Actor: After a seven-year absence, Jason Bateman and the rest of the original “Arrested Development” cast returned this year for the show’s Netflix revival. The actor earned a second Emmy nod for his role as Michael Bluth — the glue that keeps his dysfunctional family together. Bateman made his feature directorial debut at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival with the irreverent spelling-bee satire “Bad Words.” Going head-to-head with Melissa McCarthy in “Identity Thief,” he pushed that comedy to grosses of $174 million worldwide.
Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud – Film
Directors: The “Despicable Me 2” duo have shepherded Uni’s successful toon franchise since the start (they even provide the voices of the Minions), racking up a stunning $912 million in global box office from the latest installment. Illumination Entertainment honcho Chris Meledandri found Coffin at French toon studio Mac Guff, pairing the helmer’s Euro sensibility with that of co-director Renaud, a comicbook vet who had worked at Blue Sky.
Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders and John Cleese – Film
‘Croods’ co-writers: It all started with Roald Dahl’s “The Twits,” which Cleese and De Micco had adapted for Disney. That caught the attention of DreamWorks Animation, who asked the pair to possibly develop a feature there. They liked one concept that DWA had — a buddy movie about a technophobe and technophile, which appealed to Cleese’s own fear of change. With animation helmer Sanders onboard (“How to Train Your Dragon”), the film became caveman comedy “The Croods,” which grossed $585 million worldwide.
Eugenio Derbez – Film
Writer-director-actor: Despite small roles opposite Rob Schneider on his show “Rob” and Adam Sandler in the film “Jack and Jill,” the Mexican TV star was a virtual unknown in Hollywood until writing, directing and starring in his first crossover hit, “Instructions Not Included.” The reluctant-daddy dramedy, which took 12 years to finance, earned $44 million nationally, topping Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” as the highest-grossing Spanish-language film of all time in the U.S.
Paul Feig – Film
Director: Just as his peers were doubting whether the “Bridesmaids” director could top himself, he brought “The Heat.” The Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy buddy-cop hit culled $229 million and, like “Bridesmaids,” brought a female-centered comedy to the fore. In a departure from the R-rated sensibility that has served him well so far, he also signed on to produce “Peanuts,” the bigscreen adaptation of Charles Schulz’s classic comicstrip.
James-Franco – Film
Actor: Although his friends tried to burn him to a crisp at Franco’s Comedy Central Roast, the (possibly high) multihyphenate emerged with “genius unscathed,” quipping, “You don’t understand my movies? Well, I don’t understand my movies!” While juggling such artsy endeavors as “Interior. Leather bar,” he grossed $493 million worldwide with “Oz the Great and Powerful.” Roles in “This Is the End” and “Spring Breakers” also amped his cult status.
Jeff Tremaine, Johnny Knoxville, Spike Jonze – Film
‘Bad Grandpa’ gang: It was only three years ago that Knoxville evolved from America’s favorite numbskull masochist into America’s favorite accidental conceptual artist, with his “Jackass 3D” playing at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Now he goes one step further, becoming America’s favorite W.C. Fields-esque elderly misanthrope, several decades before his time, reteaming with accomplice Jonze and director Tremaine on B.O. topper “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa,” which earned more than $85 million worldwide.
Craig Mazin – Film
Screenwriter: Mazin earned his first solo feature screenplay credit this year after rewriting Steve Conrad’s “Identify Thief” script. The Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy starrer reeled in $174 million worldwide. The former Disney marketing exec put himself on the map with the “Scary Movie” franchise, before significantly boosting his brand with another comedy series: He co-wrote this summer’s “The Hangover Part III,” which has made $351 million worldwide.
Melissa McCarthy – Film
Actor: This year, the “Mike & Molly” Emmy winner completed her transformation from smallscreen comedian to mega-movie star. Last December, she stole scenes from Paul Rudd in “This Is 40.” Then, in February, “Identity Thief” proved her drawing power at the B.O. (to the tune of $174 million), followed by boffo buddy-cop comedy “The Heat.”
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg – Film
Writer-directors: Childhood friends and screenwriting partners since 2007’s “Superbad,” Rogen and Goldberg crafted one of the strangest, funniest and most surprisingly lucrative comedies of the year (their first as directors) with “This Is the End.” It was also perhaps the most characteristic expression of their worldview, taking a bonkers premise, leavening it with doses of self-reflexivity, and somehow finding the space to imbue the whole endeavor with genuine warmth, soul and an unforgettable Michael Cera impaling.
Adam Sandler – Film
Actor-producer: Hollywood’s perpetual goofball nailed it with back-to-back comedy hits this year. In July, he delivered his first-ever sequel, “Grown Ups 2,” which grossed an impressive $245 million. That hit came on the heels of successful Sony toon “Hotel Transylvania,” which set a September opening-weekend record of $43 million, before scaring up $354 million in all.
Rawson Marshall Thurber, Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston – Film
Summer bosses: Thurber is no stranger to surprise summer hits. After generating nearly $168 million worldwide with 2004 directorial debut “Dodgeball,” he scored nearly $262 million with his first film in five years, “We’re the Millers.” The raunchy road-trip comedy’s unexpected success was no doubt fueled by leads Aniston and Sudeikis, who will re-team for next year’s “Horrible Bosses 2.”
Will Arnett – TV
Actor: When CBS sitcom “The Millers” debuted on Oct. 3, seasoned thesp Arnett found yet another TV voice — that of Nathan Miller, whose divorce is quickly followed by that of his mom and dad (Beau Bridges and Margo Martindale). Mom moves in with son, dad with daughter, and a double-divorce storyline is born that will carry through several episodes as the network has picked up the show for a full season. Arnett’s earlier TV gigs include “Arrested Development,” “30 Rock” and “Up All Night.”
Casey Bloys – TV
Exec VP of Programming, HBO: Bloys has overseen comedy development at HBO since 2006, with such skeins as “Girls,” “Veep,” “Enlightened,” “Entourage,” and “Eastbound and Down” in his stable. With the departure of HBO’s prexy Sue Naegle, Bloys was tapped as the pay cabler’s exec VP of programming in October (along with drama counterpart Michael Ellenberg). Bloys joined the company in 2004 as director of development at HBO Independent Prods.
Rob Corddry – TV
Showrunner-star: Corddry has become far more than just a correspondent on “The Daily Show,” which originally put him before the public. His creation, Adult Swim’s “Childrens Hospital,” which he also stars in, won the Emmy for short-format live-action special class for the second year in a row in 2013. He’s also been conirmed to star in next year’s “Hot Tub Time Machine 2,” a sequel to the 2010 movie .
Michael J. Fox – TV
Exec producer-star: Fox is the centerpiece (exec producing and starring) in television comedy’s biggest commitment of the 2013-14 season: a 22-episode out-of-the-gate order for “The Michael J. Fox Show,” marking the actor’s return to series regularhood after six Emmy guest nominations (and one win). Though NBC is struggling on Thursdays, the freshman show is the most-watched comedy on the Peacock’s schedule that night, building on its lead-in.
Tony Hale – TV
Actor: Never failing to find nuanced quirk in his roles, Hale had a double dose of fun in 2013, simultaneously appearing on screens in a pair of prestige projects: Netflix’ signature revival of “Arrested Development” and the second season of HBO’s “Veep.” The latter role delivered Hale his first Emmy, which he promptly punctuated with a memorable supporting role in co-star Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ acceptance speech for her own kudo.
Arsenio Hall – TV
Talkshow host: After a 19-year hiatus, the former latenight TV host returned behind the desk in September. Following a promising premiere week, “The Arsenio Hall Show” has been struggling to find its footing in a changing latenight circuit crowded with Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon. The recent departure of showrunner and exec producer Neal Kendall could mean trouble for the show, which continues to attract top guests.
Mitch Hurwitz – TV
Showrunner: In the year that made Netflix a force to be reckoned with in original programming, the contributions of Hurwitz were indispensable. The devoted following fostered by “Arrested Development” over the years was parlayed into a foundation of subscribers for the show’s long-awaited return, one that not incidentally resulted in three Emmy nominations and earned him the title “Comedy Writer of the Year” at the Just for Laughs festival. To top things off, Hurwitz is filming an onscreen guest spot for “Community.”
Nick Kroll – TV
Showrunner-star: Recently dubbed Just for Laughs’ Breakout Comedy Star of the Year, Kroll has had a monster 2013. His eponymous sketch series, “Kroll Show,” was No. 1 in its timeslot among the elusive men 18-34 demo during its first season, and returns for season two in 2014. Kroll also stars on “The League,” which has maintained a steady audience through the transition from FX to the newly launched FXX. Kroll’s also made recent guest turns on “Parks and Recreation” and “New Girl.”
Mike Lazzo – TV
Senior executive VP/creative director, Adult Swim: As top dog of Cartoon Network’s eccentric, mostly animated Adult Swim sister network, Lazzo oversaw the programming block’s best year yet. Hits like “The Eric Andre Show,” “Hot Package” and the Emmy-winning “Childrens Hospital” have helped the net rank No. 1 this summer among basic cable networks for primetime delivery of adults 18-34 and men 18-34 for the first time ever. Earlier this year, Lazzo was promoted from senior veepee of programming and production.
Seth Meyers – TV
Writer-actor-host: For Meyers, the season marks both the end of an era and the start of a new chapter. After eight years at the Weekend Update desk on “Saturday Night Live” — where he’s also been a head writer since 2005 — Meyers is taking a seat at the “Late Night” desk. With Jimmy Fallon succeeding Jay Leno at “The Tonight Show,” Meyers will take his place in the after-hours gang in February.
Opus Moreschi and Tom Purcell – TV
‘Colbert Report’ head writers: The “Colbert Report” duo, who won the Emmy for writing in September, hail from a background in improv. A self-described “comedy nerd” growing up, Moreschi performed with iO in Los Angeles and was upped to head writer in 2012. A Second City alum (alongside Stephen Colbert), Purcell wrote for “The Cosby Show” and “Grounded for Life” before joining the series. “I thought I’d maybe be on the show for a year, help him get the show going, and then do something else,” he told the Days of Yore. That was in 2005.
Nick Offerman – TV
Actor-standup: Offerman is the redwood amid NBC’s longest-running comedy, “Parks and Recreation.” He also gets indie movies made. They may be comic-relief bit parts, but he’s among the most bankable names in pics like “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” “The Kings of Summer,” “In a World,” “Smashed” and “Paradise” (Diablo Cody’s directorial debut). He also just published his book, “Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living,” and boosted his income in the past year with his “American Ham” tour, grossing more than a million bucks.
Tracey Pakosta and Andy Weil – TV
Senior VP, comedy, and VP, comedy development, Universal Television: Working under studio head Bela Bajaria, Pakosta and Weil are the duo behind Fox’s buzziest shows. They fought for John Mulaney’s semi-autobiographical sitcom “Mulaney,” which NBC passed on last season, to land a series order at Fox. The execs also shepherded the development of Andy Samberg’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and Mindy Kaling’s “The Mindy Project.”
Jim Parsons – TV
Actor: Though the ensemble of comedy’s most-watched TV program has grown (no sitcom can top its 18 million same-day viewers — or its $634,000/minute ad revenue), Parsons in many ways remains its face, winning his third lead actor Emmy in the past four years while helping inspire countless merchandising opportunities for his character, Sheldon Cooper. Parsons also entertained capacity audiences on Broadway last year as Elwood P. Dowd in “Harvey,” and this past summer ilmed the Ryan Murphy-helmed 2014 telepic “The Normal Heart” for HBO.
Andy Samberg – TV
Actor-musician: Andy Samberg’s new Fox cop sitcom, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” is one of the few shows of the new season to click with critics. Despite its sluggish ratings, the show was picked up for an entire season. Samberg, who tied the knot this year, also joined several “Saturday Night Live” alums in lending his voice to the animated film “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” (at $177 million and counting). His band the Lonely Island dropped a third studio album, “The Wack Album,” in June.
Cecily Strong – TV
Actor: It was just one year to the day after Strong made her debut as a featured player on “Saturday Night Live” that producer Lorne Michaels announced she’d be joining Seth Meyers as co-anchor of Weekend Update. A Chicago native with roots at Second City and iO Chicago, Strong made her mark last season with impressions of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Fran Drescher, as well as her popular Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party.
Maria Bamford – Digital
Standup comedian: With only her parents and dog as an audience, Bamford made the self-distributed video “The Special Special Special,” released via Chill.com. The 2012 Web-streamed spesh earned her more than all her previous shows combined. This year, she has released “Ask My Mom,” in which she plays her mom and herself, answering questions sent by viewers. Among her many cameos was a side-splitting arc as Tobias’ g.f. in “Arrested Development,” as well as in Louis C.K.’s show, where her character sleeps with C.K. and leaves him with something to remember her by. She recently released comedy album “Ask Me About My New God,” taped at the Helium Comedy Club in Portland, Ore.
Phil DeFranco – Digital
YouTube mogul: For YouTube-savvy readers, Phil DeFranco needs no introduction. His YouTube channel, “sxephil,” has 2.9 million subscribers and more than 1 billion views. He also launched SourceFed, which aggregates nearly everything, as a part of YouTube’s original channel funding initiative (later followed by SourceFedNERD). It’s often touted as one of the most successful channels in the project, already grabbing 1.3 million subs. Discovery Communications’ Revision3 recently acquired DeFranco’s channels, and he will stay on as programming exec.
Corey Moss – Digital
VP of digital, Principato Young Entertainment: One of the key creative forces behind Yahoo’s fall comedy lineup, Moss and his team got top talent for such shows as “Tiny Commando,” “We Need Help” and the third season of “Sketchy.” Moss started out at MTV News before moving first to Yahoo and later Principato Young. Now he works with the firm’s clients to make shows, such as “Let’s Talk About Love” with Niecy Nash, which was developed and sold to Yahoo.
Issa Rae – Digital
Showrunner-star: A YouTube darling who’s about to cross over to television, Rae first made her mark creating and starring in “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.” The Web skein’s irst season boasted as many as 1.5 million views per episode, luring Pharrell Williams to exec produce the second season. Rae is now developing a comedy series with Larry Wilmore for HBO in which she is set to star. She was recently named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list, and is slated to release a collection of essays with Simon & Schuster next year.
Lloyd Ahlquist and Peter Shukoff – Digital
Comedy rap stars: Perhaps better known by their YouTube handles, “Nice Peter” and “Epic Lloyd,” Shukoff and Ahlquist are among Maker Studios’ top stars, responsible for co-creating the boffo “Epic Rap Battles of History” Web series. With nearly 8 million subscribers and more than 1.4 billion views, the parody videos pit corny impersonations of historical figures against one another. A popular recent episode featured guest stars Key and Peele in a showdown between Gandhi and MLK.
Andy Signore – Digital
Director of Programming, Defy Media: What if previews helped audiences adjust their expectations for new movies, instead of setting them up for disappointment? That question inspired Signore to conceive the hilarious “Honest Trailers” series — bombastic critiques, voiced by trailer narrator Jon Bailey — which crossed the 1 million subscriber threshold on YouTube this year. Signore also oversees original content for Break.com and Screen Junkies, which scored a viral hit by asking the cast of “Last Vegas” to perform dramatic readings of Top 40 song lyrics.
Digital: Bernie Su and Hank Green
Web series showrunners: The two Austenphiles brought “Pride and Prejudice” to modern-day teens and the Internet with their YouTube adaptation “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” Fashioned as a video diary, the cheeky series consists of 9.5 hours stretched across 160 segments, which have collectively earned more than 40 million views, landing the duo an interactive program Emmy this year. The sequel, “Emma Approved,” hasn’t caught on quite the same, but is slowly inding a following.
Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner – Digital
Host and director: The pair made “Drunk History” an Internet sensation on Funny or Die, and Comedy Central noticed. The Web series, in which an inebriated narrator attempts to recall a historical event, found its way to cable in July, with Waters as host and Konner directing the segments. The series has attracted such guest stars as Adam Scott, Michael Cera and Kristen Wiig. Adam McKay and Will Ferrell serve as exec producers alongside the duo.
Ylvis – Digital
Singing satirists: Attracting international attention (and a wave of bizarre imitations), Norwegian brothers Bard and Vegard Ylvisaker found a much broader audience for their comedy variety act by turning to online musicvideos. “The Fox” ascended the Billboard Hot 100 to No. 6, and has racked up nearly 200 million views on YouTube, while follow-up songs “Stonehenge” and “Massachusetts” also became viral video sensations, lending heft to the duo’s freshly minted deal with Warner Music.
Standup: Dave Chappelle
Reclusive exclusive: Chappelle opted off of the standard standup comic treadmill years ago, when he turned down untold amounts of money to continue “Chappelle’s Show,” and went missing from the comedy circuit at the height of his fame. So it figures that for his 70-plus dates this year, the performer would do things his own way. While still sometimes beset by the “do Rick James!” yahoos who inspired his retreat in the first place, Chappelle has takes strides toward establishing a new brand of standup, with free-associative performances that follow his whims, moods and fascinating insights as far as he wants to take them.
Standup: Terry Fator
Ventriloquist: Fator’s $1 million prize for winning “America’s Got Talent” in 2007 seems paltry in comparison to his earnings today. He’s still banking on his five-year, $100 million contract at the Mirage in Las Vegas, performing more than 200 shows this year. He ranks as one of the world’s most successful comedians, earning an estimated $24 million this year via his ventriloquism-driven stage routine.
Standup: Kevin Hart
Comic-host: For years, Kevin Hart has set score by his sheer ceaseless hustle, yet 2014 is looking to be more and more like the year he can allow himself to take a break. After hosting MTV’s Video Music Awards, Hart bowed BET’s parody comedy “The Real Husbands of Hollywood,” which he created and toplines, and has already begun its second season. He scored a pilot commitment from ABC for an untitled half-hour sitcom, and also played himself in metapocalypse comedy “This Is the End.” And this is all without even mentioning the bread-and-butter of his portfolio: Hart earned $14 million on the touring circuit, while his standup film “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain” grossed more than $30 million.
Standup-actor: The former talkshow host made $12 million on his comedy tour this year. Lopez just inked an overall film and TV deal with Pantelion and South Shore — the film and TV ventures between Lionsgate and Mexican conglomerate Televisa. Lopez and Marisa Tomei will star in the first project, Sean McNamara’s based-on-a-true-story drama “La Vida Robot.” Lopez will also make his TV return next year with the launch of his FX sitcom “Saint George.”
Standup: Russell Peters
Global stage star: Though U.S. audiences are slow to catch up, Peters, a Canadian of Indian descent, is becoming one of the world’s most successful comics. Per Forbes, he made $21 million on his standup this year, putting him ahead of acts such as Louis C.K. and Daniel Tosh. Americans took notice when his latest standup special, “Russell Peters: Notorious,” became the irst Netflix-exclusive standup special Oct. 14.
Standup: Jerry Seinfeld
Tour champ: “Seinfeld” may have ended its run 15 years ago, but Jerry is still the most (financially) successful comedian in the game. He’s earned the top spot on Forbes’ Top-Earning Comedians list three years in a row. In addition to syndication dollars, Seinfeld earned an estimated $27 million from this year’s 70 tour dates. The second season of his Web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” drew in guests Chris Rock, David Letterman and Don Rickles.
Alumni: Louis C.K.
His fifth one-hour spesh, “Oh My God,” debuted on HBO in April. On the bigscreen, he made cameos in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” and David O. Russell’s “American Hustle.”
Alumni: Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert interrupted the longest-winning streak in Emmy history when “The Colbert Report” trumped “The Daily Show’s” decade-long hold on the variety series category.
Alumni: James Corden
The comedic thesp followed up his Tony win with a pair of bigscreen roles. Both “One Chance” and “Can a Song Save Your Life?” bowed at the Toronto Film Fest.
Alumni: Jeff Dunham
As of mid-year, the ventriloquist was the world’s top touring comic, with merchandising outperforming his DVD sales. Forbes estimates his earnings at $19 million.
Alumni: Amy Poehler
The “Parks and Recreation” star was not only nominated for a Golden Globe, but also earned raves hosting the show with fellow “Saturday Night Live” vet Tina Fey and will be back again next year.
Alumni: Seth MacFarlane
After earning Variety’s 2012 Power of Comedy award, the “Ted” helmer hosted the Oscars and tackled his second feature, “A Million Ways to Die in the West.”