Variety has selected its 10 Comics to Watch for 2020.
This year’s honorees will be profiled in the September 29 issue of Variety and take part in a live virtual panel at this year’s Just for Laughs Digital Festival. Traditionally held every year in Montreal, the festival will going digital this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and held Oct. 9-10. The 10 Comics to Watch panel will be presented by Cohen Gardner LLP.
Says Paul Ronca, senior director of creative development & brand partnerships, Just for Laughs: “The Variety 10 Comics to Watch have been a revered part of the Just for Laughs festival for many years. It’s great to see the unveiling of a talented new group of amazing comics and creators that will be participating in the first ever Just for Laughs Digital Festival. Lots of things have changed since the start of 2020, but the spirit of creating entertaining content to keep people laughing remains the same.”
Variety launched the 10 Comics to Watch list in 2000 with names such as Zach Galifianakis and Patton Oswalt. Over the years, other honorees have included Tiffany Haddish, Amy Schumer and Kumail Nanjiani.
The list is made up of stand-up comedians, writers and content creators and selected by a panel that includes Variety editors and critics with feedback from those in the comedy community that scout, book, cast and represent comics.
Says Steven Gaydos, Variety’s executive VP of content, “In these unprecedented times, people are turning more and more to comedy to help keep spirits high. And comics are finding new and creative ways to keep people entertained. We’re excited to be able to keep our ongoing partnership with Just For Laughs alive and honor these comedy voices in a digital format at this year’s festival.”
The 10 Comics selected this year are:
Sarah Cooper – Cooper became a sensation with her videos lip-synching Donald Trump’s speeches. She is the author of the bestselling books “100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings” and “How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings,” both of which are in development as series. Her upcoming Netflix special was just announced.
Chad Goes Deep – The comedy duo of Tom Allen (a.k.a. “Chad Kroeger”) and JT Parr have enjoyed viral success with their videos attending city council meetings and distributing masks to residents of Huntington Beach and recently appeared on Howard Stern’s show. They host the podcast and webseries “Chad Goes Deep” and are developing an animated series with Hulu.
Franqi French – The 2019 winner of NBC’s National Stand-Up Comedy competition, French is the creator and host of the virtual shows “#debatableAF,” where comics debate current topics, and “French Roast,” where comics roast guests in their own home. Her stand-up special “Pardon My French” is due next year.
Ziwe Fumudoh – A writer on Showtime’s “Desus & Mero,” Fumudoh is known for her popular weekly Instagram Live show and her musical comedy album “Generation Ziwe.” She is currently at work on a book titled “The Book of Ziwe.”
Caleb Hearon – Known for his popular Twitter and Instagram videos, Hearon has appeared on Showtime’s “Work in Progress” and will be seen in the new season of FX’s “Fargo.” He’s a writer on Netflix’s upcoming animated series “Human Resources,” a spinoff of “Big Mouth.”
Janelle James – After touring with Chris Rock and Amy Schumer, James took over the reins of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival (now The Janelle James Comedy Festival) in Brooklyn. She just finished a second season as a staff writer on Showtime’s “Black Monday” and is currently a writer and voice actor on Apple TV Plus’ “Central Park.”
Dewayne Perkins – A co-producer on NBC’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and a consulting producer on the upcoming Peacock reboot of “Saved by the Bell,” Perkins is currently co-writing the feature film “The Blackening” with Tracy Oliver (“Girls Trip”), based on the viral short of the same name written by Perkins and performed with his improvisational group 3Peat.
Megan Stalter – A writer and performer on the National Lampoon Radio Hour, Stalter can also be heard on “Tooning Out the News” on CBS All Access. She created and hosts the self-produced YouTube show “The Megan Stalter Show” and the podcast “Confronting Demons with Megan Stalter.”
Brent Terhune – Terhune has become a popular social media presence with his satirical rants about politics and currently hosts “The Cafeteria” podcast with Ryan Niemiller and Jonny Loquasto. He is developing a clip-based game show with EP Scott Zabielski and Arsonhouse Entertainment and his second album “Bluff Creek” will be released Oct 2, 2020 with On Tour Records.
Jenny Yang – An executive story editor on Fox’s “Last Man Standing,” Yang is the creator and host of “Comedy Crossing,” a popular standup comedy show held inside in the video game “Animal Crossing” and watched live via Zoom. She is currently at work on the competitive comedy show “Everything’s Fine” about the self-care industrial complex.
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