I believe it was CT from MTV’s The Challenge who said “Laughter is the best medicine.” Or maybe he was just quoting someone else. Like an older person. Whatever. He said it once on a recent episode while trying to figure out who to send home that week, and because of that - he’s getting the credit. Also, it’s true. I can be in the worst of moods or the most intense of lows, and a well-crafted joke can bring me right into sunshine. Do you remember the band Len? The group that sang “Steal My Sunshine?” Did you know the main dude from that band signed Sum 41? He did! So yes, shit does stick together!
Anyway, here is my list, in no particular order, of funny men and women you need to see perform as soon as you can. They all travel, so you have no excuse. And if I missed you on the list, I will say it’s because I was only was given ten and had to write it fast. Half of that is a lie. But now you know what I’ll say in advance.
1. Hannibal Buress (@hannibalburess) – I figured I’d start with the obvious. If you haven’t heard of Hannibal Buress, stop reading this list immediately, Google “How hard should I punch myself in the face?” and look at the results. Oh, that’s not a Hannibal bit or anything, that’s just some info for you when your punch yourself in the face for being so late on this. Hannibal can be seen on The Eric Andre Show as the hilarious, and somewhat reluctant, sidekick, but it’s his stand-up that has makes him one of the most promising names in comedy. He’s quickly finding himself in a league of his own, especially with the observational genius in his recent Comedy Central special, Live From Chicago. I’ve already said too much, just get the punching over with already.
White Strip Clubs
Gibberish Rap w/ Skrillex
2. Max Silvestri (@maxsilvestri) – Brooklyn’s Max Silvestri is my favorite stand-up for many reasons – the main one being he’s just doing something that I wish I could do. His insanely quick style revolves around a bit of rambling and free association that only he may be able to achieve, and it’s so impressive, funny and connected that it makes me hate him. Like in the jealous hate type of way. Although he’s recently been traveling to LA more than usual, he runs a great show called Big Terrific in NY, that he started with Jenny Slate and Gabe Liedman before they went fully West Coast themselves. He’s also very passionate about food, which landed him a writing gig at Eater and a hosting job for an upcoming culinary show called The Feed, on A&E’s newest FYI channel. His first stand-up album is coming out soon on A Special Thing Records, which should get you right into the very unique mind of Max Silvestri. It’s fun there.
Max Silvestri watches The Hobbit on mushrooms
How To Rip A Phone Book In Half
3. Esther Povitsky (@littlesther) – What at first may appear to be a harmless young girl is anything but, as Esther is one of the more fearless young performers in comedy. She’s always working, a regular at LA’s Comedy Store, and her podcast, Weird Adults, which looks like it’s on hiatus, showed an impressive ability to interview, yet catch interesting people completely off guard. She recently worked with MTV, and Tim & Eric’s Abso Lutely Productions, on a hilarious web series called Esther With Hot Chicks, where she sits down with a hot girl and presses them on what she needs to do to be one of them. Here’s to hoping MTV lets her film some more because I don’t think any of us totally understand that species, or ever can.
Esther With Hot Chicks (Caitlin Russo)
Esther With Hot Chicks (Elicia Perkins)
4. Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) – Again, this is someone you should already know, at least from his standout role in Mike Judge’s impressive Silicon Valley on HBO, but I’m here to make sure you do. Pakistani-born Nanjiani moved to the United States at 18 to attend college in Iowa, creating a culture shock and voice all his own. He’s one of the most natural stand-up comedians I’ve ever seen, able to weave in and out of bits with seamless spur of the moment observations and improvisational jokes making each set different. He co-hosts The Meltdown alongside Jonah Ray, which is a very popular weekly stand-up show at Los Angeles’s Metldown Comics. If you don’t live in LA, don’t worry. It will soon be a TV show on Comedy Central, featuring dozens of funny people, including many on this list. Kumail also co-hosts the Indoor Kids podcast (with his wife Emily Gordon, where they talk strictly about video games), appears on Portlandia and voices a character on Adventure Time. So, how can you do anything but love this guy?
Beta Male: Call of Duty
Kumail on This Is Not Happening
5. Jerrod Carmichael (@NotoriousROD) – Remember Ice Cube’s good day? Times that by 30 and you get the past month for stand-up comedian, and actor, Jerrod Carmichael. The 24-year-old is fresh off a very funny turn in the hit movie Neighbors, and usually that would be enough and we’d move on to the next comic. But add into the mix that he also just filmed his first HBO special (!) at the legendary Comedy Store (!!) and it was directed by fucking Spike Lee (!!!!!!!!!!). ALSO, As I write this, NBC is deciding on whether or not to pick up a somewhat autobiographical sitcom he shot a pilot for last year and honestly, WHAT ARE THEY WAITING FOR? But either way, Carmichael’s star is rising so fast, NBC or not, there’s no avoiding what will most obviously be one of the bigger names in comedy for years to come. He is THAT funny.
Fatlip from the Pharcyde
6. Beth Stelling (@BethStelling) – Chicago’s Beth Stelling is infectious. Above all else, she’s hilarious. But in addition to her undeniable humor, she has a genuine quality that makes you just want to know her / be around her / bother her. She made her TV duet back in 2012 on Conan, where she killed, and hasn’t looked back. Trained in theater, Beth decided to start doing stand-up to be more in-control of her talents, rather than having to depend on the audition process and the slim selection of opportunities in Illinois. But once you see her set, you’ll question how this hasn’t been her motive the whole time. She’s appeared on @Midnight & Chelsea Lately, while her album “Sweet Beth” is both available and funnier than anything you’ve ever done. Get to it now.
1st Conan set
7. Joe Mande (@joemande) – King of Twitter Joe Mande was recently on a mission to purchase himself 1 million Twitter #bots, an accomplishment that still makes me laugh. I first heard of Joe as the guy behind the “Look At This Fucking Hipster” blog, and since have found myself enthralled with every little Twitter beef that comes his way. Before we get into that, Joe is a writer for Parks and Rec and Kroll Show and just recently released his first stand-up mixtape (through Das Racist’s front man Heem’s label), Bitchface, which includes drops and skits from Fabolous, Aziz Ansari, Roy Hibbert, The RZA, Amy Poehler, Blake Griffin and enough gun shots, Jamaican air horns and modulated DJ yelling to impress Funk Flex. Back to Twitter. Joe has stumbled into beautiful wars with Gilbert Arenas, beverage company La Croix, a ton of right wing pundits, and Adidas (who definitely stole his joke of calling the Washington’s Wizards impressive young guard combo “House of Guards”). Watching Joe Mande on Twitter is like a beautiful social media ballet, and you can rest assure if he retweets you, it’s not a good thing.
His video, with Noah Garfinkel, for Future’s new song “Sheen”
8. Alice Wetterlund (@alicewetterlund) – This past weekend I performed out in Oregon for the annual, and awesome, Bridgetown Comedy Fest, and was able to catch a bunch of comedians I had never seen perform before. Alice was one of those comedians. I saw her at a Reggie Watts & Friends show, where she DESTROYED. Like Elijah Wood runs from a tidal wave and Morgan Freeman is the President type of destroyed. She’s regularly seen on MTV’s Girl Code and I’m not going to pretend to know a ton about her. I JUST saw her for the first time and she was insanely funny. That should be enough for you. You genuinely are kind of a piece of shit for even second guessing me at this point.
College Humor Live at UCB
9. Ron Funches (@ronfunches) – You can currently see Ron’s contagious smile on billboards for the upcoming sitcom Undateable, but I implore you to get out and see him perform on stage. His soft spoken delivery and adorable cadence makes him one of my favorite people to see live. He only recently moved from Oregon around the same time as his friend, and another comic who easily could be on this list, Ian Karmel. Both transplants have established themselves as names to know, with Karmel landing at Chelsea Lately as a writer/performer. Ron was even just named one of LA Weekly’s “Top People of 2014,” and the dude is just getting situated! He has the uncanny ability to talk about anything, from his favorite video games to dealing with his 10-year-old special needs son, and make you both laugh and feel extreme compassion. Ron is JUST getting started and I couldn’t be happier to include him on this list.
Guide to Black Cosplay
10. Sean O’Connor (@seanoconnz) – Slightly biased here, as Sean and I have a somewhat regular show called Live Read at UCB where we force our funny friends to read a questionable script from the past in front of an audience (we recently had Blake Griffin read Michael Jordan’s part in Space Jam). But listen, the reason I work with him is because I think he’s wildly funny. His 30-minute Comedy Central stand-up special just aired a few months ago and it had a ton of Ke$ha jokes in it. He’s written on stuff that both makes me insanely envious, like The Sports Show with Norm Macdonald, and shows that make me ask him 5,000 questions, like Upload with Shaquille O’Neal. He’s the co-host a bi-monthly comedy show in Los Angeles, at The Church on York, with other smart comics Beth Stelling (you know her!), Julian McCullough & Brent Sullivan. Comedians like Anthony Jeselnik, Dave Attel, and Rory Scovel have all stopped by, so I question, why haven’t you?
Sean at Gigglepuss
That’s the list! Above all else, try your hardest to see these people live when they’re in your area. Obviously follow them on Twitter so you can keep tabs and not miss out. Also, you should follow me on Twitter. I tell jokes there. It’s @JensenClan88. That’s not enough self promo, so let’s also focus on a monthly live show I do, with another comedian named Dan Levy, who will most likely text me about only including him here at the bottom. It’s called Baby Talk and it’s at the Meltdown Theater in Los Angeles. The concept of the show is that we sit with other comedians, invite a 6-9 year-old on stage and then interview them like an adult. It’s pretty amazing and our next one is June 7th. So come say hi and let me know what you think of these comics above. Hopefully you already knew a bunch, and if not, now you do and can always pretend like you did all along. I won’t tell anybody. Anyway, let’s go listen to Len.