Another decade has passed and Americans can’t let a decade sneak by without rounding up the very best of everything that happened in that ten year period. We’re not quite as sentimental about groups of ten years so we didn’t want to hit up all the categories, but we did put together a few top lists.
We picked the eleven comedians most worthy of being called the comedian of the decade and as well as ten comedy television shows and ten comedy movies to put in contention for the title and let you spend two weeks voting. The results are in!!!
This year, there were some impressive dynasties in the world of stand up comedy. The 2010’s saw Dave Chappelle go from recluse to one of the most dominant force’s in the business. Joe Rogan rose to become the most important podcaster and one of the most influential people in comedy. Amy Schumer’s career took off, and she’s become one of the most famous faces in entertainment, and a movie star. Jim Jefferies established himself as one of the most politically important voices in the business with three killer specials. Trevor Noah took over the Daily Show- an impossible task- and is bringing youth and a new perspective to late night. Ali Wong exploded with a breakout first special that was so strong that she became an overnight sensation with the American public and has continued to build on that foundation. Colin Quinn has established himself as the most consistently brilliant comedian and shown the rest of comedy what a real artist looks like with his series of one man shows. Bill Burr went from having a promising career and big future to realizing that goal, establishing himself at the top of the list of touring comedians. Kevin Hart has established an actual empire, broke records, and is one of the top earners in the business. And Tom Segura created the Netflix Effect, changing the industry while launching himself as a huge force in comedy.
But even with all those powerful accomplishments, none of those performers could beat Louis C.K. for the title of Comedian of the Year.
We saw the rise and fall and the start of the rise again of Louis C.K. all within the last ten years. Louie (the series) started in 2009 and set the tone for comedy all throughout the decade. The series influence on the tone of dark comedy all over television and streaming services is undeniable. In recorded stand up, C.K. released Hilarious (2010), Live at the Beacon Theater (2011), Oh My God (2013), Live at the Comedy Store/MSG (2015) and 2017 (2017). His reach in comedy production was enourmous, 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 hosting 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 great 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. It was also in this decade that C.K. was accused of, and admitted to sexual misconduct with multiple women. That scandal has kept C.K. in the headlines for a full year after he stopped performing, and has made his return to comedy stages the most divisive topic in the industry.
Despite being a part of one of the biggest scandals of the decade, for innovation, for creativity, for talent and for being ever the auteur, Louis C.K. has won your vote as the COMEDIAN OF THE DECADE.
When you look back at the decade, it’s been a tremendous ten years for comedy movies. 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. Spy was one of the funniest and best made movies of the last ten years.
But the one movie that set the tone for the decade, that had the most influence and was very possibly the funniest movie we’ve seen in the past ten years, the win goes to Paul Feig for Bridesmaids. The smash hit that ushered in a new era of funny female led films was released in 2011 and shocked comedy fans everywhere. Female characters doing gross out humor? Never done before on this level. Bridesmaids launched careers- most notably Melissa McCarthy who is now a giant in the business. Written by Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, directed by Paul Feig, produced by Judd Apatow, and the recipient of two Academy Award nominations, the film was a box office smash, critically beloved and an instant classic.
It was a great decade for movies, and somehow, 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. 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.