In 2014, so many comedians had gigantic years. Not everyone looks to cross over to mainstream, but for many comedians, its the end game goal. This year we saw seven comics break out beyond the comedy world, reaching mainstream status. Most of them broke with television series, the traditional route to a mainstream audience. But not everyone went the sitcom/series route.
The biggest breakout on our list, Hannibal Buress, had a gigantic year, without a starring role in a tv series. It almost feels like 2014 was destined to be the breakout year for Hannibal. Having already written for SNL, and 30 Rock Hannibal came into the year ready to roll. The year started off big with the debut of his new special ‘Live From Chicago’ recorded in his hometown, and there was tremendous anticipation for the special, which all paid off big. Buress had more appearances on ‘The Eric Andre Show’, ‘The Tonight Show’, and a role in the hit comedy ‘Neighbors’. So he was already one of the hottest, most talked about comics of the year, before becoming front page news. Then when a fan recorded video of him on tour, talking about the dormant Bill Cosby rape allegations went viral, Buress went past mainstream, becoming talked about in virtually every media in America. Hannibal Buress changed the face of comedy this year, by doing what even alleged victims were not able to accomplish– he got people talking about Bill Cosby’s alleged assaults. More women coming forward, and Cosby- a legend in comedy- lost his tour, his upcoming sitcom, his special airing, and a great deal more. Look for Buress’ star to keep rising in 2015.
Our number two break out comic, Chelsea Peretti had been a fixture in the New York comedy scene for years before receiving a big break by being hired as a writer on several comedies such as ‘Parks & Recreation’, ‘Portlandia’ and ‘The Sarah Silverman Program’. Peretti wouldn’t be confined to the writers room for long as she continued her stand up career in addition to landing a role on FOX’s new comedy ‘Brooklyn Nine Nine’. Within just a few short episodes, Peretti quickly became a scene stealer on the show as office administrator Gina Linetti. Peretti was also named as one of four new comedy specials that Netflix would be releasing. The special is really strong for it’s creative parody of other comedy specials and the cliche crowd reactions that make up most specials. Look for Peretti to land even more roles in 2015 and on the new season of ‘Kroll Show’. Yes she broke mainstream this year, but we’re predicting she just keeps going.
The comedy duo of Key & Peele has been slowly getting more and more attention since their show debuted on Comedy Central in 2012. With so many YouTube views that they had to actually remind people to watch the show on television as well, Key & Peele officially entered the mainstream, with recognizable characters and a unique show that has the same look as a big budget film. Their small but important roles on the critically acclaimed FX show ‘Fargo’ was a big hit, and exposed them to new audiences. They also appeared in a string of late night appearances this year. 2015 promises to be even bigger with another season of Key & Peele and multiple film deals in the works for both of them.
The comedy world has known and loved Nick Kroll for several years, for his supporting roles in shows like ‘Best Week Ever’, ‘Human Giant’, and ‘The League’. The debut of his own show in 2013, appropriately named ‘Kroll Show’ proved that he wasn’t just another comedian to receive a one and done show. Kroll’s clever characters and unique parodies took off and earned the show a second season. Season two proved to be even more successful, with even bigger guest stars like Amy Poehler and Katy Perry appearing. With a seemingly endless array of characters and ideas, look for Kroll to keep it going in 2015.
John Mulaney first gained some mainstream exposure with his appearances on SNL’s weekend update as himself, which is a rarity for writers not in the main cast. While writing for the show, Mulaney also established himself in the New York comedy scene as one of the most original writers and comedians today. He was able to land a pilot off of the success of his one hour special ‘New In Town’ which was bounced around to several networks before finding a home on FOX. The show was highly anticipated and one of the most talked about upcoming sitcoms this summer, and had a great cast including Martin Short, Elliott Gould, SNL alum Nasim Pedrad and Seaton Smith. Mulaney the show has had poor ratings, and is unlikely to be picked up for a second season, but Mulaney the person will undoubtably continue on. His likeable persona and great comedic talents, combined with his 2014 exposure and wealth of talented friends, will carry him towards more opportunities in 2015.
Comedian Michael Che was a relative unknown outside of New York City at the beginning of 2014 and has since jettisoned himself to the top of entertainment by the end of it. Continuing where he left off in 2013, Che served on the writing staff of ‘Saturday Night Live’ while performing stand up in the city, eventually landing a half hour special in June. Having written some of the season’s most talked about SNL sketches, Che was hired as a correspondent on ‘The Daily Show’ that same month, but went back to SNL as a surprise choice to co-host the coveted Weekend Update slot in a quicker turnaround that you’ll ever see. Look for Che to continue to find his footing on Update in 2015, and in the new Chris Rock film ‘Top Five’ before the year is over.
Pete Davidson is the youngest mainstream breakout on our list. He’s been a fresh face on the New York comedy scene in recent years, known most for his appearances in the New York clubs as an 18 year-old with comedic chops well beyond his years. Davidson began the year by appearing on MTV shows more suited to his demographic like ‘Guy Code’ and ‘Wild n’ Out’ before being the only new cast member hired for SNL’s 40th season. The move came as a surprise to many considering his age, but Davidson was shot into the mainstream on his first week of the show, trending on twitter twice during the episode. The young star looked like a veteran in his very first Weekend Update appearance doing material from his stand up. The skies the limit for Davidson in 2015, who we predict will be making movies before summer.