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Shooting Stars

10 Rising Stand-Up Stars You Need to Know

Catch Ali Wong, Cameron Esposito and more of the hottest stand-up stars on the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival.

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Photo Credit: YouTube/Netflix

With the 21-city nationwide tour of the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival kicking off in West Palm Beach, FL, on August 25th, stand-up comedy is in the air. And with an increasingly diverse set of voices finally breaking through to the mainstream, the festival’s line-up seems particularly relevant.

We thought we’d take a look at a few of the hottest stand-up comedians slinging the yucks right now, some who will be headlining the Oddball fest this year, and some who’ll hopefully be stopping by in the years to come. To see some of these stand-ups live, visit Oddball Fest for tickets and venue information.

10. Fahim Anwar

Best known for guest spots on NBC’s Chuck and Fox’s Lie To Me, and a regular gig on MTV2’s Guy Code, Fahim Anwar has steadily become the next big thing in comedy. With his self-deprecating stand-up — in which he obsesses over his sex life, chatty Uber drivers and going to the airport on Thanksgiving — Anwar’s positioned himself as a Jerry Seinfeld for a more diverse age. Now we just hope he can get a girlfriend without over examining it so much.


9. Joe Pera

Pera is not your typical stand-up comedian, by any stretch of the imagination. With a slow, drawn out delivery, he turns every hokey joke into a surreal roller coaster of comedy — if that coaster was going two miles an hour. His entire set lives in-between air quotes. Oh, also, it’s brilliant. There’s no way to describe what Pera does. You just have to watch, laugh, and then explain to your parents why it’s funny.


8. Beth Stelling

With her dry delivery and surprising punchlines, Stelling has quickly become a critical darling. Her Comedy Central ‘Half Hour’ was named by Vulture as one of the “Best Stand-up Specials of 2015.” Her latest album, “Simply the Beth, ” was named by The Interrobang and Splitsider as one of the top ten albums of 2015. And her writing for Pete Holmes’ new HBO series Crashing hasn’t made any Top Ten lists, but that’s just because no one has seen it yet. But with Beth behind it, we’re sure it’s going to be great.


7. Kyle Kinane

If you’re a fan of comedy, you’ve come across Kyle Kinane in your travels. A regular face on Comedy Central thanks to his half hour specials, regular appearances on @Midnight and a memorable, drunken retelling of the Haymarket affair on Drunk History, Kinane has also been the voice of the network since 2011. A gifted storyteller, with a gruff delivery belying a self-deprecating wit, Kinane has become a regular on just about every podcast and late night show you can think of. It’s only a matter of time before he gets the right vehicle that launches him to Louis C.K. levels of fame. Get on the Kinane train now, people.


6. Cameron Esposito

Esposito made her television debut in 2013, on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. The first guest that night was Jay Leno, the often reviled former host of The Tonight Show, who took it upon himself to riff with the comedian, somehow creating a magic TV moment between two comics who could not be more different. Calling her “the future,” Leno said, “white men were on the way out.” Sure, he may have set her up to fail with such lavish praise, but instead she’s become one of the brightest stars in the alt-comedy community. (Catch Cameron Esposito live on the Oddball Comedy Fest and watch her on Maron anytime on IFC.com and the IFC app.)


5. Nate Fernald

With writing gigs for The Pete Holmes Show and The Late Late Show with James Corden, Fernald is the voice behind your favorite late night comedians. In fact, did you know that he used to cohost WTF with Marc Maron before being cut out? Okay, Fernald may have made that up, but his white hot stand-up career is no lie. With a Comedy Central ‘Half Hour’ special on the way, and a classic guest spot on FX’s Louie under his belt, he may be the one hosting a late night show in the near future.


4. Michelle Wolf

You may recognize Michelle Wolf as the latest addition to The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, where she’s been a correspondent and writer since April. Really though, that’s just the cherry on top of her meteoric rise in the New York comedy scene. In the last few years she’s written for Late Night with Seth Meyers, the Oscars, and appeared on Louis C.K.’s passion project Web series Horace and Pete. All that, and she’s become a breakout star on the stand-up stage. We look forward to Michelle’s next move. (Catch Michelle Wolf live on the Oddball Comedy Fest.)


3. Lil Rel Howery

Sure, this Chicago comic made a name for himself on Last Comic Standing, but it was really the one/two punch of the sketch series Friends of the People and NBC’s The Carmichael Show, where he’s been appearing as star Jerrod Carmichael’s brother, that’s brought Howery into the big-time. It didn’t hurt that Kevin Hart himself produced Howery’s comedy special, RELevent, capping off an incredible two-year run.


2. Iliza Shlesinger

Shlesinger was the youngest ever winner of Last Comic Standing, back in 2008, but it’s only been in the last couple of years that she’s finally broken through to the next level. With movies like Paradise, a hit podcast called Truth and Iliza, and a Netflix stand-up special, Confirmed Kills, premiering this September, she’s on the cusp of becoming the next big thing in comedy. (Catch Iliza Shlesinger live on the Oddball Fest.)


1. Ali Wong

Ali Wong is on fire right now. Marc Maron called her latest stand-up special, Baby Cobra, in which Wong performed while seven-and-a-half months pregnant, “the most honest, rawest, funniest special I’ve seen in years. She has huge balls.” No one is getting more heat than this new mom, who knows how to mine the pitfalls of striving for the perfect life better than almost anyone out there right now. Get used to her, because she isn’t going anywhere. (Catch Ali Wong live on the Oddball Comedy Fest.)

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Very NSFW

The Brockmire Premiere Is All Truth

Watch The First Episode of Brockmire Right Now for Free

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GIFS via Giphy

At long last, the Brockmire pre-premiere has arrived. Which means you can watch it right now—on IFC.com, at Funny Or Die, on IFC’s Apple TV and mobile apps, on Youtube, on Facebook, on the AMC apps, and right here. So grab some headphones and get watching.

No seriously, get headphones.

Because whether he’s giving a play-by-play or ruminating on the world around him, Jim Brockmire calls it like he sees it. And how he sees it is very NSFW. His take on life is actually quite refreshing, even to the point of being profoundly sage. For proof just look at these pearls of unconventional wisdom from the premiere…

Brockmire On The Internet

“If I need porn I just buy a nudie mag, like my father and his father before him.”

Brockmire On Sex-Ed

“Kids, a strap-on is a belt with d— on it that mommies use to f— daddies.”
Brockmire-Strap-On

Brockmire On The Perfect High

“Somewhere between 10 cups of coffee and very low-grade cocaine.”
Brockmire-Perfect-High

Brockmire On The Tardiness of Spring

“Old man winter’s reaching his hand inside your coat to give that thing one more squeeze.”

Brockmire On Keeping Perspective

“I thought I hit rock bottom in a handicap restroom in Bangkok where a Thai lady-boy snorted crank off my johnson while a sunburnt German watched us on the toilet”
Brockmire-grain-salt

Brockmire On Humanity

“If you want to look directly into the gaping maw of oblivion, don’t look up to the heavens. Just look in the mirror.”
Jules-never-seen

See these nuggets and more in the first episode of Brockmire, and see the whole season beginning April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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