50 funniest New Yorkers

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

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  • Howard Stern, left, on Late Show with David Letterman

  • Hannibal Buress

  • Bridget Everett

  • Dave Attell, left, on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

  • Photograph: Scott Green/IFC

    Fred Armisen in Portlandia

  • Photograph: Jena Cumbo

    David Wain, right, at the Wet Hot American Summer Tenth-Anniversary Celebration

  • David Cross

  • Eugene Mirman

  • Photograph: Chris Lee

    Alec Baldwin

  • Photograph: F. Scott Schafer

    Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone and Andy Samberg of the Lonely Island

Howard Stern, left, on Late Show with David Letterman

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

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)?