Monday, January 28th, 2013

The Next Wave: The Top 10 Up-and-Coming Comedians on Each Coast

It's no secret that we're in the midst of a great era in stand-up comedy, with thriving scenes in both New York and Los Angeles and tons of big cities in between experiencing a major boom and serving as homes to a lot of spectacular work. Splitsider readers are no doubt familiar with most of the established stand-ups in the country – ones who have risen up via TV appearances, podcasts, Twitter – but what about the newer names who will be popping up on everybody's radars over the next year or two?

We figured no one watches more comedy than the people who run the country's leading shows and venues in America's biggest comedy cities, LA and New York, so we reached out to 10 LA bookers/hosts/club higher-ups and 10 New York bookers/hosts/club higher-ups to have them rank their favorite up-and-coming stand-ups and used a point system to create a list of their best-liked comedians on each coast.

In order to compile the list, we had people send in a list of 10 names in order from favorite on down. We assigned each choice a point value, with a #1 pick netting 10 points, a #2 pick netting 9 points and so on. We then added the points up. It was pretty straightforward. You get it.

Here are the bookers, club higher-ups, and hosts who were kind enough to contribute lists to the survey:

New York:
-Brandon Collins – Comedy Outliers
-Caroline Creaghead – Creaghead & Company
-Chenoa Estrada – The Afterlife
-Sachi Ezura – A Comedy Show at Alligator Lounge, Hot Soup
-Brendan Fitzgibbons & Lance Weiss – Gandhi, is that you?
-Rus Gutin – Comedy Juice
-Patrick Milligan – The Stand
-Benjy Susswein – Stand Up NY
-Rebecca Trent – The Creek & The Cave
-Marianne Ways – Night Train with Wyatt Cenac

-Jeremy Burke – Comedy Night at Best Fish Taco, Holy Fuck, Le Village, Set List
-Jamie Flam – The Hollywood Improv
-Emily V Gordon – The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, NerdMelt Showroom
-Joel Mandelkorn – Hot Tub, The Super Serious Show
-Ryan McManemin – Put Your Hands Together
-Tommy Morris – The Comedy Store
-DC Pierson – Big Money
-Jazz Ponce – What's Up Tiger Lily?
-Whit Thomas- Power Violence
-Samantha Varela – Comedy PalacePicture This!Hob Nobbin' with Susan BurkeAuntie Sara's Family Hour

And now, onto the lists:

New York:


10. Mike Lawrence (@TheMikeLawrence)

Mike Lawrence has already established himself in the New York scene, having appeared on Conan and John Oliver’s Stand Up Show, and landed his first half-hour special with Comedy Central this year. He’s also a regular opener for Marc Maron, and appeared on an episode of WTF in December.

8 (tie). Josh Rabinowitz (@Josh_Rabinowitz)
Despite being only 24, Josh Rabinowitz is already building an impressive resume, having appeared on MTV’s I Just Want My Pants Back and in CollegeHumor’s Original Series and being chosen as a New Face at Montreal’s Just for Laughs festival in 2012.

8 (tie). Mark Normand (@marknorm)

Seen on last season’s John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show, Mark Normand can be found all around New York City not just doing sets, but co-hosting and producing live shows and the podcast We’re All Friends Here (all alongside Matt Ruby).

7. Jared Logan (@JaredLogan)

Jared Logan is already a Comedy Central favorite, having appeared last year on both John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show and Mash Up and serving as one the network’s 2012 Indecision Delegates. There’s more to come in 2013, as he tapes an episode of The Half-Hour and appears regularly on VH1’s Best Week Ever.

6. James Adomian (@JAdomian)

Known mostly as a podcast favorite and impressionist extraordinaire, James Adomian has become equally admired for his stand-up since moving to New York a couple years ago. His first record, Low Hangin Fruit, was released on Earwolf last year, and he was celebrated in The New York Times as one of the most prominent gay stand-ups in the country.

5. Emily Heller (@MrEmilyHeller)

This San Francisco transplant has risen rapidly in the few years that she’s been part of New York’s comedy scene, co-hosting two weekly stand-up shows in the East Village. She appeared on last year’s John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show on Comedy Central, and is the co-host of podcast Baby Geniuses.

4. Jamie Lee (@TheJamieLee)

First seen on TV on the last season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2010, Jamie Lee made her late night debut onConan this past September. She must have impressed—she’s currently a writer on the Conaco-produced Midnight Show with Pete Holmes.

3. Dan Soder (@dansoder)

Prepare to see more of Dan Soder; having just made his late night debut on Conan, he is about to tape a Comedy Central half-hour special. The Comedy Cellar regular is also a frequent guest on SiriusXM’s Opie & Anthony Show andRobert Kelly’s 'You Know What Dude!' podcast.

2. Nick Turner (@nicksturners)

Recently reclaimed by New York City after a stint in LA, Nick Turner seems to be everywhere in this town — putting together shows at UCB East, The Creek and The Cave, and now Caroline’s on Broadway. He’s also been seen on TV on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and as a panelist on Best Week Ever.

1. Michael Che (@chethinks)

2012 was a big year for local favorite Michael Che – he was crowned the winner of NY’s Funniest Stand Up competition at the New York Comedy Festival, appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman in November, and was profiled in The New York Times. It’s especially impressive considering he only attended his first open mic in 2009. He can now be seen as a regular on VH1’s new re-launched Best Week Ever.

Los Angeles:


9 (tie). Aparna Nancherla (@aparnapkin)

Aparna Nancherla started doing comedy in Washington, DC, before moving to Los Angeles and becoming wildly popular there. Last year, she was snapped up by FX's Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, where she was hired as a writer and even appeared on camera for a few popular, funny segments. She currently splits her time between both coasts and her other credits include Last Comic Standing and WTF with Marc Maron.

9 (tie). Nick Rutherford (@nickrutherford)

A member of the LA-based sketch group Good Neighbor, Nick Rutherford has also found a lot of success as a stand-up, performing everywhere in LA, from big clubs to small independent shows. He has appeared in bit parts in Nick Swardson's Pretend Time, The Office, and in a ton of commercials.

8. Sean O'Connor (@seanoconnz)

One of 17 comedians hired to do a special for Comedy Central's series The Half-Hour in 2013, Sean O'Connor has also written for TV. He's written for Sports Show with Norm Macdonald, The MTV Movie Awards, and Comedy Central's upcoming The Ben Show, keeping him super busy along with his career as one of the west coast's most popular stand-ups.

7. Ron Funches (@RonFunches)

Ron Funches just moved from LA last summer after honing his craft in Portland, but after less than a year in Southern California, he's already become a beloved figure in the stand-up scene with a busy TV career to boot. Funches has appeared on Conan as a stand-up, on Portlandia, and he's writing on the upcoming second season of Comedy Central's Kroll Show.

6. Brooks Wheelan (@brookswhelan)

After starting to perform stand-up in his late teens in Iowa, Brooks Wheelan studied at Second City Chicago before landing in LA. Wheelan has also trained in improv at the UCB Theatre in LA and has been a contributing writer to CollegeHumor.

5. Kate Berlant (@kateberlant)Despite being based in Brooklyn, Kate Berlant was one of the most-featured names on lists from LA bookers we polled. A surrealist stand-up who's host of the weekly Brooklyn show Crime & Punishment, Berlant is a frequent sight on both coast's stand-up scenes. She's appeared in funny web videos and recently opened for Reggie Watts.

4. Byron Bowers (@byronbowers)

After moving to LA in 2008, Byron Bowers has become a regular sight at mainstream comedy clubs, like The Comedy Store and The Improv, and hip new shows like The Meltdown and Holy Fuck. On TV, he's appeared on The Eric Andre Show and Comedy Central.

3. Jake Weisman (@weismanjake)

Jake Weisman made headlines last year when a video of him inviting a heckler onstage who then dropped a bag of cocaine went super viral, but he's known for way more than being heckled by cokeheads. Weisman is a busy and in-demand stand-up, and he also does live and video sketch with his group WOMEN.

2. Hampton Yount (@Hamptonyount)

Hampton Yount began his stand-up career in Washington, D.C., but since moving to the West Coast, he's become a TV writer on top of being a busy stand-up. Yount has written for Fantasy Factory, Loiter Squad, and is currently writing for Ridiculousness on MTV.

1. Jerrod Carmichael (@NotoriousROD)

He only moved to LA and started doing stand-up in 2008, but in that time, Jerrod Carmichael has already become one of the industry's favorite up-and-comers, as evidenced by his thriving career and him receiving far and away the most votes from the LA bookers we polled for this list. Carmichael has written for Adult Swim's Loiter Squad and has a recurring role in Fox's midseason comedy The Goodwin Games, from How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas.

Sponsored Content


lists, standup

  • Jon O.

    Thank god I finally know what's happening in the oft-overlooked small town scenes of NYC and LA

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.longden Mark Longden

    I would recommend Alison Stevenson, she's ace. LA, I think (I'm a Brit and know naught of such things).

  • Soce

    It's nice to see a list that's not just straight white guys.

  • http://twitter.com/DevinRosni Devin Rosni

    This should have included Michelle Wolf. She's killin it right now.

    • micahwhite

      Agreed. Caught her last month in Queens, and have been following her on Twitter since. Talented!

  • Phil

    Yeah, Elise and Bradford. Who are the up-and-comers in North Dakota and West Virginia? That's what people really want to know.

  • http://twitter.com/Zulkey Claire Zulkey

    It's fun seeing Jared Logan come up. I really enjoyed seeing him perform at the Lincoln Lodge in Chicago*.

    *A city that is not on one of the aforementioned two coasts.

  • Jeff

    Yeah, it's always good to overlook Chicago, the city that produced Hannibal Buress, Kyle Kinane, Kumail Nanjiani, Matt Braunger, TJ Miller, Nick Vatterot, and Jared Logan (just to name a few). Just because it doesn't have a giant industry like NYC or LA, doesn't mean there aren't as many "up and coming" comedians who are just as funny, if not funnier, than the ones listed here in this piece. Not to say the ones listed aren't funny but Chicago shouldn't be overlooked.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5501616 Adam Frucci

      To be fair, I'm pretty sure every single one of those comics have since moved to NY or LA.

      • Jeff

        But also to be fair, they were just as funny as the comedians on this list WHILE IN CHICAGO thus, in my opinion, worth including that city in an article like this.

    • Owen

      What we don't have in giant industry, we have in shitty improv teams!*

      *There are some good improv teams.

    • http://www.facebook.com/benji.orlansky Benji Orlansky

      Couldn't agree more. Thank god we have people here in Chicago looking out for us and recognizing the true future stars of the industry that live right here. Check out this article that uncovers some artists OF ALL BACKGROUNDS that make the Windy City Scene truly special: http://steamrollerchicago.com/home/2013/1/28/the-top-10-up-and-coming-comedians-in-chicago

  • C
  • toewsy

    Jerrod Carmichael, number one. Nailed it.

  • http://twitter.com/Do_Go_On Do_Go_On

    Jamie Lee is so not funny. Her act is about being ugly? It proves that a pretty lady can be 60% less funny and 80% less original.

  • http://twitter.com/tinybadass Joy Barr

    The Nick Rutherford video is dead. Here is the original to embed: http://youtu.be/yQu4M6L3tyI

  • rose

    please check out this comic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9psZ6IaoEg

  • dinky

    too much gay in every fkng video

  • Melkie

    Forget "New Wave". How about "Save American Comedy. Here is my list for saving American comedy from this mediocre list above^^
    1.Eddie Pepitone
    2.Derrick Ellis
    3.Hugh Moore
    4.Howard Berger
    5.Steven Lolli
    6.Debbie Lockhart
    7.Henry Coleman
    8.Sam Tripoli
    9.Thai Rivera
    10.Marcia Gay Hardon

  • LO

    Dave Weasel is so new & fresh he doesn't even have anything on youtube! But he is a great comedian, definitely an up & comer. He's from Winnipeg, Canada.