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The moniker King of Comedy has belonged to several icons over the years: George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy. But in the 2017, the comedy crown belongs indisputably on the head of Louis C.K., who topped Rolling Stone’s list of The 50 Funniest People Now. His wry, contemptuous outlook and unfiltered honesty result in hours of constantly on-point, relatable and superbly hilarious material. To boot, he is also the star actor, director, writer and producer of the hit show “Louie” on FX, as well as many iconic stand-up comedy performances including Reckless, Shameless, and Live at the Beacon Theater.
On top of being an all-star comedian, Louis is proving to be a savvy businessman. He has adopted a fan-based business model with regards to selling his albums and tickets for upcoming shows. He sold downloadable and streamable copies of his Live at the Beacon Theater for a flat fee of $5 from his website, wisely acknowledging the reality of piracy by effectively saying, ‘I could be asking for $20, but I know you’ll never buy it.’ That performance alone generated more than $1 million dollars for C.K., which was promptly divvied out to his staff and charities. He is reinventing the notion of "respecting his audience." When people order his comedy performances, they are not signed up for any marketing emails by default. Instead, buyers can decide between "Yes, I’d like to receive further emails about Luis C.K. things" or "No, leave me alone forever, you fat idiot." The result is a mailing list of hardcore fans, which ensures successful marketing email campaigns from C.K. down the road.
Any comedian will tell you that it’s impossible to become a star without a community of equals working to elevate one another. Thus, Louis C.K. may be a ruler of the comedy world, but a monarch he is not, and the scene is blossoming with rising talents and household comics entertaining thousands on the comedy world stage. Consider Amy Schumer, star of the Emmy-nominated Comedy Central show, Inside Amy Schumer, which translates her endlessly raunchy and constantly daring stand-up into a parade of sketches to create one of the highest rated programs in the Comedy Central lineup. Her success is not limited to the network, with multiple appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Conan, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Another hugely popular comedian is Jeff Dunham who made a mainstream comedic name for himself through his ventriloquist acts. However, the most talked about comedian of the moment is Chris Rock, as this hilarious comedian known for his distinctive voice is rumored to announce a tour any day. Other comics who are lighting up the scene are Brian Regan, Sebastian Maniscalco, and Jim Jefferies.
Aziz Ansari is another comedian that has found his way to A-list and consistently proves it’s where he belongs. He’s got the nation’s attention after his role alongside Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation as the street-smart and pop-culture dredged Tom Haverford. However, he is equally lauded for his vivacious and rapid fire stand-up routine. His specials include Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, Dangerously Delicious (available exclusively on his website), and Buried Alive, which premiered on Netflix in 2013. He also starred in the Netflix original comedy series, Masters of None released in 2015.