10. Joel Kim Booster
It feels like just last week Comedy Central released Joel Kim Booster’s debut half-hour and album, but in fact it was more like five weeks ago. Booster, who’s written for Billy on the Street and Problematic with Moshe Kasher, is an impeccable joke writer and an endlessly captivating performer. His most recent set on Conan was one of the year’s tightest fives, though who’s surprised—so was his 2016 appearance. He’s currently developing a loosely autobiographical series, Birthright, for a mysterious unnamed cable network.
9. Matt Powers, ClickHole Editor in Chief
Earlier this year Comedy Central debuted The Opposition, a show that purportedly lampoons fringe right-wing media but does a truly half-assed job of it. Meanwhile ClickHole, The Onion’s parody of BuzzFeed, launched PatriotHole, which has roughly the same concept but, uh, actually does the thing. Like ClickHole proper, PatriotHole’s mix of videos, image content and traditional news parody goes the distance, never indulging the temptation to wink at its audience. ClickHole’s regular (and often political) programming remains top-of-class, of course, but PatriotHole took it to the next level in 2017.
8. Tim Robinson and Sam Richardson
Many people do not know about the Comedy Central series Detroiters. Well, here’s what we have to say to them: Detroiters is great! It is one of the best new shows in a year of best new shows, funny and strange and tender and gorgeously shot and directed. Its creators and stars, Tim Robinson and Sam Richardson, have promised us a second season sometime in 2018 and we think about it every day. Check it out!
7. Jerrod Carmichael
The Carmichael Show never got enough love during its short life on NBC. Over its three abbreviated seasons it was the smartest, most daring sitcom on network TV, regularly plowing through sociopolitical issues that most sitcoms would never touch. And it did it all without any of the cloying “very special episode” sentimentality that some of today’s other socially conscious sitcoms often devolve into. Jerrod Carmichael wasn’t just its star but a writer and producer, and a driving force behind the show’s relevance. He also released a very good stand-up special earlier this year on HBO that was, in its way, as political as his show. (And, uh, had a role in Transformers: The Last Knight.)
6. Issa Rae
Insecure is the clear standout on HBO’s current slate of original series, with a second season that pulled off the impressive feat of topping its first. Issa Rae garnered a Golden Globe nomination for her performance, and Deadline reported in October that she’s now developing a new series for HBO. The project, which she’s producing with the author Angela Flournoy as writer and executive producer, will be set in Los Angeles in the early ‘90s.
5. Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo, Reductress Editors
Reductress is one of the funniest, smartest things on the internet, an incisive sendup of digital women’s media that kept 2017 just a few inches shy of unbearable. Like its competitors The Onion and ClickHole, Reductress puts pretty much every traditional satirist—from late night hosts to authors of The Borowitz Report—to shame. Unlike those other sites, however, Reductress does it with a skeletal staff, led by Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo, from a small Manhattan office. Here are just a few of our favorites from 2017: IMDb to Add ‘Yiiiiikes, FYI’ Section to All Existing Profiles; True Ally? This Man Just Died; I’m Sorry I Was Being So Crazy While You Were Treating Me Like Shit; and who could forget, I’m Sorry I Was Being So Crazy While You Were Treating Me Like Shit. Reductress….… thank’s.
4. Tig Notaro
One Mississippi, Tig Notaro’s semi-autobiographical Amazon series, dropped its excellent second season earlier this year. It’s a carefully observed family drama with a quiet, enigmatic sense of humor, much like Notaro’s own. She plays a version of herself; her wife, Stephanie Allyne, plays her friend-slash-love interest, Kate. In one episode of season two, Kate walks into a pitch meeting with her boss, a radio producer, who she slowly realizes is masturbating as she pitches him. In press surrounding the season’s premiere, Notaro said she wanted that scene in One Mississippi to show “to show that you can be assaulted without even being touched… Nothing can be said and you are still horrifically violated and scared.” She also told various publications that she no longer speaks to Louis C.K., who was a producer on the show; that she hopes he deals with the then-unconfirmed allegations against him; and that she hopes victims of sexual assault at the hands of powerful people speak out. Few showbiz sitcoms tackle their industry’s evils with this intelligence or bluntness. And few comedians confront their peers—even their former friends and benefactors—so publicly. Here’s hoping others follow her lead in 2018.
3. Chris Gethard
Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/HBO
In 2017 The Chris Gethard Show, which came from humble beginnings as a UCB stage show, leapt from Fusion to truTV for its third season of live, hourlong episodes. It’s weird and audacious talk show, one that sometimes misses the mark totally and other times redefines the mark altogether—something you rarely see in late night. This was also the year Gethard’s one-man show, Career Suicide, aired on HBO. It’s… not exactly a comedy special, though it is funny, but also achingly sad and bracingly vulnerable, much like Gethard’s call-in podcast Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People. It’s been a great year for GethHeads.
2. Maria Bamford
This was a banner year for Bamford fans. It saw the release of her new Netflix hour, Old Baby, and the stellar second season of Lady Dynamite. Both are moving, formally inventive pieces of art; where Lady Dynamite ballets between time periods, Old Baby moves steadily through larger and larger venues. Each mines humor from small, intimate moments and huge, life-changing set pieces. What’s marvelous about all her work is how lived-in it feels, how specific and true, and how funny because of it.
1. Tiffany Haddish
Who else could it be? Haddish was the biggest breakout comedian of 2017, with a star-making turn in the blockbuster Girls Trip, the only comedy of 2017 to pull in over $100 million at the box office. Stand-up fans were already familiar with her infectious personality, which she got to introduce to a wider audience in August with her Showtime special She Ready! From the Hood to Hollywood. She was once again a member of the best sitcom ensemble on TV during the fantastic last season of The Carmichael Show, and capped off the year by hosting Saturday Night Live, becoming the first black woman stand-up to ever host that show. And with lead roles in Kevin Hart’s movie Night School and the Jordan Peele/Tracy Morgan sitcom The Last O.G., her 2018 could be even bigger.