted by cavalier at 1:43 PM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


GITTERRDONNE
posted by cavalier at 1:44 PM on September 26, 2010


This list is just right; I agree with every name on it and their relative ranking.
posted by TedW at 2:15 PM on September 26, 2010


I thought David Cross would be a shoo-in for such a list. Oh well. At least the Bammer is number one and rightfully so.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:18 PM on September 26, 2010


Haha, Bammer is #15, but in my opinion she is #1 in our hearts.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:39 PM on September 26, 2010


That Louie CK clip is pretty darkly funny. I saw Lucky Louie once and made a promise to myself to never to watch anything of his ever again, and I'm actually kind of glad I broke that promise.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:54 PM on September 26, 2010


Thanks for posting this also because now I've discovered British bearded man Daniel Kitson, and this fantastically funny routine he posted on his website.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:01 PM on September 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anybody who likes Community should look out for Party Down, which for me was the best show to have come and now gone since Arrested Development.
It ran on some minor US cable network for 2 short seasons, and is really funny and sweet.
posted by Flashman at 3:20 PM on September 26, 2010


I think that, in terms of stand-up, Oswalt peaked awhile ago with 222 - which was such a thing of pure genius (I haven't laughed that hard since I was 10 years old). Otherwise I would put him at #1. Maria Bamford, I'm not sure where she is on her stand-up arc, but I think she's amazing and adorable, and deserves better than #15. LOVE her. Ansari I don't get at all. I love Louie CK but I doubt I've ever laughed at his stuff - certainly not the way that Patton or Maria have made me gasp for air. I'm surprised that David Cross didn't make the list but maybe he's past his stand-up prime as well.
posted by Auden at 3:24 PM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Louis CK is an odd one, for me. He's a beard-stroker comic. By that I mean I watch his stuff with appreciation, and I admire the way he deals with serious and edgy material,...And yet he never, ever actually makes me laugh. Which is... a problem.

Louis CK is one of the only comedians who makes me belly-laugh out loud. Often after a long period of build-up, I'll admit, but I don't actually laugh out loud all that easily, and he somehow digs in and gets me involved so that when a good punchline hits I just find it hilarious. Same with Colbert. So I agree with the top spots.

Basically all the comedians on this list that I know are ones that I enjoy, so now I will have to check out the ones I don't know. I probably would have had the order a little different on some, and I'm not sure, e.g., Conan needs to be there if Craig Ferguson isn't (or Amy Poehler when Tina Fey isn't) but generally not bad...
posted by mdn at 4:09 PM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nthing what KingEdRa and Potomac said. I spend a lot of time lurking on the most active Comedy Message Board I'm aware of, with lots of aspiring standups and comedy writers, and these are the guys who get the most props, while guys like Dane Cook and Jeff Dunham are treated like, as one poster put it, "AIDS-flavored mud" around there.

I generally agree with their sentiments, including this list. They really LOOOOOVE Louis CK and so do I. Maybe not for everybody, but certainly for me.
posted by mreleganza at 4:24 PM on September 26, 2010


This is not a list of comedians. It's a list of funny film and (mostly) TV performers and writers, picked by TV industry people. A few happen to be standup comedians, or former comics, but that is not why they're on the list.
posted by msalt at 4:39 PM on September 26, 2010


because comedians only means standup comedians isn't that obvious
posted by found missing at 4:51 PM on September 26, 2010


Hopelessly skewed towards unfunny Americans.

Can't comment on the "unfunny" part because I've only heard of six of these seventeen. But if you (or anyone else) fancies a more UK-centric spin on the same concept, try this:

The Comedian's Comedian was a three-hour programme broadcast on UK's Channel 4 on 1st January 2005. The show listed the top fifty comedians of all time, as voted for by fellow comedians and business insiders, rather than the general public.

Tracking down the video of the show is left as an exercise to the reader. However, based on my admittedly vague memory of it, I wouldn't bother. Annoying montage of talking heads proffering largely uninteresting "they were so great" commentary at the expense of lengthier footage of the comics in action, you're probably better just plugging the names into youtube.
posted by Slyfen at 5:15 PM on September 26, 2010


there is so much wrong with that list i can't even. it just fills me with rage.
posted by liza at 5:45 PM on September 26, 2010


...it just fills me with rage.

WHAT.
THE.
FUCK.
LIZA.
posted by popechunk at 7:54 PM on September 26, 2010


1. Are you telling me that everyone's favorite comedian isn't Andrew 'Dice' Clay?! Get out of here! Damn kids today..

2. With the exception of the huggable, snuggable Ricky Gervais (and Conan O'Brien) who the hell are these comedians? Seriously, kids today need help. *heading to YouTube to drown my disgust in Ernie Kovacs*
posted by Mael Oui at 7:59 PM on September 26, 2010


Slyfen: Now, THAT's a proper list of good comedians!
posted by Mael Oui at 8:22 PM on September 26, 2010


Slyfen: Now, THAT's a proper list of good comedians!

Definitely some good comics on that list but where the fuck is George Carlin???
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:35 PM on September 26, 2010


I know this is sacrilege to say this on the Internet, but minus Ricky Gervais, modern British comedy is so corny.
posted by dobie at 12:04 AM on September 27, 2010


Terrible list, but what was anyone expecting? Interesting to see Daniel Kitson on there though.

Ricky Gervais is the comedy equivalent of Sting - brilliant, then a steady decline, and unaccountably popular in America.
posted by DanCall at 3:58 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Patton Oswalt is the best, imho. Seeing him live totally blew me away. He is truly a master of his art.
posted by tehloki at 4:01 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've only heard of Daniel Kitson (very very good), Ricky Gervais (needs a long holiday from showbiz) and John Stewart here (I'm vaguely aware of Conan O'Brien but not what he does).Aziz Ansari and Amy Poehler I only know as That One Off Of Parks and Rec.

They need to see some Stewart Lee, Reg D Hunter or Arthur Smith, yo.

minus Ricky Gervais, modern British comedy is so corny.

Meaning what? Peep Show? The Inbetweeners? Pulling? I wouldn't describe any of these as corny. Or are you thinking of mainstream family comedy, which Gervais is not either?
posted by mippy at 4:59 AM on September 27, 2010


"Meaning what?"

"Stewart Lee, Reg D Hunter or Arthur Smith"

Not to mention the IT Crowd and pretty much every show I've seen recently including the ones youve mentioned not including the mighty boosh which is however the best thing on TV anywhere on earth.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:04 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, the IT Crowd is Father Ted for social inadequates. And therefore ace.
posted by mippy at 6:09 AM on September 27, 2010


Definitely some good comics on that list but where the fuck is George Carlin???
posted by AElfwine Evenstar


It's a list of still-active comics, and I may have some bad news for you about Carlin.
posted by COBRA! at 7:39 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


COBRA!, that comment was in response to a comment in response to the list I posted, not the FPP list. In which light, I have some bad news for you about Peter Cook, Groucho Marx, Tommy Cooper, Laurel and Hardy, and... well... half the list....
posted by Slyfen at 7:53 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


GROUCHO MARX WILL NEVER DIE.
posted by COBRA! at 7:58 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a list of still-active comics

Dead Carlin is still more active than most living comics...god damn I miss that bitter old bastard.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:14 AM on September 27, 2010


The story behind Louie is that CK turned down bigger money from other networks to do a show on FX. The deal being that he didn't have to pitch it or have any of the the usual network interference.

If this list is chosen by other comedians, I could see that alone putting Louis CK on top. Other comics are going through pilot season or doing voices for the latest Dreamworks animated movie. Meanwhile Louis is living in some sort of Bill Hicks dreamland where he makes bitter, thoughtful, funny, messed up stuff you wouldn't ever expect to be on tv (did you see the "God" episode of Louie?) and it airs.
posted by Gary at 8:58 AM on September 27, 2010


Some random opinions: Maria Bamford - pure brilliance, should have been higher; John Stewart - hires funny people, is not funny himself; Matt Berry - where the fuck is he/ when will America awake to this singular genius? TITS!
posted by Roachbeard at 9:11 AM on September 27, 2010


John Stewart - hires funny people, is not funny himself

First of all, it is Jon, Jon, Jon, fucking Jon.

Second of all, not funny?
posted by found missing at 9:54 AM on September 27, 2010


No Eddie Izzard? FAIL.
posted by papercake at 10:23 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


First of all, it is Jon, Jon, Jon, fucking Jon.

Easy there - I made an error. And one that does not seem to warrant such spasms of rage.

Yeah, no accounting for taste, eh? I like his politics and everything and I think he's quite clever, but I don't get a lot of laughs out of watching him. I get actively grossed out by him when he tries to salvage dud jokes with a wiseguy voice or with repeated pulling of a really wacky face. It seems like the laughs are just a conditioned response from an extremely ass-licking crowd. Colbert, on the other hand is a GOD.
posted by Roachbeard at 11:03 AM on September 27, 2010


At this point in the proceedings I'd just like to say that Doug Stanhope is the greatest living American comedian.

*ducks*
posted by Decani at 11:46 AM on September 27, 2010


And this. Come on.
posted by Decani at 11:47 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


>>This is not a list of comedians. It's a list of funny film and (mostly) TV performers and writers, picked by TV industry people.
> because comedians only means standup comedians isn't that obvious


Wait, now you're saying that of all funny people in the world, Aziz Ansari and David Letterman &c. are the funniest? That's even more ridiculous. So they're not only funnier than Eddie Izzard, Dave Attel, Jimmy Pardo, Tig Notaro and other standups, they're also funnier than David Sedaris and Gary Shteyngart and John Hodgman and every movie writer and actor and everyone outside of the U.S.?

But see, these people who chose are COMEDIANS. I mean, none of them appear to have performed in any medium in their lives, but you've got the co-founder of College Humor.com! He's a funny entrepreneur. And a director at funny or die, and a creative executive at Gary Sanchez Productions. So they know.
posted by msalt at 12:11 PM on September 27, 2010


Decani - Couldn't agree more. Stanhope is a prophet.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:03 AM on September 28, 2010


I see a few mentions of Amy Poehler, so I figure it's probably important to point out that she's a sort of anti-Adam Sandler, inasmuch as she is generally abhorrently bad when performing others' material (e.g. stuff provided by SNL), but she's absolutely BRILLIANT when she's doing her own stuff (see: the UCB tv show).
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:59 AM on September 28, 2010


But see, these people who chose are COMEDIANS. I mean, none of them appear to have performed in any medium in their lives, but you've got the co-founder of College Humor.com! He's a funny entrepreneur. And a director at funny or die, and a creative executive at Gary Sanchez Productions. So they know.

Not for nothing, but I've personally seen two of the contributors to this list that you are calling out perform live at the UCB in LA and they are both good. They are in two of the best improv groups active right now (Shitty Jobs and Facebook), which says quite a bit about their performance abilities.

-Eric Appel, Writer/Director, Funny or Die
-Owen Burke, Creative Executive, Gary Sanchez Productions
posted by dogwalker at 5:55 AM on September 28, 2010


Poehler co-created the Mighty B!, which is about as smart a cartoon as Nickelodeon has come up with since Avatar, so naturally Nick underpromoted it and kicked it under the carpet as soon as it could.

Cartoon Network is really the only place for edgy animation these days... the one-two punch of Adventure Time and Regular Show is case in point, even avoiding Adult Swim's entries into the race.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:29 AM on September 28, 2010


OK, I stand corrected. 2 of them are great improv performers.

All of the judges are LA/NY TV industry insiders. And by amazing coincidence, all of their choices are a) LA/NY alt-TV performers or b) LA/NY mainstream TV performers who might hire the judges at some point. Do you really think there is no one funnier in the world outside of this narrow circle?
posted by msalt at 8:15 PM on September 28, 2010


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