According to Google Trends, the top five alternative comics are (from least to most searched):
5) Zach Galifianakis
4) Patton Oswalt
3) Demetri Martin
2) David Cross
1) Sarah Silverman
Wait, Mo!! Those are the five you entered! Well, all the other alternative comics I entered (using The Apiary blogroll as a reference) were less popular than Zach Galifianakis (unless you count Dane Cook as an alternative comic, like Spin magazine does).
Zach Galifianakis peaked in late '05, around the time the Comedians of Comedy miniseries was on Comedy Central. Perhaps Patton Oswalt's showcase is effective after all. Though it seems likely that Demetri Martin nabbed the #2 position right after getting his Daily Show gig, he peaked in '04, the same year that his Comedy Central special first aired. Mr. Show veterans David Cross and Sarah Silverman are neck and neck. While Americans love Silverman's complete lack of white liberal guilt, the politically correct Canadians prefer David Cross's insatiable hatred for the American emperor.
For fun (yes, I find flow charts fun), I decided to see how Sarah Silverman stacked up against some of the most popular names in the business. I entered Dane Cook, Larry the Cable Guy, Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock. Here are my findings:
5) Sarah Silverman
4) Chris Rock
3) Larry the Cable Guy
2) Dave Chapelle
1) Dane Cook
Canucks and Aussies love Dave Chappelle (he's in the lead in both countries) while the Dutch and the Brits fancy Chris Rock. Dane Cook and Larry the Cable Guy are only popular in North America. Is it possible that the rest of the world rejects Dane Cook and Larry the Cable Guy for the same reasons they reject Bush: they represent the increasing anti-intellectual fervor growing in the States? Or have they just not hit the big time yet? Who knows? But Sarah Silverman coming in at #5 is no surprise. I suppose they call it alternative comedy for a reason.