The 50 Funniest People In Brooklyn

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“Hey Brooklyn, do you like to laaaaugh?” We’d like to think that’s how we’d start off our set if given the opportunity to take a crack at some local standup, anyway. For some reason, nobody ever asks. Probably because in spite of a much-discussed exodus of talented comedians to L.A. over the past few years (TV pays, we get it), New York’s comedy scene is thriving. Particularly in Brooklyn, which has quietly become home to some of the best emerging talent on the east coast (not to mention some of the very best standup venues). As such, we’ve selected 50 of them that we’d like you to know about, if you don’t already. We’re not being sticklers, here: some of the people who made the cut don’t technically live in the borough (or even New York State), but all of them contribute to the local comedy scene in ways we deem to be crucial. Mostly, though, they are all very, very funny.



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BKM_Frucci

Adam Frucci @Frucci:

As the head of The Awl’s comedy vertical Splitsider and an entrenched UCB member (he’s a cast member in their Saturday night show Airwolf), Adam Frucci has found himself with both an unusually sharp vantage point of the local comedy world, and one of the few genuinely compelling reasons for us to brave the East Village on a weekend night. Neither of which is a small feat.

What neighborhood do you live in? How’d you wind up there? How do you like it?

I’m in Prospect Heights. I’ve lived here for six years, ended up here kind of randomly after an apartment in Williamsburg fell through and we were forced to find somewhere to move on super short notice. It turned out to be a happy accident, as I absolutely love this area and am very glad to be here and not up in Williamsburg.

Do you have any set pre- or post- show routines, to brace yourself or unwind, as the case may be?

I get two free beers after my show at UCB, so I guess that’s my routine. Pretty unique, right?

Do you remember the first show you performed in Brooklyn?

It was probably at the Brooklyn Lyceum on 4th ave as part of Gentrify Brooklyn, an amazing weekly variety show that has since been rechristened as simply Gentrify and moved to UCB East. But it’s an amazing, huge space and they would always have a dance party afterwards. It was the best.

How’d you end up at Splitsider? Has running the site changed your approach to comedy at all?

I started the site when I couldn’t handle writing about gadgets anymore for Gizmodo. I’ve always loved comedy, and have been doing improv for years, so it felt like a natural next step to combine what I did for work (blogging) with what I did for fun (comedy). I don’t think it’s had much of an effect on how I perform. If anything, it’s made me less inclined to watch comedy on TV when I’m off the clock; it feels more and more like work every day, unfortunately.

How do you resist the pull to just cave in and move to LA? Or do you not feel any pull at all to move to LA?

I have no desire to move to LA. I hate driving, and my job has me getting up at 8am here which would translate to 5am there. And I’m not really trying to be a professional actor, so I’m happy to do improv here for fun and live in what is obviously an objectively better city.

Why are you so funny?

Self-loathing and deep insecurities.

Favorite Brooklyn bar?

In my neighborhood I love Woodwork, out of it I love Spuyten Duyvil in Williamsburg.

 Do you own a pet? We find that mots funny people do.

I do! I have a cat named Kits, which is a deeply unfunny and uncreative name.

Best survival tip for dealing with an audience that doesn’t laugh and/or when a joke doesn’t go over so well?

There’s not much you can do other than just try to power through. Getting desperate and trying even harder for a laugh usually blows up in your face, so I just try to stay the course and hope things turn around naturally and the audience gets on board.

What’s your writing-process equivalent of jotting down joke ideas on a napkin (if you don’t actually jot them down on napkins)?

I use Workflowy to jot down anything that pops into my head that I want to save, although I’m not much of a joke writer.

Favorite funny movie?

Is Caddyshack too obvious? [Ed note: nope]

How annoying is it that people expect you to be funny all the time?

I don’t think too many people expect me to be funny all the time. Or at least I hope not, as those people are probably disappointed.



Noah Kalina
Noah Kalina

Max Silvestri @maxsilvestri:

“Email, the blogs, surge protector, memories, wallpaper, Napster, online gambling, Petfinder.com and millions of colors” are a few topics covered in Gabe & Max’s “How to Get the Dreamlife of Your Dreams Using the Internet” foolproof system, an infomerical spoof for a 430-part guide to conquering the World Wide Web. It made the rounds on Gawker and CollegeHumor back in 2007, positioning Silvestri as one to watch in the relatively new world of online comedy. But around that time he started making a name for himself the old-school way too — in the local standup scene, back when it was centralized in the Lower East Side.

Maybe more than anyone else, he, along with pals Jenny Slate and Gabe Liedman, helped shift its spotlight to across the East River, establishing the comedy-show mainstay Big Terrific in the back room of now-defunct Williamsburg music store Sound Fix. As the sole host since Slate and Liedman headed to LA, he manages to fill the room – now at Cameo, on Wednesdays – without an updated website or proper Facebook page, riding on a solid five-year, word-of-mouth reputation for riffing and general likability. In between, there have been Top Chef recaps for Eater, bylines for Grantland, a slew of new web videos (the one about becoming a grownup is particularly great), an obvious Twitter presence, and the recording of a standup album, all channeling that Jason Sudeikis-like earnestness he does so well.

Can you talk a bit about your first show in NYC? Where was it? How’d it go?

It was at Greg Johnson’s weekly Friday night show at Rififi, a now-closed venue in the East Village that was the heart of the alternative scene for half a decade. It is now a Buffalo Exchange, and I’m so glad the people of 11th Street finally have a place to buy $200 herringbone pageboy caps. The show was a blast, because that room was super fun, and after the show on Fridays Rififi hosted Trash, this sort of legendary scenester dance/coke-party, so you would be hanging out having drinks with comedians after the show and then suddenly 19-year-old kids from New Jersey in eye makeup and leather costumes would start pouring through the door. It was a fun mix.

Do you have any pre- or post- show routines, to brace yourself or unwind, as the case may be? 

Before shows I like to move my bowels and avoid small talk. After shows I like to eat, drink, gossip about showbiz and hopefully get paid compliments by attractive strangers who understand boundaries, but that last part almost never happens. Maybe it’s me.

What’s the best survival tip for dealing with a stiff audience or when a joke doesn’t go over so well? 

Cry and pretend that you are having a meltdown on stage. It makes audiences really comfortable.

What’s your writing-process equivalent of jotting down joke ideas on a napkin (if you don’t actually jot them down on napkins)? 

Every week I get up to host Big Terrific with nothing planned and then I riff nonsense for ten to twenty minutes. If something makes me or other people laugh enough that I remember it, I start trying to turn it onto a bit. The lame, serious answer: I write everything in Evernote, which is an app. I love apps.

What traumatizing event in your childhood are you trying to compensate for by being funny?

There wasn’t one. I had a wonderful childhood filled with love and encouragement, and as a spoiled only child, doing comedy professionally is the result of a lifetime of getting told I can be whatever I want to be. Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life or have health insurance.

How do you resist the pull to just cave in and move to LA? (Or do you not feel a pull to move to LA?)

I was doing fine until you asked this question. Now I’m moving. Bye!

Who would be in your ultimate Big Terrific lineup? 

Louis C.K., Emily Ratajkowski and a monkey that grants wishes.

Favorite Brooklyn bar?

Brooklyn Star. It serves great drinks but also I like that after half a cocktail I can say, “Hah wouldn’t it be crazy if we split the meatloaf sandwich?” and then I eat the whole thing.

Favorite funny movie? 

It’s a tie between Dumb and Dumber and Tommy Boy.

Favorite Top Chef season ever?

This one, because I’m not writing about it. I can enjoy it as a human being and not as a weird recap-monster who takes time-coded notes about cooks forgetting to turn a blender off. I’m two episodes behind, and I don’t give an effffff.

Do you own a pet? (Most funny people own pets; this is a theory we’re testing.)

I do not, though I’m planning on getting a dog soon. Best of luck with your theory. Also, comedians that own cats are suspect, and you can quote me on that.

Who’s the best comedian we haven’t heard of?

If you are smart you’ve already heard of him, but Jared Logan. [Ed.’s note: Thank you.]

How annoying is it that people expect you to be funny all the time?

If it gets annoying I remember I have the chillest job in the world so I’m fine with the trade-off.



sash
Photo by Cate Hellman

Sasheer Zamata @thesheertruth:

Zamata is one of those comedians who can do just about everything. Whether it’s improv, stand-up, videos, screen-writing, acting, she excels…we’d go on, but we don’t have to because her work speaks for itself. (Really! Check out more on her website.) And, while she’s probably not the only comedian in Brooklyn to unwind post-show with a drink (“or seven”), she might just be the only one to incorporate an Elizabethan sonnet into her pre-show routine.

So, two origin questions: What made you come to Brooklyn? and What  made you become a comedian?

I moved to Brooklyn in 2009 after graduating from UVa. My close friends from college moved to Brooklyn before I got here, so that seemed like the place to be. I came to NY because I wanted to perform and I thought I was going to do theater (because that’s what I studied in school), but I found the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (UCB) and I got wrapped up in that community and loved it. Still do. At first, I was taking classes just for fun, but it wasn’t long until I realized that I only wanted to do comedy. So I was doing improv and started doing stand up shortly after, and then sketch a little after that.

What does it mean to be a comedian in New York today? Do you mostly write for performing live? Or for videos? Are you working on a screenplay?

Being a comedian in New York means you’re doing a lot of different things. Most comedians I know are multi-taskers. A lot of stand ups are also writing sketch, blogging, acting, writing pilots or screenplays, ect. You have to. There are a lot of us here, and most people can do the same thing you can do, so you have to be good at a lot of different things so you can set yourself apart from others.

I don’t know if I write more for stage or for videos. I write a lot of stand up, characters and sketch to do on stage, but some of that eventually gets made into a video. And there are some things I write strictly for video, so I guess it’s a mix.

I am working on a screenplay, and by “working on a screenplay” I mean I have started writing the outline, and by “started writing the outline” I mean I wrote the idea down on a napkin somewhere. I feel a little ADD in that respect. I have a lot of ideas rumbling around in my head, and a lot of scripts I’ve started but haven’t finished. But I will. I’m used to writing more short form things, so pilots and screenplays are work for me. The way I usually write anything is to write the idea somewhere, go away from it for it for a while and one day a wave of inspiration comes over me, I’ll figure out the execution I want, and then sit and write it until it’s finished. That’s probably not the best way to do anything, but that’s how I’ve been doing things. I’ll get better at it the more I write, but you know, writing is hard.

What’s your favorite medium to work in? 

I really love stand up because it’s the easiest way for me to showcase my humor. Everything you’re seeing and hearing is something I created. If you like the performance, that’s all me. If you like the writing, that’s all me. I can also go anywhere and do stand up. I don’t need to bring anything or any other people to do it. Just a mic, and sometimes not even that. It’s the simplest form of comedy, and the most digestible, so I like it for those reasons.

I also love creating videos. I like the accessibility of putting a video online. Not everyone can see me do stand up in NY, but I can send someone a video of a sketch I wrote and reach more people that way.

Do you have a favorite Brooklyn comedy venue (for performing or for seeing other comedians, if the answer is different)?

I really love performing and watching shows at The Knitting Factory and Littlefield. They’re both big spaces, but they don’t feel too big. There are only so many seats, so most people have to stand in the back. It feels like we’re all piled on top of each other, eager for what’s happening on stage. The stage is huge at Knitting Factory and I felt like I could have done anything up there. And the Littlefield stage is very “show-y.” Like it looks like a grand show should happen there, with the curtains and lights and everything, it’s very profesh. And you can see the audience from both of those stages. You can’t see everyone perfectly, just a little bit of light from the stage reflects onto the audience. I like looking at people in the audience when I perform, but it can’t be too bright because then people will get self-conscious about laughing and get quiet (or at least that’s what I found to be true at shows I’ve done). But that’s never happened at these venues. Everyone always seems like they’re there to have a good time.

Do you have any set pre- or post- show routines, to brace yourself or unwind, as the case may be? 

Before every show I recite a sonnet to myself. I only know one, I learned it in a voice class in college. It’s from Love’s Labour’s Lost. I don’t actually know that play and I don’t know who or what the character is referring to in the sonnet, but I’ve kind of made up my own meaning for it and it calms me whenever I say it. It helps me work on my diction and gets me focused. It’s also nice for when I do shows out of town, because it’s a bit of familiarity I can give myself in this new place.

And for post show, I’ll usually have a drink or seven.

Do you remember the first show you performed?

Like, ever? Oh man, I don’t know. I’ve been performing for so long. I did choir and plays in church growing up, so I started pretty young. I went to a Christian school from pre-school to second grade, and the only show I remember doing was a Nativity play. I can’t remember who I played, maybe one of the wise men?

I remember the first time I knew I wanted to make people laugh. I did a government camp in high school called Hoosier Girls State (Hoosier because I’m from Indiana) and they collected a couple female honor students from each high school in the state, brought us to a college campus over the summer and let us run our own government. I ran for Lt. Governor in my party and won, then I had to do a speech in front of the whole camp for the big election. I had to write my own speech and say it in front of all 800 girls at the camp and the counselors. I never spoke in front of a group that large before that point. I wrote one joke at the top of the speech and it killed. And everyone kept laughing at other things I said in the speech, even though I didn’t write any other jokes. After that people congratulated me on the great speech and told me I was funny. I didn’t win the overall election, but that sparked something in me that made me want to be on stage making people laugh.

How do you resist the pull to just cave in and move to LA? Or do you not feel any pull at all to move to LA?

Funny you should ask that now. I’m answering these questions from LA, and it’s pretty great here. I’ve been in NY for almost five years and I absolutely love it. It feels more like my home than any other place I’ve lived. But a lot of my close friends have moved from NY to LA and keep trying to get me out there. I didn’t want to leave NY until everyone (as in the industry in NY) knew me so I wouldn’t go to LA as another unknown performer. Now I feel pretty confident that people know me and get my deal. I also want to be on TV, and more TV jobs happen in LA. More are going to happen in NY as well and that’s great, but I am feeling the pull to move. I am definitely going to be in LA for pilot season in the winter, so we’ll see if I like it enough to stay.

Best comedian we haven’t heard of?

Have you heard of Naomi Ekperigin? Maybe you have, she’s been around. I want to see her around more, so I guess that’s why I included her in this answer. She is viciously funny. She talks like a valley girl and has such a funny vocabulary, and she’s so great to watch on stage. I really want her to get her own half hour special, or an hour special, it doesn’t matter I would watch her for any amount of time.

What have you found the most challenging aspect of your chosen career path? 

I feel like I have to be my own cheerleader. It’s hard to quiet that little voice in my head that says “Why should anyone care about what you have to say?” No one is asking me to do what I do, I just really can’t picture myself doing anything else. So I have to keep reminding myself my work does matter, because it matters to me. And I can’t wait for validation from others (even though I desperately want it), I have to be okay with patting myself on the back for a while so I can keep going.

I also have to motivate myself to keep creating. I have to do my reps. I’ve gone through phases where I don’t feel funny or creative and I don’t want to write because my ideas aren’t coming out the way I want. But I have to keep making stuff. It’s like sports or any other skill, it’ll only get better if I practice. It takes a lot of discipline.

Have you found Brooklyn (and New York at large) to be a supportive community for comedians? 

Most definitely! I love the comedy community in NY. I’ve met some of my best friends and favorite people to work with from UCB. It’s a great network of people and everyone is excited to help each other out. And I remember when I first started doing open mics and I felt very lonely because I didn’t know anyone, but I kept going and then eventually other comics started talking to me, and then later they’d take me around to shows, introduce me to other comics and bookers, or give me notes on a joke. I really like that, I don’t know if every comic does. But I like when another comic has an idea for one of my jokes, because it means that they 1) were listening to my set, 2) they think the joke was funny, and 3) they think it has the potential to get better. Comics will help their friends, or people they believe in, or people they see are working hard and getting better and it’s a really inspiring environment to be in.

And, finally, what’s the biggest misconception that people have of you when they find out you’re a professionally funny person? Do you get a lot of people expecting you to be funny all the time? Does this mean I can’t ask you to tell me a joke right now? 

Some people don’t know how to handle it when I say I’m a comedian and that’s how I make a living. I guess because I’m not throwing out jokes in every conversation, so it’s a little surprising if you meet me before seeing my work. I’m not actually that funny one on one. My crazy comes out on stage and then you get it. My family was very confused when I started performing.  They didn’t think I was funny because I don’t talk much around them. But now that I’m making money from comedy, they expect me to make jokes and do my set at family gatherings. And strangers will ask me to tell them a joke when I meet them too. I really don’t like that. I just tell them to come see one of my shows, because the joke isn’t the same out of context. You need to see me perform the joke instead of just reciting it to you, and I’m not going to start performing in the middle of a street or at a party because you asked me to. So unless you’re going to give me a job or money, please don’t ask me to do a joke when I’m not on stage.

 



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Adam Wilson @bubblesdepot:

Harper Perennial published this Massachusetts native and former BookCourt employee’s first book, Flatscreen, last year to wide acclaim. It tells the laugh-out-loud story of Eli Schwartz, a loser who spends most of the book in his bathrobe, and his friendship with the paraplegic, promiscuous, and drug abusing former child star that has bought Schwartz’s childhood home.

Why are you so funny?
I’m a pasty, bald Jewboy with a big nose and girlishly thin wrists. It’s my birthright. The wrists are why I never wear a watch.

What neighborhood do you live in?
Carroll Gardens. I moved here for the food, and stayed for the sexy brigade of boho moms who speed-stroller down Smith Street every morning, making beelines from Milk Bar to the LuluLemon store. I love it here. I have excellent relationships with many fine grocers.

Do you own a pet? We’ve found a lot of funny people own pets.
I do. I have a cat named Frida. In fact, she’s here now, perched on the back of my desk chair, clawing at my neck. She keeps me young.

Have you been typecast as a funny writer now? Is that a lot of pressure?
Mostly I feel pressure to be funny in interviews like this one.

Who are some of your favorite funny writers? What have you learned from them about being funny in prose?
My favorite funny writers are those who make me laugh and laugh until I realize I’m complicit in some seriously fucked up shit. Sam Lipsyte does this. So does Paul Beatty. Anthony Lane’s best trashings of Hollywood blockbusters really crack me up. He’s not a prose writer, but Louis CK is another hero of mine. His work, like Philip Roth’s in many ways, reminds me that its often funniest to embrace one’s ugliness.

What’s your favorite Brooklyn bar?
I’m loyal to lower-Carroll Gardens, and I have four that are tied for first place. One is MiniBar, where my buddy Nic bartends and cues a mean playlist. Then there’s Abilene, which has the best Bloody Marys in town, and where I’ve had my birthday party now five years running. Brooklyn Social is great because the pool table competition can be pretty weak, especially on weeknights, and occasionally a shitty player like me can pull out a victory against someone even worse. I also like to sit on the couch in their Ladies Auxiliary Room. Prime Meats is more restaurant than bar, but, man, Damon makes the best Old Fashioned in the borough, if not beyond.

[Insert joke here.]
The Republican Party. Unfortunately, they think they’re serious.

 



Photo courtesy Mike Birbiglia
Photo courtesy Mike Birbiglia

Mike Birbiglia @birbigs:

This comedian and storyteller hit it big with Sleepwalk With Me, an autobiographical one-man show about developing a sleeping disorder while planning to marry his girlfriend; it began Off-Broadway and later became a book, an album and a feature film. His show My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend is following a similar route; it won a Lucille Lortel Award, and a live recording will be released on DVD on November 26.

Why are you so funny?
I think it’s different for everyone, but for me I just got introduced to live comedy at a very young age, and it was the only thing that made sense.

What neighborhood do you live in? And how’d you wind up there?
I think it’s the border of Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens. I can’t get a straight answer out of anyone. The point is, I live near Zaytoons. My wife and I found [the apartment] through one of those sites where they rent and sell things.

Do you remember the first show you performed in Brooklyn?
I do. In 2002 or so my ex-girlfriend and I moved to Union and Smith and I used to do a show at a little hole-in-the-wall that’s not around anymore; I called the show “Comedy and Pizza.” Simple concept. There was comedy and pizza. It’s something of a theme in my life.

What’s your favorite venue for comedy in Brooklyn?
I love Union Hall. I shot a lot of scenes from Sleepwalk With Me there. My character in the movie is a bartender there. And now I do a semi-regular show there called “Working it Out,” where I work out new material. It’s typically on Monday. I love the room for comedy because there are low ceilings and the staff is cool and the audiences are just kind of game for anything. They’ve been trained by years of Eugene Mirman.

How do you resist the pull to just cave in and move to LA?
It’s not hard. I just think about what it’s like to live in Los Angeles.

How annoying is it that people expect you to be funny all the time?
I’m kind of over it. I don’t feel a lot of pressure. I mean, sometimes I’ll be at a party, and someone will say something like, “you’re a comedian. How come you’re not funny now?” And I have to be like, “I’m just gonna take this conversation and repeat it to strangers and then that’s the joke. You’re the joke… later.” That’s the thing about comedy. Usually you’re just collecting material and letting it incubate.

[Insert joke here.]
Ha. Now you’re doing it to me!!! You’ll have to visit me at Union Hall.

 



Photo courtesy Hannibal Buress
Photo courtesy Hannibal Buress

Hannibal Buress @hannibalburess:

Over the past couple of years, Hannibal Buress’ resume has beefed up to the point that it should inspire crippling in jealousy in just about anyone with even the faintest connection to the comedy world. He’s written for SNL and 30 Rock, appeared on essentially every single late night show, co-hosts Adult Swim’s The Eric Andrew Show, and will soon headlining his own tour for comedy central (as well as appearing as a regular cast member on the upcoming Broad City). And yet, he still finds time to host a night of comedy at the Knitting Factory every Sunday night.

What neighborhood do you live in? How’d you wind up there? How do you like it?

I live in Williamsburg.  I just got through a break up and I was looking for places.  My friends were touring for a couple weeks so they let me use their place while they were on the road.  There were some empty units in the same building so I just moved downstairs. I love the neighborhood.  There’s lots of great food and music venues.   I enjoy living here. I’ll probably move soon though.

What’s your favorite Brooklyn comedy venue (for performing or seeing other comedians, if the answer is different)?

I’ve been hosting a show at the Knitting Factory on Sundays for about 4 years now and I love it. It’s grown a lot during that time and it keeps me sharp.  I try new material there all the time and the crowds are excellent.  I also enjoy Union Hall, Cameo on Wednesdays, and Matchless on Mondays.

Do you have any set pre- or post- show routines, to brace yourself or unwind, as the case may be?

30 jumping jacks. 5 dick kegels.

Do you remember the first show you performed in Brooklyn?

I don’t.  But it was probably awesome.

How’d you end up working with the Knitting Factory? Do you find that those shows tend to draw a certain type of comedian or crowd?

I did opening night at Knitting Factory in September 2009. I was on a bill with Les Savy Fav.  After that, they asked me if I wanted to do a weekly comedy show. I was writing at SNL at the time so my only off night was Sunday so we did it then.  

How do you resist the pull to just cave in and move to LA? Or do you not feel any pull at all to move to LA?

I spend around 2-3 months of the year in LA filming and working on other things so I enjoy going there for work.   I think about moving because it would be a shift in lifestyle and I’d get healthier but I love NYC.  Maybe I’ll split time at some point.   I also consider moving home to Chicago.

Favorite Brooklyn bar?

The Flat is my favorite spot. They have an awesome Sunday night party.

Best survival tip for dealing with an audience that doesn’t laugh and/or when a joke doesn’t go over so well?

It’s fun to address when a bit doesn’t go over well.  The audience knows it didn’t go well so acknowledging it in the moment breaks the tension. That can work a couple times in a set, but if you’re doing it too much, then you need to adjust your material.  

What’s your writing-process equivalent of jotting down joke ideas on a napkin (if you don’t actually jot them down on napkins)?

I work in a few different ways.  Sometimes I put a note in my phone to remember for later.  Sometimes, I’ll just take an idea on stage and let the audience’s energy and laughter guide me. I’ll try to remember the funniest parts and then repeat the process until the bit gets better.

Favorite funny movie?

Face/Off

 


58a_Jon_Hodgman

John Hodgman @hodgman:

In the mid-aughts it was like you couldn’t turn on a television without seeing this geek: on the Daily Show, on those clever commercials in constant rotation in which he was the PC and Justin Long was the Mac. Since then, he has become the ubiquitous comic embodiment of the American nerd, writing more and higher profile books and appearing on NPR, in the occasional film, and on television, like his recurring role on Bored to Death, all exploiting his knack for dry and intelligent humor.



Photo via Facebook
Photo via Facebook

Zach Poitras @bigzackpoitras:

This writer and performer made his name as a member of Pangea 3000, a popular and long-running improv team that disappointed people who had heard of it when it went on indefinite hiatus last year. He now performs on a team in UCB’s long-form improv Harold Night and writes for The Onion, including its web videos.



Photo via Paper Magazine
Photo via Paper Magazine

Rob Michael Hugel @RobMichaelHugel:

If you recognize the mug of this UCB alum, maybe it’s from those old Halls ads on the subway that he was in? Or from the variety shows he used to host in Williamsburg? Or the standup shows? No, it’s probably for his cult-followed web series I Hate Being Single about living lonely in Williamsburg.



Photo via theapiary.org
Photo via theapiary.org

Greg Johnson @theGregJohnson:

This local comedy fixture frequents Union Hall in Park Slope, where he lives. But more people probably know him for his Twitter account, which has more than 5,000 followers and posts about upcoming shows, current events, and pop culture. (Eg., “Yo I hope #Obama comes through @doubleWindsor for a dope-ass @patlafrieda cheeseburger while he’s in my hood in Bucktown today. @Flotus“)



Photo via theapiary.org
Photo via theapiary.org

Brian McElhaney & Nick Kocher @BJMcElhaaney @NickKocher:

These Atlanta natives came to the city in 2004 to go to NYU and soon formed BriTANicK (which rhymes with Titanic, they’re quick to note), a comedy duo best known for their hilarious web videos—or maybe for their small parts in Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing.



Photo by Ryan Muir
Photo by Ryan Muir

Larry Murphy @LarryMurphyJr:

The standup comedian is probably better known for his voiceover work, including the regular customer on Bob’s Burgers and the immigration officer on Ugly Americans.



Photo via The Super Serious Show
Photo via The Super Serious Show

Barry Rothbart @BarryRothbart:

The comic was recently named one of Variety‘s 10 Comics to Watch. He’s appeared on all the late-night shows, but more impressively, he’s set to appear as an asshole stockbroker in The Wolves of Wall Street, which means he passed an audition with Martin Scorsese, which is the sort of thing that will always get you laid at parties.



Photo via thegrandvictory.com
Photo via thegrandvictory.com

Mike Drucker @MikeDrucker:

The comedian makes a living as a writer for Jimmy Fallon; before that, in reverse chronological order, he was a writer for The Onion, an intern at SNL, a student at NYU, a small child, and a twinkle in his mother’s eye



Photo via Tumblr
Photo via Tumblr

Halle Kiefer @HalleKiefer:

Landing a TV gig usually means a comedian’s ditching Brooklyn for L.A., but in spite of her recent hire as a writer for MTV’s Hey Girl, Kiefer is, thankfully, still with us. She’s also been making the rounds for the past few years as a writer for VH1, Splitsider, and Best Week Ever, among other things. Did we mention she does standup, too?



Photo via theapiary.org
Photo via theapiary.org

Sheng Wang @shengwangtime:

Whether he’s talking about drunkenly peeing his pants or the inherent conflicts of life as a first generation American (he was raised by his Taiwanese parents in Texas), Wang has perfectly honed the kind of relatable, deceptively laid back stand up that’ll leave you furtively tittering to (and probably about) yourself, even if you’re, say, watching his clips alone on your laptop while writing a short blurb about his work. He first honed his built up his chops out in the Bay Area, but for now he’s in New York, and a fixture at shows like the Brooklyn Comedy Festival and Big Terrific.



Photo via Tumblr
Photo via Tumblr

Jared Logan @JaredLogan:

Logan’s been working his way into “comedians both you and your parents recognize” territory over the past few years with stints on Best Week Ever, Indecision 2012, and John Oliver’s New York Standup Show. He also tweets a lot of updates from cab rides around the city, to excellent (and terrifying) effect.



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Anthony Atamanuik @TonyAtamanuik:

Having logged over a decade as a regular at Upright Citizens Brigade, it’s no wonder that Atamanuik currently appears in four different shows at the theater, including ASSSSCAT 3000 and The Tony Show With Anthony Atamanuik (the latter of which bills him as “one of New York’s most fucked up comedians”). He’s earned it, if for no other reason than sheer longevity. He also happens to be very funny, though, and landed a coveted regular spot as one of the writers who never actually speaks on 30 Rock. This is more or less the dream, we imagine.



Photo via Youtube
Photo via Youtube

Emmy Blotnick @emmyblotnick:

Another solid example of a performer who consistently makes the rounds of local venues and comedy events (she’s got a show in Long Island City and another in Red Hook on Halloween night alone), Blotnick’s also been making quite a name for herself as a TV writer. She’s currently on staff at Nikki & Sara Live, but has also blogged for the likes of Jimmy Fallon, Best Week Ever, and Comedy Central.



Photo via wikipedia.org
Photo via wikipedia.org

Eugene Mirman @EugeneMirman:

There aren’t a lot of people we know who can earnestly be referred to as “Brooklyn Comedy Kingmakers.” In fact, it’s pretty much only Eugene Mirman, who was crowned as such in a Wall Street Journal profile earlier this year. But legitimately so—he’s also the only comedian in the borough with an entire comedy festival named after him, the six-year-old Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, which draws the likes of Kristen Schaal, Ira Glass, and Wyatt Cynac to shows at both the Bell House and Union Hall. With frequent appearances on Bob’s Burgers, Adult Swim, and Flight of the Conchords (as well as two Comedy Central stand-up specials under his belt) it’s fair to say he’s gotten big on the national level, but we’re still claiming him as a hometown hero.



Photo courtesy earwolf.com
Photo courtesy earwolf.com

Chris Gethard @ChrisGethard:

Just on principle, we respect anyone with the wherewithal to put together an hour-long public access show on a weekly basis. Really, anyone. But especially someone like Gethard, who’s spent the past four years turning out episodes of his heartfelt, wonderfully scattershot Chris Gethard Show, first at UCB and later at the Manhattan Neighborhood Network. More recently, the Greenpoint resident has been doing a lot of traveling—his memoir, A Bad Idea I’m About To Do, is being turned into a pilot for IFC—but he’s still a bit of an MVP of the local comedy scene, performing gigs like this September’s marathon Week At The Creek.



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Modern Seinfeld @SeinfeldToday:

The 90s nostalgia thing has long since gotten out of hand, but when it comes in the form of Jack Moore and Josh Gondelman’s Tweet-length Seinfeld plots that do things like unite George Costanza with WebMD, we’ll take it. It seems to be working out for them, too—Moore was hired as this summer as a writer on a forthcoming Fox sitcom based on the strength of the Twitter feed alone. Essentially, the end game we all dream of whenever we say something smart on there (which is not nearly as often as these guys).



Photo via carlenaltman.blogspot.com
Photo via carlenaltman.blogspot.com

Carlen Altman @carlenaltman:

One of those multi-talented people we’d be a little pissy and jealous about if we didn’t like everything she did so much. Besides boasting a burgeoning film career (she recently co-wrote and starred in Alex Ross Perry-directed The Color Wheel), her own jewelry line, and a perfectly weird Twitter feed, Altman also happens to be an excellent standup. She doesn’t do shows quite as often as we’d like (all the time would be ideal), but here’s hoping this list will change that.



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Sam Grittner @SamGrittner:

Though he’s a fairly prolific standup, Grittner has built a name for himself almost solely based on Twitter, both from his personal account and the spot-on Girls parody, @TonightOnGirls, which pitches plot lines like, “Hannah goes to court just to feel guilty; Jessa learns her vagina is haunted; Adam builds a tree.” Enough said.



Photo courtesy Youtube
Photo courtesy Youtube

Simeon Goodson @comedysim:

Consistently on point whether he’s talking about Somali pirates, Jesus, or, on Twitter, whatever happens to be on his mind at any given moment. When he’s in Brooklyn (he also keeps up a pretty hectic schedule of shows in Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx), he can most often be found performing at Matchless.



Photo via thecomicscomic.com
Photo via thecomicscomic.com

Michael Che @CheThinks:

It’s been a pretty good year for Michael Che, with a slough of gigs, a profile in the Times, and a brand-new role as a full-time writer for SNL. Deservedly so. He’s got a reputation as one of the hardest working standups out there, and in spite of a schedule that now has him touring internationally, performs at Matchless pretty often. Get over there and see him while that’s still something you can do for free.



Photo via rooftopcomedy.com
Photo via rooftopcomedy.com

Andy Sandford @AndySandford:

He’s a recurring character (as himself) on Aqua Teen Hunger Force, a member of the much loved “Beards of Comedy” trio, and, perhaps most importantly, performs in or near Brooklyn more frequently than just about anyone else we can think of. Seriously, his schedule is a tour de force. Attention must be paid.



Photo via lindseybyrnes.blogspot.com
Photo via lindseybyrnes.blogspot.com

Ariel Schrag @arielschrag:

Cartoonist and writer Ariel Schrag has had (and continues to have) the kind of career (and life) that inspires awe, and even envy—or it would if she weren’t so damned talented. She’s published multiple graphic memoirs, written for HBO and Showtime series, has a novel forthcoming this spring, and adapted one of her books into a screenplay that’s currently being turned into a feature film. All this, and she seems to be friends with Tegan & Sara? Amazing.



Photo by Fernando Leon/PictureGroup
Photo by Fernando Leon/PictureGroup

Todd Barry @ToddBarry:

Hmm…does Todd Barry live in Brooklyn? Does it even matter? No! Why? Because this long-acclaimed comedian hosts his podcast at the Bell House, where he reliably brings—right here to Kings County!—some of the funniest people who create some of the funniest moments ever to be cast on a pod. Plus, Barry appeared on Bored to Death, and anyone who was on BtD is automatically, honorarily a Brooklynite. Please get yourself over to the Bell House the next time Barry is there. You won’t regret it.



Photo via Youtube
Photo via Youtube

John Milhiser @JohnMilhiser:

You might only know this Greenpoint-based comedian as just another one of the new white guys on Saturday Night Live, and, well, you’d be right. He is one of those new white guys! But also, Milhiser has performed with some of the greatest groups to hit the UCB stage (like Serious Lunch, among others) and also created “baguetting.” Which is no planking, but then what is? Thankfully, nothing.



Photo via avclub.com
Photo via avclub.com

Jon Glaser:

Glaser has had a long, acclaimed career as a kind of comedian’s comedian. You know, the kind of career where everyone-in-the-know loves him and his work, but he doesn’t have wide, public recognition? Maybe this is in part due to the fact that Glaser has spent a lot of time writing behind-the-scenes (for Late Night with Conan O’Brien and the Dana Carvey Show), but in the last year, Glaser has reached a much wider audience due to his guest-starring roles on Girls and Parks and Recreation, where he played Councilman Jeremy Jamm, who is maybe even a worse (albeit fictional) politician than Ted Cruz.



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Daniel Radosh @danielradosh:

You know what’s not usually very funny? Dad humor. Particularly, we think, Brooklyn dad humor. And yet, Radosh is a Brooklyn dad who also happens to be a longtime writer for the Daily Show. Our minds are blown.



Photo by Annie Collinge
Photo by Annie Collinge

David Cross:

Former cover boy of Brooklyn Magazine, Cross is also the most frequently spotted celebrity by staffers, because we work in DUMBO, where, other than Cross, we only occasionally see Jeffrey Wright in Starbucks. And Wright is great, but he wasn’t in Arrested Development, now was he? And although he might not be doing this to be intentionally funny, Cross is always good for a laugh when we see him, because the man wears shorts even when it’s really, really cold out. He loves his shorts. We guess that has something to do with being a Never-Nude?



Photo by Freunde von Freunden
Photo by Freunde von Freunden

Kevin Seccia @kevinseccia:

Seccia is one of those rare comedians who lives in Brooklyn, but whose heart is in LA. Usually, we think, it’s the other way around. (We miss you too, Kurt Braunholer!) But we’re super glad to have Seccia, who does stand-up, collaborates on a webcomic with Ariel Schrag, and is a prolific writer of very funny things. Whether it’s in his book, Punching Tom Hanks, or in faux-travel essays for the New York Observer, or on twitter, Seccia is the real deal. Plus, if you follow him on Instagram you get to see lots of pictures of his dog, Tildy, who is perfect.



Photo via Wikipedia
Photo via Wikipedia

Wyatt Cenac @wyattcenac:

This former correspondent for the Daily Show is easily one of the funniest people we’ve ever seen perform. And, lucky for us Brooklynites, we can do that on a regular basis, because Cenac makes frequent appearances at Littlefield and the Bell House. Also, his twitter is pretty genius. For exampleSaw a guy walk out of a donut shop, whip out his dick and start pissing… which I’m guessing is what we used to do before Yelp came along.



Deborah Suchman Zeolla/ Village Voice
Deborah Suchman Zeolla/ Village Voice

Rob Sheffield @robsheff:

Sheffield is a music journalist, sure, but he’s also so much more. His voice is a much needed one in the field of music writing—smart and witty and always on-point. And, while not funny obviously, his recent tribute to Lou Reed is a great example of the trenchant, intelligent writing that Sheffield always offers.



Photo via Youtube
Photo via Youtube

Bobby Tisdale @bobbytisdale:

Tisdale has long been a fixture on the New York comedy scene, and can frequently be found being funny with his friends. What friends? Oh, just Eugene Mirman, Zach Galifinakis, Todd Barry, Chelsea Peretti, Leo Allen…basically every funny person ever of all time.



Photo via Youtube
Photo via Youtube

Bobby Finger @bobbyfinger:

Finger’s Tumblr bio summarizes his career as “copywriter/moviegoer/GIF-maker/panicker.” In other words, he’s tackled his love-hate relationship with Love Actually for The Hairpin, penned “deleted” scenes in Oscar-nominated scripts for Vulture, created a parody Twitter account for Cameron Crowe’s tour de force We Bought a Zoo, and cameoed on a particularly joyful “Call Me Maybe” lip-sync video, all while updating his aforementioned blog with such random gems as a photo of Anne Hathaway in a fancy dress pushing a shopping cart full of wood in a parking lot. Caption: “Just buying some wood.”



Photo via Youtube
Photo via Youtube

Kate Berlant @kateberlant:

In September, the New York Times ran “Keeping It Fake,” a profile of Ms. Berlant’s hard-to-define experimental comedy, in which punch lines dissolve into stream of consciousness monologues delivered by borderline believable characters who may or may not be fractions of herself. A prime example is this four-minute video where she and pal John Early commiserate about missing Paris in the face of those who just don’t understand because they weren’t there, in Paris, with them. People can be annoying, so she mocks them. But also herself? You can typically catch her Tuesday nights at Cake Shop in her Crime and Punishment series, though she’s currently opening for Father John Misty on tour. Performance art, yo.



Photo via natelieshure.com
Photo via natelieshure.com

Natalie Shure @nataliesurely:

Jokes about history and genocide are Natalie Shure’s favorite kind of jokes, the history buff/journalism grad student/standup comedian told Bedford & Bowery last month. This has translated into an useful how-to-seduce-British-gentlemen-and-other-literary-characters guide for The Frisky (“Your best bet is probably to contract tuberculosis, which is sure to coax him into your bed when he finds your rosy flush and hacking cough impossible to resist”) among other grad-school-witted writings throughout the years. Aside from hosting a monthly show at Greenpoint’s Palace Café, Shure makes the rounds at The Charleston, Alligator Lounge and other borough standbys.



Photo via theapiary.org
Photo via theapiary.org

Will Hines @willhines:

Though active in the local standup circuit and a regular at UCB performing with his improv group The Stepfathers, Hines is perhaps best known for directing and acting in videos alongside the likes of Michael Cera, Donald Glover and The Office’s Ellie Kemper for Adult Swim, Funny or Die, CollegeHumor and more. Among an impressive clip reel is reality-show parodies, faux commercials, and a spoof trailer for Checkmates, a class-warfare drama about chess “coming this fall from the makers of Save the Last Dance and The Cutting Edge and Step Up.” That’s real pedigree. It’s maybe the best two minutes you’ll watch on the Web today.



Photo via Flickr
Photo via Flickr

Neil Casey @notneilcasey:

Though generally regarded as one of the city’s top comedic improvisers after years as a featured player in UCB staples Death by Roo Roo and ASSSSCAT 3000, Casey has managed to prove himself a top contender in the written form too. Last fall, Saturday Night Live asked him to come on board as a sketch writer. He obliged. You can still find him molding the minds of tomorrow (he’s a teacher at UCB) and honing his own long-form improv skills at his old stomping ground.



Photo via comedyinthelou.com
Photo via comedyinthelou.com

John Mulaney @mulaney:

John Mulaney taught us about the ways of the world as a talking head on VH1’s pop-culture symposium Best Week Ever, then he taught us about the hippest night spots in New York City as co-creator of Bill Hader’s beloved SNL role, Stefon. We’ll go on record saying that he was one of the best recurring characters the show has seen in recent years. It helped Mulaney rack up a few Emmy nominations for outstanding writing, national standup tours, a second comedy album-DVD (New in Town), and now, with SNL (and Lorne Michaels’ support) behind him, a semiautobiographical TV pilot about an aspiring comedian in New York (insert Seinfeld joke here), originally written for NBC, but wisely salvaged and green-lit by FOX. Martin Short plays his boss, so we’re already laughing. If you’re smart, you’ll catch the golden boy — that’d be Mulaney; Martin is more of a golden-gray — the next time he stops by The Bell House or another Brooklyn haunt.



Photo courtesy Pranked
Photo courtesy Pranked

Streeter Seidell @streetseidell:

Destined to work in comedy — you see his name, don’t you? —  Seidell carved out a spot for himself in the early incarnations of CollegeHumor.com, eventually evolving into the site’s editor-in-chief. Prank War, his hugely popular video series with frenemy Amir Blumenfeld spearheaded the MTV show Pranked, while a recent move to CH’s editor-at-large has freed him up to work on other projects, like corralling the best social media commentary by the Caucasian race into a just-released book, White Whine: A Study of First-World Problems. Meanwhile, he keeps up on its predecessor, WhiteWhine.com, his excellently time-killing blog, and sporadic appearances at Big Terrific, Union Hall and more.



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Catie Lazarus @catielazarus:

As legend (or Wikipedia) has it, Lazarus quit her doctoral studies to pursue comedy after an on-the-fly improv lesson with Tina Fey at a conference in D.C. We’re awfully glad she did. Since then, Lazarus has cultivated a devoted following for her live-talk-show-turned-podcast Employee of the Month, a warm-hearted and hilarious foray into the work lives of journalists, filmmakers, writers, entrepreneurs and other people of interest, with sold-out tapings at UCB, The Bell House and 92Y. “You’re like Charlie Rose, but funny,” Gloria Steinem once told her. Lazarus is good at writing all sorts of things too, drumming up pieces for Gawker, BUST Magazine, The Daily Beast, Slate and more. She can hang her hat on the title of “Best Comedy Writer,” granted at the 2005 ECNY Awards, too.



Photo via avclub.com
Photo via avclub.com

Jon Wurster @jonwurster:

He may be one-half of a beloved radio comedy duo, best known for his characters on WFMU’s The Best Show as foil to host Tom Scharpling, but Wurster is also one-fourth of Superchunk, lest you forget. As long as comedy and indie rock continue to share a large pie of the Venn diagram, he’ll be at its crux.



Photo via Youtube
Photo via Youtube

Arthur Meyer @arthurmeyer13:

After stretching his writing legs at The Onion, Meyer joined Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night writing/acting crew — he’s the one who once tweeted everything Justin Bieber did to vastly differing results — while his one-man sketch show, Arthur Meyer: Rock and Roll, continues its run as part of UCB’s keystone lineup.



Photo via Consequence of Sound
Photo via Consequence of Sound

Eleanor Friedberger @EleanorOnly:

Her songs outside of the Fiery Furnaces may read as novellas, peppered with a sly deadpan humor, but Friedberger also regularly lends a hand to David Cross, Eugene Mirman and other in-the-loop pals at their comedy shows at The Bell House. She’s pretty much the coolest.



ezraschesthair.tumblr.com
ezraschesthair.tumblr.com

Ezra Koenig @arzE:

Ezra Koenig is in a band that formed at an Ivy League school Uptown, but his sense of humor is suited to a generation who appreciates naming a song “Diane Young” instead of “Dying Young” more than it is the Classics. As one-half of L’Homme Run, he rapped in French about pizza parties. As one-fourth of Vampire Weekend, he’s been involved in only good-humored music videos. (The band has never really taken a straight-faced approach to the form.) Those Steve Buscemi promo clips were pretty great too. Then there’s his tongue-in-cheek Internet persona: the text-speak in his Twitter feed, his obsession with selfies, that Drake review. He’s the millennial poster boy for wit and hyper self-awareness; for the Wes Andersizing of music. Or, whatever, he’s just really funny.



BKM_MagTomDan

Maggie Serota, Daniel Ralston, Tom Scharpling: @MaggieSerota@DanielRalston@Scharpling

When Tom Scharpling isn’t hosting everyone’s–literally everyone’s–favorite radio show, The Best Show on WFMU (Oh god, which we hear this morning is ending in December!), or executive producing eight seasons of wildly acclaimed television shows like Monk, or directing pretty much every single good music video that’s been made over the past few years, or working on any number of projects with fellow funny person John Hodgman, he’s hosting the Low Times music podcast alongside Maggie Serota and Daniel Ralston. The trio conducts long, meandering and deeply entertaining interviews with contemporary music figures. They’ve had on everyone from Ezra Koenig and The Thermals to Blake Schwarzenbach (Jawbreaker, others) and Guy Picciotto of Fugazi. What’s remarkable about the whole affair is how quickly and seamlessly they give you the feeling you’re all just sitting around a table at a bar, making jokes and telling stories.



11 COMMENTS

  1. You forgot Sara Schaefer. She is the fucking greatest. I hope this mistake haunts you for the rest of your yuppie existence.

  2. This list is way too dude-heavy! Are there really so few women in Brooklyn who count as funny enough? The article should be called “The 42 Funniest Men in Brooklyn.” And no, I don’t have a sense of humor about this.

  3. Oh, please. Catie Lazarus is sort of funny, but she’s mostly exhausting with neurotic energy, endlessly complaining about being poor – while wearing designer clothing, traveling around the country, and living on a trust fund, and acting like she’s somehow entitled to earn a living from comedy.

    • So happy Catie Lazarus is on the list! She’s hilarious comedian and writer. Nedster, however, sounds like a bitter, uninformed douche.

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