For a third consecutive year, New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman has invited me into his home so we can tackle the year in comedy, but hopefully from a largely positive standpoint by focusing on the MVPs, the most valuable performers in comedy this year. In 2017, despite the Trump effect having much more serious repercussions than some expected, we had plenty of positives to look back on, from Nathan Fielder to Jordan Peele, as well as Tig Notaro, Dave Chappelle, Tiffany Haddish, Kumail Nanjiani, Donald Glover, Jimmy Kimmel and more. Who’d we single out this year? I want to find out, too, so let’s get to it!
Jackie Martling was a longtime writer and performer on The Howard Stern Show from 1983 to 2001, who also was showing up monthly in the pages of Penthouse magazine, opening comedy clubs on Long Island, released six dirty joke records, and published Jackie The Joke Man Martling’s Disgustingly Dirty Joke Book. After splitting from Stern, he hosted Jackie’s Joke Hunt for several years on SiriusXM satellite radio. He has a new book out in 2017, his memoir The Joke Man: Bow to Stern. So let's get to it!
Sue Costello grew up in the powder keg of Irish Catholicism getting more diverse that was Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood in the 1970s. Costello got herself out of Dorchester to make a lot of hay in Hollywood two decades later, culminating in her own FOX sitcom, Costello. Since then, you’ve seen her as a regular on the roundtable for Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, while her street smarts and brutal honesty won her a role on David O. Russell’s 2010 film, The Fighter. There’s no turning back, no holding back, so let’s get to it!
Kev Adams is France’s biggest young comedy star, with 6 million Twitter followers and another 5 million checking out his Instagram. He was performing one-man shows in Paris while still a teenager, and starred in 692 episodes of the TV series, Soda. He also co-starred in two hit movies in France, Serial Teachers, and The New Adventures of Aladdin. Adams has toured with his idol, Gad Elmaleh, and like Gad, Kev is now making a go of it in America. He co-wrote and co-stars in a series Super High for the blackpills app. And He’ll be seen in his first major American movie, The Spy Who Dumped Me, in 2018 alongside Kate McKinnon and Mila Kunis. Kev tells me about his wild ride, and the transition to the States, so let’s get to it!
Orny Adams played Coach Bobby Finstock for six seasons of MTV’s Teen Wolf. But to comedy fans, Orny is famously and infamously known as the co-star of Jerry Seinfeld’s documentary, Comedian. While Seinfeld developed a new hour of stand-up from scratch, Comedian followed Orny’s obsessive path as an aspiring comedian making his debut as a New Face at Just For Laughs in Montreal. Orny has since performed multiple times at JFL Montreal, and his newest hour, More Than Loud, debuts Dec. 1, 2017, on Showtime. This interview is even more than you’re expecting. Look out, Oprah. So let’s get to it!
You’ve seen Bob Saget’s friendly face on TV for four decades now, ever since he starred in the late 1980s in the ABC sitcom Full House as well as the host of America’s Funniest Home Videos. More recently, he has provided the narrator’s voice of future Ted Mosby for the CBS hit, How I Met Your Mother, performed on Broadway, written a memoir and recorded a Grammy-nominated comedy album. That’s What I’m Talking About. He just released his latest comedy special, Zero to Sixty, and now that he’s 61, he’s got plenty more to talk about now. So let’s get to it!
Colton Dunn began performing improv comedy while still a teenager in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dunn moved to New York City just in time to join the upstart Upright Citizens Brigade, then went to Amsterdam to perform with Boom Chicago. When he returned to the U.S., Dunn wrote and performed on MADtv, Pretend Time with Nick Swardson, Parks and Recreation, Burning Love, Comedy Bang! Bang!, the new Arsenio Hall show, and Key & Peele. Dunn co-stars now as Garrett in the NBC sitcom Superstore, and he also is a member of Rooster Teeth’s Lazer Team, which is putting out its second film via YouTube Red in November 2017. So let’s get to it!
Judah Friedlander may be best known for playing TV writer Frank Rossitano on the hit NBC sitcom, 30 Rock, but Judah has been making his appearance felt on screens big and small, with or without his trademark trucker hats. From his roles in films such as American Splendor, The Wrestler, Wet Hot American Summer, Meet the Parents -- from a bar patron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens to comic relief in the Project Greenlight horror film Feast. Judah Friedlander truly is the World Champion. Two books, How to Beat Up Anybody: An Instructional and Inspirational Karate Book, and a collection of drawings called If The Raindrops United. His first stand-up special is almost three decades in the making, Judah Friedlander’s America is the Greatest Country in the United States, now available on Netflix. So let’s get to it!
Jenn McAllister has 3.1 million subscribers and counting on YouTube, where she documents her life as jennxpenn. Jenn started uploading videos to YouTube when she was 12. At 16, she signed a deal with Awesomeness TV, then moved from Bucks County Pennsylvania to Los Angeles. She published her best-selling autobiography, Really Professional Internet Person, in 2015, and for the past two years has starred in the YouTube Red series, Foursome, alongside Logan Paul, for which she won a Streamy Award as best actress in 2016. The third season of Foursome premieres in November 2017, and Jenn caught me up on everything. So let’s get to it!
Mark Feuerstein co-created, produces and stars in the new CBS sitcom 9JKL, which is loosely based on his real-life experience moving back to NYC to live next to his parents and brother while starring for eight seasons on the USA drama Royal Pains. Feuerstein began acting as a student and classmate of mine at Princeton University, and after winning a Fulbright Scholarship, found early success in Hollywood, scoring network TV roles in Caroline in the City, Fired Up, Conrad Bloom and Good Morning Miami. He’s also co-starred on the big screen with Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock in Practical Magic, Albert Brooks in The Muse, Mel Gibson in What Women Want and Penelope Cruz in Woman on Top. He also appeared in 2017 on the new installments of both Prison Break and Wet Hot American Summer. There’s a lot of catching up to do, so let’s get to it!
Comedians, writers and actors Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson co-host the incredibly successful podcast Guys We F*cked: The Anti Slut-Shaming Podcast which now has more than 200 episodes talking to comedians, porn stars, and more, a worldwide audience of more than a million listeners. They’ve taken their show on the road to comedy clubs, theaters, TED Talks and festivals. Now they’ve released their first book: F*CKED: Being Sexually Explorative and Self-Confident in a World That’s Screwed. So let's get to it!
Vladimir Caamano grew up in an immigrant Dominican family in the Bronx to live the American comedy dream. Since breaking out as a New Face in the 2015 Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal, he has been anointed by Howie Mandel in a televised gala for The CW, co-wrote and starred in an NBC pilot based on his life and comedy with hit producer Bill Lawrence, and named one of Variety magazine’s Top 10 Comics to Watch in 2016. In 2017, Caamano has performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live and in HBO’s first English-speaking comedy showcase for HBO Latino, Entre Nos: Part 2. You’re going to be seeing and hearing a lot more from him, so let’s get to it!
Best known for his work on Ren & Stimpy, Billy West has been making magic with his character voice work since the 1980s, starting on the radio in Boston and graduating to the Howard Stern Show. He has voiced the title characters on the Nickelodeon series Doug, as well as Ren & Stimpy, was Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd for the movie Space Jam, is the red M&M in TV commercials, portrayed Philip J. Fry and several other characters on Futurama, and in 2018, he’ll co-star in Matt Groening’s newest animated series for Netflix, Disenchantment. So let’s get to it!
Heather Anne Campbell is one of America’s great improvisers. She has studied under the legendary Del Close in Chicago, performed overseas with Boom Chicago in Amsterdam, appeared on MADtv, written for Saturday Night Live, and helped jumpstart FOX’s ADHD Animation Domination High-Definition. In Los Angeles, you’ve seen her or taken classes from her everywhere you possibly could, from the UCB Theatre, The Groundlings, IO West and The Pack. She’s written and performed The Midnight Show, and The Eric Andre Show. While pitching new shows to the networks, she’s currently a regular on The CW’s Whose Line Is It Anyway? There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s get to it!
Chaz Miller, Cameron Miller, and Amanuel Richards are one half of the sketch comedy group Dormtainment, who formed in Atlanta in 2009. They went straight from college to YouTube, and over the next eight years, amassed one million YouTube subscribers, a Comedy Central web series called Six Guys One Car, two albums on the Billboard comedy charts, and a live show that’s a hit on college campuses. They’ve now joined Kevin Hart for his new online venture, the Laugh Out Loud Network, where they produce and star in the satire of National Geographic called Black Geo. They invited me into their Comedy Trap House in the San Fernando Valley to tell me how they did it. So let’s get to it!
Jimmy Shubert was just a kid from Philly who wanted to be a magician. That’s how he started in show business, before moving to Los Angeles in the 1980s and taking a job at The Comedy Store, where he became the kid in Sam Kinison’s outlaws of comedy crew. That led to development deals and pilots early on in his career. Over the years, you’ve seen him in recurring roles on King of Queens and Entourage, more recently as a finalist on Last Comic Standing and a headliner on Dave Attell’s Comedy Underground. I caught up with Shubert at Montreal’s Just For Laughs comedy festival, where he was performing as part of the Masters showcase. So let’s get to it!
Dave Smith is a native New Yorker and key member of the emerging new platform, GaS Digital Network. You’ve likely heard Dave as one-third of the Legion of Skanks alongside Big Jay Oakerson and Luis J Gomez, or as host of the podcast Part of the Problem, which combined receive hundreds of thousands of downloads each week. You also can see Dave featured regularly as a comedic political analyst on FOX News. He was a New Face at Montreal’s Just For Laughs fest in 2013, and in 2017, he has released his first stand-up comedy special, Libertas, the first such special for GaS Digital. It’s out Sept. 11. So let’s get to it!
Scot Armstrong grew up outside of Chicago and first studied comedy under the legendary Del Close, before moving to New York City and joining the Upright Citizens Brigade improv troupe Mother, whose members included Jason Mantzoukas, Jon Daly and Jessica St. Clair. He has since worked with St. Clair as an executive producer on both of her TV series, Best Friends Forever and Playing House. But you’ve come to know Armstrong’s work more through his screenplays, which have included Road Trip, Old School, Starsky & Hutch, School for Scoundrels, Semi-Pro, and The Hangover Part II. He’s also the creator of the Showtime series DICE, which follows Andrew Dice Clay now past his prime in Las Vegas. DICE’s second season debuted in August 2017. Armstrong sat down with me to talk about the Mother of all comedy stories, so let’s get to it!
Ryan Hamilton grew up in a small town in Idaho and studied broadcasting before turning to comedy. Hamilton calls several comedy scenes home, and that perhaps allowed him to emerge nationally in the mid-2000s in Sierra Mist’s America’s Next Great Comic Search. He’s also won the Great American Comedy Festival contest, and performed multiple times at Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival, where I caught up with Hamilton before the debut of his first Netflix special, Happy Face. So let’s get to it!
Lynne Koplitz caught her first wave of success hosting or co-hosting TV shows the likes of Change of Heart, How to Boil Water, and Life and Style. The stylish comedian became friends with the late great Joan Rivers while paired up in the IFC comedy Z Rock, and later became a recurring character on Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best. Koplitz more recently was seen on the big screen in Chris Rock’s Top Five, and the small screen in Louis CK’s Horace and Pete, and she dedicated her first Netflix comedy special, Hormonal Beast, to her mentor, Joan Rivers. Koplitz tells all to me…So let’s get to it!
Janicza Bravo has made several short films that debuted at premier festivals such as Sundance and SXSW, and also directed an episode of the hit FX series, Atlanta. Bravo’s first feature film, Lemon, features her husband, Brett Gelman, as an actor and acting coach who turns 40 and realizes nothing in his life is where it’s supposed to be. In real life, you’ve seen Gelman shine in everything from Mad Men to Twin Peaks, as well as Comedy Bang! Bang!, Funny or Die Presents, Married, Love and Blunt Talk. They co-wrote Lemon, which hits theaters this August after a Sundance premiere earlier in 2017.
I sat down with Bravo and Gelman for some blunt talk about their love, marriage and how they think their lives and careers are matching up to expectations. So let’s get to it!
Natalie Morales is an actress best known for her supporting roles in sitcoms that have included Parks and Recreation, Trophy Wife, Girls, and The Grinder. She’s also done drama with White Collar, and action-adventure with The Middleman. She directed a webseries for Funny or Die about James Joyce’s Love Letters, and you can currently see her on the Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet. Later in 2017, she'll co-star in the movie, Battle of the Sexes. But it's all love, no war here. So let’s get to it!
Nate Bargatze is Jimmy Fallon’s favorite stand-up comedian, and Bargatze has the Tonight Show credits to back that up. Nate also has gone on tour with Fallon, multiple tours to entertain the troops in Iraq and Kuwait, and has two hit comedy albums to boot: Yelled At By A Clown and Full Time Magic. Those are references to his father, who was a clown and now is a magician. Bargatze released his first hour special on Comedy Central in 2016, and he performs in two separate Netflix specials in 2017 — a Half-Hour as part of The Standups collection, and a showcase set in Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo. He’s just as fun to talk to offstage as he is to listen to on it, so let’s get to it!
Judd Apatow has one of the most impressive comedy resumes of anyone, anywhere. His Apatow Productions has produced and developed the television series Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, Girls, Love and Crashing, he has directed the hit movies The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Funny People, This Is 40 and Trainwreck, and produced another dozen smash comedies on film since the late 1990s. Before that, he wrote and produced on The Ben Stiller Show and The Larry Sanders Show. Before that, he infamously interviewed famous comedians while still in high school in the mid 1980s. As he approaches 50, though, Apatow has returned to his comedy roots and filming his first stand-up comedy special for Netflix. which he’s recording at Just For Laughs in Montreal. I sat down with him as he made his final preparations for it, so let’s get to it!
Dylan Brody started his stand-up career in New York City while still a teenager in the early 1980s, performing on multiple TV showcases, writing monologue jokes for Jay Leno when Leno was still just guest-hosting The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and he has performed around the world. In more recent years, you may have seen him on The Green Room with Paul Provenza, opening for fellow humorist David Sedaris on his stage tour, or on NPR affiliates in California. Brody has released several comedy albums just in the past decade, published three young adult books, and is touring his latest work, a one-man show about his life and career, Dylan Brody's Driving Hollywood. So let's get to it!