These are the pioneers of a new era in comedy. Welcome to WatchMojo, where we’re counting down our Top 10 Comedians of the Twenty-First Century.
We’ll rank the funniest, most popular, most influential comedians of the contemporary age for this list.
These artists may have begun their careers prior to 2001, but their inclusion on this list should be based on either their enduring appeal or a peak in the twenty-first century.
1) John Mulaney
Everything from his stand-up act to his segments with a friend and fellow comic Nick Kroll demonstrates John Mulaney‘s multi-talented nature.
Mulaney made his name as a writer for “Saturday Night Live,” where he contributed to the creation of memorable characters like Bill Hader’s “Stefon.”
His bright yet subversive comedic voice takes advantage of his sharp attire and attractive appearance to produce complex, smart, and occasionally scathing material.
Not everyone could pull off the jokes that John Mulaney pulls, but at the end of the day, it’s all part of his appeal, and proof that he’s on his way to even bigger things in the future.
2) Tina Fey
Some comedians looked destined for stardom, waiting for someone to notice their natural skill and give them a chance. Tina Fey, for example, was urged by fellow Second City improv graduate Adam McKay to send scripts to “Saturday Night Live.”
The rest, as they say, is history, as Fey quickly ascended through the ranks from writer to the performer, eventually becoming one of the most beloved cast members on the program.
Tina Fey’s comedic voice was developed even more as she wrote the screenplay for “Mean Girls” and created the television shows “30 Rock” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Simply said, Tina Fey appears to be capable of anything.
3) Dave Chappelle
Many individuals appear to believe this, and they can’t all be incorrect. Chappelle simply seems to have “it,” that unmistakable magic that comes to life whenever he takes the stage.
Dave’s stand-up has evolved from a rude observational style to something multi-layered, profound, and sophisticated throughout the years.
His Netflix specials, in particular, are a reaction to current political contexts while also incorporating Dave’s traditional delivery and informal, conversational style.
The proof is in the pudding, as Chappelle was awarded the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2019 while continuing to do things his way.
4) Chris Rock
From Chevy Chase and Eddie Murphy to many of the other stars we’ve mentioned, “Saturday Night Live” has produced some of the world’s best and brightest comedians.
You may also add Chris Rock, a comic genius and one of SNL’s greatest talents, to that list. Rock’s work after leaving the show, if anything, proved that his famous delivery and unique point of view could be applied to both big and small screens.
Chris Rock’s sense of humor has spanned decades, growing funnier with time like a great comedy wine, whether it was penning the hip hop parody “CB4” or any of his legendary stand-up specials.
5) Louis C.K.
We talked about the sexual misconduct charges against Aziz Ansari before, and we’ll have to talk about it again with our next comedian, Louis C.K.
It’s important to note that we do not condone these behaviors in any way, shape, or form, but we’d be remiss not to include the immensely powerful C.K. on our list.
It’s crucial to separate the artist from the art in order to appreciate the degree of excellence evident in Louis’ blunt, raw, and frequently cringy brand of comedy and writing.
His FX show “Louie” was also influential in redefining how comedians adapted their material for television, breaking the mold of what stand-up could be and where it could go.
6) Sarah Silverman
Many characteristics can be used to describe Sarah Silverman’s comedy, but “boring” is not one of them. Silverman is a flamboyant figure whose work frequently stirs up debate, treating everyone as a possible target for her sarcasm and attacks.
Sarah frequently treads the line between obscene and humorous, a gifted storyteller who is unconcerned about offending anyone as long as her audience laughs.
Her instantly identifiable voice makes her ideal for voice-over work, as evidenced by her role as Vanellope von Schweetz in the “Wreck-it Ralph” franchise.
7) Kevin Hart
Many comedians make the leap to the big screen, but Kevin Hart has dominated in his quest to become one of the most known (and bankable) comedians.
The proof is in the box office profits for any of Kevin Hart’s big-budget films, such as “Ride Along,” “Central Intelligence,” and “Jumanji,” all of which have raised Kevin’s profile significantly.
Hart has established a witty and engaging stand-up style that isn’t afraid to be self-deprecating and ridiculous.
As proven by his 2015 concert film “Kevin Hart: What Now?” filmed in front of a crowd of over 50,000 people, it’s a refreshing break from the convention that’s spoken to millions of followers.
8) Bill Burr
When comedians want to see the humor, they flock to see Bill Burr. Burr’s creative voice was developed and bred for stand-up comedy, and he avoids many of the commercial trappings that come with a comic’s mainstream move.
Despite increasing notoriety on shows like “The Mandalorian,” “Chappelle’s Show,” and his own Comedy Central series, “The Ringers,” Burr has generally stayed true to his rough ‘n ready New England background.
Burr’s friendly, yet astute observational comedy appeals to the “everyman,” with rowdy portions sprinkled with real-life light, making him really unique.
9) Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld is a clear and ever-present voice in a room where everyone seems to be talking at the same time, and discussing him is to discuss humor itself.
That’s because, like Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and Lenny Bruce before him, Seinfeld’s “comedy about nothing” remains current and influential to every new generation of comics.
Simply said, no one observes life quite like Jerry Seinfeld, absorbing the intricacies of human behavior and comments in a way that has made him a legend to so many young comedians who have followed in his footsteps.
10) Ricky Gervais
No one epitomizes this type of aggressive appeal more than Ricky Gervais. Comedy isn’t always about being pleasant.
This English actor, writer, and former pop singer from the 1980s have a reputation for speaking exactly what he thinks and hurting no one in the process.
It’s almost become anticipated at this point, a sort of calling card for Gervais’ admirers who can’t wait to hear what he has to say next.
Of course, there’s the business of co-creating “The Office,” which helped Gervais establish himself as one of the world’s most known comic voices.
He hasn’t sat on his success’s laurels for a second, and he continues to push creative frontiers to this day.