Ranked: These Comedians Have Made Us Laugh For Decades

Who doesn’t enjoy listening to comedians? For years now, we have watched and listened to some of the funniest people of all time. Whether it’s stand-up comedy, sketch shows, or starring roles in Hollywood films – these are some of the folks who know how to make us laugh until we cry.

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This poll was conducted by collecting more than 800,000 votes from around 36,000 people from across the world wide web. We know that humor is subjective, but let’s take a look at some of the people that were ranked as the funniest of all time…

40. Ben Stiller

First up is everyone’s favorite awkward funnyman, Ben Stiller. This American comedian, actor, and filmmaker has been making us laugh for almost 40 years after getting recognized as a child star at 15. Since then, he has appeared in classic films such as Zoolander, Meet the Parents, and the Night at the Museum franchise.

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Occasionally, Stiller will appear on Saturday Night Live (SNL) where he will perform in sketches and imitate politicians or lawmakers. He is the ‘acknowledged leader’ of a cinematic Frat Pack that includes Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, and Jack Black.

39. Johnny Carson

Can you imagine late night without Johnny Carson? The veteran entertainer hosted The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson for more than 30 years. On the show, he often met with famous celebrities, actors, and politicians.

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For three decades between the 1960s and the 1990s, Carson was an unstoppable force in the entertainment world. His platform would largely be responsible for launching the careers of hundreds of performers that would be lucky enough to perform a five-minute set.

38. Charlie Chaplin

During the silent film era, few stars made an imprint as much as Charlie Chaplin. He rose to worldwide fame after appearing as his on-screen persona, The Tramp, and is mainly considered to be one of the leading and important figures in film history.


In fact, silent performances from Chaplin would inspire decades of comedic performances, notably from characters like Mr. Bean – who we see later in this list. Overall, his career spanned more than 75 years.

37. Adam Sandler

Adam Sandler may not hit every mark, but there’s no denying he has garnered an impressive following for his comedy films. Rising to fame as a cast member on SNL, Sandler has gone on to star in some of the biggest Hollywood films ever. In fact, his films have grossed more than $2 billion at the box office.

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He was fired from SNL alongside his co-writer and friend, Chris Farley in 1995, but it led him to star in classic films like Billy Madison, Airheads,  and The Waterboy. While not all of his films are critically acclaimed, there’s no doubt he can make a crowd laugh.

36. Kevin Hart

If there’s someone in Hollywood who knows how to work, it’s Kevin Hart. The standup comic and actor has appeared in 88 films in the last 18 years, making him one of the most hard-working comedians today.

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As well as acting in films like Ride Along, Jumanji, and Central Intelligence, he is also a producer and has worked on some hilarious standup routines around the country. While his humor might not be suited for everyone, he remains a committed artist to his craft.

35. Groucho Marx

As a master of wit, Groucho Marx is widely considered to be one of America’s greatest comedians. In total, he made 13 feature films alongside his brothers, The Marx Brothers. Together, they would make audiences laugh on screen and radio for decades.


Marx was also recognized for his unique look, including the large glasses and thick mustache. These exaggerated features led to the creation of the ‘Groucho Glasses’ – the popular children’s novelty disguise. He is considered one of the pioneers of comedy.

34. Louis C.K.

Louis C.k has been dragged through the mud recently, but you can’t deny the talent this man has on stage. For 30 years, he has made audiences laugh and cry with his cynical and deadpan observations about everyday life.

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As well as performing standup, Louis C.K also wrote, directed, and starred in his own show, called Louis. It was considered one of the best comedy shows of all time. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, his career is currently on hiatus. 

33. Kristen Wiig

As we will continue to see on this list, many of our favorite comedians first started on SNL. Well, Kristen Wiig is no exception, rising to fame on the weekly show from 2005-2012. After that, she would enter Hollywood and appear in some of the best recent comedy films.

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Her breakout role was in 2011’s Bridesmaids, which she wrote and starred in. Since then, audiences have enjoyed her performances in films like Anchorman 2, Ghostbusters, and Friends with Kids.

32. Billy Crystal

Billy Crystal has made audiences laugh since the 1970s when he starred on the ABC sitcom, Soap. As his career progressed, he would go on to reach global fame in films like When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers, and Analyze This.

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As well as his comedic roles in cinema, Crystal has also made people laugh on stage. He has hosted the Oscars nine times, the second-highest number of times from any single person. Younger audiences will recognize his voice as Mike in Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. 

31. Danny Devito

Danny Devito doesn’t exactly scream ‘Hollywood star’, but his unique style and raw talent have made him a powerhouse in comedy. Rising to fame as the taxi dispenser in Taxi, he has been appearing in comedy and dramatic roles for 40 years.

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As well as making people laugh, Devito also producers independent films from smaller filmmakers. He has appeared in films like Matilda and Batman Returns. Today, we can see him portraying Frank Reynolds in the FX show, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

30. Gene Wilder

Most readers will know Gene Wilder as the loveable Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. However, the longtime comedian also made a name for himself as the comedic talent in movies such as Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and See No Evil, Hear No Evil.

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Sadly, the world said goodbye to Gene Wilder in 2016 after a battle with Altzeimier’s. However, the 83-year-old left with a legacy of funny performances that even young generations today still enjoy.

29. Rowan Atkinson

How does a man make millions of people laugh without saying a single word? All you need to do is look at Rowan Atkinson and his amazing performance as the iconic Mr. Bean. For five years between 1990 and 1995, he played the silent hero who made people across three generations laugh their socks off.

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Of course, Atkinson also made us cry with laughter with his vocal performances in shows like Blackadder, as well as his standup and improv performances. Even though he doesn’t play Mr. Bean anymore, it remains a timeless classic nearly 30 years later.

28. Betty White

Betty White first made a name for herself for her roles on shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls. The 97-year-old has amassed an incredible 80-year career, making her the longest-running television star in history.

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Betty White’s career started in the 1930s and so she’s been around the block in terms of making Hollywood history. White is the first woman to gain control both in front and behind the camera for her sitcom, Life With Elizabeth.

27. Phil Hartman

Anyone who is still fond of The Simpsons will remember the golden years in the 1990s. One of the most popular characters at the time was Troy McClure – voiced by the irreplaceable Phil Hartman.


Hartman made a global name for himself on SNL in the 1980s and 1990s. Sadly, his life ended too soon after being murdered by his wife in 1998. His legacy has left a myriad of colorful characters all with their distinct style and voice.

26. Rodney Dangerfield

One of the kings of zany one-liners, Rodney Dangerfield would tell a joke a minute to the point where audiences could barely keep up! The standup comic made a career from complaining that he ‘don’t get no respect’ and would often tell self-deprecating jokes about himself.


After his death in 2004, the actor and comedian was praised by Hollywood and the LA community. To date, he is credited as popularizing self-deprecating humor that people still use today.

25. Chevy Chase

Chevy Chase was one of the first cast members from the first season of SNL in 1975. His ‘Weekly Update’ segment became so popular that it is still used as a formula today. After leaving the sketch show, he worked with National Lampoon.

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Chase is perhaps best known for his role in National Lampoon’s Vacation. Today, he acts less than normal but the 75-year-old still makes time to appear in shows like NBC’s Community. He was the first celebrity to get his own roast on Comedy Central, back in 2002.

24. Dan Aykroyd

Dan Aykroyd has had a seasoned career, with notable roles in films like Ghostbusters and The Blues Brothers. What started as a small sketch on SNL opposite John Belushi turned into the classic feature film we know today.

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After leaving SNL in 1979, Aykroyd conceived and starred in Ghostbusters, earning him global success. Outside of comedy, he is also a businessman and founded the House of Blues music venue chain. He will be reprising his role as Dr. Raymond Stantz in the Ghostbusters reboot, due out in 2020.

23. Zach Galifianakis

Zach Galifianakis first earned recognition with his TV specials on Comedy Central and VH1. However, it was his work as Alan in The Hangover trilogy that earned him global recognition as a comedy star.

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Since then, he has made audiences laugh in films like Due Date, The Campaign, and The Lego Batman Movie. Galifianakis earned two Primetime Emmy awards for his entertainment show, Between Two Ferns. To date, he has interviewed guests ranging from Justin Bieber to President Obama.

22. Seth MacFarlane

Seth MacFarlane can be credited/blamed for creating Fox shows Family Guy and American Dad! The animator, writer, singer, and actor is a multi-talented addition to Hollywood who isn’t scared to push the boundaries through his work.

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MacFarlane started his career as an animator on shows like Dexter’s Laboratory and Johnny Bravo on Cartoon Network. Today, he is a leading voice in Hollywood and stars in his own live-action comedy show, The Orville. Amazingly, he missed his flight on September 11, 2001.

21. John Cleese

John Cleese is another veteran comedian from the 1970s, but this time we’re taking a trip across the pond. The British actor co-founded Monty Python, a comedy troupe that would perform sketches and star in films like Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

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As his career went on, Cleese would write and star in Fawlty Towers – one of the most successful British sitcoms in history. Today, he often appears in comedy films and has taken a step back from behind the camera.

20. Dave Chappelle

Dave Chappelle has been making people laugh ever since 1993. This actor, comedian, and screenwriter started his film career in Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men in Tights and has been going strong ever since.

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Today, he is probably best known for his sketch show, Chappelle’s Show, which ran from 2003-2006. After taking a few years off from touring, he recently returned to standup and can be seen traveling the country with Jon Stewart. While he’s often considered the best standup comedian of all time, this next actor does something quite different…

19. Mike Myers

You’ll see Mike Myers appear in many films, but you’ll rarely see him perform as himself in a conventional comedian role. The Canadian star got his big break as a cast member on SNL between 1989 to 1995.

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It was here that he introduced us to a bunch of characters, notably Wayne Campbell. His film debut was a long-form adaptation of his character in Wayne’s World alongside Dana Carvey. Later, he would appear as Austin Powers and voice the titular character in the Shrek franchise.

18. Tina Fey

Tina Fey was the first female head writer of SNL, meaning that she must have made quite the impression of showrunner Chuck Lorre. During her run between 1997-2006, she helped some of the biggest stars find their careers.

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As time went on, Fey would go on to write and star in the iconic Mean Girls, starring Lindsey Lohan and Rachel McAdams. Her television work includes a seven-season run as Liz Lemon in NBC’s 30 Rock, starring opposite Alec Baldwin.

17. Jerry Seinfeld

The chances are you were one of the 76 MILLION people who tuned in to watch the finale of the wildly popular Seinfeld. The sitcom, which ran for nine seasons from 1989-1998, made a star of its leading man.

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Today, Jerry Seinfeld is considered one of the biggest names in comedy and still makes people laugh today. With his ‘innocent’ style of humor, he stars in the Netflix show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee where he interviews other comics.

16. Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball may not be with us any longer, but her legacy has lived on for generations. The American actress, model, and comedian had a career spanning six decades from the 1920s until her death in 1989.

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Lucille would, of course, star in the sitcom I Love Lucy, which would prove to be a revolutionary show. After its run came to an end in 1957, Ball would go on to become the first female head of a major television studio.

15. John Belushi

There’s no telling what John Belushi could have accomplished had he not sadly passed away in 1982 at the age of 33. As one of the first cast members of SNL, Belushi would make audiences laugh for four years while also helping the show become the iconic fixture it is on American television.

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Belushi starred opposite Dan Ackroyd in the 1980 hit The Blues Brothers. Sadly, he passed two years later after injecting a deadly mix of cocaine and heroin.

14. Chris Rock

This 54-year-old comic has had a career spanning more than 35 years. Rock started as a standup comic who would run the comedy circuit looking for his big break into Hollywood. Like many comics, his break came in the form of a gig on SNL.

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Between 1990-1993, Rock would collaborate on SNL alongside comics like Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, and David Spade. Today, they remain somewhat of a posse and often appear in each other’s films.

13. John Candy

John Candy is another comic who left us way too soon. After getting a few small roles in films like The ABC Afternoon Playbreak, he went on to receive a regular role in Dr. Zonk and the Zunkins.


His breakout role in cinema was considered to be as the playboy brother of Tom Hanks in 1984’s Splash. Sadly, he died in 1994 of a suspected heart attack. While his career was far too short, he provided us with many laughs to last a lifetime.

12. Mel Brooks

This comedian and filmmaker has been behind some of the best comedies in the last 30 years. Anything from Blazing Saddles, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, and The Producers have come from this comedic mastermind.

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Today, this 93-year-old is still living and laughing as he enjoys a lengthy retirement. He is a member of the prestigious EGOT club after winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony for his contributions to the arts.

11. Leslie Nielsen

Number 11? Surely you can’t be serious! Leslie Nielson was one of the leaders of deadpan and sarcastic delivery all the way until his death in 2010 at the age of 84. Originally working as a serious actor, he rose to fame with his performances in The Poseidon Adventure.

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It wasn’t until the 1980s when he appeared in Jerry Zucker’s Airplane!. Going against his usual methods, he found a whole new career in deadpan delivery in spoof films. This led to him starring in The Naked Gun franchise and making millions of people laugh for years.

10. Chris Farley

Chris Farley is yet another alum of SNL who was on his way to a promising career in film until his untimely death. Appearing alongside Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, and David Spade, this squad quickly became ‘the bad boys of SNL’.

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After leaving SNL in 1995, he appeared in films like Tommy Boy, Black Sheep, and Beverly Hills Ninja. He was the original voice of Shrek and even recorded up to 90% of his lines until he died of a drug overdose in 1997.

9. Steve Carell

Steve Carell has had a seasoned career as a film and television star. Rising to critical and global acclaim in NBC’s The Office, Carell portrayed the American version of the boss that everyone loved to hate.

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While he still makes us laugh in buddy comedies, Carell has also impressed us with his dramatic acting abilities. Whether it’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin or Beautiful Boy, Carell has proven to be an eclectic and talented star within Hollywood. He is reprising his role as Gru in the successful Minions franchise due in 2020.

8. Richard Pryor

Over a career spanning five decades, Richard Pryor shocked us and wowed us with his observations about everyday life. He recorded countless hours of material and even went on to appear in films like See No Evil, Hear No Evil and The Toy.


14 years after his death, Pryor is still considered one of the most influential and groundbreaking comedians. His material is still admired by up-and-coming comics running the circuit in Los Angeles. He died at the age of 65.

7. Steve Martin

Steve Martin is an actor, writer, comedian, and filmmaker. He first caught the public’s eye in the 1960s and has been performing consistently ever since. Starting in standup comedy, he went on to appear in films like The Jerk, Three Amigos! and Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

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Outside of his acting in comedies, Martin is also a seasoned award show host and musician. He even started an award to help raise awareness for bluegrass music and its place in the industry.

6. George Carlin

Considered one of the best standup comics of all time, George Carlin was known for his black comedy and dark observations about psychology, religion, and politics. In total, he recorded 14 comedy specials for HBO.

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His comedy specials were recorded between 1977 all the way until four months until his death in 2008. He is often found on lists like this that celebrate standup comedy and counter culture. He died in 2008 at the age of 71.

5. Jim Carrey

If you grew up (or had kids) in the 1990s, the chances are that they were watching a Jim Carrey movie. The Canadian star rose to global fame after appearing in classic comedy movies like Ace Ventura, Dumb and Dumber, and The Mask.

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25 years after his breakout year, Carrey has experimented in dramatic roles as well as comedic ones. However, he will always be remembered as the energetic comic with the rubber face perfect for impressions.

4. Eddie Murphy

Once upon a time, Eddie Murphy was one of the most influential and controversial comics out there. After gaining a spot as a cast member of SNL in the 1980s, he went on to reach global fame with his stand-up special, Delirious.

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He went on to break out into cinema and starred in films like Trading Places and Beverly Hills Cop. Recently, his newer films have not reached the same critical or financial success as his early career.

3. Bill Murray

Bill Murray has been making audiences laugh since 1976 when he first appeared on SNL. after only a few years, he made the jump from sketch show comedy to film roles, including Ghostbusters.

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As his breakout role, it was the highest-grossing comedy at the time. Since then, Murray has earned acclaim for his deadpan performances in films like Groundhog Day, The Royal Tenenbaums, and Space Jam. The comedy actor is known for his mood swings and has a reputation for being hard to work with.

2. Will Ferrell

For 20 years, Will Ferrell has made us laugh with his imaginative performances and compelling character building. After gaining recognition for his work on SNL in the 1990s, he broke out into cinema through small but memorable roles in the Austin Powers franchise.

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Soon after, he became a leading man due to his performance in films like Elf and Anchorman. Today, he is still a leading force in Hollywood and is a seasoned player in the comedy circuit. He is currently working on a spoof film about Eurovision.

1. Robin Williams

Could it be anyone else? The world became a sadder place the day that Robin Williams left it in 2014 at the age of 63. After breaking out as a standup comic, Williams made audiences cry with laughter as the alien in Mork and Mindy.

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As his career went on, he would star as both the light-hearted comic we love and the dramatic actor we all respect. His most noteworthy performances in comedy include Night at the Museum, Hook, and Aladdin. He is dearly missed.

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