The 100 Best Things in Comedy We Were Witness to in No Particular Order of 2016
2016 is officially, finally, thankfully over (as long as you don’t think about time largely being a human construct, a new number of year doesn’t make things automatically better, and Trump becoming POTUS).
So, it’s time for our year end list, The 100 Best Things in Comedy We Were Witness to in No Particular Order of 2016.
Got it? Great.
Here’s 2016′s edition:
1. Jake Weisman’s Send Up of Peter Travers Reviews-Rolling Stone has gone through so much recently, you might have forgot this amazing NSFW parody that Weisman made of Travers movie reviews.
2. Rory Scovel’s set on Conan Where He Went Into the Crowd-Rory Scovel pushes the envelope in stand-up in the best ways imaginable and this latest Conan set is evidence of his juggling of being fearless and silly at the same time.
3. Conan Without Borders-Conan O’Brien’s trips overseas to Berlin and South Korea highlight every single comedy gear that Conan can shift into and proves that he can almost make any situation hilarious.
4. “Killer” by Matt Kazman-Kazman achieves one of the best comedic payoffs on screen in 2016, including film and TV, with this incredibly crafted short film.
5. The Jackie and Laurie Show-Jackie Kashian and Laurie Kilmartin found a way to make a podcast where comedians talk comedy and have it be original, damn funny, and crucial.
6 Hebecky Drysbell-Reigning all time UCB Cagematch champions Heather Anne Campbell and Rebecca Drysdale showcase such virtuosity as an improv duo that is as hilarious as it is, when we think about it, beautiful.
7. Chris Estrada-If you’re looking for diamonds in the rough right now, we’d say catch Estrada’s next set and you’ll see how great his jokes are drawing from his life growing up in LA.
8. Cool Sh*t/Weird Sh*t’s Neighborhood Walking Tour-the LA outfit of the experimental comedy show brilliantly took its audience, one night, around the block and staged such moments as a couple fake fighting in a real Food 4 Less, a woman crying trying to explain the plot of a movie in a Walgreens, and running into an adult orphan waiting to be adopted off the street.
9. Womanhood with Aparna Nancherla and Jo Firestone-Nancherla and Firestone compliment each other so well in being goofy on this show that goes through absurd explanations of “womanhood” that it should be the next web series that gets made into a full fledged TV show.
10. Fleabag-Phoebe Waller Bridge has the UK’s fantastic, epic answer to You’re The Worst.
11. Giulia Rozzi’s True Love-Rozzi’s hour achieves what a good rom com achieves by skewering love and all of its faults as much as it celebrates it.
12. Mike Leffingwell’s 12 Angry Men: The One Man Show-The concept of a single man doing a solo show adaptation of the classic courtroom drama 12 Angry Men is funny enough, but Mike Leffingwell then pulled off performing it perfectly.
13. Josh Sharp doing an hour while dipping in and out of singing D’Angelo’s Untitled (How Does It Feel?) with a live band-Sharp’s stories are wonderfully crafted and told, and then, accentuated by his lovely voice singing D’Angelo’s most well known song like there’s no tomorrow.
14. Not Safe with Nikki Glaser’s Remote Segments–Glaser fed porn stars lines for scenes, visited a foot fetish convention, and highlighted sex in such a fun way that wasn’t attempted by any other TV show.
15. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s Make Donald Drumpf Again-Oliver and company’s take down of Trump was one of the best researched, strategized, written, executed pieces on Trump during this whole election cycle.
16. Disengaged-Jen Tullock and Hannah Utt’s web series following a lesbian couple rushing into marriage was one of the best pieces of romantic comedy we saw in 2016
17. [F*ck This] Late Night Show with David Brown-In a way, David Brown sees Eric Andre’s rebellion against the traditional late night format and raises it some more chaos. He has a separate creative team ruining his talk show as it happens via flashmobs, waterboarding, etc.
18. Baron Vaughn’s Blaxisential Crisis-Baron Vaughn’s latest album oscillates perfectly between deep and crucial issues of race, class, purpose and flights of imaginative fancy putting Vaughn almost in a class by himself.
19. Crabapples with Bobcat Goldthwait and Caitlin Gill-the odd couple pairing of Goldthwait and Gill is unlike anything comedy has seen before. Because it lives in truth (they really are roommates), it’s one of the best hosting duos in comedy today.
20. Megan Gailey-Gailey, with her stand-up, is simultaneously an undeniable delight and a force to be reckoned with, which only doubles up how delightful she is to watch.
21. Liartown USA-When it comes to parodying covers for books, magazines, Netflix menus, etc., Sean Tejaratchi might just do it better than anyone as you can see above.
22. This Bill Burr joke: “How many Toyota Camrys do you have to see before you realize most people’s dreams don’t come true?”-We usually refrain from transcribing jokes out of context and in print, but we haven’t stopped laughing at this searingly honest joke from Burr since we first saw him work on it several months ago and felt it imperative that it be on this list.
23. Sing Street-The 80s, Ireland, young love, and diegetic musicals get married perfectly in this film by John Carney that spent far too little time in theaters.
24. Derek Sheen’s Tiny Idiot-This album made it clear that Sheen could be an heir apparent to Patton Oswalt, bu very clearly has his own, unique comedic take on the world today.
25. Stephen Colbert’s Close to His Election 2016 Live Special-For once, the world got to see the real Stephen Colbert who is so intelligent, well spoken, caring, and one of the only people that could pull of dealing with immediate aftermath of an impending Trump win on TV.
26. Will Hines’ A Soundly Defeated Man-Hines, in a series of sketch vignettes, takes the comedic self-deprecation to a new level of artistry by showing how defeated one man really can be.
27. The Lobster-Yorgos Lanthimos might have made the best dystopian rom com in recent memory and, possibly, for several years to come.
28. Jena Friedman’s American C*nt-Friedman is unrelenting in her dismantling of the patriarchy amongst other several other controversial issues. She handily deals with them in this special, placing her in a very important position in comedy going forward in 2017.
29. Jamie Loftus-Loftus is that amazing rare breed of comedian that blends dark, absurdist humor with genuine vulnerability and she can do so in her stand-up or through own self-styled animation (ex. doing her own animations for old tapes of how to tell children about someone dying).
30. Chris Duffy’s You Get a Spoon-Duffy’s NYC based, curated variety show is filled with so much positivity from celebrating the favorite things of his favorite performers that you almost can’t leave the show without a smile on your face (or winning a prize).
31. Bear Supply-The quick, music fueled scenes of Mike Castle, Shaun Boylan, Joey Greer, Jordan Bull, Morgan Christensen and James Heaney is impeccable improvisational comedy.
32. The Cooties-Musical comedy is alive and well with the satirical power pop songs of The Cooties.
33. Aparna Nancherla’s Just Putting It Out There-Aparna’s album is proof positive that her wondrous version of self-deprecation can be ultimately uplifting.
34. Hunt for the Wilderpeople-Taika Waititi continues his film streak with a charming-as-can-be film about a troubled youth surviving in the wilds of New Zealand.
35. Don’t Think Twice-Mike Birbiglia gets really close to hitting too close to home for some people in comedy, but that draws out one of the best depictions of life in comedy (or attempting to do so) that has ever been put into a movie.
36. The Opening of The Pack Theater-The DIY, punk rock, spirit that runs in the veins of much of LA comedy got a new, wonderful outlet at The Pack Theater.
37. Jetzo-Chad Damiani and Juzo Yoshida mash-up improv, clowning, kimonos, dramatic live musical accompaniment, and breaking the fourth wall to make the marvelous whirlwind known as Jetzo.
38. DJ Real (Nick Stargu)-SF comedian Nick Stargu’s alias DJ Real mixes an uncanny command of musicianship with an über-clever style of comedy that dazzled and had us doubling over laughing at the same time.
39. Daniel Webb-Hailing from Austin, TX, stand-up comedian Daniel Webb is a splendid rush of charisma that probably has a better Obama story than almost anyone you know.
40. Laurie Kilmartin’s 45 Jokes About My Dead Dad-Kilmartin’s special, born out of jokes she tweeted while her dad was passing away, is so darkly funny and has an unmistakable humanity, which has us rethinking that maxim of comedy equals tragedy plus time.
41. Kristin Rand-LA got a brief glimpse of the unstoppable charm of Rand when she moved here from Denver and was all the better for it.
42. James Fritz’s Still Together-The way Fritz exquisitely channels rage and bleakness into this debut album is magnificent.
43. Roast Battle-What started as two open mic’ers fighting in a parking lot has now earned its way to a March Madness style tournament shown on Comedy Central and we’re betting that Roast Battle still has much more potential ahead of them.
44. Josh Fadem-Fadem made a return to performing more regularly in 2016 and his magnetic positivity and pure, unabashed goofiness (complete with impromptu costumes) definitely got us through the whole of last year.
45. Sam Jay-Jay moved to LA from Boston and took her insightful, brash, unfiltered comedy (that happens to come through the lens of being a newly married lesbian) and has become a the LA scene favorite almost instantly.
46. Dave Waite’s Dead Waite-Dave Waite’s latest hour takes being a goofball to new heights of brilliance.
47. Of Oz The Wizard by Matt Bucy-Absurdity doesn’t get more pure than Bucy’s re-editing the classic film version of The Wizard of Oz and alphabetizing the entire thing, start to finish.
48. This Friday Forty-Most other quiz shows can’t compare to Scott Gimple and Dave Holmes’ This Friday Forty that not only has topical trivia, but fantastic sketch characters to introduce said trivia.
49. Jay Larson’s Human Math-Few comedians so deftly explore the minutia of human nature like Larson does on this album.
50. Josh Gondelman’s Physical Whisper-Gondelman’s craftsmanship in observational humor is exceptional on this album and accentuated nicely by his sunny stage persona.
51. Kyle Mizono right after the election-There was a lot of raw nerves exposed in comedians right after Trump’s win and few did it so purely and well as Mizono. For a whole set, she screamed her jokes with legitimate fury, but without being off-putting (well, if you’re not a Trump supporter that is).
52. Lady Dynamite-Maria Bamford’s truth and Mitch Hurwitz’s wildly imaginative way of making episodic television combine for a comedy series that is blazing its own trail at a time where that gets harder and harder to do in a show about the life of a comedian.
53. Hail, Caesar!-The Coen Brothers’ latest comedy set in Hollywood’s Golden Age is one of their sharpest and most beautiful works that has plenty of scenes that could be amazing short films on their own.
54. Moses Storm’s Sweater-Moses Storm never ceases to amaze us as he, this time, wore a sweater that had several strings attached to it for audience members to grab so they could literally be connected to him while he’s telling a story.
55. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee-Samantha Bee has cemented a legacy in her short time on the air with her take-no-prisoners-and-then-some style of satirical news coverage.
56. Gene Wilder and Fidel Castro’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve (in Limbo)-UCB’s Beth Appel and Rose Marziale put a hell of a show to end 2016 with as they used the whole of the UCB Sunset complex to have an immersive comedy show (a la Sleep No More) that included karaoke with dead celebrities, a fake newsroom, and the woods where Hillary Clinton is living.
57. Morris From America-Chad Hartigan’s refreshing coming-of-age story following an American black kid trying to grow up in Germany with his single father hit a very sweet, feel-good note that everyone needs to see (especially since it had a short theatrical run).
58. Britanick’s “The Foul Line”-Though BriTANick had gone a few years without a new video, this absurdist folly makes up for all that time lost.
59. 20th Century Women-Mike Mills’ latest is a great follow up to Beginners and is an award worthy comedy that might actually be able to compete with heavily favored dramas this year.
61. Paul F. Tompkins’ on Political Correctness-One of comedy’s best gave one of the best explanations of political correctness’ necessary role in comedy.
62. The Dollop-Shining a light on the dark corners in American history is as important as it has ever been and Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds do so with a devilish laugh and their effortless riffing up comedy gold.
63. Floor Knobs-This AOK sketch from Heather Anne Campbell is one of our absolute favorites and, rather than spoiling anything, we’ll just leave it at that.
64. David Gborie’s Late Night Stand Up Debut-Gborie takes an unexpected move in his opening to this performances that sets up a truly wonderful late night stand-up debut.
65. Cholofit-Frankie Quinones’ cholo exercise guru is done so well that it leaves you wanting it to be a real exercise program.
66. Oh, Hello-John Mulaney and Nick Kroll took two characters from just being a small bit to the heights of Broadway. George St. Geegland and Gil Faizon are just so fully realized and funny that it doesn’t matter if you miss one of their references or not.
67. Chris Garcia’s Laughing and Crying at the Same Time-Garcia meshes deeply personal stories and utter silliness that do the album title justice.
68. Cole Escola-Escola’s solo show follows him playing several outrageous characters (switching wigs and costumes while on stage) allowing for another fun layer in between the cavalcade of delightful, short monologues.
69. Catastrophe season 2-Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney have kept their devastatingly funny look into an unplanned family up to the very high standard they set in season 1.
70. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog’s Election Watch 2016-Robert Smigel might have not known that having a dog puppet on his hand roasting people to their face for years would be the perfect preparation for covering the 2016 election (on both sides of the aisle), but, as the handful of Hulu specials prove, it really was.
71. Joel Kim Booster’s set on Conan-Just telling the story of being adopted by a Midwestern white family from Korea and being gay is fascinating enough, but Joel Kim Booster made that story blisteringly funny on late night.
72. Angie Tribeca-Physical comedy and sight gags would almost seem out-of-turn in comedy these days, but the proudly silly Angie Tribeca on TBS is thankfully changing all of that.
73. Trump vs. Bernie-While ‘Trump vs. Bernie’ will probably be a presidential candidate match-up that more people will long for than ever, Anthony Atamanuik and James Adomian’s Trump vs. Bernie will go down as one of the best bits (that includes the live tour, the Fusion series, and album) of comedy to come out of one of the worst elections in U.S. history.
74. Joe Pera’s Set on Seth Meyers-Pera’s weirdness is one-of-a-kind in comedy as it’s very warm and inviting. He got to share that with the world with his set on Late Night with Seth Meyers.
75. Vice Prinicpals-When Danny McBride and Walton Goggins’ diabolical teachers one-up, in the best way, any other teachers in any other comedies that go off-the-deep-end in this HBO series.
76. Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio-Neely’s latest creations seems to offer up bits from the weirdest corners of Neely’s mind and this animated sketch show is all the better for it.
77. Hari Kondabolu’s Mainstream American Comic-Much is deservingly said about Kondabolu’s expertise in talking politics, class, race, etc. in his comedy, but this album also shows that his comedy is stellar no matter where you fall on the political spectrum.
78. Jon Glaser Loves Gear-Glaser does meta comedy better than almost anybody else working right now and his new show on TruTV is proof of that.
79. How to Win at Feminism by Reductress-This whip-smart manifesto about feminism solidifies Reductress’ place in modern satire next to The Onion and Clickhole.
80. Great Minds with Dan Harmon-Harmon getting to spend time with some of history’s most notable figures ended up being one of the best shows that the History Channel has done in years.
82. Natalie Palamides’ solo show Laid-Palamides makes a solo show that’s so absurd and funny, it might almost be in a unique category of its own.
83. W. Kamau Bell’s Semi-Prominent Negro–Bell explores all of today’s hot button issues (racial inequality, transgender identity, gentrification, etc.) comedically, as he is very skilled at doing, but does it in such a jovial way that they don’t seem so controversial anymore.
84. Other People–Chris Kelly’s hilarious and heartbreaking movie based on his own life in dealing with the passing of his mother from cancer is one of Kelly’s finest work, which is even more impressive as his first feature done while being an SNL writer.
85. Emo Philips improvising with Jason Van Glass-Emo’s comedic prowess is so great that he can improvise with Van Glass like they’re a veteran improv duo.
86. Return of MST3K-Of the things from our childhoods that are being brought back, Mystery Science Theater 3000 returning with a sweeping mandate in the form of a record breaking Kickstarter campaign is one that deserves to be revived.
87. Wyatt Cenac’s An Angry Night in November-Cenac’s EP captures lightning in a bottle (it’s his set from his weekly Night Train show) of immediate post-election comedy that is pure, raw, and biting.
88. Justin Sayre’s Gay Agenda-Sayre makes a compilation of his “meetings” as ‘Chairman of the International Order of Sodomites’ that give a hysterical look into the many great, complex layers of LGBTQ life.
90. Jon Dore Gets a Bad Backstory-Dore once again shows how to toe the line when entering the darkest territories of comedic material and do so successfully while being utterly absurd.
92. Reggie Watts’ Spatial-Watts’ latest special is his best and most ambitious one yet as it includes his beatboxing, a faux sitcom, tap dancing, and way more.
93. Alex & Jude–Alex Hanpeter and Jude Tedmori have figured out how to give slapstick, physical comedy the proper twist for 2016 audiences, which includes a literal bit of audience participation of making Jude a target.
94. Conner O’Malley-O’Malley takes satirical field pieces to a whole new level as he plays and wholeheartedly commits to dark, fully realized characters inspired by vaping, Alex Jones, and Cubs fans. He interacts with real people at Trump rallies, vape conventions and outside of Wrigley Field and goes along with whatever happens.
95. Doug Stanhope’s No Place Like Home-Stanhope has an amazing take on mental illness in this special and opted to shoot it in his own hometown of Bisbee, AZ. Overall, No Place Like Home ranks high up in Stanhope’s extensive catalog of stand-up.
96. “Tond” by Kelly Hudson-Hudson’s short film is one of our favorite bits of existential absurdity of 2016, a year seemingly saturated in nothing but questioning ‘what it all means’.
97. Brett Gelman’s Dinner in America-Gelman’s last special on Adult Swim is one to remember, especially for how searing the satirical commentary on race relations are in it.
98. Miguel Marquez-Marquez bridges a gap, almost literally, between art and comedy as his wry art installations are way funnier (intentionally that is) than nearly anything you’d see in an art museum.
99. Chris Fleming’s Silver Lining–The week following the election seemed as hopeless can be if you voted for Hillary and Fleming offered up a powerful, albeit one with a bit of tomfoolery, message of hope.
100. Norm MacDonald on Conan-Not only is there the expected long, winding roads of Norm’s jokes and stories in this particular appearance, but Conan does an impression of Norm out of frustration that’s spot on.
Alamo Drafthouse Enlists Janeane Garofalo for Latest and Greatest PSA to Not Talk, Text, Etc. at the Movies
As Alamo Drafthouse expands further and further across the nation, these PSAs explaining why you shouldn’t talk, text, or be on your phone in general seem to only get better and better.
Just watch their latest one with Janeane Garofalo that really gives a historical context to why you shouldn’t be on your phone during the movies.
Steve Coogan Talks Pulling Off More Dramatic Film Philomena with Humor
The hysterical Steve Coogan appeared on The Daily Show this week to talk about his critically acclaimed latest work Philomena, which isn’t really a comedy for the harrowing story it tells. Yet, Coogan put humor into the film to make the weighty topic of coerced adoption more palatable.
Louis C.K.’s Next Big Thing Is Selling His Movie “Tomorrow Night” on His Website
Louis C.K. has been noted over the last few years with reinventing the wheel of media by selling his own comedy special on his website for $5, doing every job on his TV show that’s humanly possible along with getting final cut, etc.
His latest milestone will be selling a movie, shot in black and white, that he made partially on his own dime, Tomorrow Night, on his own website. He made this announcement last night on The Tonight Show and revealed that it never got distributed anywhere in 1998.
In 2014, black and white seems to no longer be a deal breaker for audiences and with all the acclaim that CK has gathered since 98, it’s probably a good time for this.
Here’s the trailer for Tomorrow Night; you might know a few people making cameos like Conan O’Brien or JB Smoove.