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Best Comedy of 2023: Jim Gaffigan, Beth Stelling and More

Best Comedy of 2023: Jim Gaffigan, Beth Stelling and More


What would suicide by bat look like? Only a comedian would think long and hard on the subject. In “From Bleak to Dark” (Max), Marc Maron imagines it as pitiful, anguished and riotously comic. This act-out, coming at the end of a special haunted by death, operates like the scene in Hunter S. Thompson’s book on the Hells Angels in which Thompson, after spending months hanging out with the biker gang, describes getting beat up by them. It’s a perverse catharsis.

The arch-elitist Dan Rosen has created his own critical beat on Instagram, doing stylish and ruthless insult comedy on tasteless interior design, hack décor and shallow architecture. Projecting his face over photos of celebrity homes, he displays an acute eye for overdone trends (anyone with a green kitchen should be ashamed) and a knack for the perfect put-down (“the granny couch”). He compares Chris Brown’s floors to a bowling ball, then says: “I would say it’s the worst crime he ever committed” before a pause.

“I moved to America this year,” Sophie Buddle said at the start of her “Tonight Show” set in April. “I wanted to see it before it ends.” Then she sucked in her bottom lip and giggled. This chirpy, comic maintains a steady nervous chuckle while joking about masturbation and annoying Los Angeles types. But she knows what she’s doing, finding fresh spins on familiar subjects. She is part of a long line of cheerfully raunchy young comics, and her sneaky jokes are full of sharp elbows. When talking about the United States, there’s pity in her voice that feels like revenge for so many years of American comic condescension toward our northern neighbor.

In a short Netflix set commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Improv club, Deon Cole lays into how comics repeatedly ask audiences to do things like “give it up for the ladies.” Looking besieged, he says, “Got me wasting my claps.”

Upon hearing that familiar sound during his recent hour, Joe Pera responded in a deadpan, “You just ruined my life,” then kept it moving.

That the John Mulaney special “Baby J” (on Netflix) manages to live up to expectations is a feat, considering he addresses his much-publicized stint in rehab and, less so, his equally talked-about divorce. His re-creation of his star-studded intervention shows off a multitude of niche accents. And yet, he gets the biggest laughs going broad and traditional with his Al Pacino take. One distinctive voice nails another.





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