Out of the 6 billion people on Earth, there are only a handful of genuinely funny ones. Here are the ones from that handful who made their mark this year.
Many of us gravitate toward the Richard Pryors of the world, while others are inexplicably drawn to the Carrot Tops (and, presumably, eating fistfuls of paste). While there's no way to please everyone, we bravely offer our list of the 15 funniest people of 2006, based on who had the biggest movies, the funniest TV shows and, in our winner' case, way too much Red Bull.
While these stars made their mark in a range of formats-from television and film to radio and Internet-they all share a fresh, fearless sensibility that earmarked the early work of comedy legends like Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy. Who among this year's big 15 will follow in those stars' footsteps, starring in a pile of horrible G-rated pap 20 years from now, all but invalidating the high esteem in which we once held them? Only time will tell. For now, just enjoy their work.
The Daily Show can keep adding Corddrys left and right, but for our money, Hodgman is the latest in the show's long line of great correspondents. He's perhaps best known as the nerdy personified PC in the Apple ads, but his book, The Areas of My Expertise, and his tangent-laden bits on The Daily Show bring his appeal beyond the realm of Apple geeks.
Lightening up the dark HBO western Deadwood as pathetically wimpy hotel owner and de facto mayor E.B. Farnum, Sanderson brings a comedic edge to what is primarily a dramatic show. Though he was previously best known as "that actor who I recognize from something I saw, but I don't remember what it was," Sanderson' turn as the inept, scheming Farnum is well worth keeping an eye out for.
An Internet sketch group that made good, Lonely Island is probably best known for giving rise to Andy Samberg, whose "Lazy Sunday" short revitalized a sagging SNL and spawned dozens of absolutely horrible imitations. These days, the Lonely Island guys are working on Awesometown, a much-anticipated sketch show that used online buzz to get network attention from FOX.
As The Office' hyperactive "Assistant to the Regional Manager," Wilson has managed to steal more than his share of scenes from the master scene-stealer himself, Steve Carell. The funniest, yet saddest, part of the show is that everyone who's ever held a day job knows (and loathes) someone like Wilson's character.