We live in an incredible time in history, the information age where we can learn and discover anything in a few swipes of our thumbs. Thanks to this age; comedy is booming again, and with that an abundance of comedians fighting for the spotlight. Because of this boom we have more shows, more movies, more spots, and unfortunately more envy. Sometimes the envy comes from something as simple as being named on a list. The internet, lists, and being at that swipe of a finger from a bevy of information has fanned the flames of competitiveness.
It seems like every week there is a new list out for the comedy industry. Lists of “Top Comics To See Now!” or “Best places to catch a comedy show”, and for some reason they all have felt eerily similar. What’s the big deal, a list is just a list right? Perhaps not in this case. Comedy and entertainment decision makers don’t have time to see a lot (if any) comedy shows to scout for talent so these lists sometimes serve as cliff notes. Lists are sometimes created by agents and managers hoping to promote their clients so they can make more money, and continue a vicious cycle.
Putting competitive or envious emotions aside, I asked comedians who they felt were underrated, underappreciate and frankly who deserved better from the industry. For guidance I gave the following questions:
“I can’t believe _____ hasn’t gotten a late night spot yet”
“It’s only a matter of time until _____ blows up and is all over television”
So I started small and asked just a couple of well known comics for a top 10 list. From there, I reached out to the comics named on those lists and asked them for lists themselves. The research has grown to having 115 individual lists, and 552 different comedians were named. Comedians from the tri-state area all submitted and were varied by experience level, social circles, cliques, and comedy scenes. Though 552 may seem like a huge number; keep in mind the thousands of people who get up on stage every night. Make no mistake, to be listed at all, even on one persons list is an honor.
The lists were and are being kept anonymous, which I think made everyone respond more honestly. You could tell people were not simply choosing their friends. I can’t stress enough that this list is by comedians and for comedians to acknowledge the dedication and talent of their peers.
Comedian Evan Williams said it best, “All of these people are not under appreciated by their peers- every comic knows who’s great. It’s the industry that’s behind.”
Here is the Top 20 Most Underrated Comedians in the NYC area, listed in alphabetical order.