The 20 Best Funny People Right Now

[There is a companion podcast to this article, by Cook St. Productions, which you can stream or download here, or get through iTunes here. On the podcast, we run down this list and my colleagues Travis and Evan outline their many disagreements.]

So what am I talking about when I say “The 20 Best Funny People Right Now?”

It’s a title intended to be vague, and one that I settled on by default. I say ‘Funny People’ because that avoids the term ‘Comedian,’ which suggests it’s relegated to stand-up. And I say ‘Best’ because ‘Funniest’ sounds somehow more subjective, and ‘funny’ ain’t all that’s being measured here.

I made the following list using my own opinions and tastes, but also combined with whatever ‘facts’ or statistics the Internet could offer. I then evaluated the contestants based on these conflicting merits:

  • Success – past, present, and projected future.
  • Popularity – amongst the general popularity, or critics, or other comedians.
  • Versatility – how they’ve fared across multiple projects and media.
  • Talent – charisma on-screen or, presumably, in person.
  • Voice – is it distinct, and how much ownership they have over the comedy.
  • Relevance – are they important to the comedy landscape, and will they be moving forward.

and lastly,

  • Trust – This might be the most important metric, but the hardest to qualify. A relationship without trust fails 100 times out of 100, and when you lose faith in someone’s ability to make you laugh, that’s kind of it. For instance, when you hear someone’s in an upcoming project or you see them pop up on TV or in a movie trailer, what’s your gut reaction — is it ‘yes!’ or is it ‘uh oh what is this?’  Do you trust their talent to transcend their project? Do they make interesting creative choices? Do they seem to still care?  The answers to these questions come from the gut, and as inexact as that science may be, it helps settle some ties. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Andy Samberg are both extremely funny people, but I do not trust Andy Samberg.

‘Nuff disclaimer? Alright you monsters, here’s your goddamn list. Continue reading