Audiences may be more fractured than ever before, but they're also more loyal to performers who cut though the din to foster personal connections under the guise of humor. Here we highlight a few of the L.A. comedians who are taking originality, DIY mentality and creative vision to a whole new level, with picks from local industry and fellow performers.12. Matt Kirshen
Troy Conrad, creator of the comedy show Set List and competitor on Last Comic Standing: "If quick wit and intellectual comedy had a child, it would be Matt Kirshen. He finds irony in the most common and most strange places, but he always finds it in a way that complements his unique point of view. My favorite thing is watching him discover a new direction to take on a bit. He gets huge laughs, but instead of moving on, he takes the risk of going further and further -- and finds an even bigger payoff then before. It's nice seeing such a quick mind step back and take the time to dig a little deeper."
Has a sketch group made it when their monthly show attracts such guest hosts as Fred Williard, Jerry O'Connell and Andy Richter? How about when its alumni include James Adomian, Josh Fadem and recent SNL castmember Abby Elliott? Or is it when improv purveyor Drew Carey presents a summer tour...the Denver date of which gets protested by the Westboro Baptist Church? Ultimately the more important names to know are going to be the ones you're probably not yet familiar with. Meet and memorize the dozen twisted talents behind The Midnight Show the first Saturday of every month at UCB.10. Byron Bowers
There's something deadly serious about Bowers's highly-animated, seemingly lackadaisical stage persona. While he doesn't fall directly under the political banner, his comedy focuses on socioeconomics, religion, gender roles and reversing all manner of stereotypes, delivered with an eager-to-please malleability that allows him to adapt to any venue, crowd or circumstance. And yet underneath the bombast, Bowers maintains painstaking control over every utterance down to the last syllable. Appearances on Comedy Central and The Eric Andrè Show are only the beginning; this is a comic who's got big ideas and big plans to go big places.