Bill Simmons’ List of Comedy MVPs Since 1975

In a recent mailbag, Bill Simmons had occasion to name comedy MVPs for every year since 1975. The criteria:

You have to nail at least one of these questions to qualify for that given year: Were you in the hottest comedy of the year or, even better, in the middle of a run of hot comedies? Were you carrying SNL? Did you have an iconic stand-up special, cable TV show, late-night show or comedy series? Did you routinely crush any late-night appearance or SNL hosting gig? Did you have a huge approval rating with little to no backlash? Do we associate that year with you to some degree? I need resonance beyond just cult affection, which unfortunately rules out the great Bill Hicks (who has a strong case for 1990).

It’s a pretty good list. Eddie Murphy’s 3 year run from 82-84 is set up as the run all comedians should aspire to, which I agree with. There are some lean years, as well, which leads to a few underwhelming selections like Billy Crystal in 1990 and Gary Shandling in 1997. Without having other names to suggest, I think I have the most problems with the last 8 years or so. I love Larry David, but it’s hard for me to see him on the list twice when his show hasn’t really gotten beyond cult status. Ricky Gervais probably deserves a spot somewhere, and maybe the Lonely Island guys for Lazy Sunday. Also notably absent Stephen Colbert (2006 or 2007) and Conan O’Brien. This list, though, is at least a good place to start the argument. There is only one woman on the list, and a winner for 2010 has not yet been declared. Has there been a breakout comedy for this year, yet? My bet is on Steve Carell, Zach Galifianiakis, Jonah Hill or Russel Brand could be a dark horse, as well as anyone staring in a comedy coming out between now and December. Actually, you know who wins for 2010? Betty White.

Here is the list:
1975: Richard Pryor
1976: Chevy Chase
1977-78: John Belushi
1979: Robin Williams, Steve Martin (tie)
1980: Rodney Dangerfield
1981: Bill Murray
1982-84: Eddie Murphy (1984 Honorable Mention to Sam Kinison)
1985-86: David Letterman
1987: Jay Leno, Howard Stern (tie)
1988: Eddie Murphy
1989: Dana Carvey
1990: Billy Crystal
1991: Jerry Seinfeld
1992: Jerry Seinfeld, Mike Myers (tie)
1993: Mike Myers
1994: Jim Carrey
1995: Chris Farley
1996: Chris Rock
1997: Garry Shandling
1998: Adam Sandler
1999: Mike Myers, Chris Rock (tie)
2000: Will Ferrell
2001: Matt Stone and Trey Parker (tie)
2002: Larry David
2003: Dave Chappelle
2004: Dave Chappelle, Jon Stewart (tie)
2005: Steve Carell
2006: Sacha Baron Cohen
2007: Larry David
2008: Tina Fey
2009: Zach Galifianiakis
2010: ????????

Bill Simmons’ List of Comedy MVPs Since 1975