The best (and worst) of 2007

BRAIN TEASER He may play it cool, but we know why John Mulaney’s so funny.

BRAIN TEASER He may play it cool, but we know why John Mulaney’s so funny.

Biggest breakouts: Kurt Metzger and John Mulaney
Prediction: These two rising stand-ups will be on next year’s list, without breakout as a qualifier.

Most satisfying rant: Chewed Up
Louis C.K.’s solo show in November killed for an hour straight. I’d wish him some serenity, if he didn’t spin discord into such hysterical genius.

Most welcome tourist: Tim Minchin
The Aussie piano rocker’s New York debut left the city full of wide-eyed adoration.

Funniest travel agent: Eugene Mirman
The man is so consistently, delightfully silly that he colonized a Park Slope scene with his fans. Eugene, I’d follow you to Jersey.

Best improv show: 3 Square
Chicago transplants John Lutz, Dan Bakkedahl and Peter Grosz keep getting standing Os.

Best new improv show: 4Track
The energetic, committed play of these Magnet Theater upstarts is earning them a loyal fan base.

Best comedy albums: My Secret Public Journal Live and Werewolves and Lollipops
Mike Birbiglia and Patton Oswalt tie.

Best Web series: Layers
Nick Kroll and the Sklar brothers’ SuperDeluxe shorts are smart, satirical and bitingly awkward.

Best reaction to “best” lists like the one you’re reading now: The AST Poll videos
When comedy-nerd message board released its annual comedian rankings, Adult Swim’s Tim and Eric retorted via short film. Others followed suit with hilarious responses, the last of which is a bit of genius cooked up by Patton Oswalt and Aimee Mann.

Most necessary evil: The WGA Strike
Networks and studios: Stop wasting time and give them their due.

Tastiest lemonade: Strike shows
Live benefit versions of Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock and The Colbert Report sweetened the bitter strike.

Best schadenfreude: Joe Rogan versus Carlos Mencia
When the former accused the latter of joke-stealing, two things happened: Mencia critics licked their chops and and a rash of disgruntled comics took the opportunity to attacks other stand-ups too.

Hackiest joke: “Who’s gonna build that wall?”
The immigration bit cited in all that alleged joke-stealing was ubiquitous. I don’t care who did or didn’t write it—just stop telling it.

Hackiest sketch: Interpretive dance to popular songs
Every young sketch group thinks this lazy bit will kill. It wasn’t funny when I did it in my fifth-grade talent show. It isn’t funny now.

Best coming of age: The New York Comedy Festival
What launched four years ago as a series of headliners has finally grown into the kind of full-fledged celebration—including sketch shows, panel discussions, new-talent contests and one very swank charity gala—that New York deserves.

Surest sign that the local scene is thriving: Material about L.A.
I lost count of the number of jokes told onstage about trips to the West Coast. Point is, the industry is calling.

Best trend: Desegregation
Thanks to cross-pollination, the cavernous divide between the city’s so-called alt and mainstream rooms is finally getting narrower.

Report card:
For years, I’ve been predicting that New York is headed toward another comedy boom. We’ve arrived. It may not look like the chuckle-hut explosion of the get-up stand-up ’80s, but make no mistake: We currently live in a golden age of comedy. Fueled by the explosion of Internet content, an aesthetic swing from broad humor to naturalism and, most likely, the basic cyclical nature of trends, now is one of the funniest times to live in New York. It’s all happening. Put down the magazine and take part.