The 50 Funniest People Now – Rolling Stone
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The 50 Funniest People Now

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Here they are: The 50 actors, stand-ups, TV hosts, Twitterers, radio personalities, septuagenarians and sports analysts making us laugh the most right now. In making this list, we took the "now" part seriously, and focused on comedians' recent work. That meant excluding some all-time greats who aren’t very active as funnymen (or aren't doing their best work at the moment) in favor of people who are truly killing it out there these days.

By Nick Catucci, Meredith Clark, Jon Dolan, Andy Greene, Joe Gross, Joel Hoard, Halle Kiefer and Jody Rosen

Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

9

Bill Hader

In his own understated way, Hader has become one of America's best comic actors. On Saturday Night Live, he's infinitely versatile and a master impressionist: His Alan Alda is dead on, his versions of Al Pacino and Keith Morrison (of NBC's Dateline) are howlingly funny, and his over-the-top take on Democratic strategist James Carville is so good that no one else should ever attempt an imitation of the Ragin' Cajun. Then there's Stefon, the flamboyantly gay Weekend Update "city correspondent" who hypes increasingly bizarre New York nightclubs (one features "DJ Baby Bok Choy" a giant 300-pound Chinese baby who wears tinted aviator glasses and spins records with his little ravioli hands"). It's SNL's weirdest and greatest character in years.

HBO

8

Lena Dunham

Dunham has cornered the market on skewering white girl problems. Girls just began its second season on HBO, and Dunham, 26, knows how to turn the most embarrassing parts of being young and adrift into essential TV. She's sly enough to know she's not speaking for everyone ("I may be the voice of my generation. Or at least a voice, of a generation," her character Hannah says in Girls' first episode), but for those who've escaped their twenties intact, the bad sex, flighty friends, and dead-end jobs on Girls are too painful to do anything but laugh at.

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7

Chris Rock

Rock is one of the few comics to remain not just funny but relevant for his entire career. These days, he exec-produces Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, acts on Broadway (The Motherfucker with the Hat) and shows up in movies (uh, Grown Ups). He is the missing link between Woody Allen and Barack Obama. And yes, there are those of us who saw Pootie Tang in the theater and will never stop quoting it. But what we really want from the God MC is more stand-up, please.

Chris Haston/NBC

6

Amy Poehler

"Leslie Knope should ask VP Biden if he supports my Urban Parks bill," North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan tweeted when the Vice President made a cameo on Parks and Recreation. Sadly, Parks and Rec is a scripted fictional sitcom and not a choose-your-adventure story, but it's an easy mistake to make. The world of Pawnee, Indiana is as fully realized as anything on TV – a multi-textured Mayberry for Obama's America. As Leslie Knope, Poehler has been putting on a masterclass in sitcom virtuosity: She's got brilliant timing, she's great at physical comedy and she¹s able to play it heartwarmingly straight. Poehler wasn't given nearly enough stage time when she co-hosted this year's Golden Globes with Tina Fey, but she still had the best line of the night anyway: "We're going home with Jodie Foster!"

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5

Trey Parker and Matt Stone

Fifteen years ago, South Park was seen as a Beavis and Butt-Head clone – minus the social satire, and with worse animation. Gradually, Trey Parker and Matt Stone's humble creation became the smartest (and most subversive) show on television, finding humor in everything from Scientology to the Special Olympics. Parker and Stone's initial non-South Park projects (Orgazmo, Team America) were mixed bags, but in 2011 their Broadway debut The Book of Mormon became the best reviewed musical in recent memory. The pair just formed a new production company, but Parker and Stone aren't slacking on their day job, either: The most recent season of South Park was as hilarious and batshit-crazy as ever.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

4

Jon Stewart

Now entering his fifteenth year behind The Daily Show's anchor desk, Stewart is approaching Carson-Letterman territory as a late-night institution. In the early Bush years, he single-handedly obliterated the cliche that liberals couldn't be funny, skewering politicians and the pundits who cover them while effortlessly merging satire with substantive interviews, like a cross between Tim Russert and Mort Sahl. He's made an art of vaporizing cable news blowhards like Bill O'Reilly and Jim Cramer, but he's never been afraid to take on respected public figures at the height of their popularity and power. He recently called out fellow New Jerseyan Chris Christie for attacking Barack Obama's leadership skills on the campaign trail, then praising them when his state needed help after Hurricane Sandy: "I see," Stewart said. "So he wasn't a leader until you needed leadership." He remains the most trusted name in news for people who don't trust the news.

tina fey

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3

Tina Fey

"Remember the beginning of the story where I was the underdog? No? Me neither," Fey wrote in her bestselling memoir Bossypants. That line pretty much nails Tina Fey¹s mystique: The writer-producer-actor-author has become a do-it-all icon and a trailblazer for similarly versatile female comedians like Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling. As 30 Rock winds up its final season this year, she can move on to the next phase of her victory-lap filled career safe in the knowledge that she¹s infused prime time TV with new levels of absurdist wit and cultural sophistication. Word has it the season finale will feature an appearances by Ice-T and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ("I would do almost anything Tina Fey asks me to do," Pelosi said), proving that Fey can make pretty much anyone funny.

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2

Stephen Colbert

Colbert is so well known for his political humor that his chops as a pure comedian are often overlooked. But he's one of comedy's quickest wits, not to mention an old fashioned physical comedian – a world-class mugger and slapstick artist, donning ridiculous outfits and wolfing down dubious foodstuffs on Colbert Report sketches. As for politics: He sets himself apart not just as a satirist, but as an activist, breaking the fourth wall with ingenious conceptual art stunts – testifying before congress about his brief tenure as a migrant worker, founding his own Super PAC to expose post-Citizens United money-swamped political campaigns, and in his most celebrated coup de theatre, spit-roasting President Bush, and the complacent press corps, in his appearance at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2006.

louis ck

FX

1

Louis C.K.

In 2013, Louis C.K. is the Great American Comedian: our chubby, schlubby, ginger-haired conscience, id, and jester-in-chief. He's a poet of existential malaise, but his signature standup bit, "Everything is Amazing and Nobody's Happy," extols the beauty of life and the magic of modern technology. He's a devoted single father who quips, hilariously, about child-rape. He's relentlessly politically incorrect, and one of the most politically trenchant comedians going, whose jokes stake out a savagely smart left-of-center perspective on class, race, and American history. He's a crusty old-school stand-up's-stand up and a groundbreaking internet entrepreneur. His TV show is a new kind of high-low pop-art, a little bit Jackie Gleason, a little bit Jean-Luc Godard. He can make you laugh, and cry, just by eating ice cream, a whole pint of it, straight out of the carton, while lying in bed. A funny man who contains multitudes.

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