A lot of bad things happened in the
2010s (especially in the latter half), but comedy wasn’t one of them. This past decade has seen the rise of some of the funniest people on the planet, and the laughs they provided were much needed. Whether you like your comedy clean or raunchy, quotidian or outrageous, modern comics cover every topic capable of making you cackle. These 10 comedians stand out as the best we found over the past 10 years. Here’s hoping they keep making hilarious jokes, specials, TV shows, and movies for many years to come.
Cover Photo: Netflix
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Best Comedians 2010s
10. Tig Notaro
Dark, self-deprecating, and deadpan sum up Tig Notaro’s comedy. In 2012, only days after receiving a devastating breast cancer diagnosis, Notaro took to the stage to process the news. The material became
Live, which sold more copies than a KISS album that dropped the same week. After a double mastectomy, she bravely donned her post-surgical body onstage in 2014. Documentaries on Showtime ( Knock Knock, It's Tig Notaro) and Netflix ( Tig), followed in 2015. Two years later, her Amazon original show One Mississippi presented a funny, fictionalized take on grieving her mother’s unexpected death, recovering from her health struggles, and meeting her wife, Stephanie Allynne, who also appeared on the show. If you’re looking for a comedian with balls and no fucks given, Notaro is it.
9. Hannibal Buress
Though his first comedy album,
My Name is Hannibal, was released in 2010, Hannibal Buress truly burst onto the comedy scene in 2014 after a video of him calling Bill Cosby a rapist during a stand-up set at the Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia went viral. Since then, he’s expanded his brand to include a Comedy Central series, Why? With Hannibal Buress, roles in Spider-Man: Homecoming and on Broad City, and voice parts in Angry Birds and The Secret Life of Pets. His gut-busting comedy routine covers the gamut, from sex and pop culture to race and religion.
8. Rob Delaney
It’s rare that Twitter makes a comedian a celebrity, but in the case of Rob Delaney, the social media platform was what rocketed him to notoriety. He’s since capitalized on that fame to cowrite and costar in
Catastrophe, an Amazon original series about a couple who has a fling that results in an unplanned pregnancy that changes their lives (and relationship) forever – in brutally honest and uproarious ways.
7. John Mulaney
Emmy Award-winning comedy writer and stand-up John Mulaney was called “the future of comedy” by David Letterman in 2017. His acerbic routine addresses everyday oddities, social awkwardness, aging, pop culture, and American life. From writing for
Saturday Night Live to his FOX series Mulaney, it’s clear this comedian has hit his stride and is on the way up.
6. Aparna Nancherla
A relative newcomer on the comedy scene, Aparna Nancherla is a comedian to keep your eye on in the coming years. A multi-faceted funnywoman, she’s lent her talents to everything from
Late Night with Seth Meyers to depression podcast Blue Woman Group to Netflix’s animated series BoJack Horseman. You’ve also seen her on Master of None, Crashing, and Conan. She manages to make heavy topics like social anxiety and therapy entertaining. (“Any pizza is a personal one if you cry while you eat it.”)
5. Henry Phillips
This Los Angeles comedian has flown under the radar for too long given how funny he is. Though he performs stand-up (which often includes songs parodying everything from his loneliness to his depression), it’s his pee-your-pants hysterical series that make him stand out. In
Henry’s Kitchen, he manages to majorly botch everything he’s ever attempted to cook, and in You and Your Fu*king Coffee, he plays a man whose caffeine addiction ruins the lives of everyone around him. (Both are available on Amazon Prime.) Phillips also made a movie called Punching Henry about a satirical songwriter who goes to Hollywood in pursuit of stardom, which won the Audience Award at the Slamdance Film Festival. Photo: Permut Presentations
4. Amy Schumer
Though Amy Schumer was performing stand-up and appeared on
Last Comic Standing in the aughts, the 2010s were really her decade. In 2013, her sketch comedy show Inside Amy Schumer was released and continued for four seasons. Time magazine named her one of the most influential people of 2015, the same year that she starred in Trainwreck, a romantic comedy she wrote and Judd Apatow directed. In 2016, her memoir The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo landed on the New York Times bestseller list. Earlier this year, she released Growing, a comedy special she did while pregnant. Throughout it all, she's remained down-to-Earth and willing to tackle topics many comedians won’t.
3. Pete Holmes
Holmes’ background doesn’t seem to lend itself to comedy: he was raised in an evangelical Christian household and married the woman who gave him his first blow job only to get cheated on and then divorced six years later. Despite the depressing backstory, Holmes has managed to turn his personal pain into a stellar career that’s included stand-up shows all over the country, the Judd Apatow-directed HBO series
Crashing, and an insightful memoir titled Comedy Sex God.
2. Kumail Nanjiani
Nanjiani is known for his nerdy, endearing comedic style. Though he rose to recognition on the stand-up circuit with his 2015 comedy special,
Beta Male, most people recognize him now from his role as Dinesh on Silicon Valley. Another major accomplishment: The Big Sick, a 2017 comedy film he cowrote with his wife Emily V. Gordon about how their relationship began, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
1. Ali Wong
Ali Wong is not for the faint of heart. Her sexually explicit and expletive-laced comedy is meant to shock. After being named one of Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch in 2011, she made the rounds on the late-night circuit and guest-starred on several comedic television shows. In 2016, her comedy special
Baby Cobra debuted on Netflix; what made it so groundbreaking wasn’t just her jaw-dropping jokes but her seven-months-pregnant bump. She again combined stand-up and pregnancy two years later when she was expecting her second child in Hard Knock Wife. Most recently, she cowrote, and costarred in, Netflix original movie Always Be My Maybe, which featured a killer cameo by Keanu Reeves. If you think marriage and motherhood has tamed Wong, think again.