EW Staff
October 28, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Paul Rudd, Our Idiot Brother
Why the Home Shopping Network is the funniest channel on TV
Before YouTube, I would spend hours watching public-access television, and I would keep a videotape at the ready in case something really weird came on. And I found myself becoming fascinated with the Home Shopping Network, particularly when they would have a close-up of an item they’re selling and someone’s hand would suddenly come into the frame to touch it to make it look more interesting. Whenever I would see a hand move around showcasing, like, a pair of earrings, I would erupt into a fit of giggles. It’s even funnier when it’s caressing something that doesn’t really fit with the hand, like a set of baseball cards or something. If I’m flipping through the channels and I see a hand displaying watches or Christmas ornaments with flowery wrist movements, I’m always inclined to stay on the channel for longer than anybody really should.

Andy Samberg, Saturday Night Live
If I weren’t a comedian I’d be…
If I weren’t in comedy, truthfully, I’d be in dire straits. The band. And I’d sing backup harmonies on ”Sultans of Swing” and I would be a major disappointment to their die-hard fans. And that’s just the real truth.

Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
The time I wasn’t trying to be funny but was
I accidentally entered a beauty pageant when I was 14. I was in ninth grade. It was the most vulnerable of times. My choir teacher told me it was a talent show and I would take any opportunity I could to perform, so I signed up by mail. I get to the first rehearsal and it turns out it’s actually a youth pageant. I love doing musical theater, but there’s a fine line that is really like an ocean between acting in a play that also happens to have fun music with it and entering a beauty pageant, and I swam that ocean and I didn’t like it. It was so clear what I thought of the whole thing when I was on stage. My sister and my mom went and they were rolling on the floor laughing. The weird thing is that by the end of it, I kind of wanted to win. There was a $1,000 cash prize and I was like, ”That’d be cool. I could go to a lot of movies with that and buy a lot of dresses!” I did not win. I didn’t even get runner-up. Even though there were only, like, seven people in the pageant — and two of them were boys.

Emma Stone, Crazy, Stupid, Love
My comedy obsession
Every single time I see Gilda Radner in the ”Judy Miller Show” sketch on Saturday Night Live, it makes me laugh as if it’s the first time I’ve ever seen it. It’s so rare to see someone play a child so accurately and in such a funny way. In dress rehearsal she had broken a rib, and when you watch it you’d never know because she’s just throwing herself into doors and everything. I think she was just the best.

Ty Burrell, Modern Family
The funniest person I know
To me, the funniest thing on earth is my brother, Duncan. Normally, he’s a quiet fellow; he’ll sort of hang out in the background of a conversation and then, when you least expect it, he’ll bust into an aggressive, athletic, silly dance. Silliness is something that our father valued very much, and something that my brother takes very, very seriously. These dances usually begin with his hands on his hips, and then those very same hips moving in a way that, unless you are a Laker Girl, should not be attempted. From there it blossoms into an air-guitar routine, circa 1984, based on the guitarist from Huey Lewis and the News. This mystical solo has a wide emotional spectrum, at turns joyful, the peak of guitar bliss, then plunging into the depths of pain that only a wildly successful pop guitarist can understand. Wide smiles of virtuosic joy, switching quickly to the grimace of anguish that only a song like ”Hip to Be Square” can pull out of the soul of a man. Then, exhausted, he’ll bow to rousing applause from everyone in the family. He’s in prison now.

Patton Oswalt, Comic-Actor
The last time I bombed on stage
The last time I completely bombed was three years ago at the Hollywood Improv on a random weeknight. I was just dropping in to do a guest set. Feeling pretty good about myself — and even better about all of the brilliant new material I thought I’d written. Before I went up a Mighty Famous Comedian dropped in, also to do a guest set. He went on and did, word for word, material I’d seen him do 10 years ago. He absolutely slaughtered. I sneered from the back of the room. Didn’t this guy write? I went up after him, puffed up and self-righteous. I ate it. Bombed. Hot, sticky flames. And here’s how bad I did: A third of the way into my set, a table got up and left. After a few moments one of them rushed back into the room and announced, ”The guy who just went on’s having a drink at the bar!” And then the entire audience got up and went out to the bar. They’d rather stand and watch the first guy drink than sit through my new — admittedly unfunny — material. And they were right.

Ray William Johnson, YouTube Star
Why I love cursing
I curse in my videos because I curse that much in real life. It’s important to do that, because it makes the entertainer more relatable. I think that everyone curses, even people who are adamantly against it, like Bill Cosby. If you put a camera on Bill Cosby and he were to stub his toe or something, I promise you he would curse up a storm. My internal dictionary of curse words is very limited to, like, five or six. That’s all I really know. I like the F-word most because it is so versatile. It’s a verb, it can be a noun to some extent, an adverb…it’s great! I’m not the master of the English language, but I could successfully plug the F-word into any place in any sentence and probably make it make sense.

Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
The worst joke I ever heard
A horse walked into a bar, and the bartender says, ”Hey, why the long face?” Wait, or maybe that’s the best joke I’ve ever heard.

Whitney Cummings, Whitney
Sorry about that!
I used to do the Comedy Central roasts a lot, and I’m pretty sure there are a couple of jokes I should apologize for. My karma could really use it. The idea of the roasts is to be as offensive and off-color as possible, but it can get tricky when noncomics are on the dais. Comics can handle the abuse, since we are constantly trashing each other. I’m not saying it’s healthy by any means, but it’s how we show each other love. I tend to forget that most people aren’t like that and have feelings. Feelings are very inconvenient at a roast. Even before we taped the David Hasselhoff roast, I knew I was going particularly hard at Pamela Anderson. Also, people get added to the show and drop out a lot last minute, so she was one of the only people who I had written a lot of stuff for. I rationalized it by reminding myself that she’d had a roast before so she would be toughened up and would know what to expect. I’m also pretty good at writing STD jokes, so it was kind of the perfect storm. I am now doing something I never thought I’d have to do: saying sorry to Pam Anderson. And I hope her kids don’t watch Comedy Central.

Kevin Hart, Laugh at My Pain
Why being short is funny
I’m 5 feet 4½ inches — don’t forget the half. I used to wear lifts, but then I stopped because I heard Tom Cruise wore them, and I thought he was trying to steal my idea. Being short is funny, because I can shop anywhere and get the best clothes — my size is always in. And no matter what I put on, I look cute. I’m like a baby doll. This kind of material is never going to get old, because your experiences don’t get old. If you take notice of the things that you do in everyday life, you’re going to laugh. For instance, last night I went out. I had a car service, and at one point I jumped out. Literally jumped out — because, oh man, it’s a long way down.

Jane Lynch, Glee
How to make me laugh
If someone in a scene falls down, I love it. Like, I love how in Absolutely Fabulous they never get out of a car — they fall out of a car. I love the huge, big, risky go-for-it. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but I applaud it every time. I’m all about the farts. I’m a 12-year-old boy in a lot of ways. And if you fart while falling, then it’s even better.

Daniel Tosh, Tosh.0
My least funny photo
Oct. 14, 2011, 5:14 p.m. Cedars-Sinai hospital, Los Angeles. Laparoscopic surgery for ”quadruple” hernia.

Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
My comedic inspiration
My third-grade teacher (let’s call her Mrs. K) opened class every day with a moment she called ”Current Topics” where the students could get up in front of the class and share a bit of news or what have you. Mrs. K was also fond of screaming at us when things got out of hand, which I always found unsettling. Anyway, the day after the actress Natalie Wood died from drowning, one of my classmates stood up to let all of us know that ”last night, Natalie from The Facts of Life died.” Well, as a young boy who already wanted to be an actor himself, I was outraged — not so much because this was disrespect-ful to Ms. Wood, but because I couldn’t abide this confusion about an actor’s name being the same as a character’s name. I began to blurt out, ”Uh, no, Natalie WOOD is…” when Mrs. K, of course, promptly yelled at me to ”SHUT UP! IT’S HER TURN TO TALK!” This incident helped shape my entire worldview and most certainly my taste in comedy.

Casey Wilson, Happy Endings
My three unhappy endings
1. I got a double root canal recently, and before I was put under, the anesthesiologist reassured me by saying, ”Don’t worry, I’m the premier anesthesiologist for The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” With that, I was out. Until I WOKE UP in the middle (!!) and heard him say to the dentist, ”Wow. She needed a lot of gas. She must be a party girl.” It was my worst nightmare — to essentially be buried alive and then overhear people talking about you. Not what you want.
2. I was politely asked to no longer work as the assistant to Susan Sarandon’s personal assistant after he found out that when responding to her fan mail I was not merely signing her name on her headshot (as I’d been asked), but rather writing long letters of hope to the inmates on death row who wrote to her because of Dead Man Walking. I’m sorry I’m such a great person.
3. In high school I was really cool, as evidenced by the fact that as a junior I dated a ninth grader. Drink that in. On Valentine’s Day, I was all set to pick my man up at the Metro for our T.G.I. Friday’s double date when I got a call from his mom, who broke up with me for him. She said I was, quote, ”too fast.” The point is, ninth graders: Call me.

Mindy Kaling, The Office
The last time I couldn’t stop laughing
I can only say this because he ended up being okay, but there’s this YouTube clip of Kelsey Grammer stepping off a stage while speaking at Disneyland’s 50th anniversary that is truly magnificent. We watched it in our writers’ room a few years ago, and it was literally breathtaking. I had to leave the room because I couldn’t stop laughing, and it was getting disruptive to the other writers, who had enjoyed it but moved on. I walked outside, taking a lap around set, and kept laughing. I remember thinking, ”Will I ever stop laughing about it? My diaphragm is kind of hurting now.” Paul Lieberstein texted me, ”Did you stop laughing about the Kelsey Grammer thing yet?” And I had to suck it up and rejoin the room.

Tina Fey
Six ways I plan to update 30 Rock now that it’s in syndication
1. Keep changing whatever McDonald’s sandwiches we’re referencing to keep up with whatever’s currently in season, regionally. The McRib will become the McLobster.
2. Redub the ”Khonani” episode, where we had to settle a dispute between the janitors, so that the janitors are Republican candidates for president.
3. Generally, it might make the show more appealing if we just digitally added in a bunch of babies. Anyplace where you see the NBC peacock, we’ll just replace it with a baby. A beautiful, pan-racial baby.
4. Re-edit and rescore each episode so that it seems like we’re solving crimes. Sexy people would be getting murdered all the time. And all of a sudden their ghosts would come back, and we’d be in black and white for a moment.
5. Make sure that horizontally striped shirts never go out of style. I’ve been wearing them for six years on the show, and I’ve taken some of them home. Someday, someone will find an old homeless person living on Broadway, and they’ll know it’s me, because I died in a horizontal shirt.
6. All the references to Hot Tub Time Machine should remain, because that movie will be evergreen.

Maya Rudolph, Up All Night
My first celebrity impression
I used to think it was really funny to do the jive brothers from Airplane! That was my go-to impression. Like, ”Hey, guys, look what I can do! ‘See a broad to get dat booty yak ’em…leg ‘er down a smack ’em yak ’em!”’ I was like, ”Isn’t that great?!?” No awareness. No awareness of the insanely high level of racism. It was loads of fun. It’s a real tongue twister. I don’t know a lot of 9- or 10-year-olds who can say, ”See a broad to get dat booty yak ’em…leg ‘er down a smack ’em yak ’em!”

Jeffrey Ross, Stand-up Comic
The Roastmaster General roasts himself
This is tricky — I’m used to roasting celebrities. But if you’re going to roast yourself, you need to have thick skin. Luckily I have two layers of fat. It’s fitting that I’m finally in EW, because people say ”ewww” whenever they see me on television. I’ve been told I have the wit of Milton Berle, the timing of Buddy Hackett, and the dashing good looks of Muammar Gaddafi. Isn’t it ironic that the son of a caterer has a face that makes people lose their lunch? The truth is, I wrote the book on roasting. I mean, I literally wrote a book on roasting. And literally no one read it. I also made a documentary about going to Iraq to tell jokes. Now they use it to torture the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Why are you still reading this? You must be sitting on the can. Which is appropriate, since the editors of EW forced me to crap all over myself in order to get in their comedy issue.

Zach Galifianakis, Bored to Death
His least funny role
He’s best known for his absurdist, anything-goes comedy, but there were not many yuks to be found when Galifianakis played a morgue worker named Davis on Fox’s short-lived Eliza Dushku drama Tru Calling. When we spoke to him on set in 2003, even Galifianakis seemed surprised he had been cast in such a dramatic role. ”Not only can I not act, I can’t screw in a lightbulb and act at the same time. They shouldn’t ask me to do anything physical. Or anything serious, for that matter, because I’m not a serious actor. You know what it is? It’s just a mental thing. Sometimes I get a mental block and I can’t do things. It can even be tying my shoes, and I’m like, ‘How do I do this, again?’ Not even on camera, but off camera too.”

Ricky Gervais, International Funnyman
The difference between English and American humor
People ask, ”What’s the difference between English and American humor?” And I say, ”You know what? Not a lot.” Comedy is the same everywhere. There’s good and there’s bad. There’s clever and there’s dumb. There’s broad and there’s subtle. There’s a myth that goes around in England that Americans don’t get irony. Totally ridiculous. There’s enough programs that prove that wrong, from The Simpsons to Larry Sanders. The difference is, Americans don’t live ironically all day. Brits meet on the street and they do a sarcastic comment straightaway, whereas Americans say, ”Hi, how are you? It’s nice to see you.” Some Brits think that’s false. I think, ”Well, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.” Because I’d rather someone be nice to me and not mean it than someone be f—ing rude.

Marc Maron, Podcaster Extraordinaire
Why so many comedians are so screwed up
Comics are unique people. It takes a certain mindset to take that kind of a risk with your life and then stay in that world. There are some funny guys who are pretty well-adjusted, who didn’t come from that much turmoil and aren’t dark and neurotic. But there are certainly ample examples of f—ups, and people latch onto those because there’s a romantic mythos to the Lenny Bruce model of the self-destructive genius. I’ve been the guy who did the drugs and the drinking and did a very angry form of comedy — and I hit a pretty big wall in my life, my career, and my spirit. Now I’m on the other side of it, and I can see where a lot of that stuff came from.

I think a lot of comedy comes from hypersensitivity, from being too vulnerable to deal with life and needing to preemptively protect yourself. Harry Shearer said that the reason comics do comedy is to try to control why people laugh at them. I sometimes have a fear that if I become too comfortable with myself, maybe I’ll be done with comedy. But I don’t really see any threat of that happening. There are still plenty of glitches in my wiring.

Louis C.K., Louie
If I weren’t a comedian I’d be…
I’d like to say I would be a teacher because I’m pretty good at explaining things to kids, and I don’t mind being around them, but I don’t think I could work for that little pay. I’m too materialistic to do something like that. I’d love to say that I would go build schools somewhere, but I don’t want to spend that much time with strangers, and I don’t want to go to f—ing City Hall and wait to speak to a councilman or something. I don’t think I could put myself through that. I’d love to think I could be a stringer photographer, but I’ve been on the road for a lot of years and I have to fly first-class and I have to stay in a nice hotel, and those guys don’t do that.

I’d like to be an ACLU lawyer and defend people everybody hates. That I would do if I could snap my fingers and have a law education, but that doesn’t come with a snap of the fingers. That comes with several years of dedication to education. And that’s something I couldn’t do. I’m pretty much ill-equipped for anything but what I do. Comedy is not something you can really back away from. It’s like being in prison for several years. If you try to come out of it and do something else, you don’t have any credibility or value in the marketplace.

Sarah Silverman, Comic-Actress
How to deal with hecklers
Hecklers are a heartbreaking breed, desperate to connect at any cost, positive or negative. Like a kid acting out for attention — even if they get spanked, at least it’s contact; even if they get punished, at least they’ve garnered focus. When I get heckled, I tend to give the heckler what he wants — attention; to be ”mirrored,” as the shrinks say. Sometimes I do an impression of what they probably won’t be saying the next day: ”Oh, man, remember last night when I was like, ‘You’re f—ing Matt Damon!!’? That was so awesome!” (Just to be clear, this is by no means encouragement — if the heckler spells trouble or f—s up my timing, they’re skillfully escorted out by very subtle yet giant men.)

A guy once just yelled, ”ME!!” in the middle of my set. It was amazing. This guy’s heckle actually directly equaled its heartbreaking subtext — ”me!!” Another time I was listening to Howard Stern and a young listener called in. He was being an a–hole so Howard hung up on him, but just before he was disconnected I heard him say, real quickly, ”I exist!” Those were the only two times I ever heard a heckler say what he really, REALLY meant. I am real! Even if I make you mad, Mommy/Daddy, it’s still proof — I EXIST!

Anthony Jeselnik, Stand-up Comic
On being the very last person to make our Comedy issue
Ah, here it is, the final funny person (or headliner, if you please) of the issue. ”But wait,” you ask, ”if you’re the funniest person in the magazine, why aren’t you on the cover?” Well, shut up. You don’t know anything. If you did, you wouldn’t be reading ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY. But why last? Why not first? Simple: It’s difficult to group people based on their ability to be funny. That’s why ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY is so bad at it.

Believe me, somebody got fired over this. Entire editorial staffs at EW are faxing their résumés over to Cat Fancy as you are reading this in your doctor’s waiting room. You have six months to live, by the way. Better to hear it from me than from Whitney Cummings. Now, if you don’t know, I’m not your average comedian, like Jeff Ross. I’m a monster. I’m the only guy on here that Casey Anthony wouldn’t let babysit. Fathers refuse to let me date their daughters and then beg me to bang their wives. I don’t ruffle feathers — I tear them out by the handful. I’m Anthony Jeselnik: the devil’s favorite comedian. Although God is a big fan of my roasts.

Behind the Scenes
These heavy hitters are bring you laughs from behind the camera

Seth MacFarlane
Fox’s go-to guy for animated comedy is now gearing up to reboot The Flintstones, and is the roast host with the most.

Chuck Lorre
Revived the multicamera format and bolstered CBS’ comedy fortunes with Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, and Mike & Molly.

Judd Apatow
The big-screen master of fusing raunch with heart (The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up) just scored another hit by producing Bridesmaids.

Matt Stone & Trey Parker
The South Park smart-asses rocked Broadway with the Tony-winning The Book of Mormon.

On the Rise
These funny faces are worth keeping an eye (or two) on.

Kat Dennings
The indie-film darling is becoming a mainstream-sitcom star with 2 Broke Girls.

Reggie Watts
The offbeat comedian who’s often backed by a beat opened for Conan on his 2010 tour.

Lena Dunham
The writer-director-actor (Tiny Furniture) offers her take on twentysomething women with HBO’s upcoming Girls.

Dreama Walker and Krysten Ritter
They will be twice as not-nice on ABC’s midseason Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23.

Still Funny
These heavyweights of humor keep on keepin’ on.

Jerry Seinfeld
A stellar stand-up every time he picks up a mic.

Eddie Murphy
Returning to form with Tower Heist, he’s also hosting the Oscars.

Joan Rivers
The 78-year-old legend had a must-see guest spot on Louie.

Will Ferrell
Just awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Howard Stern
Still shocking and jocking in his late 50s on SiriusXM.

Ben Stiller
Cha-ching! His films have grossed more than $5 billion worldwide.

Ellen DeGeneres
Has won two straight Emmys for Best Talk Show—Entertainment.

Chris Rock
Showed his range with The Motherf—er With the Hat.

Larry David
Just because he’d probably object to being called ”still funny.”

EW.com Poll: Who’s Your Favorite Late-Night Host?

Chelsea Handler 33%
Craig Ferguson 15%
Conan O’Brien 12%
Jimmy Fallon 11%
Jon Stewart 11%
Stephen Colbert 8%
Jimmy Kimmel 4%
David Letterman 4%
Jay Leno 2%

Sweet Tweeters
Celebs who can get laughs in 140 characters or less

Sample Tweet: Thought of a new reality show where Scott Caan quits acting to become a novelist. Title? Prose & Caans. #CaanTV

Sample Tweet: My afternoon pick-me-up has come full circle since birth – nap, outdoor play, cola or coffee, sex, espresso, vodka, nap.

Sample Tweet: I want to occupy Wall Street. But only to protest how bad Wall St 2 was.

Sample Tweet: FREE FLU SHOTS at my place! (that’s code. found some horse tranquilizers. be cool. we’re in the garage)

(Reported and compiled by Clark ” The Clarkster” Collis; Dave ” Not Carter” Karger; Melissa ”Honey Badger” Maerz; Shaunna ”The Yellow Dart” Murphy; Nuzhat ”No One Gets My Name” Naoreen; Lynette ”Nettie” Rice; Dalton ” Boogaloo Shrimp” Rice; Josh ”Johnny” Rottenberg; Dan ”Dan” Snierson; Tim ”Patches” Stack; Tanner ”Janet Reno Dance Party” Stransky; Sara ”The Bee” Vilkomerson; and John ”Last But Not Least” Young)

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