After two weeks of non stop lists and voting, we’re taking it easy on the decade and just hitting up three categories. After all, it’s just a random way to break up years into segments. But we won’t totally ignore it. We picked our top 10 comedians, specials, movies and comedy tv shows of the decade and you can vote for who is the biggest and baddest and funniest in each category. The biggest trend of the decade? Women have major breakthroughs in tv, film and on the stage, creating and starring in some of the best comedy of the tens.
This year, there were some impressive dynasties in the world of stand up comedy.
We saw the rise and fall and the start of the rise again of Louis C.K. Louie (the series) started in 2009 and set the tone for comedy all throughout the decade. He released Hilarious (2010), Live at the Beacon Theater (2011), Oh My God (2013), Live at the Comedy Store/MSG (2015) and 2017.. He also squeezed in producing and co-creating One MIssissippi, Better Things, and Baskets, secretly creating, casting, shooting and distributing Horace and Pete, he produced and distributed Barry Crimmins special: Whatever Threatens You and he made a movie. When he wasn’t doing all of that creating, he was acting in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, David O Russell’s American Hustle, and host Saturday Night Live, twice (both received Emmy nominations). Then there was Secret Life of Pets (not necessarily a huge accomplishment but a marker of fame), and had a guest run on Parks and Rec, It was in this decade that C.K. became the first comedian to sell out the Garden three times in a single tour, and C.K. innovated in the distribution world throughout the decade. For innovation. For creating. For pure talent and skill. And for being ever the auteur, Louis C.K. has to be considered one of the top comedians of the decade with or without his scandal.
Dave Chappelle took the first few years of the decade off but came back with a vengeance. After a pop-in at the Oddball fest that shocked the entire industry, Chappelle made a high-profile return to stand-up on a big stage in 2014 with a mind blowing run at Radio City Music Hall. He continued that momentum in 2015, selling out ten shows at Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. Then there was a small theater tour, bringing hip hop and other music artists along with him on a Juke Joint traveling party tour. In 2016 Chappelle showed hosted SNL after Trump’s win and won an Emmy for his appearance. But things really kicked in when Chappelle released four new specials in 2017: Deep in the Heart of Texas and The Age of Spin became the most viewed comedy specials in Netflix history, (and Chappelle was paid record amounts of $20 million per), and he recorded and released two additional specials in late 2017: Equanimity and The Bird Revelation. Both were released on December 31. And he’s still going, with another high profile special, Sticks and Stones, released this year to raves and controversy. He also toured with Jon Stewart in 2018. Revolutionary? Yup. Awards? Yup. Grammy’s Emmys and the Mark Twain Award for Comedy (the highest honor you can receive in the business). Movies? Yes. Chi-Raq, and A Star is Born. A party everywhere he goes? Yup. Chappelle has upped the ante for how much comedians can earn, he’s upped the level of comedy, he’s pushed how fast and furious specials can be released and he can get away with saying things nobody else can survive, because he’s too good to deny. He didn’t do as much creating as C.K. did but from a pure stand up perspective its hard to imagine anyone who had a bigger dynasty this decade.
Talk about changing comedy! Joe Rogan has changed comedy irrevocably. He is the dominant name in podcasting. He is the dream…the reason others create podcasts. Every podcaster wants to have a show as popular as The Joe Rogan Experience, every guest with something to promote wants to be booked. He’s a career maker- maybe not on the level of Carson, but he may be the closest thing we have to Carson for comedians this decade. He’s a news maker with guest appearances going viral regularly, but podcasting isn’t even close to the full Rogan. Joe Rogan also is a force to be reckoned with on the stand up stage. In 2012, Rogan released Live from the Tabernacle , his sixth hour special, then Rocky Mountain High in 2013, and Triggered in 2016. Last year’s Strange Times quickly followed and it was one of the ten best of 2018. Joe Rogan has absolutely disrupted the industry in the 2010’s and you cannot deny his influence and his reach as one of the most powerful and one of the greatest comedians of the decade.
Amy Schumer has taken off like a firecracker in the 2010’s and has become undeniably one of the great success stories of our time. In 2013, Schumer was one of New York’s fastest comics. Her first Comedy Central Presents had aired in 2010, and she released an album in 2011, and she was killing on stage. She was poised to break when Inside Amy Schumer debuted in 2013 and it changed everything- changed Amy, revitalized Comedy Central, and revived the sketch series. The second season of the show was even better than the first season and showed how a comedy can be silly and vulgar while being incredibly poignant at the same time. Then Judd Apatow discovered her, Howard Stern discovered her, and soon after, the world. Apatow made Amy a superstar with the release of the movie she wrote and starred in, Trainwreck. The press took over there, fell in love with Amy and has stuck around ever since, following her every move. Amy can’t sneeze without making headlines and she is fearless in every way, showing a new way women can be seen- without make up- without handlers, just being herself.. In 2015 we said Apatow would turn Amy into a mainstream star. Since then, she hosted the MTV Movie Awards, released Trainwreck, became J-Law’s best friend, opened for Madonna, released two specials, Live at the Apollo for HBO in 2015 (nominated for a Grammy and an Emmy), and this year’s Growing. She wrote a bestselling memoir, The Girl with a Lower Back Tattoo in 2016, played on Broadway, starred in two more movies, I Feel Pretty and Snatched , started a massive podcast, Two Girls, One Keith, and hosted Saturday Night Live Twice. And she had a baby! Did we mention she’s a social media star with 9.5 million followers? Yeah, Schumer’s a comedy giant and she’s not going away.
Jim Jefferies started off the decade right on the heels of releasing his first hour special, I Swear to God, in 2009, making him a name in stand up comedy worldwide, and then really exploded in the US while touring. In 2013, his FX series Legit debut, and became a cult phenomenon that remains beloved by his fans. He released three specials in the decade, Jim Jefferies Bare in 2014 (with Jefferies now infamous gun control material), the legendary special Freedumb in 2016 and Jim Jefferies, This is Me Now in 2018. In 2017, Jefferies joined the Late Night circuit with his own weekly Comedy Central series covering culture and politics: The Jim Jefferies Show. After three successful seasons, the show wrapped this year, while Jefferies moves on to creating a pilot for ABC. If there was a Mt Rushmore for comics performing today, Jim Jefferies would have to be considered. He released a total of seven specials in just 8 years. His tours sell out like crazy and you might not even know it because he isn’t the type of self promoter that we’re used to in 2020. Here on The IBang, Jefferies Bare won special of the year in 2014, and in 2016 you voted him comedian of the year. He absolutely has to be considered as one of the greatest comedians of the decade.
Trevor Noah did something nobody thought possible. He took over The Daily Show from Jon Stewart. A relatively unknown but highly respected stand up comedian, Trevor Noah had started the decade with international success but didn’t really make a name for himself here in the United States just yet. He moved here in 2011, and had important late night appearances in 2012, and 2013 as the first South African comedian to perform on the Tonight Show, and soon after on Letterman. Noah joined The Daily Show as a correspondent in 2014, and a year later, after Jon Stewart retired, the show was his. This is already a mind blowing achievement, but to then succeed, to build a new brand and find his own audience- that’s absolutely incredible. As big of a job as The Daily Show is, Noah hasn’t allowed himself to be satisfied just broadcasting every night. In 2016 he released an autobiography, Born a Crime that became a #1 Bestseller with the New York Times and was on a long list of best books of the year lists. A film adaptation is reportedly in the works. He released nine stand up specials this decade- three that ran on Big Networks after taking over for Jon Stewart. Trevor Noah: Lost in Translation ran on Comedy Central in 2015, then in 2017, Noah released Afraid of the Dark with Netflix, and then just a year later, dropped Son of Patricia in 2018 on Netflix. Noah tirelessly tours, appears at festivals, gives talks and Q&A’s and shakes a lot of hands after appearances. The accolades are widespread- named by THR as One of the 35 Most Powerful People in New York Media, Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, and he’s nominated for a Grammy for his album release of last year’s special. Noah is a small industry all by himself and undoubtably one of the comedians of the decade.
Ali Wong blew us away in 2016 with the mothers day release of Baby Cobra- an industry changing hour that not only influenced the way specials are being made, but also inspired a bunch of births in the comedy biz when Wong showed how easy it was to be an expectant mom and still crush the shit out of that special. Everyone was talking about Baby Cobra, her outfit, red glasses and pregnant belly became a popular Halloween costume later that year and Wong was an overnight sensation, selling out theaters across the county. Before Baby Cobra, she had already been named one of Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch and had appearances performing stand up on a few late night shows (like Dave Attell’s Comedy Underground, Tonight Show and Chelsea Lately). After Baby Cobra, Wong delivered a second knock out punch with her follow up special, Hard Knock Wife, also recorded while pregnant. Hard Knock Wife proved that she wasn’t a one hit wonder- Ali Wong is here to stay. Wong has also been a big part of Network television, writing on Fresh Off the Boat since 2014, and starring in American Housewife since 2016. She co-starred in the critically loved animated series Tuca and Bertie with Tiffany Haddish, and made a movie for Netflix, Always Be My Maybe with Randall Park. And everyone’s raving about her new book, which could have been another stand up special, Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets and Advice for Living Your Best Life. Wong is one of the strongest comedians of the decade and she’s just getting started.
Colin Quinn is the most consistently brilliant comedian on our list this decade. He’s considered by most to be the soul of New York City comedy. He’s a purist, he’s a perfectionist, and he may be the most prolific comedic commenter we have whether he’s talking politics, culture or minutae. A decade ago, Quinn was at a professional crossroads- he already had huge successes behind him with SNL, Tough Crowd and Remote Control on his resume; but this decade he reinvented himself into the master of the one man show. One decade, four blistering commentaries on world and US culture- all brilliant, all funny. In 2010, Long Story Short (his third one man show) reached a wider audience thanks to its famous director, Jerry Seinfeld helping to shine a light on Colin’s incredible talent. Three years later, he Quinn strikes again with Unconstitutional, covering the creation and effect of the United State’s establishing document. Quinn’s fifth one man show, New York Story, debuted in 2015 and was based on a best selling book, The Coloring Book: A Comedian Solves Race Relations in America. If Colin wasn’t so busy and brilliant, this could still be running on Broadway. And then in 2019, Quinn debuted the brilliantly funny Red State Blue State at the Minetta Lane. It’s his sixth one man show and was released as his third recorded one man show. Add in a beloved social media presence, a satirical cop show that we can’t get enough of produced as a webseries with some heavy hitting guest talent (really this is the best show that never got on tv), and seven appearances in movies including Trainwreck, Grown Ups, Grown Ups 2. Colin is a national treasure.
This has been a giant decade for Bill Burr. He started the decade with the release of his second special, Let It Go. He followed that up with You People Are All The Same, in 2012 with Netflix, I’m Sorry You Feel that Way in 2014, Walk Your Way Out in 2017, and his smash hit Paper Tiger in 2019. Burr has worked his way to the top of the food chain selling out massive tours, creating and building the All Things Comedy Network, hosting one of the most consistently top rated podcasts, The Monday Morning Podcast throughout the entire decade, and he created an animated series, F is For Family that debuted in 2015 and is still going! And that’s just his own stuff. he’s also been a part of the epic television series Breaking Bad, had a guest role on The Simpsons, co-starred in a hilarious episode in Judd Apatow’s Crashing, and appeared in the sixth episode of the new Star Wars series The Mandalorian. Rolling Stone said Burr is “the undisputed heavyweight champ of rage-fueled humor” and the New York Times says he is “one of the funniest, most distinctive voices in the country for years.” Burr is a beast who was named our very first Comedian of the Year in 2014 and is in the running this year for Comedian of the Year, Special of the Year and Comedian of the Decade. And he’s a dad.
We don’t have enough space in this column to include all of Kevin Hart’s accomplishments this decade. He is everywhere. And its all happened in this decade, or at least since 2009. Stand Up. Movies. Social Media. Media. He’s dominated them all, and created new forums to star in too. Hart has been in 40 films since 2002, with 20 of those films released since 2012, most of them starring roles- including The Five-Year Engagement (2012), Think Like a Man (2012), Exit Strategy (2012), This Is the End (2013), Grudge Match (2013), Ride Along (2014), About Last Night (2014), Think Like a Man Too (2014), School Dance (2014),Top Five (2014), The Wedding Ringer (2015), Get Hard (2015), Ride Along 2 (2016), Central Intelligence (2016), The Secret Life of Pets (2016), Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017), The Upside (2017), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), and Night School (2018). On television, there’s Comedy Central’s Hart of the City , multiple stints hosting Saturday Night Live or the BET Awards, the MTV Movie Awards, or his controversial appearances at the NBA All-Star Game. He streams (Lyft Legends, Cold as Balls, the Laugh Out Loud Network), he’s on SiriusXM radio, he’s on social media constantly, and just this week released a reality-tv-esque docuseries showing a whole new side of his life (we didn’t realize there was anything left we hadn’t seen but there was). And that’s not even including his stand up career: three tours- Laugh at My Pain (2011), Let Me Explain (2013), and What Now? (2016) – were distributed theatrically, His Irresponsible tour broke all kinds of attendance records. records. And he performed for a record setting 53,000 people, at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field. He’s on too many lists to list. He is an empire and can’t be ignored as a contender for Comedian of the Decade.
Tom Segura is a monster comedian and its all happened this decade. In 2014, his first Netflix special, Completely Normal, premiered on Netflix, creating what has since been called The Netflix Effect, where a comedian who is seen on Netflix suddenly erupts, selling out shows and moving to bigger and bigger venues. Since then he released two more hours, each more loved than the last. In 2016 it was Mostly Stories, (brilliant!) and in 2018 the controversial and hilarious Disgraceful. His podcast, Your Mom’s House, co-hosted by Segura and his wife Christina P has had a massive following since 2010, and his annual competitive bid with Bert Kreischer has spawned a new podcast, 2 Bears 1 Cave. Segura also went viral with a dance video responding to Bert Kreischer’s earlier dance video this year. As Segura continues to sell out theaters across the country he is ready to become one of the most important comedians of the next decade as well.
Each year we complain that we can’t come up with 10 great comedy movies, but there’s nothing wrong with having 1 great comedy movie each year. When you look back at the decade, it’s been a tremendous ten years for movies. This decade Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids set the new tone for the comedy movie- a smash hit that ushered in an era of funny female led films. Feig’s Spy upped the game, building on Bridesmaids success, and maybe is the funniest movie of the last ten years. Deadpool launched the adult superhero comedy, a genre that is clearly here to stay. The Nice Guys is the best of the comedic buddy action genre that we saw in the 10’s. Get Out elevated comedic horror from cult film status to mainstream hit, Moonrise Kingdom was funny, beautiful, touching, perfect Coen Brothers. This is the End was the perfect silly ensemble apocalypse comedy. We had Lady Bird for those who are looking for a comedy ‘film’ of the decade and has since reinvigorated the quirky coming of age genre. Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck has to be on any list of the best comedy films of the decade- and its the movie that launched Amy Schumer’s mainstream career even though it wasn’t necessarily a mainstream movie. And Scott Pilgrim vs The World was brilliantly funny in a way that is different and unique from any other comedy movie that came before it, and it was fun to watch too. Which was the best comedy of the decade? You tell us or write in your own.
If you thought it was a great decade for movies, television surpassed that in every way. We can’t even begin to list all the great comedy television of the past ten years but we did pick our ten favorite tv series. In chronological order, they are Eastbound and Down, which introduced the brilliant work of Danny McBride’s Rough House team, and blew everyone out of the water with shock comedy that was smart and exceptionally well produced. Louis C.K. took comedy in the opposite direction with Louie, where it didn’t have to even have laughs all the time and could have sadness, and sweetness and short film elements interspersed with the laughs. Key and Peele changed up the sketch series and launched the careers of two brilliant comedy creators. While at the same time, Veep was rising and would become the longest running of our top ten contenders, keeping people talking for seven years. Julia Louis Dreyfuss’ third hit series? If that’s not decade worthy what is? After Key and Peele reinvented the sketch series, Amy Schumer turned around and reinvented it again, taking Inside Amy Schumer to new heights. (It also launched her career as a brilliant comedy creator). A year later, Broad City brought Comedy Central back to back female dominated hits, and spoke to a new generation of comedy fans. In the second half of the decade, 2016 to be exact, two more positively brilliant comedy series debuted, each with their own unique voice, unlike anything we’ve seen before. Better Things, created by Pamela Adlon with Louis C.K. tackled the comedy and the tragedy of a single mom raising three girls in modern times, and Atlanta, which follows an aimless floater looking for purpose in life, his cousin a rapper on the rise, and what ensues when the two start working together. When Atlanta debuted it was the most talked about new series of the year and has already launched careers. Vice Principals, the follow up for Rough House would come three years after Eastbound and Down ended, and demonstrated that the Rough House team had a lot more coming and possibly created a new comedy genre. Fleabag is the most recent series. It just debuted in the U.S. this year and already a contender for our best series of the decade. It has the sensibility of Eastbound and Down, the darkness we love about Vice Principals, but a completely different point of view. Always shocking, always surprising. And practically perfect.