50 funniest New Yorkers

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

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  • Julie Klausner

  • Wyatt Cenac

  • Jonathan Ames' Bored to Death

  • Roslyn Hart, far right, in Never Sleep Alone

  • Photograph: Brian Friedman

    John Mulaney

  • Photograph: Matt Hoyle

    John Hodgman

  • Jackie Hoffman

  • Jerry Seinfeld

  • David Rakoff

  • Jon Glaser

Julie Klausner

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

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)?