I have to preface this piece by stating two things.
Number 1: If you are already a fan of stand up comedy in any way, shape, or form, you’re probably not going to learn a damn thing here. You will probably know 100% of these people. So, this may not be entirely for you. I created this for the casual stand up comedy viewer. Basically, this is a list of comedians who I am consistently surprised that I have to explain who they are to co-workers, friends, etc. I personally wanted to have a full article that I can simply send to people when they are “looking for some stand up to watch”. So many of these great and talented folks below have specials on Netflix, a platform everyone fuckin’ has, but may not have been willing to dedicate an hour to somebody they don’t really know. I’m here to say, WATCH IT Donnie from sales! WATCH IT Gena from HR! WATCH IT! Again, comedians and huge fans of comedy will probably just disregard this article. Which is fine. So just to be clear, this is not an “up and coming” best list. These people have already came again and again (all pun intended).
Number 2: I don’t really give a shit about the Twitter count. I know this seems hypocritical, which is definitely not beyond me, since it’s in the fucking title. But, seriously, I don’t give a shit. I don’t think it is indicative or representing of the persons talent and/or popularity. So why did I use it as a ranking system? Well, I needed SOMETHING to make some order of the chaos. I didn’t want to just throw 20 people’s pictures on a page at random say, “Here. Like them.” No, I needed some kind of standard to set. I’m not positive if it truly works, but nevertheless, it is what it is. So, I went with comedians with less than 200K Twitter Followers. Why 200K? Well, it goes with 20, which is a good solid number. That’s about it. It’s basically an easy way to set some of my favorite comedians apart from their peers who EVERYONE fuckin’ knows, and who I am also a huge fan of. I absolutely adore Bill Burr, Louis CK, Marc Maron, Aziz Ansari, Amy Schumer, Joe Rogan, Dave Chappelle, and on and on. They are crazy successful for good obvious reasons. They put in the work, and everyone knows them. This list below is a list of people that everyone SHOULD know, but I am always talking about to blank faces. And it has to stop!
So, that is enough for my preemptive strike against the potential naysayers. Now let’s begin!
Twitter count: 166K. @bertkreischer. If you are a fan of the Travel Channel, you may know him as Bert The Conquerer. In 1997 he was named Top Partier in the country at the top party school in the country, Florida State University, and was sub sequentially the inspiration to the 2002 hit comedy National Lampoon’s Van Wilder. His also a semi-regular on the popular Doug Benson hosted podcast Doug Loves Movies. He is always on the road, and quite possibly coming to a city near you! He’s also prone to taking his shirt off, and is probably the comedian I seem to hear most other comedians talk about. Bert has that likable spirit to him that is impossible not to love. Without every meeting the man, you can simply get that vibe that he would be a perfect person to be friends with, and a dude you could totally trust around your wife alone. And he also always showing up on random podcasts I love, and is always a delight to hear. Podcast: Bertcast.
Twitter count: 152K. @AriShaffir. Ari became popular with his delightfully offensive sketches known as The Amazing Racist where he manages to offend damn near everyone, especially the dummies of the world who thought it was unscripted footage. He is also the host and creator of Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening, a brilliant show where comedians and entertainers share embarrassing and/or hilarious stories based around a certain subject. You can also find most of the episodes on YouTube. But I warn you, if you are new to the show, it is highly addictive and will send you down a very long rabbit hole, so give yourself some time. Ari is also not shy at all about his use of explicit drugs. Anything you need to know about mushrooms, Ari is your guy! Podcast: Ari Shaffir’s Skeptic Tank.
Twitter count: 149K. @iliza. The artist formerly known as Iliza Shlesinger recent shorted her name just down to her first name, but it does not change the fact that she is one of the hardest working stand up comedians and television stars on the planet. In 2008 she took the crown on the hit reality show Last Comic Standing and has been a household name in the comedy world ever since. She has also hosted Separation Anxiety on TBS, alongside her adorable little dog perfectly named Blanche. She has two AMAZING comedy specials on Netflix right now, Freezing Hot and the recent Confirmed Kills. She also (told you she works hard!), has a great series of shorts on ABC Digital called Forever 31. Side note, her name is incredibly frustrating to type with autocorrect! Podcast: Truth & Iliza.
Twitter count: 85.4K. @tomsegura. Tom was one of those comedians I always know was around, and apparently a legend. And in all honesty, it took me a while to come around. That was until I heard him on an episode of Bertcast (see above) along with Bill Burr and laughed like an idiot alone in my car. So I finally watched his special Mostly Stories on Netflix, and he instantly skyrocketed in my mind as one of the best comedians working today, as well as onto my bucket list of acts I need to see live before I am consumed by alcoholism and can not longer see straight. Yes, he’s that fucking good. Podcast: Your Mom’s House.
Twitter count: 65.6K. @Theovon. Theo Von was simply a Netflix discovery for me. He had a special, and I hadn’t seen it or really knew who he was. But, I’ll be god damned if I didn’t roll with laughter and searched for everything he has ever been a part of. His Netflix special is called No Offense, and is appropriately titled. My wife would later inform me that he was a very popular reoccurring star on hit MTV reality shows like Road Rules and Real World/Road Rules Challenge and all of their respected spin-offs. The guy has collected a massive body of work in television, but it is his stand up that I appreciate the most, hand’s down. Podcast: Allegedly with Theo Von & Matthew Cole Weiss.
Twitter count: 65.5K*. Tig Notari was one of those comedians I would occasionally see and thought was very funny, but didn’t follow so much until I kept hearing about insanely popular documentary (available on Netflix) simply titled Tig that was largely about her battle with breast cancer which would lead to her making the choice to have a double mastectomy. She proved herself as such a brave person, who also happens to be so God damned funny. Tig is constantly referred to as a Comedian’s comedian, which I actually think is a bit insulting, although not meant with malice. She’s just so damn good at her job that she has gained a massive amount of respect
*Stats as of November 3rd, 2016. Tig has apparently left Twitter, for the moment.
Twitter count: 57.4K. @aliwong. Ali Wong appeared on an episode of WTF and simply blew me away. I was instantly intrigued to learn more about this brilliant comedian. And she did not disappoint on her recent Netflix special Baby Cobra. She drew a bit of attention because she did the show 7 months pregnant, which had never been done before. But, the real draw was just how raw she is in her act. It’s absolutely brilliant and stands on its own for sure. She definitely deserves props for breaking ground on a new idea, but it’s really about her amazing talent, and that is what I respect the most.
Lauren Ashley Bishop
Twitter count: 57.3K. @sbellelauren. When it comes to Twitter, no one tops the Lady Bishop. She is consistently hilarious on this format, and obviously in her act as well. I actually had the great opportunity to see Lauren perform at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar back in 2010. And she absolutely destroyed as a comedian, and not just as a beautiful woman standing before I large group of sexually deprived men and women. She killed it on talent, and talent alone. Not to mention a few great bits about how Air Force PT uniforms are rape proof. I’ve been following her since that night 6 1/2 years ago, and will continue to do so as she comedies across the country.
Twitter count: 48.8K. @trevormoore. As the undeniable frontman behind one of the greatest sketch comedy troupes of all time, The Whitest Kids U Know, Trevor Moore has proven himself to be one of the most well rounded funnymen of all time. You can find him, fucking EVERYWHERE. He had a stint as the “man on the street” on the Tonight Show, he tours the country with WKUK, he currently writes for a prank show on the Disney Channel, and has two of the greatest music centric Comedy Central specials of all time. Seriously, if you are uninformed of this brilliant man’s work, you have a shit ton of catching up to do. There are hours of WKUK sketches awaiting your viewing on YouTube, and his latest special, High In Church, is absolutely brilliant. As an added bonus, if you are someone completely saddened by the recent election results, please listen to “Time For Guillotines”. It is the perfect perspective. And I will say what I always seem to say, “Trevor Moore is one of my favorite people that I have never met.”
Twitter count: 46.4K. Sherrod is another guy that you sort of just find everywhere! From VH1, to ESPN, and at clubs across the glove, you will find this man at some point. I will admit that the most in-depth attention I have paid to Mr. Small is on the podcast Race Wars that he co-hosts with Kurt Metzger. His very direct observations of the world are nothing short of brilliant. In the stand up and television world, Sherrod has made a name for himself as being incredibly blunt and honest with what he says. And most importantly, he’s god damned hilarious. And that is what truly counts. Podcast: Race Wars.
Twitter count: 36.3K. I honestly cannot remember why I got so infatuated with Mark Normand. I know I fell in love with his podcast he does with Joe List, Tuesdays With Stories, the first time I heard it, but I can’t remember why I started listening. But, I will say that I am extremely happy that I found his work. I’ve since watched just about every stand up or interview he has done. For the last few months, Mark has been opening for Amy Schumer across the globe, and is definitely in line to be the next big thing. He had a brilliant appearance on Louis CK’s Horace and Pete. His new special “Don’t Be Yourself” is on its way, and is guaranteed to be god damned delightful! Podcast: Tuesdays With Stories.
Twitter count: 30.5K. When it comes to comedians who simply aren’t afraid to “go there”, you simply can’t do better than Kurt Metzger. Kurt is a brilliant old school meets new wave sort of comic. His stand up is unmeasurable in so many ways, as well as incomparable to anyone else you have seen before. He’s publicly stated that he doesn’t really like to write for television shows and doesn’t give a shit about Emmy’s, but he has done some brilliant work in that field, and was nominated for 4 Emmy’s (for his work on Inside Amy Schemer). Just another example of a pure genuine Funny Person. He’s fucking hilarious. And lest we forget his brilliant performance and every single episode of Horace & Pete, which consisted of some of his own material as well as some brilliantly delivered lines from Louis CK. Not to mention his voice over work for Ugly Americans. This motherfucker just has it all. Podcast: Race Wars.
Twitter count: 24.2K. @lachjaw. Lachland Patterson is actually the only headliner I have seen in an actual comedy club. It was at a Funny Bone in St. Louis with my dad. We didn’t intentionally go to see Lachland, he just happened to be there at a convenient time when I was in town, and we wanted to watch a comedy show. And I will be damned if we didn’t make it for one of the best performances of anything ever. I believe it was a Thursday night, with only about 30 people in the house. Patterson even said during his act to a waitress, “It’s so dead in here, I can actually hear you working”, or something of that nature. It was also Cinco De Mayo, so seeing a crazy tall white dude talk funny for a while might not have been on everyone’s radar for the night. But, the dude killed it for the few of us, I bought is album, and I have been a huge fan ever since. He might have an unfair edge for a comedy club novice such as myself, but I am definitely willing to put his talent up against the likes of the millionaires in the business that everyone loves and adores. He did very well in Last Comic Standing, and for damn good reasons. In the long run, the dude is funny as shit. And what is what is important, right?
Twitter count: 23K. @TiffanyHaddish. For those unaware of Haddish’s act, you will probably know her better from her crazy list of credits in the film and television world. She has appeared in over a dozen films, including the Key & Peele project Keanu, and probably three times as many television shows. But, your stand up is the most admirable of all. What I love about Tiffany the most, is her incredible diversity on stage. Seriously folks, I have not seen another comedian that can transfer from jokes about flying and go right into a joke about the sound that happens when your having sex in the doggystyle position. She has that wonderful knack to bring on the safe material along with pleasantly filthy. She’s a perfect comedian for this day and age, and you really need to know this brilliantly hilarious comedian.
Twitter count: 22.4K. @johnnypemberton. Oh Johnny. Sweet sweet Johnny. For new readers of the site, we interviewed Johnny Pemberton almost three years ago here at Trainwreck’d because I was such a fan of his brief appearance in the hit comedies like 21 Jump Street, The Watch, and This is 40. I didn’t even know he did stand up until we landed the interview and then I became infatuated. He has since done so damn much amazing work. The biggest hit he has worked on might be his starring role as the literal son of Zorn in the hit Fox sitcom Son of Zorn. Which is extremely hilarious and should be adored by all. But, I was most impressed by his guest spot in Trevor Moore’s video for the song “High In Church” that is just absolutely hilarious. Also he is the reason I can’t walk past a clothing store and pronounce “Beautiful Wooool Suuuiiitttt” after his second appearance on Pete Holme’s podcast You Made It Weird. He is seriously just that damn funny. Podcast: Live To Tape & Twisting The Wind.
Twitter count: 18.5K. @JoeListComedy. I might have to honestly say here, Joe List is my favorite comedian. If we are talking historically, I might choose a Bruce or Pryor or Carlin, but as far as active comedians in this day and age, List would definitely top my list (all pun intended). He simply has that self-hatred enthusiasm I am always looking for in a comic. For my own taste, I truly believe he is everything that people seem to think Jerry Seinfeld is. I loved Seinfeld as a show, and I definitely love Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, but I have never been a true fan of totally clean comics. I love Seinfeld’s persona, but I have never been a fan of his stand up. But luckily I have Joe List. He has the demeanor of a Seinfeld, but he is actually fucking hilarious (to me). He is probably the most openly insecure guy I have ever heard say anything ever, and I totally respect him for this. I seriously fucking love this guy. Podcast: Tuesdays With Stories.
Twitter count: 13.7K. @geofftate96. I won’t claim some sort of history cred here and say that I always knew who Geoff Tate was since he started. No, I am another cat who found Doug Benson’s hilarious live movie-centric stand up show Doug Loves Movies that also appearances in podcast format, and have been an avid follower since discovering it. For those not in the know, Geoff is a very regular guest on this show, and is one of the major highlights of the program. He is so damn brilliant on this show, and he isn’t even doing bits! He’s just being himself, which is a naturally hilarious person. And then when you discover the work that he has intentionally created for the sole purpose of making people laugh, he only gets more hilarious. He’s also a perfect dude to follow on Twitter if you want wonderful anecdotes to most, if not al, of life’s regular problems. So that is good too.
Twitter count: 11.5K. @_TomRhodes. So, Tom Rhodes is actually that comedian that I have known for a very long time. The dude has been touring since I was born, so that could possibly be a reason. But, was also the star of one of a television show that was cancelled way before it was allowed to reach it’s groove. Rhodes is joined by the likes of George Carling, Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Rapaport, and Jay Mohr as folks who had an amazing premise for a show in the 90’s that just didn’t pan out for middle America shitheads who only wanted to see different versions of Friends. Tom had Mr. Rohdes, which was a brilliant show that I can’t believe more people didn’t tune into. But as it always seems to be (you might notice a trend here, we love Stand Ups, that’s the main idea here), Tom is a stand up at heart. And he has never quit the road. He is still out there putting smiles on undeserving faces and giving one of the best stand up shows you will ever have the honor of listening to. Podcast: Tom Rhodes Radio.
Twitter count: 8.9K. @GlitterCheese. When I think of Liza Treyger, I can only think of punch lines. This woman is definitely one of the greats when it comes to punch lines. When it comes to nailing a joke in the end, there is no better person that Liza Treyger. In every bit of stand up I have watched her do, she has absolutely killed it. I seriously love this woman’s act. And on the other end, she is also a mastermind of crowd work. She knows how to work with just about every crowd member who may be at one of her shows. Obviously she may expect some of the same people to attend a show she may be in, but she can work with whatever is in front of her. She is a brilliant comedian who definitely understands her place in the world, and is someone who deserves the the respect of so many generations to come, even if she may be the voice of this very specific generation that we have on our hands right now. Also, since we have mentioned it twice before, she has a brilliant guest starring role on Louis CK’s Horace and Pete. Dammit I loved that fucking series.
Twitter count: 4.4K. @iamaroadtrip. I have to preface this last comic by stating that it is unprecedented that she is not the most well known comic on the earth. The material this lady puts out is absolutely hilarious and deserves the respect of everyone around her. Maybe it’s because she continues to live in Idaho? That is actually something I find admirable. Boise is actually a beautiful place if you give it a chance. But none the less, Emma Arnold is one of the most hilarious people I have ever heard say words to crowd of random people ever. She isn’t Bill Burr in any sort of way, but she seems to get the same kind of reaction from any crowd ever that Burr can get. It feels like people are just drawn to her, for totally understandable reasons. What it all boils down to…she’s funny. And that is all that really matters. Podcast: Emma Arnold Podcasts (Couples Skate, All Gone Now Spooky, My Boy Fridays, Take It To The Pod).