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.)