Zach Broussard’s 2018 List Of The Year’s Top Comedians Once Again Includes A Number Of Performers With Dallas Ties — At Least 26 Of Them, In Fact.
When has a comedian truly “made it” in their field? Is it their first appearance on a late-night show? Is it when they debut their first special on Netflix or HBO?
Or is it up to the Los Angeles-based comedian Zach Broussard and his yearly Top 1,000 Comedians list to welcome lucky performers into the uppermost echelon of comedy?
As he did last year, Broussard’s once again placed a spotlight on many performers in the DFW area when he released the names of the comic up for this year’s Top 1000 Comedians list. There is, of course, a catch: The list revealed earlier this week is of the 2,000 nominees who are up for eventually making the 2018 Top 1,000 Comedians of 2018; the top 1,000 list itself will be revealed during a live show in Los Angeles held on December 8 — a ceremony Broussard has suddenly taken to calling “The Toppys.”
Until then, the 26 Dallas-based or -raised talents — by our count, anyway; see the bottom of this post for the full list — that Broussard has included as up for the honor must wait more than a week to find out if they can officially count themselves among the current top thousand comedic performers around.
While credits, exposure through TV and film and glowing profiles all have the potential to help performers advance professionally, it’s worth saying that some accolades are more meaningful than others. And considering how Broussard’s list pokes fun at the concept of ranked lists and the comedians who are perhaps a little too eager to brag about a credit of any kind, it’s tough to say how much weight a nod like this one carries.
If the sheer size of the list itself isn’t indication enough that these rankings are less than serious, Broussard’s approach to creating and sharing the list each year tends to make it much clearer that his efforts aren’t on the level. For instance, in 2016, the list was broken up and shared across ten billboards advertisements he purchased around Los Angeles — a stunt paid for at least in part through Broussard’s SoCal Comedy Fest, which agreed to accept every person who paid to submit for a spot… and never actually held shows. In 2015, the list was arranged in 100-comic per page slideshow, which meant the winners were unable to directly link the accolades to their page, and curious viewers had to tediously pass through slide after slide to see who was featured. That year also took care to list comic Steve Rannazzisi at spot No. 911, an unsubtle nod to Rannazzisi’s then-recent admission that he lied about his experience during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
So what exactly runs through the mind of a performer who discovers they’ve been named among the nominees for the Top 1,000 Comedians of the year alongside such bold-faced names as Tiffany Haddish and Wanda Sykes? We reached out to a few of our local nominees to find out.
(If you’re wondering what exactly runs through the mind of a comic performer who wasn’t named among the nominees — like, says, yours truly — I think I can speak for everyone in that category when I say it’s fine. It’s totally fine. Everything’s totally fine, and this is certainly not the sort of thing that would, I don’t know, cause one to fall into a creative and existential spiral of doubt and self-loathing, the sheer depth of which is unfathomable and yet still growing deeper as you continue to fall, with your fear of the crash ameliorated only by the promise it will relieve the agony of your dizzying descent. It’s fine.)
For comic, improviser and Baby Bangs podcast co-host Emily Ball, the honor is appreciated and received with a bit of wry awareness: “I’m excited to make it two years in a row, and even if it seems arbitrary and meaningless, I will absolutely work it into conversations at my high school reunion next year.”
Standup comic and Ladies Night show host Katy Evans, another potential two-time winner, is also keen to enjoy a repeat performance: “I’ve never been in the top 1,000 of anything. Except last year when I was also on the list.”
For this year’s Dallas Observer Best Comedian winner Wes Corwin, the achievement does signify one accomplishment: “Common knowledge is the list is a joke designed to play at how shareable lists are, regardless of content value. It’s cool my SEO has kicked in hard enough that apparently I’m findable enough to put on the list.”
Maggie Rieth Austin, who performs in live and filmed sketch comedy as well as improv, has a similar outlook: “I think it’s a bit — like he just Googles comedians to put on a list — but I’m honored that I even show up in a Google search about comedians!”
Amanda Austin, the owner of Dallas Comedy House as well as a formidable comedy performer, writer and director, appreciates Broussard’s ongoing efforts to cultivate his yearly list: “We always teach comedians to commit to the bit. Broussard is an example to us all. Thanks to the continued annual nod from the man I’ll probably never meet.”
Sure, the list might seem like an insular thing — a joke both for and at the expense of people in the worlds of comedy and entertainment journalism, but not quite appealing enough to be pulled from those orbits — but it’s certainly worthwhile as a commentary on the vanity of comics, and as a way of turning our reliance on ranked content against us.
Then again, maybe it’s unfair to assume performers are so attracted to recognition that they’ll take the time to sift through all those names just to see if they’re among them.
Take, for instance, the reaction we got from comedic actress and improviser Sarah Anne Adams when I asked her about her spot among the nominees: “Wait, what list? I’m on a list?”
The Full List Of Comics With Dallas Connections Who Have Been Nominated For Broussard’s 2018 Top 1,000 Comedians List:
Maggie Rieth Austin
Sarah Anne Adams
Laurie Reaves Barnett