I think we can all agree that that old adage that women aren’t as funny can finally be put to rest (buried six feet underground and sealed with a concrete slab). Today’s ladies can thank early comediennes like Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett and Joan Rivers for breaking through the laugh ceiling, along with modern A-listers like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Kristen Wiig for shattering it—and by and large, there making their forerunners proud. Check out these up-and-coming comedic talents bringing the “must see” back to TV.
Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, Broad City (Comedy Central)
Abbi and Ilana on Comedy Central’s new hit series remind me of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler if they smoked a lot of weed and had looser sexual mores. Broad City follows these 20somethings trying to make it in New York—wannabe artist Abbi working as a custodian at Soulstice (a riff on the SoulCycle) and slacker Ilana “working” at some nondescript office job. The show started as a web series before Comedy Central picked it up. The episodes are Seinfeldian in their mundane plots as well as with their oddball co-stars, including Lincoln (Hannibal Buress), a dentist and Ilana’s friend with benefits, Jaimé, Ilana’s gay, drug-dealing roommate, and Bevers, the man-child boyfriend of Abbi’s never-seen roommate. They’ve also managed to get an impressive list of guest stars including Seth Rogan, Janeane Garofalo and Kelly Ripa, who played a boozing, prostitute-loving version of herself. Jon Stewart got it right when he told creators Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacabson, “You are bringing joy, nothing better than that.”
Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)
Schumer won my over with her spot-on recreation of Aaron Sorkin’s signature dialogue style in her sketch “The Foodroom.” Schumer’s star is absolutely on the rise—in addition to her raunchy Comedy Central show, she is soon to star in the Judd Apatow-directed movie Trainwreck, which she also wrote. Schumer’s show features single camera vingettes, and girlfriend is not afraid to go to some pretty taboo places—herpes, sexual assault in the military, vibrators. Season 3 premieres April 21.
Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
On the opposite end of the raunchy scale is Ellie Kemper, who won our hearts when she starred as sweet and naïve secretary Erin on The Office. She’s back at it as sweet and naïve Kimmy Schmidt on Tina Fey’s new show for Netflix. Kemper’s Schmidt was trapped in a bunker by a crazy apocalyptic cult leader until her release, and she head’s to New York to rebuild her life. It’s a classic “fish out of water” meets “country mouse in the big city” tale, with eccentric supporting characters that play perfectly off Schmidt’s fresh-eyed Kimmy, including the former D’fwan playing her down-on-his-luck roommate and Jenna Maroney playing the role for which she is destined.
Carrie Brownstein, Portlandia (IFC)
Cult favorite Portlandia is one of those shows that’s so bizarre, you just have to watch it to understand how brilliant it really is. Brownstein teams with Fred Armisen in this homage to the Pacific Northwest city, told through a series of satirical sketches known for its out-there characters—the feminist bookstore owners, gentle band members, NPR tailgaters, dumpster divers. The two also write and produce show, and play beautifully off each other. Brownstein, the former guitarist for indie band Sleater-Kinney, is a relative newbie to comedy, but holds her own against the SNL alum. And the show’s success is reflected in the caliber of guests stars it gets—Kyle McLaughlin, Jeff Goldblum, Steve Buscemi, and Jane Lynch, to name a few.