Being able to make people laugh is a great quality, especially if you have made it a profession. Whether it is on-screen appearance or appearing on stage, people have always loved and respected comedians. Being a comedian is not as easy as it seems. One has to be witty, spontaneous and keep the audience laughing even after you leave the stage. A lot of factors like sense of timing, quality of the material, artistic merit and the sense to create funny situations, everything is considered in making the list of the best comedians. Take a look at the top 10 comedians of all times.
1. Richard Pryor:
Richard Pryor is an American actor, comedian and social critic. He is considered as the most influential and important comedians of all times. Someone even called him ‘The Picasso of our profession’. He touched upon issues like racism, topical contemporary issues and racial epithets. He drew the line between comedy and tragedy as thin as it could be. His works include That Nigger’s Crazy, Richard Pryor: Live & Smokin’, Is it Something I Said and Bicentennial Nigger among many others.
2. George Carlin:
George Denis Patrick Carlin was an American actor, author, stand-up comic and a social critic. He was well-known for his black comedy and thoughts on English language, religion, politics, psychology and various subjects considered as taboo. A newspaper called Carlin ‘the dean of counterculture comedians’. He ranked second in the Comedy Central list of ‘Top 10 Comedians of US Audiences’. The first of his comedy specials was made in 1977. From late 1980s, he focused on socio-cultural criticism of American society. He often satirized the excesses of American culture and made comments on political issues.
3. Lenny Bruce:
Leonard Alfred Schneider was known by his stage name Lenny Bruce. He was a Jewish-American satirist, stand-up comedian and social critic. He was known to people for his free-style, open and critical form of comedy which included religion, satire, sex, politics and vulgarity. He showed the path for many outspoken counterculture-era comedians who emerged later. He often broke obscenity rules and always wanted to speak out the truth for which he had to fight the police. He was the one who changed stand-up into an outlaw occupation.
4. Louis C.K:
Professionally known as Louis C.K., Louis Szekely is an American writer, actor, comedian, editor, director and producer. He has written scripts for many comedy shows in the 1990s and early 2000s for comedians like Chris Rock, David Letterman etc. Louie was a famous comedy-drama series created by Louis. His debut comedy album Live in Houston was released in 2001. He is known for the use of self-deprecating, vulgar, observational and dark humour. He has received many awards for his contribution in the field.
5. Chris Rock:
Christopher Julius Rock III, popularly known as Chris Rock, is an American actor, writer, producer, comedian and director. Earlier, he worked as a stand-up comic and acted in many films before being a cast member of ‘Saturday Night Live’. He later got good roles in a number of movies and comedy specials in HBO. He wrote and narrated the sitcom ‘Everybody hates Chris’ which was widely accepted. He has won several awards including three Grammy Awards and four Emma Awards. He was famous for his punch lines that trigger unconventional thinking.
6. Joan Rivers:
Joan Alexandra Molinsky or Joan Rivers was an American voice actress, comedian, producer, writer, actress and television host famous for her controversial comedic persona. She was often sharply acerbic or sometimes self-deprecating. She wrote more than a dozen books and was a performer who would always add gigs to her shows. She was viciously funny and a role model for many comedians who followed her. A television critic once called her ‘quite possibly the most intuitively funny woman alive’.
7. Jerry Seinfeld:
Jerome Allen Seinfeld or Jerry Seinfeld, as popularly known, is an American writer, director, producer, actor and comedian. He was noted for his observational comedy and precise language. He always chose topics that appealed to maximum number of people. He created the sitcom Seinfeld with Larry David and played himself in it. During his performances, he spoke about embarrassing social situations and relationships. He created and hosted the web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and premiered a reality series named The Marriage Ref.
8. Bill Cosby:
William Henry Cosby Jr., better known as Bill Cosby, is an American actor, author and stand-up comedian. He began his journey as a comedian at the hungry i in San Francisco. He was also seen in the children’s television series The Electric Company. He was an inspiration for many comedians who came later. He produced and acted in a television sitcom The Cosby Show which was rated as the number one show in America for five years.
9. Dave Chappelle:
David Khari Webber Chappelle, also known as Dave Chappelle, is an American writer, producer, actor and stand-up comedian. He started his career by performing in theatres and parks of New York City. During his shows, he talks a lot about politics, race and celebrities. He did many films before getting a lead role in the comedy film Half Baked. He is widely known for his sketch comedy television series Chappelle’s Show which he co-wrote with Brennan. Esquire called Chappelle ‘comic genius of America’ due to his talent.
10. Mort Sahl:
Mort Sahl is a Canadian-born social satirist and American comedian. He was the first to start a style of social satire which makes fun of political and current events using improvised monologues with a newspaper as a prop. He was regarded as the most valuable political voice since Will Rogers. He made his stage debut at the hungry i nightclub in the year 1953. He did a number of television shows and acted in many films and even performed a one-man show on Broadway. Television host Steve Allen said about Sahl as ‘the only real political philosopher we have in modern comedy’.