Comedy  |  Lists

10 of the Most Underrated Stand-Up Comedians of 2013

January 3, 2014  |  11:00am

For all of Paste Comedy’s year-end lists, we’ve basically regurgitated the same intro about how there are more avenues than ever for comedians to do their comedy, there are more great comedians than ever, the definition of a comedian is changing, blah blah blah. This intro is no different. Yes, indeed, there are now more ways for up-and-coming or between-the-cracks comics to reach a larger audience. Twitter, podcasts, sites that stream stand-up specials, more TV channels that feature comedy stuff, the list goes on. But despite the fact that you could go shake five new comedy podcasts and a web series out of a tree, there are still plenty of amazing comedians out there who we feel weren’t given their due diligence in ‘13 and could be up to big things in 2014. Here are 10:

10. Ian Karmel

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Few comedians come bursting out of the gate fully formed, but even in the beginning of his young career, when Ian Karmel performed in his native Portland, Oregon, it was apparent that a talent so big would soon outgrow the borders of his Northwest home. Karmel’s recent move to Los Angeles didn’t come as a surprise, then. What did is how quickly he found his footing in one of the country’s comedy capitals. He’s a writer for and makes regular appearances on Chelsea Lately and is quickly becoming a fixture of the L.A. stand-up community. Not bad, Shlomo Puddingtits (his joke, not ours). Not bad at all. -Robert Ham

9. Dan St. Germain

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Dan St. Germain looks kind of like Zach Galafianakis if Zach Galafianakis were a bear, and his stand-up is just as in-your-face and bombastic as his grizzly appearance would lead you to believe. Whether he’s detailing his experiences with drugs and alcohol, acting out a “sad-off” between Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti, or starring in The Fluffer, Germain’s larger-than-life presence is hard to ignore…Not that you’d want to ignore it…Except maybe when he rips his shirt off to portray Evan Williams at a cocktail cocktail party. -Ryan Bort

8. Ron Funches

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Like St. Germain, Ron Funches is also big and hairy, but his delivery, by contrast, is slow and composed. He gives the impression of “”Serenity Now subscriber, which also means it feels like he’s liable to explode as soon as a particularly irksome thought crosses his mind. Funches keeps it together, though, drawing audiences attention in to stand-up that often surprises with deadpan misdirection and is always hilarious. -Ryan Bort

7. Cameron Esposito

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Considering the resume that Cameron Esposito has to boast—she’s performed on Craig Ferguson, appears regularly on Chelsea Lately, has been booked at the Just For Laughs and Bridgetown festivals and was a featured opener for Anthony Jeselnik’s 2013 tour—it’s a wonder this Chicago-raised comic isn’t a household name already. Granted, this self-proclaimed “giant lesbian” has been in L.A. for just over a year, but her punchy delivery and fearlessness, not to mention a fabulous side mullet, seem perfect to cut right through the information overload. -Robert Ham

6. Gary Gulman

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Trader Joe’s etiquette, Blockbuster’s (joyous) bankruptcy and the anachronistic Discman—with witty jokes that draw largely from social observation, Gary Gulman is fast on his way to becoming a household name. He’s a Last Comic Standing alum, has made appearances on nearly every late night talk show and his most recent Comedy Central special, late 2012’s In This Economy, offered yet another batch of side-splitting material for his stand-up oeuvre. Gulman’s examination of both social norms and personal experiences make for hilarious, relatable jokes, and his polite demeanor only adds to his charm—and inevitable future successes—as a performer. -Maren McGlashan

5. Jake Weisman

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Jake Weisman has gotten a good deal of attention for his hilarious Twitter feed, but his stand-up is just as funny. He’s self-deprecating and unabashed about all of his hallmarks of loneliness (like eating yogurt with a fork while his friends worry about interest rates, or defending porn’s right to be unrealistic), and in front of an audience he’s quick-witted and quick-talking, giving his stand-up a stream-of-consciousness effect that often might not be too far away the reality of Weisman’s life on stage. -Ryan Bort

4. Nate Bargatze

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If you hear that Nate Bargatze was raised in Old Hickory, Tennessee, and then hear his Southern accent, your inclination might be to lump him in with the Blue Collar Comedy crew. But this young observational comic is much more concerned with pointing out the follies of his life and the world around him than playing up cultural stereotypes. A favorite of Jimmy Fallon and Marc Maron, Bargatze is starting to make waves around the country thanks to his easygoing charm and a willingness to open up about his unusual past (he’s the son of a professional clown turned magician) and his personal failings: “I went to community college and…I had to take remedial classes. Which basically means, ‘Look, we have no idea how your high school let you leave, here are some classes you can take that affect no one.’” -Robert Ham

3. James Adomian

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His special may be called “Low Hangin Fruit,” but his comedic style and point of view are anything but. A gifted impressionist and character actor, if you see James Adomian pop up as a guest on your favorite podcast (particularly Comedy Bang! Bang!), you know you’re in for something special. Whether he’s making Maria Bamford guffaw uncontrollably as shock jock Tom Leykis or disgusting Paul Scheer as edible food critic Merrill Shindler, Adomian’s work routinely careens into the viscerally absurd, yet remains grounded by an unparalleled sense of character commitment—think of him as a postmodern Peter Sellers. He even performs impressions of his alt-comedy peers, including Todd Glass, Marc Maron and, in a surreally incredible appearance on Childrens Hospital, Louis CK (this episode also featured Adomian’s takes on Freddie Mercury, Madonna, Kate Upton and Rihanna). Politically progressive, Adomian often performs for liberal organizations and offers perspectives on everyday LGBT life. All of these comedic facets are coming together in a TV show he has in development with IFC and Earwolf entitled The Embassy, where he will play a political “hacktivist” along with many other roles. -Greg Smith

2. Emily Heller

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Like most comics these days, Emily Heller never seems to slow down. She currently co-hosts the Baby Geniuses podcast; hosts The Future, a web video series where she gives tarot readings to her fellow stand-ups, and just got a gig writing for a new Fox sitcom Surviving Jack. Thankfully, her stand-up isn’t taking a backseat to all these other gigs, as the world needs a comedic voice that is pointed and occasionally brutal, but with a delirious absurdist bent that helps the acidic social commentary go down a little bit easier. -Robert Ham

1. Mark Normand

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With a clean delivery and even cleaner appearance (which usually involves a track jacket), Mark Normand seems like the boy next door of stand-up comedians. His material isn’t so wholesome, though, as the New Orleans native explores issues of race, sex, relationships and religion with plenty of raunch and a practical, matter-of-fact bluntness that makes it easy to see things from his point of view. He’s appeared on Inside Amy Schumer, Last Comic Standing and Conan, but some of Normand’s best material isn’t exactly suitable for even cable TV. If you have a chance to catch him at a club around New York or whatever city he’s touring through, don’t miss out. -Ryan Bort

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