100 Best Things In Comedy We Were Witness To in No Particular Order of 2015
It’s a year end list.
You know the drill.
If you feel like there are glaring snubs and omissions, keep in mind that we only have one guy do this whole list and there is a finite and very limited amount of time in the day.
2. Though released in 2013, we only caught Sion Sono’s Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, an ultra-meta-comedy action masterpiece in 2015 since it was coming all the way from Japan. How could you not love a movie following a rag tag film crew called The F*ck Brothers that try to make one of the best action movies ever by filming a real gang war?
3. On Groundhog Day in 2015, Kurt Braunohler did his own version of repeating the same day over and over by starting his weekly live show Hot Tub over and over the same way throughout the course of the show and going slowly insane while doing so.
7. Brett Gelman and Jason Woliner continue to show how horror and comedy are supposed to mix in their latest ‘Dinner with…’ special, “Dinner with Family with Brett Gelman and Brett Gelman’s Family”.
9. Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows is more than just a This Is Spinal Tap for all vampire movies in that it creates its own wonderful humor in the world of the supernatural rather than just parody Twilight.
10. The absurd comedic stylings of Ian Abramson made their way to LA this year and, honestly, his time travel bit is near perfection in its complexity, execution, and innovativeness.
11. Eliza Skinner* can tell jokes, tell stories sing, rap, improvise all with the best of them and seeing her do all on Set List, where she pretty much combines all of those skills on the spot, is more proof of her greatness.
12. Follow @bornferal (Megan Koester) for her whip smart wrath that only answers to no one.
14. Thomas R. Wood’s exploration of comedians hobbies, pastimes, and things they do to stay sane that aren’t comedy in his documentary web series Outside Comedy was fascinating without utilizing coffee and cars (for the most part).
15. Conan O’Brien*** made history for television, comedy, and U.S. foreign relations by being the first late night host in decades to not only visit Cuba, but doing an entire Conan in Cuba special. It’s also yet another example of how great O’Brien is at remotes.
16. James Fritz put those who caught him in LA this year on notice with his unrelenting, fiery stand-up. Even when talking about how people should be thankful that he’s doing drugs at parties, it’s the sort of comedy you rally behind.
17. Though dark comedy anthologies from Argentina are rare, Damián Szifron’s Wild Tales makes a case for such a thing being much more common.
18. In LA, there are so much improv and so many improv schools that it’s often hard to find just a simple long form improv showcase, independent of any sort of theatre association, with great teams. Boss Jr. Presents at The Clubhouse does a pretty nice job of just that.
19. Nate Fernald supposedly has been a secret co-host of WTF with Marc Maron that has been cut out every time. Fortunately, Nate cleverly edited himself into an episode for WTF with Marc Maron and Nate Fernald.
20. Whether it be on his sketch team Big Grande, Coachella parody, Death Valley Tween Fest, and so many other shows that he’s on in LA, Drew Tarver proved he’s one of the best sketch performers in the city.
21. NYC’s Jo Firestone combines tireless work ethic with endless curiosity for what lies at the boundaries of comedy, which includes making a comedy club for dolls, doing a pun competition, and working at The Special Without Brett Davis, just to name a few (and we really mean only a few).
22. In 2015, Madonna did stand-up on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon for some reason. Amongst several other great things Anna Seregina did last year, she did an amped up impersonation of a nervous Madonna trying to do jokes, but mostly fumbling with the mic stand.
24. Even though he’s shouting and ranting with all he can muster, Eddie Pepitone**** is still one of the best comedic voices of reason. Seeing him live continues to be for anyone who is into comedy at any degree.
25. Not only is Hampton Yount* getting a much deserved shot as Crow T. Robot on the new MST3K, but his sharp sophomore album Bearable came out this year and gives you a pretty clear picture on why Hampton should have a banner 2016.
26. At this point, James Adomian** is one of the best comedian impressionists that there has ever been. The way he has realized his impression of Sen. Bernie Sanders at comedy shows, on @midnight, and in a faux debate with Tony Atamanuik’s amazing impression of Donald Trump, is just the latest example of that.
27. Screen Junkies’ Honest Trailers have been around for more than a minute, so we came a little to the late party. Still, they have managed to strike a balance between roast jokes and a pretty populist voice in parodying movies that we keep busting up over.
28. While Jurassic World set all sorts of box office records when it came out last summer, the meme inspired by Chris Pratt’s training raptors was probably one of favorite parts of the whole franchise reinvention.
29. Quick and Funny Musicals combined a battle of the bands with Harry Potter for the fantastic “Tom Riddle and the Mystery of the Battle of the Bands”. This should have been the follow up to the Harry Potter movies before moving on to America with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
31. The latest season of Inside Amy Schumer, Trainwreck, an HBO special “Live at the Apollo”, and simply being Amy Schumer has made her more than deserving of all the awards and accolades that Amy received this year.
32. Dana Gould** often made a mockery of comics that drop so-called “truth bombs” this year and yet, in watching Dana, we still get the sort of feeling you’re supposed to get from experiencing a truth bomb, but with laughs while jumping up and down.
33. We finally got to catch the long running Tournament of Nerds from Hal Rudnick and Justin Donaldson and lives up to its hype of comedians defending fictional characters big and small, while dressed up and in character, in a March Madness style tourney.
35. We can only hope that future break ups between couples can be as funny, but also as vulnerable as Veronica Osorio* really getting into pretending to just have gone through a break up on stage.
36. @bryancooking* remains as pristine as a curmudgeon as comedy could ask for both in 140 characters or less on Twitter and on stage.
37. Seemingly out of some sort comedy primordial ooze, Eric Dadourian has risen to new heights as a sassy, but compassionate comedian raconteur.
38. We think that the dust has yet to settle from Parks and Recreation coming to a close in 2015. What was sort of another attempt at The Office evolved into something much sweeter, weirder, and, altogether, just as irresistible.
39. Roy Andersson’s A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence showcased wonderful absurdist and existential comedy in what looks like moving paintings.
40. Season two of BoJack Horseman didn’t disappoint in its mix of unflinching dramedy and uber clever jokes even though it didn’t have the advantage of the surprise tonal shift of season one.
42. Josh Fadem and Johnny Pemberton tied themselves to the ends of a rope long enough to go around backstage all the way to each other and then proceeded to do what we can best describe as “free association clowning” for their show Roped. It’s silly for silly’s sake at its best.
43. The Jim Gaffigan Show was a spot-on distillation of Jim Gaffigan’s stand-up into a sitcom and, as such, was a show that could be enjoyed as a family comedy and something that appeals to the niche tastes of comedy fans.
45. 2015 was the year that rom coms on TV got the much needed, sobering update they needed. Stephen Falk’s You’re The Worst following a couple that comes together despite their self-destructive nature was a big part of that.
46. Brad Hall is changing the game, even though his outfits and cadence don’t, when it comes to unboxing high profile sneakers.
47. Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig’s latest offering, Mistress America was a dazzling, intelligent, screwball-esque highlight for comedy on the big screen at a time where TV, especially when it comes to comedy, is an undisputed king.
48. Maria Bamford** has been known to impersonate her own mother to hysterical effect in her act for awhile. At the last Riot LA, she brought this whole bit full circle as she did a whole show as her mom and then invited her own mother, Marilyn Bamford, on stage to critique her daughter’s impression of her.
49. Mary Mack puts on her best hour of stand-up yet with Pig Woman. She really let things go off the rails when chatting with couples and old folks in the crowd, in the sweetest way possible on top of her dark, but sweet comedy.
50. Just like the aforementioned Sion Sono’s Why Don’t You Play in Hell? was a fantastic, very funny tribute to action movies, Todd Strauss-Schulson’s The Final Girls was a fantastic, meta, very funny tribute to 80s slasher movies.
51. In many ways, you could peg Natalie Palamides as the second coming of Kristen Wiig. We like to think of Natalie as something all out-of-left-field and supremely committed to her characters including a security guard that claims to have celebrity friends and a lounge singer that can’t spell all on her own.
52. Speaking of Kristen Wiig, Kristen shows off her full comedic and dramatic range as Alice Kleig, the bizarre lottery winner who, decided to bankroll her own talk show in Welcome To Me.
53. Joe Pera and Conner O’Malley teamed up as struggling comedian and sleeze ball manager where they really try to cold call networks to pitch amongst other crazy schemes to make one unforgettable web series, How To Make It In USA.
54. Due to unforeseen circumstances, The 3 Year Anniversary of Underbelly LA* had to move last minute from Echoes Under Sunset to a grotto in the backyard of a bunch of comedians. Despite it being cold and starting much later than planned, the magic of co-host Chris Garcia giving a heartfelt speech/gift/bit to co-host Ryan Singer whilst partially naked and in character was every bit of magical and funny that it could be.
55. In 2015, Caitlin Gill got to share her body positive, feminist, and pro-LGBTQ stand-up with fire and passion, but did so in the most inclusive way possible. Her great bit about the Target plus size section is a prime example.
56. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer** continued their ascension as a new comedy power duo, not unlike Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, with the latest season of Broad City as well as doing things like dressing up in the suits from Dumb & Dumber on Kimmel.
58. Aziz Ansari’s Netflix series Master of None delved exquisitely into much of the premises that Aziz has been exploring in his last few comedy specials involving love, race, parents, etc. and probably has been his best work to date.
59. Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy joined forces once again for the hit action comedy Spy where McCarthy goes from wannabe spy to actual spy. The aliases and background that Allison Janney assigns McCarthy are pure comedy gold.
60. Eugene Mirman has made a veritable traveling exhibition of his own comedic mind in the massive 10 disc I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome) comedy album, which includes ring tones, drug sounds, 45 min. of crying, a Russian phrase guide, and more on top of a solid hour of stand-up.
63. Where Jon Stewart leaving The Daily Show left a certain void in the realm of TV, we all had the second season of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver* to turn to for even more in-depth, bonkers comedy dissection of what’s happening in our world. Starting a legally recognized church to show the hypocrisy of televangelists is only the tip of the ice berg in terms of what they did this season.
64. Drew Spears, Ele Woods, and Matthew Brian Cohen’s heading up the LA version of the curated experimental variety comedy show Cool Shit Weird Shit has been pretty stellar. On top of pushing stand-ups, improvisers, and sketch performers to not only avoid doing something in their discipline of comedy, they did crazy stuff on their own like give the entire audience of one show a single car (a la Oprah’s famous car giveaway) to share.
68. Billy Eichner’s celebrity themed obstacle courses on this season of Billy on the Street* had to one up anything from previous seasons and a run through Shondaland or the escape from Scientology accomplished that with top marks.
70. Of the Bill Cosby jokes that were made this year, Jackie Kashian’s*** joke that compares Cosby and Gov. Scott Walker is our favorite.
71. Heather Anne Campbell is a comedy force of nature in every sense of the phrase. Her work at Fox ADHD, having several improv records at UCB under her belt, being part of The Midnight Show is only a bit of what she’s up to and why you should go watch everything that she’s in.
72. The poise and confidence that Clare O’Kane exudes in her stand-up juxtapose, in the best way possible, with how goofy she’s willing to get (i.e. going blue paired with a graceful song and dance).
73. Pixar’s Inside Out from Pete Docter had all the trappings of an animated family movie, but clearly had a layer for many adult millennials that had them laughing and crying at the same time.
74. The Roast of Ron Lynch is not only a celebration of a truly great comedic treasure in Ron Lynch, but proof that the art of the traditional comedic roast is still alive and well and doesn’t need a celebrity to be any good.
75. Under Jamie Flam’s caring guidance, The Improv Comedy Lab at The Hollywood Improv has gone many different lives, always striving to be an outlet for something besides headlining stand-ups at the world famous comedy club. However, with its latest renovations in 2015, it’s poised to become one of the best rooms for comedy in LA.
76. Armando Iannucci’s proves that he is still one of comedy’s all time greatest writers with the fourth season of Veep, which still has more jokes per minute than a multicam sitcom, is edgier than a single cam sitcom, and is smarter than most shows of TV regardless of genre.
77. David Letterman approaching the end of his legendary run at The Late Show not only brought out the Dave who first put himself and The Late Show on the map, but produced what seemed like a record amount of tributes that all put a fitting button on what was truly the end of an entire era of late night television.
78. To us, Guy Branum** can almost do no wrong in his comedy that effortlessly combines both the high and low with a grace and ferocity that is so rare in stand-up. His album Effable showcases this notion very well.
79. Nate Bargatze* and his hour stand-up special on Comedy Central, Full Time Magic, displayed how precise and keen Nate’s sense of observation of his own life, day to day, really are, no matter how dumb he claims to be in his act.
80. Going to a complete strangers’ house to tape an entire episode of a late night talk show was probably one of the best ways that James Corden could kick off his tenure at The Late Late Show.
82. Jen Kirkman’s* hour special on Netflix "I’m Gonna Die Alone (and I Feel Fine)* shows the idea of ‘having it all’ isn’t necessarily having kids and a loving husband. Kirkman is doing more than alright in our book with her firebrand comedy.
83. Satirizing life hacks and YouTube personalities by doing life hacks well and pretending to be a YouTube personality that’s the self-proclaimed King of Youtube is a very tall order. However, Paul Isakson definitely pulled that off, as well as peppering in some disturbing horror, in his Channel 101 series, King of YouTube.
84. Rick Famuyiwa’s Dope is yet another entry on this list that lives up to its name. The misadventure comedy set in Inglewood involving misplaced drugs was a hit at Sundance for a very good reason.
86. One of our favorite comedians, Jesse Case**, was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. Still, he managed to put together a great podcast documenting his rare case (and rare perspective) of cancer at his age in Jesse vs. Cancer.
87. Drennon Davis and Karen Kilgariff teamed up this year for a musical comedy super group of sorts. The results were this great EP, I Don’t Care, I Like It, and these two very memorable Conan appearances.
88. Guy Montgomery and Tim Batt from New Zealand have subjected themselves to the likes of watching Grown Ups 2 and Sex and the City 2 every week for a year for their Worst Idea of All Time podcast. Parts postmodern Heart of Darkness, other parts comedy riffing, they do valuable work in that none of us have to watch either of those films close to 52 times.
89. The return of Super Deluxe has not only brought a newer, more grown up sheen to the digital platform, but Hannah Utt and Jen Tullock’s Disengaged web series that delightfully follows an on-the-rocks lesbian couple pushed to get engaged when DOMA got struck down.
90. The joy and smile of David Gborie are undeniable and paired well with his ‘on the positive tip’ comedy last year.
91. Beth Stelling made headlines at the end of 2015 for her bravery and sharing her story of her rape by her ex-boyfriend. Let it also be known that Beth Stelling is an outstanding comedian and her album that was released this year Simply the Beth is all kinds of wonderful.
92. Just when it would be near impossible to wrap your head around Nathan Fielder* outdoing Dumb Starbucks and previous episodes of Nathan For You, the latest season of Nathan for You and his Summit Ice Jacket that support Holocaust awareness do just that.
93. Rebecca Drysdale is the rare improviser that has mastered being low key and subtle. Seeing her initiate a scene before a suggestion was even taken was one of the best things we’ve ever seen in improv.
94. The return of Mystery Science Theater 3000 not only promises more of the riffing on B movies that so many of us, but has a stellar new cast (Jonah Ray, Hampton Yount, Baron Vaughn, Felicia Day, and Patton Oswalt) and a record breaking Kickstarter campaign that’s telling of how many people truly love MST3K.
96. While still a cartoon between a drunk grandfather mad scientist and his dimwitted son, Season 2 of Rick and Morty* showed that Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland are making some of the best television around.
97. @weismanjake/Jake Weisman*** channels his unapologetic rage as well as a comedian can. Even coming off of multiple spinal surgeries as he did this year, Weisman is still up to the task, if not more so.
98. The web series The Best of Craigslist returned this year and shows how magical reenacting Craigslist ads can be when you’re not actually involved in inquiring the most bizarre ads on the Internet (minus the deep/dark web anyway).
99. @uncledynamite has one of the best written timelines on Twitter.
*-made 100 Best Things in Comedy We Were Witness to in No Particular Order once before
**-made the list twice