The US comedy industry is currently larger than it’s ever been, employing more writers, directors, actors, and comedians than ever before, spread across all different types of media both new and old. While the ways in which we consume comedy have changed, one thing that hasn’t is the frequency of two-person comedy acts. We rounded up a list of some of the funniest duos going, pairs of comedians who move from project to project but keep working together. Many of the comedians on this list don’t fall into the traditional straight man/crazy person dynamic, but those that do (like The Best Show’s Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster) do it in a new and hilarious way.
Check out a collection of today’s top comedy pairings below:
Fred Armisen & Carrie Brownstein
Musicians/comedians Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein started making internet videos together in 2005 under the name ThunderAnt before jumping to television with Armisen’s SNL boss Lorne Michaels producing their TV show Portlandia for IFC. Like a lot of strong comedy duos, Armisen and Brownstein’s sense of humor is greater than the sum of its parts, and the result is a Peabody Award-winning sketch show that is also oddly used in FBI training. Armisen and Brownstein’s mutual voice is as exact and specific as their show’s focus of the city of Portland is.
Rob Brydon & Steve Coogan
Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan contend that the contentious, ball-busty relationship they exhibit playing themselves in director Michael Winterbottom’s mockumentary The Trip is true-to-life. Winterbottom cast the two British actors together in the improvisation-heavy The Trip after using them in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, and The Trip proved popular on both sides of the Atlantic, with Winterbottom, Brydon, and Coogan reuniting for a follow-up, The Trip to Italy.
Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly
“Just as a movie fan, I’ve told them both several times like, ‘You have to do six or seven movies together,’” Adam McKay said of his writing/producing partner Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, who he’s directed in Talladega Nights and Step Brothers. McKay and Ferrell had been wanting to work with Reilly for years before their first collaboration, Talladega Nights, having listed him as their top choice to play sportscaster Champ Kind in an early draft of the Anchorman screenplay. Despite McKay’s wishes, Ferrell and Reilly have only played the leads in two movies together, but they’re set to do a third with the upcoming Border Guards.
Tina Fey & Amy Poehler
Fey and Poehler have been working together for longer than anyone else on this list, having been put on an improv team together at Chicago’s ImprovOlympic Theater (now iO) in 1993. Nearly a decade later, they ended up on Saturday Night Live together where they soon became co-anchors on Weekend Update. Since their departures from SNL, Fey and Poehler have hosted the Golden Globes together twice (set to do it for a third time next year) and have starred in movies Mean Girls and Baby Mama together (set to do it a third time in the upcoming Paula Pell-scripted comedy The Nest).
Nick Frost & Simon Pegg
Four movies deep, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have been paired up together more than any other recent film comedy duo. Pegg, Frost, and director Edgar Wright first started working together on the UK TV series Spaced before jumping into movies. Pegg and Frost’s three collaborations with Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) turned out way better than their one without him (Paul), but their effortless on-screen chemistry was still on display in the latter nonetheless.
Garfunkel & Oates
After being introduced to one another by Doug Benson in 2007, comedians Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci wound up forming the musical comedy act “Garfunkel and Oates,” which would eventually lead to the pair getting their own TV show. Garfunkel and Oates’s songs proved popular online, and cable network IFC took notice, ordering eight episodes of Garfunkel and Oates, a series created by and starring Lindhome and Micucci that’s set to premiere August 7th.
Ilana Glazer & Abbi Jacobson
Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson successfully made the jump from web to TV earlier this year, with Broad City debuting on Comedy Central and proving to be a hit with both critics and audiences. Glazer and Jacobson met as students at the UCB Theatre in NYC and soon shifted their focus from live performance to making the web series Broad City together.
Tim Heidecker & Eric Wareheim
With two TV shows under their belts (Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!) and a third (Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories) on its way, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are entering into their second decade as stars/creators of Adult Swim series. In the past few years, they’ve also become prolific as producers, ramping up the amount of shows that Abso Lutely Productions, their company with partner Dave Kneebone, is making. Their shows now include Comedy Bang! Bang!, The Eric Andre Show, The Birthday Boys, Review, and Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule, which they co-created with star John C. Reilly.
Keegan-Michael Key & Jordan Peele
After meeting in the Chicago comedy scene in the early 2000s, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have been inseparable ever since. Key and Peele joined MADtv together during the 2003-04 season and spent half a decade on the show, collaborating again on their own sketch show, Key & Peele, for Comedy Central. Three years later, the Peabody Award-winning series is awaiting its fourth season, and Key and Peele are getting into movies together, producing a Police Academy reboot and writing a movie for themselves to star in for producer Judd Apatow.
Lennon Parham & Jessica St. Clair
Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair, creators and stars of USA’s new comedy Playing House and NBC’s critically-acclaimed but quickly-canceled Best Friends Forever, both came up via New York’s UCB Theatre at the same time, but they didn’t actually meet one another and start working together until they both moved to LA. Parham and St. Clair quickly became writing partners and best friends, discovering and developing a strong rapport between themselves that’s definitely evident onscreen.
Tom Scharpling & Jon Wurster
“When [Scharpling] talks to Wurster, the only thing I can compare it to is Nichols and May,” says Julie Klausner in Jake Fogelnest’s 2011 Spin piece on The Best Show on WFMU, Scharpling’s comedy radio show/podcast that ended its 13-year run last year (but looks to be coming back soon). Scharpling and Wurster’s phone calls, which find Scharpling straight-manning Wurster as different residents of the fictional town of Newbridge, are chock-full of amazing running jokes and a dense amount of callbacks to other Newbridge residents and places. Until The Best Show does return (or Scharpling and Wurster do in a different capacity), at least there’s 13 years worth of archives to dive back through.