Stand-up comedy is arguably more popular than ever right now. With the internet putting virtually every comedy special and album at our fingertips, an overabundance of comedy podcasts, and Netflix becoming the new hotspot for comics to release their specials, business is booming.
As a huge fan of stand-up, I love seeing which comedians have the crown, in terms of mainstream popularity and appeal among comedy nerds. In my humble opinion, here are the 10 best stand-up comics in the game right now.
It’s impossible to get the list down to only 10, so here are a few caveats:
1. They had to have released a special in the past 3 years — leaving out some heavy hitters like Dave Chappelle and Zach Galifianakis.
2. They had to have become famous during the 21st century. So while Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld are 2 of the greatest, they blew up in the 90’s so they don’t count for this list.
Can’t wait for all your creative input in the comments section. That said, here are the top 10 comics in the game right now.
10. Aziz Ansari
Wanna see a really small Indian dude talk about modern relationship problems and tell weird stories about hanging with Kanye? Well I got the guy for you. His Netflix series Master Of None is pretty great, too. He also has a story about finding out that 50 Cent doesn’t know what a grapefruit is. What more do you need in life?
BEST SPECIAL: “Intimate Moments From A Sensual Evening.”
9. Patton Oswalt
One of the pioneers of “Alt-Comedy” in the early to mid 2000s (along with Zach Galifianakis and Maria Bamford), Patton Oswalt is a nerd god. He wears his love for pop culture on his sleeve, and he’s got versatility — being able to talk insightfully about politics, sex, and wanting to kill George Lucas with a shovel before he makes the Star Wars prequels.
BEST SPECIAL: “My Weakness Is Strong.”
8. John Mulaney
His self-titled sitcom was a massive flop, but his stand-up is phenomenal. If you haven’t seen “New In Town,” throw your phone at the wall, go on Netflix and watch that shit immediately. He’s an incredible storyteller with an inherent likability and a unique outlook. I can’t watch Law & Order: SVU without thinking of his bit about it.
BEST SPECIAL: “New In Town.”
7. Iliza Shlesinger
Arguably the best female comic doing it right now. Her comedy is mainly geared towards young women and isn’t very relatable for guys, but if you got a dick you’ll still laugh at her, even if you can’t relate to the observations. She’s got 2 Netflix specials and a 3rd one on the way.
BEST SPECIAL: “Freezing Hot.”
6. Chris D’elia
Imagine if Dane Cook was more scraggly and way weirder and more unhinged, and you’ve got something like D’elia. His famous bit about drunk girls is already the stuff of legend. Everything about his act feels organic and effortless. Sure, he laughs at his jokes more than other comic, but we can give him a pass for that.
BEST SPECIAL: “White Male. Black Comic.”
5. Anthony Jeselnik
The king of dark, fucked up comedy. He’s like an evil Mitch Hedberg, with killer one liners about every sensitive topic imaginable. He manages to take every fucked up thing you can think of — suicide, abortion, rape, domestic abuse, child abuse, racism, the Holocaust — and spin them into comedy gold. He’s a sick, sick man. And I love it.
BEST SPECIAL: “Caligula.”
4. Louis CK
I recently included Louis CK in my List Of People Who Need To Shut The Fuck Up because there’s some pretty messed up rumors involving his personal life. But if you can separate the art from the artist, CK really is one of the best comics alive. He’s one of the best storytellers in stand-up, and he has a natural gift for finding humor in the darkest parts of life.
BEST SPECIAL: “Chewed Up.”
3. Kevin Hart
Hart is the first comic since Dane Cook to reach a “rockstar” level of success in stand-up. He performs in sold-out arenas, and his upcoming special “What Now?” was recorded in a NFL stadium. Yes, a comic sold out a fucking NFL stadium. Unreal. He’s easy to write off as overrated, because his nonstop over-the-top energy, and the fact that he stars in every goddamn movie now. But the guy is hilarious.
BEST SPECIAL: “Seriously Funny.”
2. Hannibal Buress
Hannibal is most known for his joke that unintentionally opened the floodgates on the Bill Cosby allegations, but Hannibal is much more than the guy that told the Bill Cosby rape joke. He’s one of the greatest comics doing it right now. He has a slow, smooth way of easing through his words — with a rhythm slightly reminiscent of Mitch Hedberg — and his observations are unique and fresh. I’m sure Cosby isn’t a fan, though.
BEST SPECIAL: “Live From Chicago.”
1. Bill Burr
It’s insanely cliché to describe a comic by saying he’s “brutally honest” and he “says the things we’re afraid to say,” but it honestly perfectly describes Bill Burr. With his aggressive but endearing delivery and spot-on observations on pretty much every issue, Burr is the king of comedy right now. His social commentary is unique and painfully hilarious, and in 2016 he’s the closest we have to a George Carlin.
BEST SPECIAL: “I’m Sorry You Feel That Way.”
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Pete Holmes, Jerrod Carmichael, Jeff Ross, Natasha Leggero, Maria Bamford, Mike Birbiglia, Dane Cook, Demetri Martin, Amy Schumer..
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