The 20 Best Comedians of 2014

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11. & 10. Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome

As folksy comedy band Garfunkel and Oates, Micucci and Lindhome have been producing cheeky parody songs for their YouTube channel since 2007. With sticky-sweet voices that never shy away from profane or taboo subjects, the duo’s most popular songs have garnered millions of views, cultivated a devoted fan base, and established the pair as a bona fide touring band. This year saw Garfunkel and Oates’ transition from the web to television, and the first season of their eponymous IFC series continues to highlight Micucci and Lindhome’s comedic prowess and unabashedly blunt songwriting that occasionally feels both telepathic and cathartic.—Maren McGlashan

9. Todd Barry

Many comics have tried, and most have failed, to emulate the brilliant deadpan delivery of sharpshooter Todd Barry. This year’s The Crowd Work Tour follows Barry from gig to gig as he strikes up free-wheeling dialogue with audiences. In addition to this pioneering special, Barry also had an amusing monologue on FX’s Louie about the perks of being a single comedian, hosted The Todd Barry Podcast and made appearances on Comedy Central’s @midnight in 2014.—BW

8. Chris Gethard

Most confessional comedians tend to use their stand-up as a kind of therapy, mining their self-hatred and embarrassments for laughs. While there’s a strain of that found in Chris Gethard’s work, the New York-based comedian seems more interested in using those moments to find common ground with his audience; to let them know (as he does on his wonderful debut album My Comedy Album) that he may be the one on stage with a mic, but he knows their stories and lives are just as important and interesting as his. His belief in the power of the communal comedy experience is felt even stronger in The Chris Gethard Show, his playful and surreal talk show that is quickly outgrowing its humble home on public access television. Not bad for a dude with a Morrissey tattoo.—RH

7. Kumail Nanjiani

It’s been a good year for Kumail Nanjiani, as he began splitting more time between his stand-up and other outlets, including parts on Veep and Silicon Valley, as well as his own show on Comedy Central, The Meltdown With Jonah and Kumail. His nerdy sensibilities and keen observations from the viewpoint of a Pakistani-American have served him well as both a stand-up comic and in his chemistry with other comedians. And speaking of chemistry—Nanjiani will always have the best explanation of what really goes into “cheese.”—ML

5 & 6. Abbi Jacobson and Ilina Glazer

Abbi Jacobson and Ilina Glazer’s stoner comedy Broad City has safely established the duo as a pop culture phenomenon, and with good reason: the series is one of the most hysterical shows on television. Broad City’s leap from cult web series to acclaimed television program mirrors the upward trajectory of Jacobson and Glazer, who have sold out venues across the country. Undeniably, the series resonates with its audience, making it no surprise that it was renewed for a second season. Glazer and Jacobson, whose content has been appropriately labeled “sneak attack feminism,” have brought ladies into the realm of slacker comedy—and we’re all better off for it.—MM

4. Mark Normand

It’s not unusual to see Mark Normand’s name appear on several comedy club rosters in one evening. Normand, who hosts the popular Hot Soup comedy show and Tuesdays with Stories podcast, criss-crosses New York City by bouncing from one venue to the next, constantly perfecting his hilarious observational set. Normand covers an array of topics—dating, boozing, race and religion—from a stance that’s neither personal nor detached, and his arsenal of knock-out punchlines prove his impeccable talent for joke writing. If his stints on popular late-night talk shows, status as a Comedy Cellar staple, or well-received special Still Got It are any indication, Mark Normand is one of stand-up comedy’s hardest working performers, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon—MM

3. John Oliver

I don’t think people appreciate how fast Last Week Tonight With John Oliver found it’s voice. Expectations leading to up to the premiere were largely “The Daily Show, With Swears, Maybe Boobs?” and they were dashed almost completely by the end of the first episode. Oliver immediately differentiated Last Week Tonight with a focus on global news, lengthier, in-depth segments and a lot of jokes about animals doing people things. Oliver uses that voice as an inspiration—his kind affability and constant exasperation at the injustices of the world have kept the show from ever feeling preachy, and the show’s hilarious (usually web-based) calls-to-action have provided inspiration for an audience that sorely needed it.—CM

2. Chelsea Peretti

A lesser comedian would named their first hour-long special One of the Greats ironically—Chelsea Peretti means it. The material in Peretti’s special exudes confidence, her delivery unwavering with none of the “statements that sound like questions” uncertainty that afflicts many of her peers. When combined with her comedic acting on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and her sketch comedy skills on Kroll Show this year, One of the Greats feels like a statement Peretti’s already backed up.—CM

1. Hannibal Buress

Hannibal Buress  is funny. But no one—including the comedian himself—could have foreseen the reaction he’d get for a bit back in mid-October that called out Bill Cosby for his finger-pointing, saying, “But, yeah, you’re a rapist.” The past month has seen the longtime allegations against Cosby re-examined, and the cancellation of several of Cosby’s speaking engagements and even a new network show—all on the power of a joke that went viral. Buress, a former SNL and 30 Rock writer, was just doing his thing—telling jokes that pull no punches. And in doing so he landed a mighty blow. While Buress made huge waves on a single joke, he was ascending months before that. His third live album Live From Chicago is a hilarious look at drugs, his newfound fame, and religion. He’s also appeared as Lincoln on Comedy Central’s Broad City, and The Eric Andre Show on Adult Swim. It’s been a full year for Buress, and next year will likely only be fuller.—ML

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