Oftentimes, when somebody thinks of stand-up comedy, their mind will hearken back to the days of sport coats with rolled up sleeves, smoky night clubs, and inebriated patrons. While some of that is still true, the stand-up comedy scene of 2016 looks very different than it did in its 1980s heyday. With small shows and open mics popping up at bars, bowling alleys, Laundromats, and even living rooms, stand-up comedy is more popular than ever before, and these are just a few of the comics leading that charge.
With his friendly, happy-to-see-you smile, and excitable nature, Pete Holmes is a ray of sunshine in a scene stifled in cynicism. His podcast, You Made It Weird, has become something of a church for his loyal followers, whom Holmes himself has dubbed “Weirdoes”. His energetic, silly style has kept him on lists of the best comedians working today.
Rory Scovel’s stand-up is all over the place emotionally. At times confrontational, satirical, and sarcastic, and at others delivered in a soothing, fake southern accent, Scovel’s comedy is unpredictable and original. It’s easy to get lost and forget who the joke is on, making it all the more powerful when the punch line finally hits.
Playing it cool and laid back is the secret to Beth Stelling’s success as a stand-up. Her bits are delivered with a wry, knowing smile, and build a tension that can suck the air out of a room before blowing it up. Stelling’s lilting, musical voice is one of the most original in comedy. Her confidence and comfort on stage is formidable, and she will continue to be someone to watch.
Southern comedy gets something of a bad rap. Even with the many versions of Blue-collar comedy that have made the rounds in Wal-Mart discount bins, Nate Bargatze has managed to break through the stereotype. Packing a powerful punch line, Bargatze lays his soul bare and opens up to the audience about his clown/magician father, and feeling like an outsider in the liberal, metropolitan world of comedy.
Joey ‘Coco’ Diaz:
Joey Diaz spent most of his life as a petty criminal and drug addict before turning to stand-up comedy while in prison. No subject is off limits for Diaz, who covers everything from peanut allergies to robbing glue sniffers, to his childhood as the son of a numbers runner in North Bergen, New Jersey. Not exactly a newcomer at 52 years old, Diaz is finally getting some traction as one of the most naturally funny, best comedians working today.
Another subscriber to the cool, laid back school of stand-up is Hannibal Buress. His quiet, demeanor can put an audience at ease, all while setting them up to knock them down. Buress has done time writing at SNL and 30 Rock, before leaving to focus all of his energy on stand-up. Currently the co-host on Adult Swim’s “The Eric Andre Show,” his contribution there is equal parts bizarre and hilarious.