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Splitsider names UCBT performers amongst Comedy's 17 Favorite Comedians

Feb 20, 2015

Comedy's 17 Favorite Comedians 

Who are the best working comedians today? Who's creating the best material, influencing the most people and is the flat-out funniest? You could base the answer on a number of factors, be it ratings and box office success or Twitter followers and YouTube views. But I was more interested in who the people who look at and create comedy all day, every day think are really working at the highest level. The people who actually are actively getting comedic content out there, whose lives revolve around comedy. So I asked them.

I asked 12 people in the comedy business who their favorite current comedians are. The resulting list has the names you'd expect on it, but also some you might be surprised by.

In order to compile the list, I had people send me a list of 10 names in order from favorite on down. I assigned each choice a point value, with a #1 pick netting 10 points, a #2 pick netting 9 points and so on. I then added the points up. It was pretty straightforward, as I am no scientist.

Here are the judges who were kind enough to contribute lists to the survey:

-Eric Appel, Writer/Director, Funny or Die
-Owen Burke, Creative Executive, Gary Sanchez Productions
-Neil Campbell, Artistic Director, UCB Theatre LA
-Mike Farah, President of Production, Funny or Die
-Sam Grossman, Director of Original Programing and Development, Comedy Central
-Hallie Haglund, Writer, The Daily Show
-Chris Kelly, Writer/Director, Onion News Network
-Anthony King, Artistic Director, UCB Theatre NY
-Rob Kutner, Writer, Conan
-Christine Nangle, Writer, Saturday Night Live
-Sam Reich, President of Original Content, CollegeHumor
-Ricky Van Veen, Co-Founder and CEO, CollegeHumor

And now, onto the list:

15 (three-way tie): Maria Bamford

Maria Bamford is an excellent standup, and what makes her sets so unique is her voice. One of the best voice actresses around, she's voiced characters in shows such as Home Movies, Daria, Tom Goes to the Mayor and Hey Arnold! In her standup, she utilizes her voice to portray her dysfunctional family, amongst other characters, making her standup surreal yet personal.

15 (three-way tie): Hannibal Buress

15 (three-way tie): Chelsea Peretti 

If you don't follow standup comedy too closely, you probably recognize Chelsea Peretti from her great guest appearances on Louie and The Sarah Silverman Program. But she's an amazing standup and writer in her own right, and she's also been behind some things you've probably heard of, such as Black People Love Us and the New York Rejection Line. Her profile has been steadily rising for a while now, and it seems like it's only a matter of time before someone gives her her own show.

14: Brett Gelman

Brett Gelman has become one of Funny or Die's go-to actors, and with good reason. Gelman always seems a little unhinged, a little on the edge of doing something that nobody else involved in the shoot planned on. He's got a certain controlled creepiness to him that he expertly utilizes in videos such as his Mr. Celebrity series and Death Bed Subtext. And clearly, the higher ups at Funny or Die have taken notice: Gelman's character in The Other Guys was absolutely scene-stealing and one of the best parts of the entire movie.

13: Donald Glover

Donald Glover is one of those people who has so much ambition it makes everyone else seem lazy in comparison. What has he done in the past couple years? Let's review: his comedy group Derrick is one of the most popular sketch groups on the internet, a popularity they used to help finance their movie Mystery Team, which was sold to Roadside Attractions at Sundance. Donald was also a writer at 30 Rock, a job he quit only to be cast as Troy in NBC's Community  mere days later. He started doing standup only about a year ago, but he's already had his own Comedy Central special. Oh, and he's also a musician, naturally, selling out shows under the name Childish Gambino. And what have you done this year?

12: John Mulaney

John Mulaney started out doing standup and making videos with writing partner Nick Kroll. Now, he's scored one of the most coveted gigs in comedy: writing at Saturday Night Live. And last season, he appeared on Weekend Update as a featured correspondent. When not working on the show, he's tirelessly touring and writing, and a move either up the ladder at SNL or into movies seems inevitable. And with a natural delivery honed on the stage, he's a natural choice for the writer/anchor role that people like Tina Fey and Seth Meyers have filled in the past. Could we be looking at Seth Meyers 'replacement as head writer and Weekend Update anchor when he eventually leaves the show? It wouldn't be too much of a surprise.

11: Jon Glaser

7 (four-way tie): Daniel Kitson

7 (four-way tie): Conan O'Brien

7 (four-way tie): Jon Stewart

7 (four-way tie): Ricky Gervais

6: Aziz Ansari


In the past few years, it's been tough to miss Aziz Ansari. Maybe you saw him in Parks and Recreation as the obnoxious chauvinist with a heart of gold Tom Haverford. Or in Funny People as the obnoxious standup RAAAAAAAANDY. Or maybe on TMZ as a part of Kanye West's entourage, or as the host of the MTV Movie Awards, or in Flight of the Conchords, Get Him to the Greek, I Love You, Man or Observe and Report. And he's primed to only become more ubiquitous in the future, as he's got a three-picture development deal with Judd Apatow that'll have him cementing his place as one of the top comedic performers working today.

5: Patton Oswalt 

Patton Oswalt is the definition of a comic's comic. He tours all the time, consistently writing some of the best standup material out there; his standup albums are veritable masterclasses in the art form. He's one of Hollywood's go-to punch up writers, having a hand in jokes in more movies that you would believe. And he's also a supremely versatile actor, bouncing between roles in projects as disparate as King of Queens, Big Fan, Ratatouille and The United States of Tara. Essentially, he manages to do a number of things brilliantly that most ambitious comedians struggle to nail one of.

4: Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler is often credited with breaking through some sort of comedic glass ceiling, opening the door for other women to kick off a female comedy renaissance. Maybe! All I know is that regardless of gender, she's one of the funniest people on the planet. Coming off of eight years as the most consistently funniest cast member on Saturday Night Live, she then proved that she could create a character worth building a sitcom around with Parks and Recreation's  Leslie Knope. Leslie is goofy, earnest, naive and lovable all at once, a significant feat, and one that keeps people coming back week after week.

3: Zach Galifianakis

2: Stephen Colbert

1: Louis C.K.
 
LA General

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Donald Glover & Aubrey Plaza featured in Elle Magazine

Feb 20, 2015

A Few Good Men 

We proudly present three more reasons to pay homage to the mid-'80s, with the next crop of bright young things.

Clark Duke, 25: The Straight Man

Dave Franco, 25: The Breakout

Donald Glover, 27: The Quadruple Threat
Comedian, former 30 Rock writer, star of NBC's Community, and serious rapper. (Well, not too serious: His album Culdesac features lyrics a la "crowd at my shows more mixed than Rashida Jones.")

Do you think you can keep all this up?

It's the same as asking, Do you think you'll live forever? No. But I'm going to try! Also, I'm working on a device that will make me live forever.

When did you realize you'd crossed over into adulthood?

The first time my dentist said, "You have to start flossing. Gum activity is related to heart activity." They never say that to kids.  That's legit adult shit. 

25 Quarterbacks
 

When Elle touched down 25 years ago, Wham's "Careless Whisper" topped the charts, Back to the Future ruled, The Cosby Show was number one -- and a new generation of smart, talented, game-changing artists, filmmakers, actresses, and activists were busy being born.  What will these 25-somethings do with the next 25 years?  We can't wait to see.

1. Anna Kendrick: actress, scene-stealer

2. Lauren Bush: activist, pedigreed designer

3. Gabourey Sidibe: actress, Hollywood cliche slayer

4. Lea Michele: actress, Gleek heroine

5. Aurel Schmidt: artist, NYC scenester

6. Susanna Lau (aka Susie Bubble): blogger, UK stylephile

7. Chloe Malle: journalist, high-profile offspring

8. Lindsey Vonn: skier, Olympic medalist

9. Megan Fox: actress, bombshell

10. Sarah Lane: ballerina, American Ballet Theatre soloist

11. Dianna Agron: actress, Gleek convert

12. Greta Gerwig: actress, mumblecore queen

13. Grace & Mamie Gummer: actresses, Meryl Streep's progeny

14. Amanda Blank: singer and rapper, indie phenom

15. Meghan McCain: blogger, GOP rabble-rouser

16. Melanie Fiona: singer, Motown reviver

17. Camilla Belle: actress, fashion muse

18. Isabel Lucas: actress, eco warrior

19. Aubrey Plaza: actress, (deadpan) funny girl

Credits: Seth Rogen heartbreaker in Judd Apatow's Funny People; bone-dry office intern April on NBC's Parks and Recreation

To do before she's 30: "I want to have as many babies as I can.  I'll just crank them out on hiatuses."

Age she feels: "Professionally, I feel like a little baby who doesn't know how to eat.  Socially, like a 60-year-old because I never go out."

20. Amanda Seyfried: actress, box-office sweetheart

21. Janelle Monae: singer, Diddy protege

22. Mila Kunis: actress, male obsession

23. Olivia Thirlby: actress, indie ingenue

24. Lauren Conrad: ex-reality TV star, novelist

25. Bar Refaeli: model, "the body" circa 2010
LA General

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Leslie Meisel & Megan Neuringer of Love Can Suck A Dick on TheApiary.com

Feb 20, 2015


Inside With: Leslie Meisel and Megan Neuringer


Leslie Meisel and Megan Neuringer are no strangers to the New York comedy scene, Leslie performs with UCB Maude Team Thunder Gulch, and Megan performs with the Harold team DeCoster. They have combined forces for the first time for their character spectacular, Love Can Suck a Dick... and So Can I, which is currently playing at the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre NY. I had the chance to sit down with both of them before they take their show to LA at the end of the month.

So how long have you been developing Love Can Suck a Dick... and So Can I?

Leslie: We started working on the show together in January.

What was the development process like? I know that both of you have improv backgrounds, so did you discover the characters through improv, or did Megan just bring in a bunch of written pieces?


Megan: There would be characters that Leslie had that she'd been working on, and I would have her improvise with them. So let's say Leslie improvised something hilarious in the scope of the character, I would direct her in a way that would push her to follow a certain game, or tell her to do it faster, or make it shorter. We ended up transcribing a lot of it, finding out where the funny was, and then got the character on its feet. Then the process would start all over again. It was a lot of writing on your feet, rewriting, adding jokes, getting rid of things, and chipping away at it.

Leslie--how many characters did you bring to Megan for this show?

Leslie:
I don't remember how many I brought in, I think at one point I just performed a showcase for her.

Megan: During the rehearsal process, we found sort of a happy medium of which characters worked and which characters didn't. And then we found a compromise of what was funny to both of us.

Did you test characters out in front of an audience?

Leslie: We did two characters at UCB's School Night. I did 'Wendy' because it pushed me out of my comfort zone. Right before I went onstage with it, I was nervous and scared and I thought, people could yell at me--someone could beat me up. I think what I learned from performing as Wendy is that, if you're really nervous and fearful about a character, then just go for it. We also had a character that was a heightened, very confident version of me and Megan wrote a great piece around her. The character was this 'I know everything about theater' kind of woman. The first time I performed it, I didn't think it went that well.

Megan: I told her it went fine.

Leslie: Then we added her to the show, and we both realized she didn't work in the context of the show, so we ended up cutting her. There is a version of her you'll see in the video piece of the show, it's basically all of Lennon Parham's lines.

Megan: It's kind of amazing how the lines all work for Lennon in the video, but it just couldn't sustain itself for an entire character monologue.

The show has a lot of audience interaction, have you noticed the different way that audiences respond to what's happening onstage?

Leslie
: There's definitely a difference. If you have a show that's full of out of towners or theater people, I think they're just watching and getting into it, then there's a moment where they start to get into it, and pretty soon they're laughing. Then I think, 'Oh they were just listening and watching until they were ready to come on the ride with you.' If you have a younger audience, they're more willing to go with whatever's happening on stage at any given moment.

Megan: I think it helps to not be totally reactive to the audience during each show, but I can't help thinking about what the audience is thinking during each show.

How has this show been different from other shows you've worked on in the past?

Megan: I spent a lot of years believing that performing in shows was an experience that I did for myself and for my ego. I thought that going onstage and getting laughs was an experience 'for me' and that has kind of shifted in the past couple of years. So, Leslie and I then had this epiphany and it all has to do with the artist known as Pink.

Leslie: So I got tickets to go see Pink, and Megan and I were talking after an audition, and I said 'So I have these tickets to Pink, do you want to go?' and then Megan was like...

Megan: 'I love PINK!' which was kind of a lie, I just wanted to go see a concert at Madison Square Garden with Leslie, I didn't even own any of her albums.

Leslie: Well, it's a good thing Megan lied. So we make our way over to Madison Square Garden and the moment we get in, Pink takes the stage--it was this perfect moment. There's this woman who's giving everything she has in this selfless, genuine, and strong performance.

Megan: It was like she was saying 'I'm so psyched to be at Madison Square Garden, I'm so psyched I sold it out, this is a dream of mine, and thank you, thank you for being here with me.' It made our vision of what we want to create, to like,'give the audience Pink,' and thank them for coming to see you. I want to always give the audience Pink.

Leslie: Giving the audience Pink is about not settling. I think a lot of people think that once they have something good, they're like, 'Well, that's done.' But we're still creating this show... and we know the potential of what's possible.

The Story Behind the "Dick"UCBcomedy.comWatch more comedy videos from the twisted minds of the UCB Theatre at UCBcomedy.com


You can catch Love Can Suck a Dick... and So Can I at The UCB Theatre NY on Wednesday, October 6th at 8PM or if you live in the Los Angeles area, simply stay put and watch it there during its 2-show run at the UCB LA October 27th and November 4th.
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