We ranked the top 10 stand-up comedians of 2021.
We chose and ranked our top ten stand-up comedians for 2021. We considered factors such as their past work in 2019, stand-up special releases, sold-out tour shows, and achievements outside of stand-up, such as awards and nominations. This is by no means a popularity or contest based on celebrity status. Each of the stand-up comedians in this list are the best at what they do. These are the ten comedians we feel had a successful 2019 and are set to have an even better 2021.
1) Bill Burr
Since his first stand-up special in 2008, Bill Burr’s no nonsense, angry comedy has been continually entertaining crowds for over a decade. Fun fact: Bill was the first stand-up comedian to perform on The Tonight Show with Conan O’ Brien in 2009. The comedian, writer, actor, podcaster, and licensed helicopter pilot is enjoying a wave of achievements the last few years with his Netflix stand-up specials and animated series, F is for Family, which was nominated twice (2017 and 2019) for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance. While not on any list of the top-earning comedians, the release of his 2019 Netflix special, Paper Tiger, and his role as Mayfield in The Mandelorian, is sure to boost his continuing popularity and make him even more of a fan-favorite into 2021.
2) Dave Chappelle
Considered by many fellow comedians to be one the best stand-up comedians of all time, nothing is off limits for Dave Chapelle. The comic that was booed off stage at the Apollo Theater early in his career, would end up setting stand-up endurance records at the Laugh Factory comedy club. His stand-up special Dave Chapelle: Sticks & Stones did not disappoint audiences and was one of the most popular stand-up specials on Netflix. Although 2019 was a relatively quiet year, he was recently honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Dave Chappelle now joins a select group of awarded members that include Richard Pryor, David Letterman, Eddie Murphy, Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg, and many more of the best comics and actors. Even the best stand-up comedians can’t stay quiet for too long. Look for Dave to make 2021 even better, raunchier, and funnier.
3) Sebastian Maniscalco
As one of the top five highest-earning stand-up comedians of 2019, Sebastian Maniscalo may not be a household name, but his star is certainly rising. In fact, Jerry Seinfeld has called him “my favorite comedian.” High praise. If you hadn’t been paying attention, the last few years have been a whirlwind for him. In late 2018, he jumped off the stand-up stage and into cinema, starring alongside Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortenson in the Green Book and then starred in The Irishman with a few “up and coming actors,” Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, and Harvey Keitel, just to throw out some names. His Netflix special, Stay Hungry was released in January 2019. That same week he performed four sold-out shows at the Madison Square Garden, which broke a record for highest-grossing comedy event in North America – ever. And he hasn’t slowed down. Sebastian has started 2021 off with a slew of more sold-out shows. He’s on pace for an amazing 2021. Keep him on your radar.
4) Chris Rock
Surprisingly not on the 2019 list of top-earning comics of 2019 due to a quiet year, Chris Rock remains one of the best stand-up comedians. With his high-pitched delivery and catchphrases, he became an SNL favorite for audiences and fans. He was only with SNL for roughly four years, but it propelled his career. Similar to all the great, award-winning stand-up comedians, being one thing just isn’t enough. Rock’s occupations now also include actor, writer, producer, and director. He has been featured in 47 films and 43 television series. In 2016, he signed a two-special deal with Netflix that will reportedly pay him $20 million per episode. The first special was released in 2018, called Chris Rock: Tamborine. Not bad for someone who was paid $600 for their role in Beverly Hills Cop II. Although he’s not slated to tour in 2021, he is starring in three movies set to be released in 2021 – The Roads Not Taken, The Organ Donor, and The Witches.
5) Iliza Shlesinger
Winner of NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2008, Iliza Shlesinger’s popularity is set to take off in 2021. She’s released four stand-up specials in the last five years. Her 2018 stand-up special, Elder Millennial, ranks high with IMDb audiences, with a 7.2/10. Married in 2018, her latest Netflix stand-up special release, Unveiled, tackles everything from the engagement process to wedding traditions, and the dreaded bachelorette party. Iliza is also set to star in her second film, Spenser Confidential, set to be released in March by Netflix, starring Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, and Alan Arkin. The versatile stand-up comedian is set to tour North America, Australia, and Europe in 2021 for her Iliza: The Forever Tour.
6) Amy Schumer
Never one to shy away from self-deprecating or personal topics, Amy Schumer’s success continues to trend upward. In 2019, the award-winning comedian, actress, and producer saw the release of the popular stand-up special, Amy Shumer: Growing. And while personally she may be taking more time in 2021 to spend time with her first child, don’t expect to see her out of the limelight too long. She returned to stand-up two weeks after giving birth to her son. Yeah, that’s called dedication to the work. She is set to star in a drama called The Humans, adapted from the Tony award-winning play, in 2021.
7) Jim Gaffigan
Jim Gaffigan. Known for his “internal monologue” delivery and jokes about food, specifically Hot Pockets, he has been one of the top-earning stand-up comedians over the last few years, with touring making up the largest portion of those earnings, earning a total of $30 million last year. He started stand-up comedy on a bet, but now he’s got the titles of actor, writer, producer, and Grammy nominee under his belt. His 7th stand-up special, Jim Gaffigan: Quality Time, which was Amazon Prime’s first original comedy special, was released in 2019 to critical acclaim and nominated for a Grammy for Best Comedy Album. He is set to star in Tesla, along with Ethan Hawke, Kyle MacLachlan, Eve Hewson, and Josh Hamilton, which is premiering in late January 2021. And never one to rest on his laurels (too much), Jim is set to tour throughout North America, Europe, South America, and Central America during his The Pale Tourist tour in 2021.
8) Gabriel Iglesias
Known by most as “Fluffy,” Gabrial Iglesias has been entertaining crowds for decades with his over the top catchphrases and self-deprecating humor. In 2006, he was considered one of the favorites to win Last Comic Standing, however, he gained a bit of notoriety by leaving to call his girlfriend and smuggling a phone to communicate with friend and family during the competition, both of which violated the show’s rules. Avoiding overly political or controversial has made him an obvious favorite with fans everywhere, making himself one of the top-earning stand-up comedians of 2019. His career has seen him star in various television shows and movies, including his own The Fluffy Movie, in additional to voice work for movies, such as The Nut Job, Coco, and Ferdinand, and many more. As if he’s not popular enough, Gabriel is set to embark on a world tour in 2021, called the Go Big or Go Home tour, which will take him across the U.S., Europe, and back.
9) Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart was at one time a shoe salesman. He made the right choice to leave the shoe business. One of the highest paid comedians in 2019, Kevin Hart continues to impress and thrill audiences with his observational, and sometimes surreal comedy about everyday life. On top of his extremely successful Irresponsible Tour – and 2019 Netflix special with the same name – Kevin Hart’s popularity continued to grow in 2019 with the releases of The Secret Life of Pets 2 and Jumanji: the Next Level. 2021 might be a quieter year for the award-winning funny man, but he’s sure to ride the wave of 2019 success into 2021.
10) Jerry Seinfeld
A legend in his own right, and one the highest-paid comedians of 2019, the list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Jerry Seinfeld. Creator, executive producer, comedian, actor, writer, and director – the list goes on and on. Jerry has been, and continually remains, one of the best stand-up comedians of all-time. His series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, released in 2012, continues to be as popular, and funny, as ever. The series has earned numerous Emmy nominations and has won several Producers Guild awards. In 2018, Jerry became a member of a select that includes Jay Leno, Bill Murray, Carol Burnett, George Carlin, and many more of the best comedians, when he was honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Not one to sit still, Jerry will continue to grind it out on the road, touring throughout the U.S. in 2021.