It’s the end of our fourth year covering all the greatest comedy happening in the United States and around the world, and we’re thrilled to still be covering comedy because there are some truly great performers on our list this year.
In 2014, you picked Bill Burr as the Stand Up Comedian of the Year. In 2015, Nate Bargatze was your runaway favorite and last year you overwhelmingly chose Jim Jefferies as the #1 comedian. Once again, we chose our top ten stand up comedians this year. To choose, we looked at so many factors including who put out stand out specials, who pulled in gigantic audiences, who focused on stand-up, but also had other accomplishments, as well as those who were true purists to the craft, focusing only on stand up comedy. We also looked for comics who either had a growth year, or those already at the top of the craft who have remained so consistently outstanding, that their place on our list was undeniable. Popularity and celebrity were not part of our criteria, and this is not necessarily a list of the ten best performers working today, but rather ten comedians who had the best collective accomplishments in 2017.
Read all the nominees below, scroll down to vote for your favorite, and come back on January 4, to see who took the prize.
JUDAH FRIEDLANDER is easily one of the most brilliant comedians working the clubs today, and this year he premiered his first stand up special, but its really a documentary film in many ways. He of course performed and wrote the Netflix special and produced and edited and directed the entire performance. It’s like having ten projects in one. Judah put all his focus into this project this year and it paid off with some of the purest and best recorded stand up we’ve seen in a long time.
MARIA BAMFORD just keeps getting stronger, which is why she is on our top ten list for the second year in a row. Bamford’s Netflix series LADY DYNAMITE is back for season two and its fantastic. Bamford’s unique style has generated imitators, but none so far have been able to live up to a Maria Bamford performance. But its her brand new hour special, Old Baby that has everyone talking. Maria’s inventive format is as fascinating to watch as it is funny. She’s also been touring theaters and hit up most of the major festivals, again. Everyone needs a little Bamfoo in their life. We need a lot.
TIFFANY HADDISH has released more top level performances in 2017 than any other comic. Those in the comedy biz have known about and loved Haddish for years, but for mainstream American audiences, she burst on the scene out of nowhere. This year, Tiffany has released something great in almost every available format. She debuted her first hour special on Showtime- “She Ready! From the Hood to Hollwood”, had her first co-starring (and absolute movie stealing) role in a feature film with “Girls Trip”, plus she wrote a book, The Last Black Unicorn. And Tiffany helmed a killer episode of Saturday Night Live- a sure sign that you are having your moment. She’s also hit the road touring everywhere. This is her year and its only the beginning for Haddish.
CHRIS GETHARD has had a remarkable year. He started out 2017 with a phenomenal stage show produced with comedy genius Judd Apatow. Gethard’s Career Suicide was praised by critics and audiences alike, and quickly got sold to HBO to become one of the best hour comedy specials of the year. While all of this was happening Gethard was also getting The Chris Gethard Show ready to make history as the first Live weekly talk show to ever air on truTV. TCGS surpassed the bar it set for itself delivering an unforgettable season. All the while Gethard continued creating on stage.
KUMAIL NANJIANI has become a household name in 2017. He already had an amazing career before his film premiered, thanks to his stand up, his Meltdown show and his beloved role on HBO’s Silicon Valley. But the debut of THE BIG SICK this year was a real game changer. This was the most talked about comedy film of the year for most of 2017. Created with his real-life partner Emily V. Gordon, his movie shot him to the next level, and scored him a host gig on Saturday Night Live, and even his tweets are news headlines now. Kumail was recently honored by the San Francisco Film Society and is already being nominated for prestigious awards with more expected as award season rolls on.
MICHAEL CHE makes our list for a second year in a row and he has really stepped up his game. He continues to co-host SNL’s Weekend Update, as well as a series of prime time Weekend Update specials over the summer, and then in December it was announced that Che, along with his co-anchor Colin Jost, would be promoted to head writer on Saturday Night Live. Che also toured all over the country this year, and along with Jost raised $100,000 dollars for Puerto Rican recovery efforts. He is one of the most interesting voices in stand up today.
TREVOR NOAH has built himself and empire and it hasn’t come easy. When he took over THE DAILY SHOW from Jon Stewart, everyone expected him to fail. And some would say he did, initially. But in 2017 the Daily Show ratings have continued to build, as has Noah’s own fan base, and Comedy Central signed him to stay with the show through at least 2022. He won a Prime Time Emmy for Outstanding Short Form Variety Series, and has a list of award noms to his credit. The Daily Show would keep any comedian busy enough, but in 2017 Trevor developed a new show, “The Opposition with Jordan Klepper”, and he continued performing stand up, doing personal appearances, and recorded a killer special for Netflix, titled ‘Afraid of the Dark.’ And all that right after releasing a #1 New York Times Bestselling book at the tail end of 2016. Noah is a workhorse, a great writer, and has an impressive roster of impressions up his sleeve. And thanks to his position at The Daily Show he is considered a major influencer in public opinion circles.
ARI SHAFFIR did what no one else did this year, or possibly ever. Released two hour specials at the same time. DOUBLE NEGATIVE included two full and brand new hours for the young rising comedy star- one focused on childhood and the other on adulthood. Ari amazed his friends and fellow comics this year by locking his cellphone in a drawer and cutting all his cords to travel in Southeast Asia for a spiritual retreat of sorts, and stuck by his decision to stay off the internet. He came back stronger than ever, effortlessly picking up where he left off, carrying a barrel full of new stories for the stage. Shaffir also walked away from his popular Comedy Central storytelling series based on some ‘creative’ differences, and reinvented his show without missing a beat, calling it Ari Shaffir’s Renamed Storytelling Show. Shaffir is just getting started but already belongs in our Top 10.
JIM NORTON has reinvented himself yet again. 2017 brought many new things for Norton, including the gelling of SiriusXM morning radio show, The Jim and Sam Show and some acting roles including HBO’s ‘Crashing.’ He also released a new hour special, ‘Mouthful of Shame’ on Netflix, and he’s already touring a brand new hour that he’s calling ‘Kneeling Room Only.’ 2017 also marked Norton’s first European tour. All of those accomplishments on their own would land Norton in our top ten comedians of the year, but there’s more. This year Norton created the hottest, fastest rising podcast in comedy (much to the annoyance of his close friends)- The Chip Chipperson Podacast, based on his radio character, Chip Chipperson.
JERROD CARMICHAEL had a killer 2017 and despite walking away from his hit series The Carmichael Show, he seems stronger than ever. His accomplishments include his namesake sitcom that made headlines, was beloved by critics and had solid ratings on television, plus a critically lauded hour special on HBO, titled ‘8’. Carmichael just announced he’ll be producing new shows in 2018 for Lil Rel, and Nate Bargatze so despite his series coming to an end, he has gigantic new beginnings including an all over deal with 20th Century Fox TV.