It’s 2017, How Do You Not Know These Comedians?
It’s a great time to be a fan of comedy. The internet is teeming with equal parts fawning over comedy royalty’s new/old endeavors and lists of up-and-comer stand-ups to keep an eye on. This following list is neither of those things.
Below is a list of comedians who, while not (yet) in the pantheon of greats alongside Louie and Seinfeld, are well past the “to watch” stage of their career. These funny men and women are Hollywood darlings, beloved by their peers, and earning buckets of money while churning out the freshest material out there. Both their names and faces should be scorched into your brain folds by this point, comedy nerd or not.
Don’t be nervous, though. You’ll do fine. Don’t think of this as a test. Think of this more like a doctor’s checkup where the doctor is ready to clang a bell and shout “shame” at you if your BMI’s too high. And if you already know everyone on this list, don’t pat yourself on the back too hard.
Disappointing me off the bat, I see. Really, you must be going out of your way to avoid Kumail. Guy is everywhere. He’s on Silicon Valley, is the king of Twitter, and just put out the indie comedy darling of the year, The Big Sick, and is getting adoration from every major media outlet and yet you’re sitting there with a dumb look on your face like I just showed you any shmo off the street. I’m thinking there may be some latent racial biases at play here.
Do you, like Hollywood, in general, have some sort of problem with the Asian-American community? Your lack of familiarity with Ali seems to point to the contrary. It’s not like her material isn’t relatable to everyone else, y’know. You’d like it too if you gave it a chance. I promise. Oh, maybe it’s that she did her recent special while pregnant that got to you. What, does a female comic need to adhere to a certain set of conventions to pique your interest? Get with the times.
I know you’ve seen him on Eric Andre Show or Broad City. It would be impossible to have gone this long without catching him there or on one of his dozed comedy specials all over Netflix and Comedy Central. And how do you not commit a name like his to memory the second you hear it? It’s like the guy was designed specifically to carve out some real estate in your cerebellum. Tbh, your lack of awareness is borderline disrespectful.
While not reallllly a stand-up comedian (these days), this man is the pulsing life force behind modern alt comedy and his network runs deeper than anyone’s on this list. Hosting the live, podcast, and TV show versions of Comedy Bang Bang for close to a decade, as well as producing and/or writing a number of other iconic shows and videos, like the Between Two Ferns episodes with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Aukerman is the closest thing modern comedy has to a President. I mean, if you know who Lorne Michaels is, but not Scott, you need to get your life sorted, big time.
You must’ve been watching TV with your eyes closed for the past two decades to miss out on this one. On top of her myriad pop-ins, recurring characters, and starring roles on network, cable, and streaming TV, Maria’s been an ever-present figurehead in the alt comedy world, with seminal classics like The Comedians of Comedy in her credits and a heart-on-sleeve approach to honesty in her routine, particularly in the case of her battles with depression, it’s no wonder so many worship at the feet of this icon. And yet you’re here drawing a blank. Interesting.
Stop playing. Really? Maron?? He’s like the podcast comedy guy. Yeah, the one who somehow landed an interview with President Obama, which added a ton of gravitas to the entire podcast landscape. Yea, sure he’s got that new Netflix show, Glow, now too but that’s less important. It’s Maron, dude! Who are the people of note in your world, even?
The other Comedian of Comedy on this list, Oswalt is so entrenched in every aspect of pop culture that even your toddler knows him. Yup, he’s Remy from Ratatouille. After all his years co-starring in sit-coms to build his fortune and honing his act to become canonized as a god of the industry by his peers, Oswalt has a skeleton key to do anything he wants in Hollywood. But I guess you were too busy learning who Chris Brown’s latest fling was with.
“Oh, yea, that guy with the failed sitcom?” Is that seriously how you just referred to one one of the sharpest and most viciously acerbic minds in comedy? Forget about how this guy has yet to put out a dud album. Statues should be built in his honor simply for giving the world George St. Geegland and “Oh, Hello!” Wait, you don’t know about- Ok, you need to leave before I say something I’m going to regret.
How did you miss the most touching and raw comedy album of the past decade that was praised by pretty much every other comedian out there including Louis C.K. as “instantly legendary?” Y’know, the one where Tig walked into a set, still reeling from a break up and her mom’s sudden death, and told the audience about how she’d just been diagnosed with breast cancer in her trademark deadpan. You missed that? Surely you saw the follow up HBO special where she causally removed her shirt halfway through the set, to let the audience awkwardly deal with the mastectomy scars from said cancer as she continued to tell jokes. Missed that too, huh? You should take a moment to reflect and re-evaluate your priorities.
You seriously don’t know Aziz Ansari? Even my grandmother knows who Aziz is. And she’s dead. Forget his Human Giant, Parks & Rec, and big screen bona fides. This comedy juggernaut has been selling out Madison Square Garden for his stand-up specials, wrote a best-seller called Modern Romance that covers the titular topic, and has a Netflix show that both critics and audiences love. His mug is on billboards around the world so, honestly, if you don’t know who he is, I can only assume you kinda hate brown people. Not cool.
Featured image: Aziz Ansari