Being a comedian is no joke (pun unintended). You would have to summon all the confidence to stand alone on stage with hundreds of eyes on you, keep talking from a script filled out by your (exaggerated) life experiences, and wait until people laugh. It’s daunting and scary because after all, humor is subjective, but some people actually manage to elicit knee-slapping, stomach-hurting, guffawing laughter from us. These are just some of the top comedians of 2020 blessed by the comedy gods:
Jon Stewart has made the perfect choice for his successor to The Daily Show. Since taking over the late-night show in 2015, Trevor Noah’s comedic genius and charm gave it a modern look and feel, the voice of the new generation. Trevor grew up in South Africa during the apartheid (a system of racial segregation) to interracial parents, most of his jokes center on this. Trevor’s comedy is wholesome, fresh, clean, and satirical. If you’re looking to get started on Trevor Noah, watch his 2018 special Son of Patricia and if you don’t laugh, you lose.
Key and Peele
Everybody’s probably familiar with that one skit that circulated online where a teacher mispronounces his student’s names. Aaron becomes “Ay-ay-ron,” and Denise becomes “Dee-nice.” The skit is actually from Key and Peele, one of the best duos of Comedy Central, and “Substitute Teacher” is just scratching the surface. Jordan Peele (who is now a critically acclaimed Hollywood director with Get Out and Us) and Keegan-Michael Key’s art are 5-minute situational sketches of comedy gold. We recommend starting your binge with “I Said Bitch,” “If Hogwarts Were an Inner-City School,” and “Turbulence.”
A crucial aspect to being a good stand-up comedian is you should be a great storyteller to be able to plot your jokes well. Hasan Minhaj is definitely a great stand-up comedian. His Netflix special Homecoming King will shine a ray of sunshine on your gloomy day. He was also a host to a weekly comedy show Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, which is now also available for streaming on Netflix. Minhaj being a great entertainer paid off as he was named by Time magazine as the 100 Most Influential people in 2019 and both his shows won Peabody Awards in 2018 and 2019.
Is there anything Tina Fey can’t do? She’s an actress (Megamind, Baby Mama), a writer (Mean Girls, Saturday Night Live, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), a producer, a playwright, a comedian (Saturday Night Live), and on top of it all, she’s a woman and one of the only two women on this list. Her hilarious SNL sketches and deadpan joke deliveries are always certain to extract laughter even from a rock. Whether it’s having her impersonate Sarah Palin or hosting an award show, Tina Fey will make you laugh.
When Dave Chapelle started his sketch-comedy show with Comedy Central in 2003, he cemented his name as one of the best comedians to ever walk this planet. He left the show three years later, at the height of his career and at the expense of a million dollar deal saying that he values his mental health more than money. A handful of years later, he returned to the spotlight with renewed vigor. You can’t help but admire Dave’s excellent storytelling and his seamless weaving of jokes in between! Watch his critically-acclaimed Netflix shows: The Age of Spin, Deep in the Heart of Texas, Equanimity, The Bird Revelation, and Sticks & Stones.
Being a Pakistani-American has its perks when you’re Kumail Nanjiani. He is a comedian, a podcast host, a writer, and an actor best known for starring in the 2017 film The Big Sick. He also played a character from the HBO 2014 sitcom Silicon Valley. Over the years, Nanjiani has been one of the most consistently humorous comedians out there shedding light on racism sexism, misogyny, and a whole lot more. His 8-minute monologue when he hosted Saturday Night Live back in 2017 still deserves a re-watch every so often.
Ali Wong’s Netflix stand-up specials can get mothers, mothers-to-be, and, well, anyone basically, through their down times. Baby Cobra and Hard Knock Wife centers on Wong’s experience as a mother, as a wife, and her thoughts on gender roles. It’s impressive work considering she was pregnant when both the specials were recorded two years apart. Her sharp humor peppered with profanities and crude details are definitely an acquired taste and not for everyone. If you want to have a taste of what Wong’s comedy might look/sound like, watch the hilarious 2019 film Always Be My Maybe co-written, co-starred, and co-produced by Wong and Randall Park.
Most of Jo Koy’s shows the past few years have always been sold out. More and more people are clamoring to grab tickets, spend a night listening to him crack jokes, and just laugh their worries away. To Filipinos, Jo Koy is special because of his FilAm descent and his jokes and hilarious anecdotes on Filipino culture. He was brought up by his Filipino mom and she was the one who encouraged him to start his stand-up career way back in 1994. Look at him now, Netflix stand-up special (Jo Koy: Live from Seattle) and sold-out shows under his belt. We’re proud!
Who is your favorite comedian? Share it with us below!