It’s a pretty universally held belief in comedy circles that 2011 was the year of Louis CK. No comedian had more of a breakout year from a business perspective than Louis, and as I’ve written before, I believe you can learn a lot from his success.
Looking forward, I’m sure many comedians will see what Louis has done and try to implement similar tactics as they further their career. But exactly which comedians are most likely to be able to replicate what Louis did this past year?
I’ve come up with a list of five comics who have the best shot – this list features comedians whose careers share some similarities to where Louis was at before 2011 (i.e., they’ve been around a while, they’ve built a strong fanbase that’s probably larger than most people realize, they tend to be creative when it comes to their approach to the business, etc.).
Please note that I am NOT saying these comics have any similarities to Louis comedically or artistically – this is purely a business and marketing comparison.
So, here’s who I think is most likely to be the Louis CK of 2012 (in no particular order)…
Casual comedy fans may not know who Bill Burr is yet, but hardcore comedy fans know him, love him, and know it’s a matter of time until he becomes huge – very similar to the sentiment that existed around Louis CK before he blew up last year. Also like Louis, Burr has built a huge fanbase without the help of a major television role or movie exposure. Rather, he’s slowly built up a passionate fanbase through years of stand up and has quietly been putting out one of the most popular comedy podcasts on iTunes for years.
The pieces are in place for Burr to build on the foundation he’s got and it wouldn’t surprise me if this is the year that he makes the leap.
Much like Louis CK prior to this year, Chris Hardwick has been around for a while and had plenty of Hollywood projects that never quite seemed to showcase him in the right way. But over the past couple years, he started to create his own opportunities and has built a budding empire through his Nerdist podcast, website, and television series. Hardwick’s really found his voice and now has an army of Nerdist fans who seem to be pushing him to bigger and better things. 2011 was a great year for Hardwick and if his next year sees half as much progress, he’ll be well on his way to a Louis CK-style breakout.
Gabriel Iglesias has quietly become one of the biggest drawing comedians in the country, but what’s interesting about him is that he’s perceived very differently depending who you ask about him. To some people, he’s a mega-star already. To others, they don’t even know who he is. This dichotomy again mirrors where Louis CK was until recently – Gabriel’s another comedian who’s already bigger than most people realize and it’s just a matter of time until the mainstream media catches on to what he’s up to and introduces him to more casual fans.
It’s well documented that Artie’s had his issues in the past couple years and he no longer has the platform of the Howard Stern show to reach millions of people on a daily basis. However, assuming he’s healthy, he still has a rabid fanbase based on his time with Stern and now he has the time and opportunity to take his career in new directions. Teaming up with comedian Nick DiPaolo for a new sports radio show may mark the beginning of an Artie Lange “comeback” that could rocket him to a whole new level.
I know mentioning Dane Cook in comparison to Louis CK will draw the inevitable groans from some readers of this article, but remember I’m talking about the business side of things here. People hailed Louis CK as an innovator for offering his latest special through his website for a $5 download, but do you realize that Dane Cook did a very similar thing way back in February 2010? Love him or hate him, Dane has been innovative and smart in how he built his career and he still has an enormous fanbase which provides him with unique opportunities to do things other comedians can’t pull off.
Will any of these five guys be able to come close to the success that Louis CK had last year? Maybe, maybe not. But if anybody can do it this year, I’m guessing it’s one of these guys. Leave a comment below and let me know who you think is poised for a breakout 2012…
14 thoughts on “The 5 Comedians Most Likely To Become The Louis CK Of 2012”
I love CK’s TV show. I hope he has a project that will make it on the big screen.
I think Louis C.K. is going to handle the duty of being 2012’s Louis C.K. quite well without extra help. Who is going to break in 2012? Burr would be awesome. I would also like to see Dave Attell make a resurgence – Dave’s Old Porn is a hilarious show and he’s been working on a new album/special for a while now and even though he’s a bit more underground, he has the same insane work ethic that Louis does.
not on your list, but I think Chris Titus’ act is as good as louie ck
Bill Burr is long overdue to be a household name. Anyone have thoughts on why it’s taken so long?
I think the fact that Louis CK has had several tv shows and Burr has not may make a difference – too many people just haven’t heard of him. New Media is essential of course, but mainstream media is still important.
I know this is an old post, but look at Aziz Ansari. He started with The Human Giant which had a few seasons on MTV. He now stars in Parks & Recreation and has a brand new stand up special for 5$ online at his website (www.azizisbored.com). Not to mention he had already released a previous special a few years prior.
also some of his tweets are interesting and I know lots of my friends follow him not because they think he’s hilarious but they say “aziz post some cool shit”
I personally think Judah Friedlander. The guy has been doing amazing stand up for years as ” the world champion”. He is on 30 rock for 7 years has done countless movies . had a book called how to beat up anybody a few years ago and has a comedy album and movie coming out! I’m waiting for him to get his own TV show!
Hands Down Bill Burr !!! He’s The real Deal, and he’ll tell you that too !!! Hands Down Bill Burr by a Knockout !!!
You should be looking. At guy call dangerous t
For one, Dane Cook is already enormous, he’s just not a good comedian. His material is unoriginal, his rabbit-trail storytelling contains no real jokes or intelligent twists, and he pretends to be part of a college-aged crowd despite being a 40 year old man.
Bill Burr is by far the funniest guy on the list. He doesn’t rely on shock value or a goofy voice to incite laughter. He calls out the sexist disparity in this country that absurdly crushes men (white men in particular), which everyone knows but no one talks about. He gets sports, he gets politics, but pretends he doesn’t, and his observations are very common-man. His angry character just makes it funnier.
Listen to Bill Burr’s podcast just two or three times and the thoughts in your head will begin to sound like his voice.
It’s not as simple as him simply saying “White Men are Persecuted.” He can say this because he has a good Black fanbase, his best friend is Patrice O’Neal, and he is married to a Black woman, and sees all perspectives and can be rather fair. He kills in Black rooms and White rooms, as evidenced by this clip:
It’s a shame that people like you and some of CK/Jeselnik’s fans completely misread what they are appealing to. It’s why now on open mic mights there’s a slew of very unfunny misogyny/racism/rape ‘jokes’ by ‘comedians’ who know the rhythm but not the words.
And just so you know, Bill Burr came up with and respects Dane Cook. Burr said once on Nerdist that all the old comics lodged the same complaints about Cook you did, but Cook was killing and coming up through the ranks and the old guys let their own negativity swallow them.
Maybe Burr’s career suffers from his and Louie’s similarities. Both Boston redheads that give a smarty mants/working class act. Louie’s is more smarty pants and Burr’s more blue-collar. He’s a bro and Louie’s a dad… and he’s the philosopher-king.
Also for the record Burr was a bit player on Chapelle’s Show and Breaking Bad. Kind of two biggies.
I can’t believe Chris Hardwick is even on the list! I mean really, is he even a comedian? He does a pretty good job on The Talking Dead, but apart from that he’s not that great. Louis CK will never be replaced – he is so unique and one-of-a-kind that even the runner-up to him would be terrible in a side-by-side comparison. Louie FTW!