The 101 Best Things in Comedy We Were Witness To in 2023 in No Particular Order


Sorry for the delay and getting this on the 2nd. As always, we wanted to be thorough and not miss out on anything in late December like other lists (and, boy howdy, there were). Anyhow after working tirelessly through New Year’s Day up until now, here is our grand list of the 100 best things in comedy we saw/heard/etc. in 2023, in no particular order.

*An egregious error has been made in not including Gary Gulman’s brilliant new hour special. It’s so egregious that we are, for this one time only, expanding from 100 to 101. May Gary forgive us for the tardy inclusion.

  1. Jerrod Carmichael turned awards hosting on its head with his performance at The Golden Globes (kind of like he did with his SNL monologue and he should be hosting way more things).
  2. In addition to stealing every scene that they were in for Joy Ride, Sabrina Wu has more than put themselves on their map as a stand-up, especially with a stand out set on Netflix’s Verified Stand-Up.
  3. Cole Escola might have just outdone Eddie Murphy in regards to how many characters you can comically play on screen at the same time with their “lost” pilot for the Western “drama”, Our Home Out West.
  4. Diane Morgan’s Philomena Cunk has reached Alan Partridge status with Cunk on Earth.
  5. Between her interview with George Santos and her seminal collection of essays, Black Friend,, Ziwe‘s iconic status continues to grow and Showtime will look more and more stupid for cancelling her show.
  6. LBJ the Play achieves comedic brilliance while also, somehow, bridging the wide gap between President Lyndon B. Johnson and gender identity.
  7. The Perfect Amount of Wrong by Mike Bridenstine gives a great portrait of how kindred spirits in a comedy scene, specifically North Chicago alt-comedy, can evolve into some of the most celebrated performers of our time (and make you wonder what the magical ingredients are in 2024 to make that sort of thing happen again).
  8. The hysterical Rachel Kaly attempted to get back on Conan after appearing as a child with jokes that she wrote when she was a child. The journey was thankfully all captured in the blisteringly hilarious short film ATTN: CONAN O’BRIEN.
  9. Everyone who got to see Ben Wasserman do what will likely the best show to ever happen at a funeral home/mortuary/cemetery with Live After Death has been forever changed for the better.
  10. Yorgos Lanthimos outdid himself again with the exquisite, towering, fairy tale satire that is Poor Things featuring a career defining turn from Emma Stone (and Ramy Youssef).
  11. Kyle Kinane‘s Shock and Struts delivered the goods, almost in the way that the truck in a 20+ min. closing story delivered him and his truck out of the desert.
  12. Michael J. Feldman‘s solo show No, But I’m Definitely in a Better Place Than I Been in a Long Time is the solo show we both all deserve (and can revel in as it hits that gallows humor nerve perfectly).
  13. Addie Weyrich must have set some sort of record by having the overwhelming majority of the audience at The Addie Show individually take part of the show (complete with one of over 100 note cards with specific instructions on it).
  14. Addi Somekh made us rethink both balloon hats and the world arounds us with Inflatable Planet.
  15. Sure, Meg Ryan made a return to form in a rom com this year, but Rye Lane, the feature debut of Raine Allen Miller, in our minds, is the top of the pops for romantic comedies in 2023.
  16. Mae Martin plus a forest of trees on stage plus Abbi Jacobson directing equals Sap, one of the most dreamy comedy specials in recent memory.
  17. Mark Vigeant never ceases to amaze with his commitment to the bit, cleverness to go meta, and his vulnerability, all on wondrous display with his solo show, Mark Pleases You.
  18. Chad Damianis half hour of silent improv is a ridiculous treat, even as shirts come off, sweat flies everywhere, and the narrative thread is often illusory.
  19. Scout Durwood pulls out all the stops for the marvelously off-the-rails cabaret/variety show Everybody Go Go and you should take up every opportunity to see it wherever and whenever you can.
  20. The songs, the moves, and the sharp comedy of Drew Lausch and Zach Teague are a force to be reckoned with.
  21. Greg Barris offers both a restorative emotional experience and a deluge of silliness with his latest album Deep Healing.
  22. The Other Two will forever be remembered as having some of the very best industry jokes of any comedy of all time. It’s almost worth working some awful Hollywood desk to enjoy every bit on the show.
  23. In a comedy world of unrelenting truth tellers and edgelords, one Tyler Jackson opts to revel in purely absurd bits and is masterful at it.
  24. Rachel Mac’s Teacher of the Year makes a case for Rachel Mac being one of the funniest teachers working today, which is saying a lot because, whether you know it or not, many teachers live a double life as a comedian.
  25. We got witness the top-to-bottom brilliance of Richard Perez with his solo show, I Have To Do This, and he has made new romances just a little more tolerable/bearable though this collection of (somewhat) grounded rom com vignettes.
  26. Joe Zimmerman’s special Cult Classic faithfully holds up the torch for classical, observational stand-up comedy without sounding like Seinfeld and being able to find a refreshing angle on killing baby Hitler.
  27. The fact that Bottoms is the second Emma Seligman/Rachel Sennott feature length film and that the first one was Shiva Baby should prove to you that they have a lot more delightful, hysterical havoc to wreak on the big screen in the not so distant future.
  28. May your very first special be as on point as Blake Wexler’s Daddy Long Legs.
  29. Cam Gavinski: how to make everything about you forever and always is yet more evidence of Cam being someone who has so much ambition and vision with their comedy, but has the rare ingenuity to actually pull it off.
  30. Very few people break down comedy and analyze it at the molecular level quite like Jesse David Fox does. The Vulture editor and long time host of Good One conclusively summarizes all of his succinct and astute observations on comedy in his appropriately titled Comedy Book: How Comedy Conquered Culture-and the Magic That Makes It Work by Jesse David Fox.
  31. Greta Gerwig’s take on Barbie was a feat on so many levels (financially, philosophically, tonally) all while being so damn fun. Don’t be surprised if comedy runs the table again this awards season.
  32. Being unapologetically genuine and exuberant are a great pairing for comedy and Rachel Coster is a perfect example of that.
  33. As far as taking big swings for specials, very few swung as big as Alison Stevenson with making up a streaming service for her special VUBITV+ Presents: Alison Stevenson: H*rny B*tch: A Comedy Special to “premiere” on and do a bunch of BDSM bits on top of it. It’s such a good time because of it.
  34. Tina Friml is a shining gem amidst a field of angrily smoldering embers and you should go seek out her stand-up whenever you can.
  35. It’s called Hell, but Chris Fleming and his groovy attire front what might be the silliest special on a major streaming platform. Kudos to Fleming keeping true to being utterly ridiculous.
  36. The imagination of Sam Walt Jones is wonderfully bigger than most as shown, just this year, by doing an entire live parody series of Survivor that actually spans several weeks and feels like a splendidly mutated Wonderland version of the show.
  37. LA got a wonderful addition to its scene this year with one Katherine Blanford whose warmth and cleverness ought to see her go real far in Tinseltown.
  38. The sultry voice of Leslie Liao blends comedically so well with her frank observations about herself and it has been a true joy to see her rise out of the ranks.
  39. Langston Kerman and David Gborie seem to be able to do no wrong with their podcast My Momma Told Me even though it’s dedicated to parsing out (and “legitimately” considering) some of the most ridiculous conspiracy theories out there.
  40. Richelle Meiss had a hit on her hands with an unauthorized musical parody of The Bachelor and she did an equally pitch perfect send up of Real Housewives this year. We would love if she just took on all trash TV with her musical parody prowess.
  41. Moses Storm got back to his more experimental comedy roots this year and devised a solo show, Perfect Cult, where he created a cult with the audience. Storm’s mixing of his own experiences, which, in turn, inform how he creates this in-show cult is so fun that you might just want to follow Storm wherever he goes.
  42. Veronica Osorio put all of her being, experiences, desires, and penchant for mischief into her Venezuelan Shamanic clown show, Medicine Woman, and made for one of the most enchanting, mystifying, original solo shows we saw all year long.
  43. Kyle Ayers is unfortunately afflicted with Trigeminal Neuralgia (AKA “Suicide Disease”) and yet, through his own indomitable comedic will, made a non-stop laughs solo show, Hard to Say.
  44. Beth Stelling‘s latest special If You Didn’t Want Me Then is so undeniably good (kind of like Girl Daddy) it should be the calling card for Beth to be in anything and everything that she wants to be.
  45. Kristoffer Borgli‘s Dream Scenario is one of the most radical movies of the year and did so by having Nicholas Cage play one of his most unassuming roles in his entire career. For our money, it’s the best and most original comedy about dreams since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
  46. Julia Sweeney‘s story about the death of her mom, when we heard it at UnCabaret, is one of the best, purest distillations of a comedian’s archetypal relationship with their parents.
  47. So much comedy on the big screen this year had wonderful bite to it, but American Fiction might have some of the most devastatingly funny lines delivered perfectly by Jeffrey Wright and crafted by Cord Jefferson.
  48. Mo Welch went above and beyond in going meta and daring with Dad Jokes, a half stand-up special/half docu-special with super dark dad jokes and then trying to reconnect with your estranged dad.
  49. Alex Edelman infiltrating a White Nationalist meeting as a Jew and turning it into Just For Us is every bit as illuminating and hilarious and resonant as you think it could be (and then some).
  50. As one can see from Live from the Big Dog, the comedic power of Blair Socci will not be denied.
  51. The Academy Museum’s exhibit John Waters: Pope of Trash is an ornate tribute to the auteur and one of the best displays of camp cinema/humor/etc. we’ve ever seen.
  52. How Hasan Minhaj handled the controversy around his New Yorker interview highlighted so much about comedy that people should never forget.
  53. Joe Pera’s first hour special Slow & Steady is a perfect distillation of Joe’s calming and politely off-kilter comedy that is the perfect salve for these times. Also, Joe has the best audience cutaway to the security guard of any special ever.
  54. LA now has its own, postmodern bouffant troupe Il Fungo and, as a postmodern bouffant troupe is wont to do, they bridge the sublime and the silly wonderfully.
  55. While comedians riffing off each other is well-mined territory in podcasts, Mae Martin, Fortune Feimster, and Tig Notaro hanging out on The Handsome Podcast has a magical quality to it.
  56. Julian Velard has the most amazing existential song about being a piano player being asked to play Billy Joel’s Piano Man in his marvelous musical solo show Julian Velard… Is in the Middle of Something.
  57. John Early is up to his meta hijinks in his HBO special Now More Than Ever that dresses up his hilarious stand-up in the middle of a classic rock doc. Also, bonus points go to John for the way he points out his parents in this hour
  58. A very special Green Room with Paul Provenza happened this year as it was all in Paul’s backyard and showed how comedy can shine the through darkest of traumas with Doug Stanhope, Andy Andrist, Kristine Levine, Annie Lederman, and Henry Phillips.
  59. Though Demi Adejuyigbe isn’t doing his September videos anymore, he is still dishing out brilliance in other forms as he did in 2023 with his declaration for 2023 Halloween costumes.
  60. For all the talk about The Boys, best not sleep on a UK satire on super powers from Emma Morgan, Extraordinary, which is decidedly less explicit and (maybe more) charming, in the keep-calm-and-carry-on British manner.
  61. As far as a classical looking and sounding comedy special goes in 2023, it doesn’t get much better than Nate Craig: Live at the Green Mill.
  62. For a show that’s so unpredictable and existentially rapturous, let’s all hold hands and take a moment for the final season of How to With John Wilson coming to a close last year.
  63. NYC comedy darling James Hamilton put out one hell of a debut album with I Don’t Deserve These Deals; the sort of album that makes you wonder how wrong the Grammys are about their nominations for Best Comedy Album.
  64. Thank goodness for the doc following Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett‘s fake strongman duo Chop & Steele and capturing how you might have to go, legally, to defend looking stupid on TV for fun.
  65. Let the hilarious weirdness of the life of one Jessica Sele wash over you with her debut album Weird Vibes.
  66. The new, new, new, NEW Futurama, believe it or not, is pretty damn good (and fully aware of how many times it has been revived).
  67. Albert Brooks: Defending My Life is a great and necessary reminder of how much Albert Brooks is a comedy pioneer as a performer/actor/director as well as a touching tribute from one of his best friends, Rob Reiner.
  68. Joe Kwaczala not only delivers on his album’s title of Funny Songs & Sketches, but cleverly delivers a grand variety of ingenious, innovative bits that points to Joe perhaps deserving a full on sketch show somewhere.
  69. While Barbie rode high this year, let us not forget the R-rated comedy of 2023, Joy Ride (that also a touching story about identity, adoption, and taking the baton from Crazy Rich Asians and running wild with it).
  70. Harley Quinn, now in its 4th season, continues to be a bright, hysterical, subversive light in the imploding world of comic book based IP.
  71. The NYC branch of Comedians You Should Know really made moves this year and one of those moves was one of its heads, David Drake, putting out his very first special that hit the perfect mark of self-deprecation with That’s It.
  72. At this point, you’d wonder how John Oliver could possibly up the ante with his prank calls to action with Last Week Tonight. Then, John went ahead and fixed a New Zealand bird election for the Pūteketeke and gave us an answer.
  73. If you want to see victory and self-acceptance and healing and an irresistibly funny solo show, look no further than Jackie Johnson: How To Get a Second Husband.
  74. Clay Tatum and Whitmer Thomas’ Civil Dead is a charming lowkey twist on what it means to be a ghost and/or the buddy comedy.
  75. Protected Under Parody might be the best sketch show going in LA even though it happens in the bar area of a hip movie theater.
  76. If you don’t already know the name Steph Tolev, you best know it now and remember it fully. The self-ascribed “Queen of Filth” is playing all over the country now and she’s as good at going blue and working a crowd as anyone out there.
  77. Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson made one of the most unhinged, unapologetically queer comedy of the year with Dicks: the Musical, doing A24 proud for their first musical. Let it be known that 2023 could be called the “Year of Dicks and Bottoms”.
  78. Countless hours of comedic observations have been dished out about generational differences, but the amazing Jenny Zigrino has some of the best and sharpest jokes in that realm in her special Jen-Z.
  79. Marc Maron pulled a hat trick with his latest hour in offering one of his most touching, darkest, and best specials yet with From Bleak to Dark.
  80. The only saving grace of Mike Lindell existing is that James Adomian keeps getting to play him brillliantly on Kimmel as he did throughout the year and even over this past holiday season.
  81. Even though Molly Gordon, Ben Platt, and Nick Lieberman had a touching, laugh riot of a tribute to theater kids everywhere with Theater Camp, this feature debut of Gordon and Lieberman is the definitive mockumentary of 2023.
  82. If you’ve mowed through dozens of specials and wondered if comedy has become stale/complacent/hollow, get a shot in the arm with Ben Roy‘s latest hour Hyena and rest easy (after laughing a whole damn lot).
  83. Brad Wenzel and his latest hour, joke. joke. joke. shows that the art form of the one liner, a corner of comedy that often seems to be of yesteryear, is alive and well (and can thrive in the 2020s).
  84. All hail the best sketch show on television, I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson, full stop. No further explanation should be needed.
  85. Her book Raw Dog, in our minds, has elevated Jamie Loftus into the status of comedy luminary (and is the sort of humor that the Mark Twain Prize actually seeks to honor if you read the award’s mission statement).
  86. The series of IG reels/Tik Tok It’s Not an Issue with Ever Mainard and their Mom on is simply blissful ridiculousness between a mom and their non-binary adult child.
  87. Wes Anderson retains his pristine symmetrical comedy auteur status with his most self-reflexive (and cheeky) work yet, Asteroid City.
  88. If they were a wing of a modern art museum dedicated to video art as dramedy, it should have the entire season of Carol & The End of the World playing on a loop. Hats off to Dan Guterman for creating a beautiful existential valediction to 2023 in the form of an adult animated series.
  89. As time passes, the comedic observations about pandemic times have become more and more worn, but such original and insightful and personal voices like those of Hari Kondabolu make for something special as he did with Vacation Baby.
  90. It might be strange to have a veritable set list as the title of your special, but England, Weed & The Rest from Gareth Reynolds belies his expert skills, especially when it comes to crowd work and making fun of being English. Salutations to Birthday Chicken.
  91. While working the road can wear on the psyche and will of a comedian, some get energized by the challenge and Tom Thakkar is clearly having so much damn fun playing clubs night in and night out wherever he is. That energy (along with thoughtful material about race and politics) is captured wonderfully on Thakkar Noir.
  92. Andy Iwancio not only has some of the very best trans jokes (go figure that the best trans jokes would come from a trans person) in her album Better Living Through Femmistry, but joyfully gets rambunctious about the recording of her album during the actual recording of it.
  93. The genre mash-up of horror and comedy (and your whole outlooking on existence and meaning) might be changed forever (and for the better) because of Ari Aster‘s Beau Is Afraid.
  94. Sunanda‘s solo show dedicated to their love of Britney Spears and their journey to self-actualization from it, the aptly names Sunanda Loves Britney,
  95. Comedy in pathos might have been best displayed in 2023 in the latest collaboration of Alexander Payne and Paul Giamatti with The Holdovers.
  96. The trios of Chris Estrada/Frankie Quiñones/Michael Imperioli and Jake Weisman/Matt Ingebretson/Pat Bishop continue on their path to making one of the best comedies of this decade, balancing satirical subversion and the ludicrous all set in a grounded East LA with season 2 of This Fool.
  97. The third season of the modern day indigenous dramedy Reservations Dogs completes a wondrous arc and achieves its best episodes yet making for a rare instance of a TV series getting to do what it set out to do.
  98. The fact that Jackie Kashian made a special using the rearview camera of a car is so funny on its own and then there’s the fact that Jackie is also one of the funniest comedians working today that make Looking Back special.
  99. Whether you go by laughs per minute or just gut feeling, Jay Jurden is indisputably one of the best stand-ups on any stage these days. Just watch his Don’t Tell set, if you haven’t already, and you’ll see what we’re saying.
  100. Even though she might be against the organized religious aspects of it, let’s canonize Maria Bamford as a saint for her brilliant special Maria Bamford: Local Act and hit book Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult.
  101. Gary Gulman is a paragon of the art form of comedy in every single facet of it since he has, perhaps, the deepest understanding of the craft of stand-up, and that has been the case with Gary for a long time. His latest hour, Born on 3rd Base, might be his very best work yet.*