Ellen DeGeneres has carved herself a niche in America's heart as one of the most lovable, warm-hearted talk show hosts. The Ellen DeGeneres Show has run for almost 2,000 episodes. The only downside is that it takes a lot of time away from other things, which is why it's such a treat to see her back in movies. She's taking center stage in Finding Dory, a sequel to Pixar's much-beloved Finding Nemo.
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Melissa McCarthy continues to be a heavy hitter. Her show Mike & Molly may be ending, but she's continuing a dynamite run of action-comedies that have paired her with the likes of Jason Statham and Julia Roberts. This year, she's starring in The Boss, a comedy about a CEO trying to reform her image after a prison stint for insider trading. She's also in the new Ghostbusters film, working with Paul Feig, who directed Bridesmaids. There's no word yet on whether she'll be coming back for Netflix's Gilmore Girls revival, but as much as we all love Sookie, she may have her plate full.
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Chelsea Handler's Chelsea Lately ended in a bit of controversy when she slammed the network it was on while the show was still on the air. Still, the comedian has landed on her feet. She currently has two shows in development at Netflix. The documentary series Chelea Does premiered in January. It'll be followed by a return to late-night talk TV, and it'll be really interesting to see what a late-night talk show looks like on Netflix's streaming model.
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Kristen Wiig is coming off a great year. She took a dramatic turn in The Martian and returned to IFC's ridiculous prestige-film satire The Spoils Before Dying (the first season, The Spoils of Babylon, got her a Primetime Emmy nomination). She and her friends from Spoils even got a fake Lifetime movie on to the actual Lifetime Network, which is obviously amazing. This year she's showing up in Zoolander No. 2, Ghostbusters, and Masterminds, a heist comedy based on the 1997 Loomis Fargo robbery in North Carolina. She's also set to make her directorial debut on a movie she's writing with her Bridesmaids co-writer Annie Mumolo.
(Image via MastermindsMovie)
The Mindy Project handled rom-com tropes more deftly than nearly everything that came before it, which is why it killed us to see it cancelled. Thankfully, Hulu agreed with us and brought it back for a fourth season. Meanwhile, Mindy put out her second memoir, co-starred in Inside Out, and continues to be an overall perfect human being.
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Elle Kemper has a sharp wit and an uncanny ability to play innocent. It made her great in The Office, and it makes her perfect for The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The Upright Citizens' Brigade vet has also stepped up as guest host on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Today Show, and as she gears up for The Secret Life of Pets - a comedy from the Despicable Me studio - we're hoping it's all a sign of even more to come.
(Image via secretlifeofpets)
Leslie Jones was a comedian's-favorite comedian, but after 25 years of touring, she was about to throw in the towel. Now she's on Saturday Night Live, showing everyone what comedy insiders have known for years - she's hilarious. Of course, it shouldn't have taken a national movement to get a black woman in the writers' room, and Jones fearlessly calls that out while demonstrating what the show's been missing out on for the last two decades. If you're not already hip to her on SNL, you can check her out in Ghostbusters and Masterminds this year.
(Image via Ghostbusters)
Kate McKinnon is making a name for herself on SNL, where they've had her impersonating everyone from Justin Bieber to Chancellor Merkel. She's kept herself busy since the days on The Big Gay Sketch Show, but her SNL fame has landed her some high-visibility gigs this year, including the Ghostbusters reboot and the true-life heist-comedy Masterminds, with Zach Galifianakis and Kristen Wiig.
(Image via Ghostbusters)
Tina Fey has already given us some of SNL's best seasons, 30 Rock, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and her incredible book Bossypants. Tina Fey doesn't owe us anything else. But she's going to keep giving, because she's wonderful. Coming off of her movie Sisters with Amy Poehler, Fey is wrapping up Season 2 of Kimmy, which comes out April 15, and has already been picked up for a third season.
She stars in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, based on Kim Barker's memoir of reporting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is somehow a comedy. She's also working on a movie with Ronda Rousey, currently titled Do-Nothing B----. The movie was inspired by Rousey's viral rant about female self-worth. Coming from anyone else, that would sound like a thin concept for a movie, but this is Tina Fey, who took a book on child psychology and "adapted" it into Mean Girls.
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Amy Poehler got her start in Upright Citizens' Brigade, like many others, and this year she's producing a web series that'll put UCB back in front of America's eyeballs, where it belongs. She's also producing two ongoing shows. Her show Parks & Recreation had an incredible final season, she teamed back up with BFF Tina Fey in Sisters, and she took center stage in Pixar's widely beloved Inside Out. She's currently filming The House, where she co-stars with Will Ferrell as a couple who start an underground casino to pay for their daughters' college fund.
(Image via SistersMovieOfficial)
Comedy lovers know Alison as Annie on Community. Drama fans know her as Trudy from Mad Men. And now, children know her as Unikitty in The Lego Movie, which was way funnier than it had any right to be. Right now, she's starring in Netflix's incredible Bojack Horseman and producing a comedy about elementary school teachers for TV Land. She's also starring in no less than six movies in 2016, along the likes of Brian Cranston and Gerard Butler. Most intriguing is The Disaster Artist, a film by James Franco about the making of the greatest drunk-watching, so-bad-it's-good movie ever, The Room.
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Kristen Schaal's biggest break was probably her role as Mel on Flight of the Conchords. And while Gravity Falls may not be coming back to Cartoon Network, she's still killing it on Bob's Burgers and Last Man on Earth. She's also got a role in Melissa McCarthy's new flick, and that never hurt anyone's career.
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Melissa Fumero and Andre Braugher have gotten much of the praise for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and they are incredible. But as fun as it is to watch serious actors break into comedy so perfectly, let's not forget how strong the actual comedians are on the show. Peretti is an integral part of the best ensemble cast on TV right now. She also just released her first standup special on Netflix, which is exactly what Aziz Ansari did a few years ago to wind up with a TV show. Her other shows, Kroll Show and China, IL ended this year, but somehow we doubt Peretti will have trouble keeping busy.
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Aisha Tyler is one of the hardest-working women in comedy. Most people probably know her as Lana Kane on Archer, or have seen her on Whose Line Is It Anyway? or The Talk. She's been juggling all three shows - and her Girl on Guy podcast - for several years now, and she's also currently subbing in for Jennifer Love Hewitt on Criminal Minds. In 2016, she's going to resume her stand-up tour/book tour for her New York Times bestseller, Self-Inflicted Wounds.
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Samantha Bee has long been a highlight of The Daily Show. Now she's stepping out on her own. After the last six high-profile late night hosting gigs went to men, Samantha decided to go make her own damn late-night show. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee debuts on TBS later this year, and she's also co-creating a whole show about a disastrous family vacation called The Detour, for the same network.
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Amy Schumer is the subject of a lot of discussion right now about her gender and racial politics, which is to be expected when you make a name for yourself telling controversial jokes. But whether you're a fan of the "Milk, Milk, Lemonade" crooner or not, there's no denying that she's having a moment - a moment that's lasted for a couple of years now. Her movie Trainwreck is drowning in awards and showcased her as a screenwriter, which is good, because she and Jennifer Lawrence are writing a vehicle for themselves. If that somehow doesn't work out, her Comedy Central show got four Primetime Emmy nominations for the last season alone -- so we think she'll be just fine.
(Image via TrainwreckMovie)