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The 13 Funniest Men on Television

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | May 12, 2011 |

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | May 12, 2011 |

13. Joel McHale: McHale’s brand of wiseacre comedy on “Community” is something of a throwback to the more sarcastic style of humor in the 90s. It’s Will Arnett, minus the obliviousness and with three times the charm. He’s cutting, but it never feels mean spirited. And he’s the rare member of this list who is funny enough to play the lead character in his show instead of a supporting scene-stealer.


12. Jason Sudeikis: In choosing one “SNL” member for this list, it came down to Sudeikis and Bill Hader, but it’s Sudeikis that narrowly breaks the top 13 with his winning style of boisterous nice-guy douchiness. His hilarious ESPN Classic Skits are ever-so-slightly better than Hader’s Stefon character. “When you got something fungal deep down in your jungle! Gyno-O-Lotrimin!”


11. Mark Duplass: Sometimes, it’s easy to say that the funniest characters on any show are the dumb guys or the oblivious ones or the freaks, but it’s Mark Duplass’ slightly more normal, Pete, that elevates “The League” into more than just a caricature of buffoonish fantasy football players. Pete is the sane guy put into weird positions, and “The League’s” best source of humor comes from watching him try to weasel out.


10. Ed O’Neill: The other male characters on “Modern Family” deserve some recognition, too. But while Ty Burrell’s character feels like a suburban dad version of Michael Scott, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet’s gay couple is still a little too broad, Ed O’Neill effortlessly delivers dry asides with perfect comic timing. Sofía Vergara is brilliant, but it’s Ed O’Neill’s reaction to her that makes her Vergara as good as she is in “Modern Family.”


9.Adam Pally: Newcomer Adam Pally, who plays Max on “Happy Endings,” has already transformed the network sitcom gay stereotype, perfectly depicting the straightest gay man on TV, who nevertheless bumbles when it comes to feigning heterosexuality. There’s a lot of truth to his character, and while much of that can be contributed to the excellent writing on “Happy Endings,” it’s Pally that completely sells it.


8. Aziz Ansari: I think Ansari’s stand-up comedy is hit and miss (and I loathe Raaandy), but he’s perfect on “Parks and Recreation,” an Axe Body Spray loving dark-skinned lovable douchebag from South Carolina.


7. Jason Segel: Neil Patrick Harris gets a lot of the comedy credit for “How I Met Your Mother,” but it’s really Segel who has taken what seems like a committed version of the food-obsessed, somewhat dim Joey-Tribianni like character, Marshall, and given him more complexity and soul. Segel not only routinely gets the biggest laughs of the show, but managed to wring a deep sadness out of the audience after the death of his character’s father.


6. Alec Baldwin: Seven Emmy nominations, and two Emmy wins, and six years into “30 Rock,” Baldwin still demonstrates exactly why he deserves them. A lot of actors can pull off blowhard, but nobody pulls off funny blowhard as well as Baldwin and his Jack Donaghy character.


5. Brian Van Holt: It took me a while to properly identify the spiritual successor to Turk in Bill Lawrence’s “Cougar Town,” but the confidence dance cleared up the confusion right away. Brian Van Holt, who plays J-Bird’s goofy ex-husband in “Cougar Town” has stolen every scene he’s been in since the pilot and somehow still manages to be the heart of the show.


4. Donald Glover: Glover’s Troy is the slapstick to Danny Pudi’s straight-man. Abed, in “Community,” and the two together form the best couple on television. Pudi is fantastic, but it’s episodes like the Lavar Burton one, and the one in which Troy lied about being molested by his uncle, that cement Glover’s placement in the top 13.


3. H. Jon Benjamin: Until just today, I didn’t know what H. Jon Benjamin looked like, and it’s a testament to how good he is that he’s as funny as anyone on television despite being only a voice actor. He’s the voice behind Archer in “Archer” and Bob in “Bob’s Burgers” and is the single best reason (and maybe the only reason, in the case of the latter) to watch either of those shows. Archer, thanks to Benjamin, is one of the few sort of oblivious dumb guy characters who manages both a dry sense of humor and the ability to sell intelligent (and often profane) jokes, elevating him well above the typical Maxwell Smart spoof.


2. Charlie Day: In “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” Charlie is the crass, alcoholic, illiterate, dumbass with no moral compass. And he is fantastic. He has this sort of raspy, meth-fueled delivery that makes even the most benign dialogue hilarious, and though “Sunny” is not what it once was, Charlie Day is still the best reason to watch.


1. Nick Offerman: Offerman’s Ron Swanson character on “Parks and Recreation” probably has fewer lines than any other actor on this list, but Offerman always makes them work, not just in his delivery but in his perfect facial expressions. The man can deliver huge laughs simply by raising an eyebrow and wrinkling his mustache. I can’t imagine any guy playing the Ron Swanson character as brilliantly as does Offerman.

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