Comedy infiltrated the news more than ever in 2012, with Stephen Colbert entering the political sphere with his Super PAC, to Bill Murray rounding the bases at a baseball game over the summer. And likewise, many of the people who weren't necessarily supposed to make us laugh, like Herman Cain and Kim Jong Un, became accidental comedic figures overnight.
We looked back at the last twelve months to pick our 44 funniest people of 2012, from the intentionally funny to the unintentionally hilarious. It was hard to narrow it down, but these individuals are to thank/blame for making us laugh the most this year. Did your favorite funny person make the cut?
Between Maher's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/27/bill-maher-mitt-romney-warning_n_2030187.html?utm_hp_ref=bill-maher">presidential election coverage</a> and his explanation of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/08/bill-maher-explains-the-fiscal-cliff_n_2263518.html?utm_hp_ref=bill-maher">the fiscal cliff</a>, 2012 was a great year for "Real Time" fans.
Bell's shaking up late night TV with "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/19/totally-biased-takes-on-second-debate_n_1988159.html">Totally Biased</a>," going places even Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert won't go.
One of our favorite stand-up comedians proved to be even more relevant in 2012 with her political PSAs and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/16/sarah-silverman-indecent-proposal-romney_n_1676669.html">dirty prospects for old billionaires</a>. We also found out <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/15/rabbi-letter-sarah-silverman_n_1968287.html">how awesome her dad is</a>.
Oh, Mitt. Your entire campaign was essentially the fuel on which comedy ran this year. Having Ann along for the ride <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/23/ann-romney-weekend-update-snl-video_n_1907175.html">(and Kate McKinnon's amazing impression of her)</a> was just a bonus.
In his <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/01/letterman-30th-anniversary_n_1248048.html">30th year</a> on late night television, it would be easy for David Letterman to be reduced to a walking punchline. But punchlines have never been Letterman's style, and he seemed to have more fun on television this year than he has in years. The year ended fittingly for him when he was the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/28/david-letterman-kennedy-center-honors-tribute-video_n_2376413.html">recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor.</a>
"Conan" continued to be hilariously innovative in 2012. Plus, let's not forget that Conan finally <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/26/conan-rages-against-elisabeck-questioning-obama_n_1915577.html">told Elizabeth Hasselbeck where to go</a>.
Colbert did America a real service in 2012 by founding <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/14/stephen-colbert-super-pac_n_2300639.html">Colbert Super PAC</a> and inadvertently teaching us all about campaign finance reform. He also ran for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/13/colbert--presidential-run-jonstewart-super-pac_n_1203711.html">President of The United States of South Carolina</a> and almost really ran <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/06/stephen-colbert-for-senate-jim-demint-south-carolina_n_2250736.html">for Senate in South Carolina</a>. Oh, and, you know, his highly popular television show.
We can't imagine going through the presidential election without <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/04/rob-delaney-online-special-rnc-clint-eastwood-mitt-romney_n_1847148.html">Mitt Romney's comedy nemesis</a> -- and 2012's <a href="http://www.thecomedyawards.com/categories/viewers-choice/twitter/">funniest person on Twitter</a> -- Rob Delaney.
She wishes she had an extra finger <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT2ibEkUBQA">so she could grab more cheese balls</a>. Can we get Werner Herzog to make a documentary about her life, stat?
In addition to keeping us laughing on "Parks & Recreation" as Tom "Treat Yo' Self" Haverford, Ansari impressed us in 2012 by selling his highly enjoyable new special, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/20/aziz-ansari-releases-come_0_n_1366740.html">"Dangerously Delicious" on PayPal for $5</a>.
Key and Peele's infectious sketch comedy show found a cornerstone in the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/20/key-peele-obama-luther-romney-47-percent-video_n_1899875.html">Obama/Luther sketches</a> and kept up with the election's crazy pace with web-only video reactions --<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/08/obama-luther-mitt-romney-concession-key-and-peele-election-video_n_2094454.html"> including alternate takes</a>.
The Texans who petitioned to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/13/texas-secession-petition-qualifies-for-white-house-response_n_2125159.html">secede from the United States</a> after Barack Obama was elected to a second term <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/13/why-you-really-want-to-secede-from-the-united-states_n_2123181.html">gave us</a> (and just about every late night host) plenty of fodder for comedy.
IFC's madcap quasi-talk show "Comedy Bang! Bang!" was a breath of fresh air this year, and we're glad that Scott Aukerman's unique vision finally has a place on TV. It was made all the better with the addition of Reggie Watts, who adds another feather in his multi-faceted cap by complementing Aukerman as the show's "one-man bandleader."
Love it or hate it, "Girls" was a remarkable -- and often hilarious -- achievement in capturing today's conflicted twentysomethings with honesty rarely seen on TV. Dunham is almost completely responsible, and we have a feeling that audiences will be seeing plenty of her work for years to come.
With "Veep," Julia Louis-Dreyfus proved that "Seinfeld" and "The Old Adventures of New Christine" were hardly flukes. She just might be the most magnetic and naturally funny woman on TV since Mary Tyler Moore.
After <em>almost</em> selling his book <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/16/chris-gethard-judd-apatow-you-made-it-weird-2012_n_1354043.html">"A Bad Idea I'm About To Do"</a> to Judd Apatow, UCB Comedian Chris Gethard <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/29/chris-gethard-bonnaroo_n_1500651.html">walked to Bonnaroo</a>, was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/20/chris-gethard-coming-to-ifc_n_1811575.html">adopted by IFC</a> AND reach out to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/comedian-chris-gethard-anonymous-suicidal-fan-tumblr_n_1877349.html">an anonymous suicidal fan</a> with a touching letter. Need we say more?
In addition to hosting <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/23/jimmy-kimmel-emmys-2012-opening-monologue_n_1908081.html">the Emmy Awards</a>, Kimmel continued to produce some of the funniest <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/03/jimmy-kimmel-halloween-candy-challenge_n_2068805.html">interactive segments</a> on late night TV in 2012 and offered <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/18/jimmy-kimmel-addresses-newtown-shooting-video_n_2324110.html">a heartfelt address to the victims of Sandy Hook</a> in December.
How many new media moguls would still make stand-up comedy a top priority? Most comedians would have a red-letter year if they only released a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Hardwick-Mandroid/dp/B009SATC2K">one-hour Comedy Central</a> special, but that's only the beginning of Hardwick's latest happenings. We don't know how he makes time to sleep between heading up Nerdist Industries and its various web and podcast empires, web series and upcoming <a href="http://www.upi.com/Entertainment_News/TV/2012/12/26/BBC-America-orders-The-Nerdist-series-starring-Chris-Hardwick/UPI-69231356537504/">TV show plans.</a> Oh, and don't forget about hosting a talk show on AMC, and writing a self-help book. Not bad, nerd.
We're starting to get suspicious of Louis C.K. What's his end game? He's more or less considered to be the funniest person in America, so why does he keep finding new ways to impress us? This year, he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/15/louis-ck-500000-profit-live-at-beacon-theatre-special_n_1152506.html">rewrote the rules</a> on how comedians will release comedy specials, and gave us the best season of "Louie" yet.
The GOP primary race was one of the most entertaining in history thanks to this man, his <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/03/herman-cain-quotes-pokemon_n_1127221.html">Pokemon inspiration</a>, his <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/cain-tv-herman-cain-tv-network_n_1646662.html">outrageous TV network</a> and his <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/20/stephen-colbert-herman-cain-south-carolina-rally_n_1219136.html">rally with Stephen Colbert.</a> And we've still got that "I Am America" song stuck in our heads.
Amy Poehler is a double threat: One of the funniest people in the world, and one of the best role models for young women. A thousand more seasons of "Parks and Recreation," please.
Known for his keen sense of humor (some say he actually invented Internet memes), it's no surprise that Kim was named the <a href="http://www.npr.org/2012/12/01/166293306/the-onion-so-funny-it-makes-us-cry">Sexiest Man Alive</a> in The Onion this year.
This year, Mike Birbiglia went from being one of the funniest stand-up comedians in America to an exciting new presence in film. His first movie, an adaptation of his one-man show <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/mike-birbiglia-sleepwalk-with-me_n_1820512.html">"Sleepwalk with Me,"</a> takes his storytelling abilities to the silver screen to excellent effect.
The phrase "a hell of a year" has never been more fitting than it is in the case of 2012 for comedian Tig Notaro. She went through nearly every imaginable heartbreak one can go through, ending with a breast cancer diagnosis. A mind-blowing impromptu stand-up set in which she explored her feelings on the year proved to be cathartic experience for both her and her audience, and the set, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/06/tig-notaro-breast-cancer-treatment-new-york_n_1862583.html">now released as an album,</a> became an instant classic.
Jimmy Fallon's "Late Night" show has become one of the most fun anyone's had on TV in years. His blend of comedy, music, audience interaction and impressions <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/24/obama-slow-jams-the-news-with-fallon_n_1450968.html">even attracted President Obama to join in the fun</a> this year.
Even if his gym-tastic photo shoot hadn't resurfaced right before the 2012 election, Paul Ryan's mix of P90X cocksuredness and Ayn Rand's keen sense of empathy would have made him one of the unintentionally funniest people of the year.
Two of our "SNL" favorites, Seth Meyers and Bill Hader, kept us laughing this year, especially when Stefon comes around to provoke Seth (and sometimes more).
When "Saturday Night Live" lost cast member Kristen Wiig, we worried that the show would suffer. But the rest of 2012 proved that Nasim Pedrad and newcomer Kate McKinnon (and Vanessa Bayer, Cecily Strong and Aidy Bryant) are keeping SNL's female characters interesting.
Who else but Bill Murray can be spotted helping heavy metal bands load equipment in Austin, playing kickball with New York hipsters and then receive a Golden Globe nomination for playing FDR?
Lynch remained one of the funniest women in comedy in 2012, especially with her hosting the Comedy Central Roast Of Roseanne Barr.
We'll be keeping an eye on Maya in 2013 when her show "Up All Night" <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/christina-applegate-multi-camera-video_n_2127615.html">switches to a traditional multi-camera sitcom </a> but 2012 was all about her <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ryan/snl-scorecard-maya-rudolph-linsanity_b_1287587.html">awesome "Saturday Night Live" comeback</a>.
Donald Trump really outdid himself on Twitter this year, railing against targets as varied as Diet Coke, Kristen Stewart and President Obama with all the sensitivity of a dull sledgehammer.
Maron's "WTF" Empire has blossomed into a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/marc-maron-discusses-new-book-video_n_1373795.html">book</a> and a 10-episode deal for a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/17/wtf-with-marc-maron-coming-to-ifc_n_1355493.html">show on IFC</a>, plus his podcast remains as relevant as ever.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/jon-stewart">Do we even have to explain this one?</a>
Guy Fieri has always been a walking can of warm Bud Light Lime, but this year he inspired possibly the best takedown of all time when The New York Times <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/dining/reviews/restaurant-review-guys-american-kitchen-bar-in-times-square.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1&">reviewed</a> his Times Square restaurant. Keep 'em coming, Guy.
Jim Gaffigan's "Mr. Universe" reminded us that the comedian is one of the few guys who keeps both you and your parents in stitches, and he's only getting funnier.
Few shows were as much fun to hate this year as "The Newsroom," Aaron Sorkin's media drama that was somehow naively idealistic and smugly condescending at the same time. (For a palate cleanser, don't worry: The entire series of "The West Wing" is on Netflix.)
Tenacious D released their best record since their debut this year, released a bunch of funny videos to go along with it, and went on a multi-city comeback tour where they proved they can still rock. That's some rocket sauce right there.
Although "30 Rock" is coming to an end, Fey remains one of the most respected female comedians in the business. We can't wait to see what Mrs. "Bossypants" has in store for us next (hopefullly hosting "SNL" soon).
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's romance seemed like a by-the-book media stunt from the start, but with Kanye's announcement that Kim was pregnant with his child, they dared the world to laugh at them at least for the next year.
Will and Zach teamed up for "The Campaign" which, no matter what you thought of the movie, was a match made in heaven. In addition to that, Will blew us all away by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/13/casa-de-mi-padre-gael-garcia-bernal_n_1341942.html">doing an entire movie in Spanish</a> and Zach <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/24/funny-or-die-aids-2015-psa-zach-galifianakis_n_1698065.html?utm_hp_ref=zach-galifianakis">continued to be hilarious online</a>.
If you haven't seen comedian John Mulaney's special <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/02/john-mulaney-bullied-comedy-central-stand-up-video_n_1176783.html"> "New In Town,"</a> drop what you're doing right now and watch it. Even if he weren't the co-creator of Stefon on "SNL," Mulaney's self-deprecating, melodic storytelling style makes him one of our favorite stand-up comedians working today.
The man who introduced "jeah" to America will surely be a footnote in Olympic history. A hilarious footnote.
2012 was a big year for Kevin Hart, who found time to do movies and be offered a TV show on BET in addition to his stand-up tour. He even sold out Madison Square Garden at the NY Comedy Festival. Oh, and that "Gangnam Style" dude is pretty funny, too.