The Best Comics of 2013 You Probably Don’t Know

Another year, another list.  This year comedy became my day job, not in the way I dreamed, but it became a day job nonetheless — as assistant to the booker of 3 comedy clubs in Northern California.  So yes, between performing on shows myself on nights off or catching some of the visiting headliners, plus watching clips and promoting comics during the day, I indeed saw a lot of comedy.  Here are some of my favorites of the year:

Dana Gould

One of my favorite comics to visit the Punch Line this year was Dana Gould.  He’s a veteran comic and wrote for The Simpson’s, he’s well-respected in the comedy community and loved by comedy nerds, but he still isn’t a household name and that’s why he’s on this list.  Sadly Dana and his wife divorced this year, and when I saw him perform it cemented a theory of mine that comics get funnier after they get divorced.  Ughh, I feel really bad saying it, but I think it’s true!  There’s a kind of a “f*%k it I can say what I want” kind of attitude that comes out, a kind of fearlessness and true vulnerability that I’ve noticed with comics who get divorced (like with Louis CK after his divorce).  Watching Dana was a comedy highlight of the year for me, and I spent many an hour listening to his podcast The Dana Gould Hour.

Sammy Obeid

Just read his breakdown of 2013 to get the idea of how hard this guy works, and how much this guy loves stand-up comedy.  Before his Conan set I saw Sammy Obeid slay a San Francisco Cafe Royale audience.  Having not seen him a long time, I was wholly impressed by how good he had gotten.  I guess that’s what happens when you commit yourself fully to a craft.  Sammy performed stand-up comedy consecutively for 1,001 nights and it shows.  His late night TV debut on Conan was stellar:

Phil Hanley

Phil Hanley wins the award for making my day job the easiest ever.  His one-liner jokes were perfect for promotional tweets and memes on Facebook:

20 minute meditation

I believe the current trend in comedy to tell stories and be conversational has left me really aching for good old-fashioned JOKES.  Phil Hanley has good ones in spades and serves them up tough like a cold hard sensei.

Jasper Redd

I was fortunate enough to open for Jasper a couple weekends ago in Sonoma.  When I was watching him I found myself getting angry at show business.  I found myself thinking, “Why the hell is this guy not famous?”  He’s so funny, such a great writer and performer with smart jokes and unique delivery.  Well, take notice Hollywood, you’ve got true talent in your foothills:

Caitlin Gill

It’s hard to not think of her as the comedian Lady Liberty of San Francisco, glowing, radiant, kindly showing Bay Area comics where you are able to go with discipline and passion for the art.  I’ve seen her grow into a comedy beast, and I love every minute of watching her perform.  I get the sense that she’s seconds away from blowing up, reaching success and a move to LA will become inevitable.  See her as much as you can, San Francisco, she’s a comedy treasure!

Imaginary Radio

Another comedy highlight of 2013 was watching the development of Nick Stargu and Drennon Davis’ musical comedy group Imaginary Radio.  They’re just flat out fun, entertaining and FUNNY.  Their incredible talent and unique act will take them far, I’m sure.

Pete Holmes

I remember the first time I listened to You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes I was annoyed by this guy who talked too much.  I couldn’t stand it!  But guess what? When I first heard Weezer, Radiohead, Joanna Newsom, they all sounded odd to my ears. At first I hated them, but somehow they grew on me to the point where I loved them so much and couldn’t stop listening.  Such is the case with Pete Holmes.  This year I delved into his podcast, and completely fell in love with Pete Holmes.  He’s so incredibly like-able, and listening to his podcast is dangerous, verging on psychopathic because you develop a connection with a stranger, a friendship the other party has no idea of.  Join the cult of Pete so I don’t feel like such a nut!

Speaking of podcasts, I thought I should also mention a couple other ones I really started listening to this year.  Because I enjoyed his You Made It Weird episode with Pete so much, I sought out Duncan Trussell’s own podcast The Duncan Trussell Family Hour.

Duncan is a straight-up guru.  I hate the word spiritual because of all the “spiritual” people I have met through life who are also assholes.  And because of that history I’ve been really closed to anything “spiritual” in my adult life.  It’s rare to have a podcast truly change you or open your eyes, but Duncan’s did.  I credit him and his podcast for helping me be more loving and open to new ideas.  Plus, listening to him really makes me want to experience doing mushrooms on the beach.  ; )

I became a dork about The Dork Forest this year.  Jackie Kashian interviews people about the one or many things they are head-over-heels dorky about.  What’s not to love about people dishing passionately on what they’re totally passionate about?!?  Some of my favorite episodes include: Felicia Michaels talking about her lunch box obsession, and Janeane Garofalo specifying which beads she really goes crazy for.  Every time I listened to the podcast I thought about how my boyfriend (who is nerdy about zoos, reptiles and skateboarding) would be perfect on the show.  And sure enough I got him on it: EP 208 with Ben Aller.

And that’s it, folks.  Check out past years: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.  I’m looking forward to all the great comedy I’ll be seeing in 2014!  Happy New Year!


^ One Comment...

  1. Jessica Cangiano

    Awesome list, dear Mary!!! I always associate comedy with New Year’s Eve and Day, which stretches back to when I was a kid in the 1990s and the TV channel TBS (or at least, I think it was TBS) used to run marathons of funny movies (like the Police Academy series and Spaceballs). They were such a carefree, awesome way to shake off the hardships, stresses and other rough elements of the past year with a hearty laugh – something I’m sure these up and coming comedians deliver as well.

    Big hugs & the very happiest of New Year’s wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

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