Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch, 2008

Variety magazine named its "10 Comics to Watch" for 2008 and wrote up profiles on each of them this week. Their choices? Read what they have to say about Russell Brand, Brandon T. Jackson, Anthony Jeselnik, Jon LaJoie, Ralphie May, TJ Miller, Jay Phillips, John Mulaney, Paul Rust, Casey Wilson.

Let’s assess. John Mulaney, I’ve had the privilege to see him several times since moving to New York City, and every time, he slays. This kid, and really, he’s still only four years out of college (the same time I finally dipped my toes into professional stand-up comedy) and already so masterful and such a stage presence, it’s amazing. He’s a writer for Demetri Martin’s upcoming Comedy Central sketch show, and he’ll tape his own half-hour Comedy Central Presents at the end of the summer. Big fan of Mulaney, I am. Not that I’m a comedy Yoda just yet.

Anthony Jeselnik is a great joke writer. Sometimes a bit dark (a bit?). But yes, keep an eye on this fella. Also getting his Comedy Central Presents this year.

Time Out London named Russell Brand U.K. Comedian of the Year, and he chewed up the scenery in his movie debut this year in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and I’ll have much more to say about Brand next week when we meet up in Montreal.

Casey Wilson, well, already has a big "watch me" sign on her as the newest member of Saturday Night Live, joining the cast after the Writers Guild strike this spring. It’ll be more than interesting to see what role she gets to play this fall.

When I saw T.J. Miller last year in Aspen, I knew he’d be on TV very soon, and he was the best thing about the short-lived ABC sitcom Carpoolers. But I don’t care how much he jokes about it, the caps of the ketchup bottles are the feet. They just are.

Paul Rust works in the Los Angeles, and I saw him last fall doing sketch work in Vegas at The Comedy Festival. I can see how you’d want to keep an eye on him.

Ralphie May: Shouldn’t he have been the one to watch in 2003 when he was working on TV projects with Jay Mohr and getting submarined by Dat Phan on the original Last Comic Standing? Curious.

I’m not that familiar with Brandon T. Jackson, because he’s a kid and I’m not, but he’ll be in the cast of Tropic Thunder, so, OK. Jon LaJoie? Huh? Don’t know what to say about Jay Phillips, but I need to get out more (no, I don’t). Fine. I’ll see you all in Montreal!

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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3 thoughts on “Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch, 2008

  1. They picked one woman.
    And apparently if you’ve got a pussy, the only way you can get on the list is to have already reached what is largely considered (still) the apex of any comedy career: a regular cast spot on SNL. Whereas, if you’re a guy, you can be several rungs down the comedy wet dream ladder and be one to watch.
    Explain to me how that’s fair?
    (No hate to the guys on the list, espesh Johnny M., who is pure magic. Hate to Variety.)

  2. I agree with Sara. What about Lisa Landry? Or Courtney Cronin? Or various other fem comics who’s names I don’t know of. . .
    Also, John Mulaney is rad. I saw him on Conan (last year?) and dug his jive right away.

  3. TJ Miller is awful. It’s a political pickle sucker. TJ feels safe but smoke and mirrors go so far.

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