Comedians, much like horror writers, can make you feel a certain way with surprise. They influence how you view the world. They are the freethinkers. The mavericks. The contrarians. Their job is to look at the universe through a different set of specs. Some of us yearn to be satiated by dark comedy that’s birthed from the depths of Tartarus. Others like poop jokes. When you’re sad, you need a pick-me-up. You either want something that reflects the sadness or assuages it with lightheartedness.
Bamford has one of the greatest comedy personas of all time. Her jokes are clever, her voices on point, and her personality hilarious. For anyone who thinks that they don’t enjoy her comedy, you can, at the very least, enjoy her as a person. Watch her open up about her mental illness in this Comedy Central clip here. She has a mood disorder. She knows what it’s like to live a rough life. She’s able to translate that suffering into humor. She’s awesome.
Kristen Schaal & Kurt Braunohler
These two are a hilarious duo. They aren’t held back by the conventions of comedy. They perform a routine about Kristen Schaal being a horse, dubbed Kristen Schaal is a Horse.
Schaal will do performances where she challenges the medium. She won the Andy Kaufman Award in 2005. She eats a four-pack of donuts on stage. She dances. On her Comedy Central special, she had a bit about a bird that she personified. Before that, it was a bit about a horse, and she had to haul a saddle around the city, on transit.
O’Brien is fabled to be one of the nicest people in show business. He has always been a great late-night host. Many of his best-of-the-best bits are on the internet. You can spend an entire day watching late-night sketches and fun interviews from across multiple shows he’s had.
Macdonald plays a jester. He doesn’t take anything seriously and will prank other comedians. He is the person who calls it as he sees it. There is an entire YouTube channel called I’m Not Norm that is dedicated solely to editing and publishing Norm compilations.
He plays the fool but is very smart. He is well-read and has a unique perspective on the world.
Tig Notaro’s album Tig Notaro Live is what she is most famous for. She was diagnosed with cancer, c. diff., and her mother died—all around the same time. In that performance, she says that she’s still in tragedy mode. This is a raw performance that will make you feel better for many reasons.
Notaro also does a joke about Taylor Dayne that is absolutely one of the greatest jokes you’ll hear.
You want to laugh at all of the sick stuff that festers in everyone’s heads. Anthony Jeselnik takes an old-school approach to how he formats his jokes. If you cope with bad things happening by listening to someone say worse things, then he is right up your alley.
Sarah Silverman uses satire and a comedic flaw to generate a caricature of society. She has gotten in trouble with the general public, because some do not understand that her act is satire. She often mentions her Jewish heritage and her family. She’s a great comedian to listen to—if you want to not take the serious things so seriously.
John Mulaney has stage energy, intensely written jokes, and magnificent delivery. This energy is like a cup of coffee. He will often embody the characters of the stories he tells.
When your month is going bad, just turn on some of Mulaney’s anecdotal tales.
He plays someone who’s not sure of anything. It’s hard to put your finger down on exactly how Bargatze is funny, people just know that he is funny. He masterfully tells stories and uses his persona to guide the jokes. He is one of the funniest comedians working today.
You’re laughing because he says horrific things with a straight face, cackling every so often. Frankie Boyle takes his jokes into whatever territory he wishes, nothing being off-limits. One YouTube user describes Boyle’s joke about Michael Jackson as Boyle’s magnum opus. You can find that joke here.
If Nick Thune were in high school, his humor would be described as being a “smart ass.” He’s semi-deadpan with a set of amazing storytelling chops.
Pete Holmes’s comedy is whimsical, positive, and observational. His persona is the lovable tall guy. If you really want to improve your mood, he is a great comic to listen to.
Absurdism is a great pick-me-up. Eugene Mirman has an affinity for it. His jokes are surreal. He is more avant-garde than most comedians. His jokes often involve him responding to something someone did or said.
Sam Kinison used the dynamic of his voice and his preaching background to form an interesting character. He is not everyone’s cup of tea. His voice goes from piano to fortissimo in a fraction of a second. This dynamic creates surprise in audiences, and the contrast creates a juxtaposition. His energy will perk you back up.
He talks about the mundane. He’s a clean comic in a time when it’s uncommon and difficult. He is famous for bits on hot pockets and bacon.
At the zenith of Steve Martin’s career, he did absurdist comedy to huge audiences. Much of his comedy is physical but translates very well to plain audio.
Comedians have emulated Richard Pryor for decades. Pryor talking to a vampire was the funniest thing I’d heard when I was in high school. He had a unique personality and was funny to most everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity.
Ellen DeGeneres’s observational humor is always lighthearted and good-natured. She has a bright personality on stage. She could lighten anyone’s mood.
Her material is about the mundane. So, if you have a hard time getting out of a rut, her material might make you reconsider everything you just pass by, day to day.