It’s our sixth annual readers choice comedy awards– that’s six years of covering all the greatest comedy happening in the United States and around the world and wow is it a great year for stand up. This year, six of our top ten comedian nominees have made our list in previous years, and two of our nominees have won the award. And for the first time ever, we’re inviting you to write in your own favorite.
In 2014, you picked Bill Burr as the Stand Up Comedian of the Year. In 2015, Nate Bargatze was your runaway favorite, in 2016 you overwhelmingly chose Jim Jefferies as the #1 comedian and in 2017 you chose Judah Friedlander as the greatest comedian. Last year, Bert Kreischer was voted comedian of the year.
We chose our top ten stand up comedians looking at their work and their influence specifically this year, in 2019. We took into consideration who put out stand out specials, who pulled in gigantic audiences, who had a big tour, and even who had other accomplishments outside of stand up. Our picks may have had a huge or been selected based on the number of strong projects they were involved in, or for single achievement that was absolutely outstanding. Popularity and celebrity were not part of our criteria, and for those ready to complain about who is missing– this is not necessarily a list of the ten best performers working today, but rather ten comedians who had the best collective accomplishments and performances in 2019.
Read all the nominees below, scroll down to vote for your favorite (you can vote every day), and come back on January 4, to see who took the prize.
NATE BARGATZE: In 2015 you voted Nate Bargatze as your #1 comedian of the year and he was just getting warmed up, with the release of his first hour special. Since then, he’s consistently been one of the hottest headliners in the country and his 2019 special, “The Tennessee Kid” is a certified favorite among fans and critics. Bargatze defies categorization; you can’t put him into any box other than monster headliner. He’s been all over the country on his “Good Problems to Have” Tour, shot a pilot for ABC based on his life, shows up to support his friends, has a family life and does it all without showing any sweat.
MICHELLE WOLF: Michelle Wolf returns for back to back top ten runs. She has been a killer on stage for years and in 2019, she dominated again. Her new Netflix special, “Joke Show” is one of the best of the year. Wolf continues to be fearless in the face of pushback. She meets controversy head on and doesn’t apologize for covering divisive topics. Ever since she rocked the Correspondents dinner, she’s shown she can not only take on heat but come out looking stronger and funnier after the smoke clears. She’s a future legend who has a lot more to deliver.
GARY GULMAN: Two years ago, Gary Gulman left. He left comedy, he left performing, he left writing and he left New York City. Gulman was fighting a tidal wave sized depression and could not find his way out, so he left to focus on just surviving. He not only survived, he also fought his way back and is stronger than ever. Gulman’s new comedy special documentary hybrid is hilarious, skillfully written and performed, and inspirational. He also had a role in The Joker, and has gone viral for his tweeted tips on writing comedy. Now that Gary’s back on top, he’s touring again, because everyone loves Gary. It’s a remarkable turnaround year, with much more to come.
NIKKI GLASER: Nikki Glaser has been ready to explode so many times but 2019 has put her closer than ever to becoming a full fledged celebrity. This year she released a brand new hour, Bangin, on Netflix and it’s a huge hit. She made her first feature appearance on Howard Stern. She Dropped the Mic. She dominated the Comedy Central Roast of Alec Baldwin and is now considered an essential guest on any celebrity roast. And she’s hosting the revival of Blind Date! And while doing all of this she’s hosting her own morning radio show on SiriusXM. As big as 2019 is for her, expect a giant 2020.
COLIN QUINN: 2019 has been a big year for CQ personally and professionally. He recovered from a heart attack, released a groundbreaking comedy hour on a network that has never put out an original comedy hour, and he got married to his long time girlfriend. If American’s were going to start knighting comedians, we’d want to start with Colin Quinn. 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. Colin’s 2019 special- released on CNN- covers what may be the biggest story of our lives- a divided America in 2019 and he found a way to relate to everyone without pandering to anyone.
RAMY YOUSSEF: This was a knockout year for Ramy Youssef. This young rising comedy star is killing on stage, gathering a following, getting recognized on lists of great fresh talent. Then industry recognition pulled him out of the slow lane to instant celebrity. In 2019 Youssef premiered a hit Hulu Series titled “Ramy”, scored a Golden Globe nomination, and grabbed an order for a second season. He also released his first hour comedy special- with HBO- titled “Feelings.” It’s a killer hour. The critics love Ramy: the special, the show and the guy. Expect much more in 2020.
JO KOY: The last time we talked to Jo Koy was right before he filmed his 2017 special in Seattle. You know, the one where he couldn’t get any major network to back him so he invested pretty much everything he had into himself and self-produced a killer hour without the help of a Network? Well things have looked up since then and this year Koy didn’t have to spend any of his own money on his new special, “Coming In Hot” which he taped two sold out shows in a Hawaiian arena. He’s one of the hottest touring tickets this year, selling out most of his tour during presale. He crushed his special and he’s developing an animated series. Koy has arrived.
BILL BURR: It’s Bill Burr’s third appearance in our top ten comedians of the year list and may be his strongest appearance yet. His new special “Paper Tiger” has received non stop raves from critics and fans. Since Burr’s last appearance on the top ten, he’s grown his All Things Comedy network into a comedy force, he’s producing comedy specials, breaking young comedians and has development deals. He filmed a new movie with Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson in Staten Island. He’s even in the new Star Wars series, and his Monday Morning podcast continues to be one of the most popular podcasts in comedy.
DAVE CHAPPELLE: Dave Chappelle is so big that he’s almost too big to be eligible for stand up comedian of the year. In 2019, his new special, “Sticks and Stones” made headlines in just about every single media outlet. He received the prestigious Mark Twain Award, the highest comedy honor available. He took on and slaughtered Broadway, selling tickets at outrageous prices and toured places large and small. He seems to be untouchable in every way and is the life of the party wherever he goes. Funny? That goes without saying. Chappelle is his own dynasty.
SHANE GILLIS: Shane Gillis conquered Philly, then moved to NYC where he quickly became a favorite with clubs, comics and fans. His rapid rise in the New York scene has been remarkable. Comedy Central Up Next, JFL New Faces, and then the big leagues– SNL. This year Gillis became the most infamous comedian in America overnight. Hired by Lorne Michaels, and then fired before he even got to show up for work. He is the youngest member of cancel culture and lost the biggest gig a young comic can get. Throughout, he has kept his head high, and stayed grounded. If he’s bitter, he isn’t showing it and he continues to kill on stages around the country while some of the biggest names in comedy have shown support. With more press than most of this list combined, and a big career ahead of him, Shane Gillis makes our list for 2019.