The 10 Comedy Voices That Mattered Most in 2023

No one said you had to be a comic to create year-altering comedy
The 10 Comedy Voices That Mattered Most in 2023

The comedy voices who make the most impact don’t always come from where you expect them. Sure, sometimes you hear them behind a microphone in a comedy club. But other times, they’re enlisting stuffies to negotiate a union contract. Sometimes, they’re even walking the halls of Congress. This year, we had ‘em all. Here are Cracked’s choices for the 10 comedy voices that mattered in 2023…

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Sabrina Brier

“Your annoying roommate is slaying on TikTok,” proclaimed The New York Times


That’s Brier, whose TikTok following has nearly doubled since our national newspaper of record wrote about her in the spring. Brier’s secret is her willingness to be hatable (and yet relatable), betraying modern humanity’s worst instincts straight into her phone. “I love being funny, but I love being funny in a way where it feels like there’s something very real and dramatic behind it,” Brier told Dazed, “something that’s hard to watch underneath it.”

Hasan Minhaj

After The New Yorker published a brutal takedown accusing Minhaj of not only stretching the truth for punchlines but outright lying about the serious premises beneath bits, it appeared his career might be over. (Indeed, Comedy Central seems to have moved on from Minhaj, once a frontrunner for The Daily Show anchor spot.) Minhaj won back at least some fans with his defiant response, but the entire exchange raised important questions about the slippery nature of truth in comedy.

Diane Morgan

On this side of the pond anyway, Cunk on Earth launched 2023 with an extremely stupid history lesson courtesy of Morgan’s clueless and hopelessly disinterested Philomena Cunk. 

“When you watch those history shows where the host is really excited about it, it makes you feel bad because you dont share it,” Morgan told Seth Meyers. He asked Morgan if she had any interest in history herself. “No, I hate it,” she replied. “Boring unless it’s something really weird. I know that everyone watching it is bored by history as well.”

Pedro Pascal

Have a year, Pedro. In addition to killing it on HBO’s The Last of Us, Pascal also became the unexpected MVP of Saturday Night Live. There are a half-dozen sketches from his hosting stint that would qualify among Season 48’s 10 best, including this bit starring Pascal as Marcello Hernández’s overprotective mother.

“To borrow a phrase from one memorable sketch,” said Vulture, “Pascal ate this whole episode up and left no crumbs.”

Fran Drescher

It’s been a minute since we thought about The Nanny star but you couldn’t miss her in 2023, as she led a hard-fought battle for SAG-AFTRA against the evils of corporate profit-mongers and artificial intelligence. Somehow, she pulled this off while bringing stuffed toys to the bargaining table to strike fear into her opponents.

The famously nasal sitcom star proved such a firebrand that some talked her up as a legit candidate for office. “She has an amazing ability to have people smile while wielding power. That’s a rare talent,” a Democratic consultant told Hollywood Reporter. “She helps people stand up.”

John Mulaney

If you’re getting tired of Mulaney, it’s only because his story has been everywhere in the past year. Baby J drew deserved comparisons to Richard Pryor’s Live on the Sunset Strip for its ability to generate huge laughs while telling harrowing stories of drug addiction. For what it’s worth, Baby J is even darker.  

It’s a special where Mulaney dares you not to like him, even as he’s being confronted by comedy pals. “Everyone there at the intervention is really worried about me. They’re all concerned about my physical well-being. But I stroll in there, I am cocaine-skinny with a new haircut. They’ve all been in heavy quarantine for nine months. They looked like shit. I was the best-looking person at my intervention, by a mile. Everyone there looked like Jerry Garcia.” 

George Santos

Santos proved to be the comedy Trump of 2023 — whatever goofy exaggeration a comedian could write about him would be one-upped by Santos himself a day later. To make a list of his lies and transgressions might take all of 2024, but for starters, he’s the guy who spent campaign donations on OnlyFans and Botox, stole multiple people’s identities, lied about his high school and college educations, claimed to have worked on Wall Street (he didn’t), claimed to have started an animal charity (he didn’t) and had a fake gay marriage. Late-night comedians and Saturday Night Live thanked the heavens for the gift of Santos.

And now that he’s been kicked out of Congress for his transgressions? He’s making hundreds of thousands of dollars recording videos on Cameo. Hey, a guy has to make bail somehow.

Matt Rife

Here’s the contradiction of Rife’s Natural Selection special: It stayed in the Netflix Top Ten forever despite a 17 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. That makes no sense until you factor in Rife’s uncanny ability to stir up trouble, both in his special and on social media. Who can forget Rife’s opening joke about domestic violence, followed up by recommending special-needs helmets for any critics who were offended?

None of this makes Rife the best stand-up comedian of 2023, but there’s little doubt that he was the most discussed

Greta Gerwig

Let’s shower Gerwig with her well-deserved flowers. In an era when studios refuse to greenlight a theatrical release for comedies of any kind, her Barbie obliterated box office records. If you’re like me and long for the return of comedies to the big screen, we can all thank Gerwig and the nearly one-and-a-half billion she earned for Warner Bros. this summer.

Somehow, Gerwig managed to make everyone laugh and kick the patriarchy in the pants, the very reason that some blame for the failure of superhero movies and Disney animation these days. But the movie’s message has been defended by everyone from Marc Maron to Joe Rogan, a comedy feat of heroic proportions. Bravo!

Elon Musk

No one wanted to be funny in 2023 more than Musk. In fact, it’s what he’s always wanted.

As long as he’s not the butt of the joke, Musk is all about the laughs. Those racist, homophobic or cruel punchlines that the old Twitter regime might have vetoed? Everything was now fair game on X, the Mountain Dew-fueled reboot of the old classic. “Comedy,” said Musk, “is now legal on Twitter.” That meant he was free to take the piss out of elected officials with 2006’s funniest gags.

As The Los Angeles Times points out, Musk loves to post jokes that include the numbers 420 (that’s a marijuana reference) or 69 (Google it — it’s dirty!). In April, he changed his X handle to “Harry Bōlz” — say it out loud and try not to laugh. Actually, please laugh at Elon Musk. Otherwise his employees insist that he might spiral like he did after getting booed onstage at a Dave Chappelle show. A24 just announced an Elon biopic; for everyone’s sake, make it a comedy. 

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