50 funniest New Yorkers

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

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  • 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

Photograph: Zak Orth

Michael Showalter

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

Users say

12 comments
Michael
Michael

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?

Susan
Susan

As usual, not enough women on this list.

Nick
Nick

No Jim Norton? You may want to rethink that.

Pete
Pete

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

Davey
Davey

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

JasonR
JasonR

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.

MsBellaF
MsBellaF

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.

Michael
Michael

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

Billy
Billy

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