2011 was a great year for comedy on television, with the broadcast networks establishing comedy toeholds and new sitcoms like “New Girl” and “Suburgatory” becoming solid performers. The folks at “SNL” started to ramp up the laughs as the Republicans duked it out over the 2012 presidential nomination. The year was so good for comedy that “Two and a Half Men” thrived even after Charlie Sheen went off the deep end.
But who were the funniest among the funny? Here are the ten funniest people on TV right now, in no particular order… except the first person on this list, who is in a class by himself.
Nick Offerman – He’s Ron F—in’ Swanson, for goodness sakes! And he’s the funniest member of “Parks and Recreation’s” funny ensemble. Ron hates government and people in general but loves wood and cares for steaks, breakfast food and the people at the Pawnee parks department. Offerman may not be Ron, but no one else could play him. Watch the montage about Ron’s love of food we posted at the top of this list and see if you don’t agree.
Louis C.K. – The second season of “Louie” was one of the best shows on TV in 2011, and he concluded the year by self-releasing a stand-up special that has made over a million dollars, $5 at a time. Oh, and he’s the funniest stand-up out there.
Donald Glover - A multiple threat, as he not only plays the innocently hilarious Troy on “Community,” but he also released a rap album under the name Childish Gambino. What are the odds that next year he’ll also host a cooking show?
Melissa McCarthy – We’ve loved her since her “Gilmore Girls” days, but “Bridesmaids” showed us that McCarthy is one of the most gifted physical comedians around. She also won an Emmy for “Mike & Molly,” where the funny she showed on the big screen is starting to come through.
Sofia Vergara – She’s gorgeous, but she also knows how to skewer her pinup image. She came into her own on “Modern Family” this season, getting as many laughs as comedy heavyweights like Ed O’Neill, Eric Stonestreet and Ty Burrell.
Jon Stewart / Stephen Colbert – It almost feels like they’ve combined into a giant, Voltron-like comedy machine, which is why we’re listing them together. But both Comedy Central stars kept the comedy rolling this year on “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report”, delivering one topical gut-buster after another, especially as the GOP presidential free-for-all kept dominating the comedic agenda. However, Stewart’s recent takedown of Lowe’s over the “All-American Muslim” controversy shows how he and his writers are in top form.
The whole cast of “Happy Endings” – It was 2011′s Little Show That Could, and it really blossomed in its second season after a surprise first season reprieve. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with this fun and easy-going gang? Especially fun are Damon Wayans Jr., Adam Pally and Casey Wilson.
Amy Poehler – The heart and soul of “Parks and Rec,” she makes Leslie Knope someone you want to root for and laugh with instead of laugh at. Her delirious depiction of Leslie during the “Flu Season” episode in season 3 alone lands her on this list.
Kristen Wiig – Always creating new characters on “SNL,” Wiig came into her own as a comic lead in “Bridesmaids.” Still, we’re happy she’s still around, being her nutty self in Studio 8H.
Jimmy Fallon – Jimmy is the late night talk show host people watch when they say they’re watching Craig Ferguson. Don’t get us wrong, we love Craig, but Fallon has made “Late Night” his own in just over two years and has become one of the most-buzzed-about names in late night. Besides the great weekly bits he’s established, like Hashtags and Thank You Notes, and pre-recorded bits like “Jersey Floor,” Fallon looks like he’s just plain enjoying himself, and the tone of the show shows it.
Nick Kroll – Just the “Conan” appearance where he talks about trying and failing to keep from soiling himself is enough to put him on this list. But he also had a funny stand-up special this year, starred as fantasy league jerk Ruxin on “The League” and was a go-to guest star for everything from “Community” to “Parks and Rec” to “Children’s Hospital.”