The Best Comedians of 2022

Comedy Lists best of 2022
Share Tweet Submit Pin
The Best Comedians of 2022

Slowly but surely, comedy is recovering as Covid has become a part of our everyday lives (albeit in a slightly different way than in 2020). Most every special we watched this year started with the comedian staring in wonder at the audience, thanking them for simply being there.

Well, we in turn want to thank the comics for keeping us laughing during a year that has certainly had its ups and downs. In particular, the performers listed below helped us find the funny even in the most difficult of subjects, pushed against the conventions of comedy, and made 2022 a year to remember. Some of them are familiar faces who reached new heights in the last 12 months, while others have only just begun to step into the limelight.

Without further ado, here’s who we deemed the best comedians in 2022, in alphabetical order:


Kate Berlant & John Early

Okay, so they’re two comedians, both worthy of recognition in their own right. Kate Berlant’s special Cinnamon in the Wind was released this September and she has been killing it with her one-woman show Kate. John Early appeared in Apple TV+’s side-splitting murder mystery The Afterparty and Peacock’s Killing It. However, the best friends’ comedy special Would It Kill You to Laugh? highlights their undeniable chemistry as a duo. The pair first met a decade ago, and in the years since have grown as sketch comedians, playing off each other with deadly seriousness and leading to serious laughs. Would It Kill You to Laugh? imagines Berlant and Early as former co-stars from the sitcom He’s Gay, She’s Half-Jewish and also puts them in all sorts of other absurd and tension-filled situations. They’re the only ones who haven’t read the book in a book club, or the only adults in a kids’ dance class; whatever the circumstances, Berlant and Early bring us to a surreal, uncomfortable, and ultimately hilarious place.—Clare Martin

Joel Kim Booster

Not only was 2022 Joel Kim Booster’s year, but June 2022 specifically was his month. His comedy special Psychosexual was released in June, along with the film Fire Island, which he starred in, wrote, and executive produced. Psychosexual effectively deconstructs the pressures forced upon comedians from marginalized backgrounds, while also showcasing Booster’s excellence as a stand-up. Fire Island, meanwhile, takes inspiration from Jane Austen’s treasured classic Pride and Prejudice but updates it for gay men living in 2022. Paste’s Aurora Amidon praised Booster’s “effortless and surprising blend of confidence and insecurity” in the film, and his writing earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best First Screenplay.—Clare Martin

Quinta Brunson


The network sitcom is back, baby, and nothing has made that more evident than Quinta Brunson’s highly successful series Abbott Elementary. Brunson created the mockumentary show and stars as Janine, an overachieving teacher working at an underfunded Philadelphia grade school. While the pilot for Abbott Elementary aired in 2021, all the other episodes were released in 2022, and notably the sitcom became ABC’s first debut comedy to quadruple its ratings, as per TV Insider. Impressive ratings aside, the show also exemplifies humor and heart in a way that speaks to Brunson’s talents as both a writer and actor. Her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed either; Brunson won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series and was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, she appeared as Oprah Winfrey in Weird: The Al Yankovic Story! Hup Brunson!—Clare Martin

Jerrod Carmichael

With Rothaniel Jerrod Carmichael gave us the best stand-up special of 2022, so obviously he’s going to make this list. Rothanial is a hilarious, brutally honest and open exploration of sexuality and how it can tangle up family dynamics and relationships, with the sad and poignant story of Carmichael’s family refusing to engage with his coming out serving as its emotional core. The soft-spoken Carmichael has long tried to get a response out of his audience beyond just laughter, poking and prodding at various controversial issues in both his stand-up and his fantastic NBC sitcom. With Rothaniel he turns that focus inward, discussing not just his own personal journey and the joy and pain it’s brought him, but how the infidelities of his father and grandfathers have shaped his family tree across several decades. It’s the best kind of stand-up because it’s true, honest, and unflinching, but also deeply hilarious throughout, with Carmichael mining his own experience to highlight universal truths. He was also pretty good on that SNL he hosted, too.—Garrett Martin

Ariel Elias


What makes a great comedian? Undoubtedly one trait is being able to keep your cool under pressure when there’s a heckler in the audience… and unfortunately in this day and age, that heckler may turn violent. Not only did Kentucky-raised comic Ariel Elias stay calm when a Trump supporter threw a beer at her head (they missed, thankfully), but she made the most of the situation by chugging the remainder of the beverage. A video of the incident went viral, and Elias’ quick thinking earned her kudos from the likes of Jim Gaffigan and Judd Apatow. She even ended up appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live! shortly thereafter, winning over the audience with her wry routine. May the rest of her career be projectile-free.—Clare Martin

Nathan Fielder

With The Rehearsal Nathan Fielder expanded the reality-teasing prankishness of Nathan For You into something genuinely profound. Theoretically a documentary series about helping people “rehearse” important life decisions and experiences in order to prepare for any repercussions, The Rehearsal stacks layers of fiction and non-reality on top of each other in such a ridiculous and complicated way that it becomes extremely difficult to separate what’s “real” from what isn’t—almost as if anything stops being “real” once a camera is pointed at it. (Could it be that simple?) As he did on Nathan For You, the on-screen version of Fielder has a knack for amping up the awkwardness and tension of any scenario, while also capturing the kind of opinions and deep-seated personality quirks that most people should probably know to not reveal in front of a camera. Fielder blurs fact and fiction together so thoroughly that it’s practically impossible to separate them, without losing sight of how inherently funny and absurd the whole concept is. No lie: watching The Rehearsal from week to week was one of the most fulfilling communal TV experiences since the heyday of Lost.—Garrett Martin

Alice Hamilton

Portland, Oregon native Alice Hamilton made a name for herself this year with Cex Kriminal, her biting mini special about all of the creeps (namely Chris D’Elia), racists, and general pieces of shit in stand-up. A self-appointed comedy vigilante, Hamilton decimates her targets concisely and hilariously in less than half an hour. Hamilton’s sharp joke writing and determined delivery Cex Kriminal launched the set to number 5 in our list of the best comedy specials of 2022.—Clare Martin

Alison Leiby


Alison Leiby may have started writing her one-woman show Oh God, A Show About Abortion over three years ago, but in 2022 her project became even more important in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned. Leiby brought her show to the off-Broadway Cherry Lane Theatre this year, earning accolades and, just as vitally, normalizing a subject that many people still find difficult to discuss. Besides Oh God, A Show About Abortion, Leiby also co-produced this season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She co-hosts the podcast Ruined, in which her friend Halle Keifer explains horror movies to Leiby that she’s too afraid to watch herself, and the show was even dubbed one of the best podcasts of 2022 by TIME.—Clare Martin

The Kids in the Hall

The beloved Canadian sketch troupe reunited again for a new series on Amazon, and like all great reunions it doesn’t feel like a brand new start but a seamless continuation of the work they started on their classic ‘90s series. It doesn’t rest on nostalgia, and it doesn’t repeat old ideas or sketches just to repeat them, but it updates what made that show so vital and hilarious in ways that feel true to the Kids and perfectly in keeping with the spirit of today. It’s like the show just kept being made without interruption over the last 27 years, and the new episodes are where they naturally landed as artists and comedians in that time—an honest snapshot of how their viewpoints and sensibilities have grown and changed as they enter their 60s. It’s hard to imagine any reunion, be it in comedy, music, or any other performing art, coming together as gracefully and successfully as this one. Hopefully there’s more to come in the future.—Garrett Martin

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Jana Schmieding

One of the best things about 2022: Season 2 of Rutherford Falls. One of the worst: Rutherford Falls being canceled. At the heart of this underrated sitcom is Jana Schmieding, who, between her comedic timing and layered performance as Minishonka historian Reagan Wells, anchors the show. The series’ second season surpasses the first because the focus shifts from Ed Helms’ character, town history buff Nathan Rutherford, to Reagan, who is ultimately a more compelling protagonist. Besides her great turn as Reagan, Schmieding also appeared in Reservation Dogs and co-wrote one of the funniest episodes of Rutherford Falls this season: “Adirondack,” a hilarious send-up of the cultural appropriation prevalent in the oh-so-popular series Yellowstone. Let’s hope for a Rutherford return or some other way for Schmieding’s star to shine.—Clare Martin