0 Love It

50 funniest New Yorkers

The best comedians—and most hilarious writers and performers—living in Gotham, as picked by TONY.

Photograph: Zak Orth

Michael Showalter

Edith Zimmerman

Marina Franklin


Gary Shteyngart


Billy Eichner, left, on Conan


Jessi Klein

Photograph: Eric Michael Pearson

Kurt Braunohler


Scott Adsit and John Lutz


Leo Allen

Photograph: Carol Rosegg

Colin Quinn in Colin Quinn Long Story Short

One of our top 50, Kurt Braunohler, sums up the New York scene.

RECOMMENDED: Best comedy in NYC

Ambitious, loud, irrepressible, honest, impatient and rude; New Yorkers get called a lot of things, and certainly we all embody these qualities at one time or another. But we'd like to posit one more adjective just as ubiquitous (but much less recognized) in the makeup of those who make their home in our fair metropolis: funny. The writers, comics and storytellers on this list have met the grit and grime of this place head-on, and found ways to laugh in spite of it. Moreover, they've excelled (and, for the purposes of this list, continue to excel) at helping the rest of us find the humor in it as well.

Click here to enter the list

50. Michael Showalter

The Brooklyn comedian isn't afraid to be silly, whether it's sparring with his longtime collaborator Michael Ian Black on the now-defunct series Michael & Michael Have Issues, posting goofy doodles on his blog or penning his debut memoir (of sorts), Mr. Funny Pants. But Showalter's zany sensibility is best observed in the cult classic Wet Hot American Summer, which he cowrote with David Wain—we can't wait to see what high jinks will appear in the prequel to the film, which Showalter recently confirmed is happening.—AP

49. Edith Zimmerman

We'll admit to being slightly jealous of the young editor of the Hairpin, which launched in 2010 as a female-focused companion to culture site the Awl. In less than two years, she's helped the site find its voice: Witty, slightly absurd ("Text Messages from a Ghost" is a particularly funny favorite) and whip-smart. On her own, Zimmerman is a fine and funny writer—see her much-discussed GQ profile of hunky actor Chris Evans, which avoided the horrible cliches of celebrity profiles, thanks to Zimmerman's game-for-anything approach, for proof.—AP

48. Marina Franklin

Years of working the clubs has brought out the best in Marina Franklin: She’s a spark plug who talks about her life and times in the city with great physicality, expressive eyes and a little smirk to let the crowd know nothing’s all that serious. Her impressions are not of big, political figures, but people that everyone recognizes from bodegas and street corners; one of her enduring bits about being chastised by a Harlem mother is crisp and detailed, offering not just a glimpse of the estrangement Franklin feels, but a chance to laugh with her as well.­—ML

47. Gary Shteyngart

This satiric novelist has several books to his name, each bringing a keen eye and fun-loving spirit to bear in his contemplation of upbeat outsiders and hopeful immigrants caught in circumstances beyond their control. His latest, Super Sad True Love Story, was a dystopian scare with a beating heart that proved to readers he was one of the best satirists out there; the ridiculous, star-studded book trailer with James Franco and Jeffrey Eugenides showed them he was as goofy and self-deprecating as they come.—ML

46. Billy Eichner

He's been pounding the boards in New York for years, including putting on his popular, catty talk show, Creation Nation, but Eichner's brand of incorrigible nastiness may have found its best match in his man-on-the-street video pieces. First seen as a Web series, the loud and boisterous Billy on the Street has recently migrated to Fuse; reactions to his badgering range from effusive delight to saying "fuck this" and running away outright. The comedian's on-camera persona (dramatic, loud, very easily annoyed) has also fueled some hilarious moments on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.—TL

45. Jessi Klein

Klein is truly prolific: She worked in development at Comedy Central, has appeared frequently on VH1’s Best Week Ever and was a writer for SNL for a spell. But it’s her engaging stand-up that we enjoy the most. She often tackles ladycentric topics—like the stupidity of women’s magazines or trips to the gynecologist—in a way that’s fresh, honest and utterly relatable.—AP

44. Kurt Braunohler

Whether he was improvising with Neutrino, welcoming guests to the Hot Tub variety show, doing sketch with Kristen Schaal or working as a stand-up around the city, TONY has always been one of Braunohler's biggest fans. His chipper, absurdist leanings have found even more traction as he has been putting on a live Pee-wee Herman–inspired talk show, Night of the Living, and hosting the new IFC game show, Bunk. He's still on the way up, so we're still hoping L.A. won't snatch him away.—ML

See him live: Braunohler cohosts Hot Tub on Mondays at 8pm. Littlefield, 622 Degraw St between Third and Fourth Aves, Gowanus, Brooklyn (718-855-3388, littlefieldnyc.com); $5.

43. John and Scott

John Lutz and Scott Adsit appear in supporting character roles on 30 Rock weekly, but when they share the stage at the UCB Theatre, there are no backseats. Their duo exemplifies great improv for a number of reasons: One, they project an unshakable trust in one another; two, they still manage to surprise one another; three, they make it look effortless. Though they wander into dark areas, juggle multiple characters and play with cartoonish conceits, they always seem to know their place in the story. Call it magic or friendship—whatever it is, it works.—ML

See them live: “John and Scott” happens Apr 23. Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, 307 W 26th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves (212-366-9176, ucbtheatre.com); sold out.

42. Leo Allen

This witty, self-deprecating performer has written for SNL, worked some absurd sketch magic with partner Eric Slovin and spent an extraordinary amount of time on local stages. These days, he hosts free Monday-night comic showcase Whiplash at the UCBT; it’s a must for NYC comedy fans, featuring top-notch locals and heavy hitters like the show’s former host, Aziz Ansari. Allen’s silly-yet-sharp humor has also made it onto seemingly every Comedy Central sketch show of the past several years, including Important Things with Demetri Martin, Michael & Michael Have Issues, and Jon Benjamin Has a Van—TL

See him live: Allen hosts Whiplash on Mondays at 11pm. Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, 307 W 26th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves (212-366-9176, ucbtheatre.com).

41. Colin Quinn

Since the '80s, this Brooklyn-born stand-up has been honing his brash, wise-guy delivery, landing a gig at SNL (where he took over for the more stoner-friendly Norm Macdonald as Weekend Update's host) and his own Comedy Central show, Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn. But don't be fooled by Quinn's sour, guy's-guy demeanor. Deep down, this vet is a thinker, as seen in 2010's amusing one-man Broadway show Colin Quinn Long Story Short.—TL

40. Julie Klausner

Though Klausner has been performing around the city for years, it was her 2010 memoir, I Don't Care About Your Band, that finally pushed the feisty comedian closer to the spotlight. Her hilarious (and often painfully, relatably awkward) stories of being young, broke and a lady in New York City resonated with anyone who has faced the same endless parade of bad dates and bad jobs—but who can't imagine living anywhere else. These days, you can find her chatting with funny pals like Amy Poehler, Chris Parnell and Lizz Winstead on her podcast, How Was Your Week?—AP

39. Wyatt Cenac

Cenac’s lax attitude and sleepy exterior are deceptive; beneath them, there’s an incredibly clever joke-writer who regularly surprises even audience members who are convinced they know where something is headed. His subject matter can include goofy one-off notions (e.g., his interest in opening a racist bakery called “Cake Cake Cake”) but big ideas about love, race or the way we get along almost always get smuggled in with the quip. When Cenac’s not filing reports as a senior correspondent on The Daily Show, he’s working his stand-up. His recurring show with Donwill (of rap collective Tanya Morgan) invites audience members to spit loving invective at classic blaxspoitation movies.­—ML

38. Jonathan Ames

Writer and storyteller Jonathan Ames lives in a New York of his own design, one full of uniquely uncomfortable circumstances and deviant encounters that even the most straight-laced among us quietly daydream would infiltrate our lives more often. A longtime Moth favorite, Ames’s intimate and honest tales of sex and pugilism get laughs for sheer bravura alone—never mind that when he’s actually trying to be funny (as in HBO’s sadly cancelled Brooklyn noir, Bored to Death), he’s hilarious.—ML

37. Roslyn Hart

Roslyn Hart is not your standard cabaret talent; she's a smart character performer with a lot of well-packaged, good ideas. She'll belt her way through covers and unexpected pop mash-ups, sure, but her creations—the lovelorn lush Michelle "Shells" Hoffman and her latest, "sexual psychologist" Dr. Alex Schiller—keep audiences captive before turning them into cultish fans. It's no wonder; Hart loves audience interaction and makes sure that the heartsick and lonely of New York have a chance at public catharsis.—ML

See her live: Hart performs Never Sleep Alone Apr 21 at 11:30pm and Apr 28 at midnight. Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St between Astor Pl and E 4th St (212-539-8778, joespub.com); $30, participants $25, plus $12 minimum.

36. John Mulaney

For his smarts, adaptability and charming demeanor, young stand-up and SNL writer John Mulaney may be one of the most notable up-and-comers out there. As an old man trapped in a young man's body, perhaps it's to be expected that his voice has already developed, but even so, his leaps of logic are impressive (e.g., on his looks and former alcohol problems: "I don't look like someone who used to do anything. I look like I was just sitting in a room on a chair eating saltines for 28 years and then I walked out here.") He wins rooms easily and will only get better at it, though we suspect stand-up will get a run from SNL, where it seems to us he's Seth Meyers's heir apparent.—ML

35. John Hodgman

The running current through Hodgman's work—whether it's his three books, which he claims to be a repository for "complete world knowledge," or his appearances on programs like This American Life—is that it's cool to be nerdy. The occasional Daily Show correspondent (and former TONY cover boy) even looks the part, rarely appearing without specs and a professorial blazer—which may be why he was tapped to represent the dorky PC in Apple's "Get a Mac" campaign. Thankfully, the days when Hodgman's brand of goofy geekiness would be considered uncool are long gone.—AP

34. Jackie Hoffman

In the mold of greats like Broadway baby Elaine Stritch, Jackie Hoffman is a consummate show-person. She'll find her light, sling a joke and punctuate with an arched eyebrow as easily as she draws breath; sure, she'll kvetch about the pay, the material, the cadaverous crowd and the ridiculousness of it all until the stars go dark, but she's sooo good at it. Her solo stints at Joe's Pub showcase her on her best bad behavior. Her sneering mug has saved countless matinees—useful showcases (Hairspray) and painful ones (The Addams Family) alike—and we look forward to a time when it powers an appropriately caustic solo vehicle on the Great White Way.—ML

33. Jerry Seinfeld

Lately, Seinfeld seems to be embracing his status as the most-imitated comedian ever, popping up on 30 Rock and SNL's Weekend Update as himself and absorbing others' best impressions of him. And lest we accuse him of resting on his laurels (he's also the most successful comedian by a long shot), the guy has been hitting the road quite frequently as a stand-up, too, bringing his casual, comforting delivery to big rooms around the world.—TL

32. David Rakoff

Rakoff is the perfect sort of New York character: an lovable curmudgeon with his own particular set of rules and mores, which, if aggravated, will send him to his laptop to craft a droll, wicked epistle swatting the insect that's bothered his equilibrium. He's been an actor and director, but his clearest successes are his own journalism and stories, featured in books such as Half Empty and on This American Life. But for every swipe he takes at an upstate bed-and-breakfast or the adult-entertainment industry, he's got a sympathetic stroke to assuage the sting.—ML

31. Jon Glaser

Whether he's working on the stage or TV, Glaser is a master of the strange, subdued character portrait; with an Andy Kaufman–esque presence and dedication, he'll push the audience members' patience until they're exhausted or, usually, breaking into exasperated giggles. After years of writing for Conan O'Brien, Glaser has created and is starring in Delocated on Adult Swim, which takes a silly concept—e.g., a main character in the witness protection program whose face is never seen without a ski mask—to staggeringly strange levels of absurdity and pathos.—ML

30. Howard Stern

Sure, the self-proclaimed King of All Media isn't as culturally pervasive as he was during his mid-'90s heyday. (Remember those classic on-the-street stunts with Gilbert Gottfried? Amazing.) Still, it's to his credit that the radio personality remains almost unbeatable as far as candid, long-form celebrity interviews go. Just look at 2011's salacious, controversial chat with Brett Ratner, which in many ways led to the director's firing as the producer of last February's Oscars. And Stern's thorough, revealing Q&As have certainly influenced current comedy-scene staples like Marc Maron's WTF podcast or The Best Show on WFMU with Tom Scharpling.—TL

29. Hannibal Buress

Here's a rare scenario: A young comic leaves his first writing gig, SNL, to join 30 Rock at the height of its influence and then, after a year, makes an exit to pursue his stand-up career. But if you're hot like the sun, which Hannibal Buress is at the moment, it's just your life. He's a study in contradictions: A smooth operator and a nerd, a normal guy with strange proclivities, a realist with a free-flowing imagination. (One of his best, early jokes finds him so lost in reverie over apple juice, he for a moment believes that racism doesn't exist.) Thankfully, it all adds up to one original voice, which we imagine will continue to grow and refine itself as Buress carries on…hopefully in NYC.—ML

See him live: Buress hosts Comedy at KFBK on Sundays at 8pm. Knitting Factory, 361 Metropolitan Ave at Havemeyer St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-529-6696, bk.knittingfactory.com); free.

28. Bridget Everett

This fearless, commanding singer has achieved some notoriety outside of the city's alt-performance circuit—including a Sex and the City movie cameo and a well-received run of her show At Least It's Pink at Ars Nova. Her confessional and unhinged performances with her band the Tender Moments or as one of the hosts of Our Hit Parade are not only good for a terrified laugh, they'll stain your brain and your clothes forever.—AF

27. Fred Armisen

As his easy, expansive sketches with Carrie Brownstein in Portlandia prove, Armisen is influenced by the West; but this doesn't mean that many of his lovable oddballs don't have a certain New York weirdness in their bloodstreams. Armisen is versatile on SNL, playing everyone from Obama to Gadhafi on cue, but he's at his best when digging into one of his own creations; his commitment, be it to dippy Nicholas Fehn or a one-off freakazoid at an alt-club downtown, is admirable, and he'll almost always find a way to keep a drifting audience connected.—ML

See him live: Advance tickets for SNL tapings between September and May can be obtained through a once-a-year lottery; enter by e-mailing snltickets@nbcuni.com during the month of August. 30 Rockefeller Plaza between 49th and 50th Sts (212-664-3056, nbc.com/tickets). Dress rehearsal 8pm; live show 11:30pm. Must be 16 or older to attend.

26. Dave Attell

This lifer comic is another of those people so suited to living here it seems the city sprung up around him. Attell has the ability to be simultaneously crude and delightful, presenting a vision of the city as a dark and strange place just silly enough to laugh at. He’ll often throw a raunchy non sequitur at an audience without alienating them and, most impressively, will use it to segue into a longer, more thought-out bit. Catch a short set by the tireless Queens-born vet (of Insomniac with Dave Attell fame) at the Comedy Cellar, where he’s a regular.—TL

25. David Wain

A member of gloriously goofy-smart troupes the State and Stella, this writer-director has a real knack for capturing clever, oddball scenes from behind the camera. Think of the music montages in summer-camp send-up Wet Hot American Summer, or any part in Role Models that featured Jane Lynch. (He's seen onscreen as well, acting in Wainy Days and Childrens Hospital.) But despite mostly working out of Los Angeles, as Wain detailed in a blog entry on his site, his heart is here, and he plans to always be a New York-based filmmaker. Kudos.—TL

24. David Cross

This beloved Mr. Show comic might be getting older, but don't worry: He hasn't softened. The star and creator of The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret still manages to come off as a perpetually pissed-off teenager—we mean that as a compliment, by the way—whether he's griping about the commercialization of the East Village or lamenting his involvement in Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked on Conan. And we couldn't be more excited about his return as Dr. Tobias Fünke on the fourth season of Arrested Development next year.—TL

23. Eugene Mirman

If you created a flow chart for Brooklyn's alt-comedy scene, all the pieces would likely lead to this multifaceted performer. Mirman made his name as a stand-up, but also takes part in what seems like a billion other ventures: He's a frequent guest on Neil DeGrasse Tyson's StarTalk radio show, the creator of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, and a performer in TV series such as Bob's Burgers and Delocated. Despite those gigs, Mirman remains true to his roots; you'll still often find him hanging out at his neighborhood haunts, including Union Hall, where he hosts the weekly Pretty Good Friends showcase.—AP

See him live: Mirman hosts Pretty Good Friends on Sundays at 8pm. Union Hall, 702 Union St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-643-6510); $7.

22. Alec Baldwin

Forget those old stoic, Hollywood leading-man days, anyone who watched his early appearances on SNL knew that Baldwin was a comic lead waiting to blossom. After an incredible number of hosting gigs—he broke Steve Martin's record last year with 16—and a number of memorable gags such as his appearances as Pete Schweddy on faux NPR show Delicious Dish, he was convinced to play Lorne Michaels stand-in Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock. Since then, his talents have come into sharper relief. Baldwin can throw away the nasty barbs with remarkable grace or push it, as when he played Tracy's parents in a mediation session, and go absolutely batshit.—ML

21. The Lonely Island

It's no stretch to claim that the videos by these onetime TONY cover boys have contributed more to the pop-cultural zeitgeist than any other modern comedy troupe. In fact, the group's wild success with their sincere nerdy-white-dudes-take-on-hip-hop tracks probably also persuaded more up-and-coming comedians to reach for web stardom. And we can't wait to see what Lonely dude Jorma Taccone, who cowrote and directed the criminally underrated '80s action flick send-up MacGruber, cooks up next.—TL

20. Tom Scharpling

Yeah, yeah, the host of call-in radio program The Best Show on WFMU technically resides in New Jersey. But since its start in 2000, his show has remained an excellent platform for spotlighting comics from across the Hudson, both established (Aziz Ansari, John Oliver, John Hodgman) and up-and-coming (John Mulaney, Chris Gethard, Kurt Braunohler). Not to mention that Scharpling, who's a pop-culture junkie in the best sense of the term, has found a new role off the air as a director of indie-rock music videos—he's produced some hilarious NYC-set vids for the likes of Real Estate, and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. But the real reason we love him? His lengthy on-air "feuds" with pal Jon Wurster's characters are some of the funniest radio bits ever recorded.—TL

19. Bill Hader

Whether he's channeling Vincent Price, former governor Eliot Spizter or Dateline anchor Keith Morrison, Hader fully commits to bringing the wackier sides of these figures to life. But it's Stefon, the clueless, clubland-obsessed Weekend Update correspondent that we love the most: It's a joy to watch Hader break character while trying to deliver absurd phrases ("beatnik doctor Soulpatch Adams"), which are often concocted off-the-cuff by SNL writer John Mulaney.—AP

See him live: Advance tickets for SNL tapings between September and May can be obtained through a once-a-year lottery; enter by e-mailing snltickets@nbcuni.com during the month of August. 30 Rockefeller Plaza between 49th and 50th Sts (212-664-3056, nbc.com/tickets). Dress rehearsal 8pm; live show 11:30pm. Must be 16 or older to attend.

18. Kristen Schaal

This Brooklyn comedian's Kewpie-doll–like appearance and girlish voice belie a wickedly funny and absurd sense of humor, which is put to the forefront when she cohosts the weekly Hot Tub comedy showcase with Kurt Braunohler. But Schaal's all over the place these days: Along with H. Jon Benjamin and Eugene Mirman, she's a series regular on Bob's Burgers, has a recurring role as Hazel Wassername on 30 Rock and can occasionally be seen as the "senior women's issues correspondent" on The Daily Show. (During a recent appearance, she handily mocked the stupidity of Republican attitudes toward women—it's one of the funniest things we've seen all year.)—AP

See her live: Schaal cohosts Hot Tub on Mondays at 8pm. Littlefield, 622 Degraw St between Third and Fourth Aves, Gowanus, Brooklyn (718-855-3388, littlefieldnyc.com); $5.

17. Lewis Black

Not that he really has to convince anyone anymore, but this delightfully cantankerous, chain-smoking comedian can plow through a rant better than just about anyone. Plus, the ever-peeved vet (of the ongoing "Back in Black" segment on The Daily Show) is a New Yorker through and through. Explaining how the city's madness helps his sanity, he notes in a bit from last year's comedy album The Prophet: "Nothing can make you feel better than sitting in front of a guy who's whacking off, singing 'Happy Days Are Here Again.'" True. Very, very true.—TL

16. Michael Kupperman

Cartoonist Michael Kupperman transports his readers to another world altogether. In the recurring comic Tales Designed to Thrizzle and book-length parody Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910–2010, Kupperman perverts antiquated cultural signifiers into a jungle of foreplay robots, nut bras and absurd character concoctions such as the Mannister (a man whose superpower is turning into a bannister). Even in his live appearances—during which he occasionally appears as Twain—Kupperman has the same sort of folksy okey-doke quality as his pulpy '50s source material; but make no mistake, there's an uncanny comedy brain teeming underneath his cool exterior.—ML

15. H. Jon Benjamin

Benjamin has a sarcastic-as-hell comic sensibility and apparent love of pissing people off. (For proof of the latter, check out Comedy Central's Jon Benjamin Has a Van, in which he annoys many a New Yorker going about his or her day.) The comedian, though, is probably most recognizable for his voice-over work; he's lent his unique baritone to solid animated series such as Home Movies, Bob's Burgers and the deservedly popular FX spy spoof Archer.—TL

See Jon Benjamin Has a Tour live:Knitting Factory, 361 Metropolitan Ave at Havemeyer St, Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn (347-529-6696, bk.knittingfactory.com). May 3 at 9pm; $15.

14. Wes Anderson

Yes, the characters in his films are often ironic eccentrics. And yes, his distinct style has influenced more than a few duds by other filmmakers. But let's not forget that Anderson released two completely unique comedic knockouts back to back (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore)—all before turning 30, no less—and has created a few fantastic movie moments in every picture since then. (That his solid ensemble comedy The Royal Tenenbaums is set in a wonderfully gritty-yet-whimsical New York City doesn't hurt, either.) His latest, Moonrise Kingdom, which chronicles two love-stricken camp kids on the lam somewhere off the coast of New England., hits theaters on May 25.—TL

13. Todd Barry

You might recognize this ever-touring stand-up from comedy-nerd essentials like The Larry Sanders Show and Louie (or from his voice on Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist and Aqua Teen Hunger Force). But trust us, he's best in person. Onstage, Barry delivers economical, wry observations with a likable ease; he can kill in NYC rooms both huge and small.—TL

12. Joan Rivers

While showing us around her posh Upper East Side pad, the iconic comedian and TV host hit us with the following zinger: "This is a bag from year one. I think I carried this one around when I was dating Moses." The indefatigable and (especially for a septuagenarian) foul-mouthed stand-up still mans the mike—and proves her chops—regularly in town. Before you see this zingy, old-school talent, make sure to get acquainted with the revealing doc Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.—TL

See her live:Laurie Beechman Theatre (at the West Bank Cafe), 407 W 42nd St at Ninth Ave (212-695-6909, beechmantheatre.com). Apr 17, May 1 at 8pm; $45 plus $15 food or drink minimum.

11. Mike Birbiglia

Over the past several years, this Upper West Side–dweller has transformed from a dependable and highly likable stand-up into one of the city's preeminent comedic storytellers. After turning heads with self-deprecating tales on This American Life (check out his hilarious high-school horror story on the episode "Fall Guy"), he cooked up two excellent Off Broadway one-man shows, Sleepwalk With Me Live and My Girlfriend's Boyfriend. Both highlight the strengths of a particularly patient and humble raconteur.—TL

10. David Letterman

To us, Letterman has always seemed like that wry, jaded uncle who we really want to like us. He started Late Show on CBS in the early '90s (after Jay Leno took over The Tonight Show, despite Johnny Carson picking Letterman, then host of NBC's Late Night, to fill that slot), and his bouts during contentious interviews with the likes of Bill O'Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix created some classic TV moments. But he's even better when he bubbles with enthusiasm while chatting with guests he clearly adores (Bill Murray, Ricky Gervais).—TL

See him live: Fill out a request form online from three months out until the day of the show; or, request same-week and—on weekdays—same-day tickets in person at the studio (Mon–Thu 9:30am–noon; Sat, Sun 10am–6pm). Call the standby phone line at 11am on the day of taping to be assigned a number and studio arrival time; you will only be admitted if any seats remain after regular ticket holders have entered. 1697 Broadway between 53rd and 54th Sts (212-247-6497, lateshowaudience.com). Mon–Wed 4:30pm, Thu 3:30, 6pm. Must be 18 or older.

9. Reggie Watts

Most people remember their first time seeing Reggie Watts the way they remember a first kiss or a celebrity death: with indelible shock and awe. This funky, freaky dervish, who came up in East Village rooms like Invite Them Up before moving on to bigger gigs like Conan O'Brien's tour and the Secret Policeman's Ball, defies categorization. His grand, twitching Afro, impish spirit, and his whirlwind of music, characters and bits—most all of them improvised—make him a unique comic we'll claim as our own until the day he moves to Mars.—ML

8. The Coen brothers

Claiming that this duo is responsible for more quotable comedies than any other filmmaker isn't much of a stretch. (Hell, The Big Lebowski and Raising Arizona alone would put them in the running.) And although the NYC-based creative team hasn't portrayed the Big Apple on film since the 1994 screwball comedy The Hudsucker Proxy, that's about to change: Currently, Joel and Ethan are reportedly filming the Carey Mulligan-starring, NYC-set drama Inside Llewyn Davis, which centers on the '60s folk scene in the Village.—TL

7. Kristen Wiig

We dare you to not break a smile whenever Wiig hits the screen. On SNL, which she's rumored to be leaving, her weird, eccentric characters (half of the ill-prepared singing duo Garth & Kat) and impressions (Lana Del Ray, Michele Bachmann) typically kill. She shows even more promise on the silver screen, though, stealing scenes in every film she's in—bit parts (Knocked Up), secondary roles (MacGruber) and leads (Bridesmaids, the surprise commercial hit that she cowrote)—without resorting to the look-at-me tactics that SNL skits often encourage.—TL

See her live: Advance tickets for SNL tapings between September and May can be obtained through a once-a-year lottery; enter by e-mailing snltickets@nbcuni.com during the month of August. 30 Rockefeller Plaza between 49th and 50th Sts (212-664-3056, nbc.com/tickets). Dress rehearsal 8pm; live show 11:30pm. Must be 16 or older to attend.

6. Chris Rock

This Brooklyn-born comic didn't reinvent the wheel when he became a stand-up; he worked hard, followed in the footsteps of heroes like George Carlin and Richard Pryor, and honed his style until it was unmistakable. Rough but friendly, Rock continues to hit familiar premises (men and women, black and white) while crafting memorable, highly quotable and painfully true punch lines. (Since 1996, we've never been able to think about platonic friendship with a woman as anything more than being "a dick in a glass case.") Though his last HBO special, Kill the Messenger, came out a few years ago, he's perennially working on something and still drops by the Comedy Cellar to try out his set.—ML

5. Stephen Colbert

"If you're an act, then what am I?" Stephen Colbert posed this question to Bill O'Reilly in a 2007 episode of The Colbert Report, and it encapsulates the Comedy Central vet's appeal. With his portrayal of the bloviating, over-the-top "Stephen Colbert," the real Colbert deftly calls attention to the absurdity of the 24-hour news cycle—both the talking heads that dominate it and what is actually deemed "news" these days. (His recent, very public creation and manipulation of his own Super PAC, for example, memorably flouted asenine campaign finance regulations and any party officials playing along—all while legitimately participating in the political process.) His infamous speech at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner, during which he essentially called then-president George W. Bush a boob to his face, remains a master class in political satire.—AP

See him live: Online ticket releases open up around two months prior to taping, but disappear almost immediately—so check The Colbert Report website regularly. Sign up for standby seats in-person at 4pm; after putting your name down, you’ll be asked to return at 6pm to find out whether or not you got lucky. 513 W 54th St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves (colbertnation.com/tickets). Mon–Thu 7:30pm. Must be 18 or older.

4. Woody Allen

He's lauded by many (us included) as the quintessential New Yorker—neurotic, hardworking, bookish, equally cynical and romantic. He's a living link back to the comedy scene in the Village of the early '60s (if you haven't heard his comedy album, Standup Comic, a great example of long-form comedic storytelling, get on that). And as a filmmaker, he's released must-view efforts in every decade since he started making movies in the late '60s. He's still really funny, too, as illustrated by his dry-witted quips in 2011's Woody Allen: A Documentary and anytime he cracks wise during a film junket. Plus, the Woodman's cinematic love letters to NYC probably spurred more people to move here (again, us included) than…well, anything that comes to mind, really.—TL

3. Tina Fey

SNL's former head writer (the show's first woman in that position) is almost universally adored, and for good reason: In addition to Fey's status as a iconic writer and producer, her Liz Lemon character on 30 Rock captures a sort of goofy, quirky, independent everywoman that was sorely missing from television, and her hardworking, down-to-earth demeanor (cutting her teeth at Chicago's Second City in the '90s, seeming refreshingly relatable in interviews) only amps up her charm.—TL

2. Jon Stewart

The host of The Daily Show since '99, Stewart deserves huge props for continuing to keep the show funny (not to mention relevant with the kids and, occasionally, almost profound) lo these many years. During his tenure, The Daily Show has become an ace career booster; and Stewart's ability to both draw out laughs from potentially dry interviews with scientists and political analysts, and distill the cable-news media circus into clear, entertaining bits remains unmatched.—TL

See him live: Check The Daily Show website two months in advance of shows for periodic ticket releases—but be aware that tapings are always overbooked, so admission is not guaranteed. Confirmed seats are allotted to ticket holders on a first-come, first-served basis from 2:30pm on the day of taping; given the popularity of the show, we’d advise turning up early. 733 Eleventh Ave between 51st and 52nd Sts (thedailyshow.com/tickets). Mon–Thu 6pm. Must be 18 or older.

1. Louis C.K.

Let's confirm what any city denizen with eyes, ears and even a vague semblance of consciousness knows: C.K. is the hottest and most prolific comic of the last several years. Add up the headlining gigs at Carnegie Hall, his remarkably sad and funny FX series Louie (on which he performs almost every task imaginable) and the cool million he made selling his last special online for $5: The man's act has developed into an undeniable force, matching a smart and naturally dark outlook with brutally honest confessions that appeal to the muzzled misanthrope bound up in each of us. Success hasn't dispelled the dark cloud so far, so here's hoping C.K. can retain those essential New York qualities of nihilism, resilience and begrudging affection.—ML

You might also like
See more in Comedy



Was it necessary to be a born New Yorker on this list? Louis CK is from Boston and John Mulaney from Chicago (although very funny people). I also agree: no Jim Norton or Opie and Anthony?


As usual, not enough women on this list.


No Jim Norton? You may want to rethink that.


Lonely Island = Berkeley, Hannibal Burres = Chicago, the amount of non-NY'ers on here is as long as it is disturbing.


Tiny Fey is 100% NOT funnier than Woody Allen, are you high???


So many important and innovative funny people are left off this list of 50 -- surprise -- mostly already famous people. Looks like another missed opportunity to help comedians - some of the most beloved yet under supported performers in the world.


I only read this list to make sure that Tom Scharpling was included (and then I stopped there)---great pick, guys! ...But did you really need to tell us that Jerry Seinfeld and Howard Stern are funny New Yorkers? I know this isn't a top "unknowns" list, but telling me that Seinfeld is funny is like telling me water is wet. Could have used those spots for a struggling comic. Just my two cents.


I guess I really don't understand why Demetri Martin wouldn't be on the list

Joe reiner
Joe reiner

more than a few of these don't live in Nyc at all but solid solid list of greatness


Chris Gethard? Bobby Moynihan? Will Hines? Sarah Silverman (when shes not in LA)? Kate Beaton (well, until she moves back to Canada)?