Who doesn’t love to laugh at a silly joke? We previously featured some of the most famous comedians in pop culture history, but there were so many that we weren’t able to include that we put together a second list! Check it out below and let us know who else we missed!
Iconic Comedians, Part 2
Radner was one of the seven original cast members for Saturday Night Light and most often focused on parodies of television stereotypes, like talk show hosts and news anchors. She also portrayed those same characters in her successful 1979 Broadway one-woman show. Sadly, she died from ovarian cancer in 1989 at just 42 years old, but her old comedy clips are still making people laugh today.
Williams was known for his improv skills and his wide variety of voices. Although he started as a stand-up comedian in the mid-1970s, he broke out as an actor on the television show Mork & Mindy. He continued to star in comedies, but also branched into more serious roles in films like The World According to Garp, Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poet’s Society, and Good Will Hunting, for which he won an Academy Award. Even though he spent his lifetime making others laugh, he personally dealt with depression. He died by suicide in 2014 at the age of 63 due to his struggle with Lew body disease.
Dick Van Dyke
Van Dyke, who was born in 1925, has been in the spotlight for seven decades. He started his career in radio and on Broadway before starring in his own sitcoms, The Dick Van Dyke Show in the 1960s and The New Dick Van Dyke Show in the 1970s. He also is well-known for his roles in the films Bye Bye Birdie (the adaptation of the Broadway production, which Van Dyke starred in), Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Comic, and Dick Tracy. He also partnered and became good friends with Hollywood legends Carol Burnett and Mary Tyler Moore. Never slowing down, he’s currently filming a movie that will be out in 2022.
Although Sykes is a comedian who has made many television and film appearances, she’s also been praised as a writer, most predominantly for The Chris Rock Show. In 2003, she starred in her own sitcom and appeared in an hour-long Comedy Central special called Tongue United. Sykes has been nominated for ten Primetime Emmys, one of which she won, and has also won an American Comedy Award and a Comedy Central Commie Award.
Chappelle is known for his observational style of comedy and his poignant ability to provide social political commentary. From 2003 to 2006, he starred in a satirical sketch comedy series Chappelle’s Show but left halfway through the 3rd season in order to continue with his stand-up routines. He’s appeared in the films Robin Hood: Men in Tights, You’ve Got Mail, Con Air, and A Star is Born, among others. He’s also won numerous Emmys and Grammys for his comedy shows.
DeGeneres is not just a comedian – she’s also a television host, actress, and writer. She starred in the sitcom Ellen from 1994 to 1998 and The Ellen Show from 2001 to 2002 and has hosted the daytime talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show since 2003. But her early stand-up career started in the 1980s and included an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1986. She’s also hosted The Academy Awards, the Grammys, and the Primetime Emmys. She has stated that some of her main influences have been Steve Martin, Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, and Bob Newhart, some of whom made our previous list.
Born “Leslie Townes Hope” in 1903, Bob Hope started as a vaudevillian before becoming a stand-up comedian. His career spanned almost 80 years, with him appearing in more than 70 short and feature films and a series of seven “Road” musical comedy movies with Bing Crosby. He hosted the Academy Awards 19 times, more than any other host. He was known for his comedic timing, one-liners, and rapid-fire delivery of self-deprecating jokes and is credited as establishing modern American stand-up comedy. Hope died in 2003 at the age of 100.
Rock began as a stand-up comedian and an actor in supporting roles until he found wider fame as a member of Saturday Night Live in the early 1990s, and then started starring in films like Down to Earth, Madagascar, and Grown Ups. He’s also known for the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, which he developed, wrote, and narrated, and a series of stand-up specials on HBO and Netflix. He’s hosted the Academy Awards twice and has won Emmys and Grammys. His comedy subject matters generally involve family, romance, celebrities, and race relations in the United States. He was most recently seen in the television series Fargo and the film remake of The Witches and has more projects in the works.
Cho is best known for her stand-up routines, most notably her criticisms on social and political issues like race (most often Asian-American stereotypes) and sexuality. However, before she started stand-up comedy gigs, she rose to prominence after creating and starring in the sitcom All-American Girl, which was one of the few shows to feature an East Asian family. Other acting roles have included the films It’s My Party and Face/Off, and television shows Drop Dead Diva and 30 Rock. She’s also written autobiographical books, released music, and started a burlesque fashion line.
Carlin, known as “the dean of counterculture comedians,” was famous for his dark comedy, his impressions of politics, religion, and other taboo subjects. He hosted 14 stand-up comedy specials for HBO, was a frequent performer and guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and hosted the first Saturday Night Live episode in 1975. He also tried his hand at acting, making appearances in the films Carwash, Outrageous Fortune, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and its sequel, The Prince of Tides, and Dogma, among others. Sadly, he died in 2008 from heart failure. He was 71.