A list of the smartest funny people with the best comedic timing, in alphabetical order.
Referred to by some as a dadaistic comedian, Andy Kaufman took comedy and performance art to the edges of irrationality and blurred the dividing line between reality and imagination. Born in New York City on January 17, 1949, the first son of Stanley and Janice Kaufman, Andy grew up on New York in the town of Great Neck...
Bill Maher was born William Maher in New York City, New York, and grew up in River Vale, New Jersey. His father, William Aloysius Maher, Jr., who was of Irish descent, was a radio announcer and news editor. His mother, Julie (Berman), was a nurse, who was from a Jewish family. Maher was raised in his father's Catholic faith...
Jon Stewart was born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz in New York City, New York, to Marian (Laskin), a teacher, and Donald Leibowitz, a physics professor. His family is Ashkenazi Jewish (from Austria, Ukraine, Poland, and Belarus). Stewart moved to Lawrenceville, New Jersey during his childhood. He graduated from the College Of William And Mary in Williamsburg...
Stephen Tyrone Colbert (pronounced "col-BEAR") was born on May 13, 1964 in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. He is the son of Lorna Elizabeth (Tuck) and James William Colbert, Jr., a doctor and medical school dean at Yale, Saint Louis University, and MUSC. He is the youngest of eleven children, and is of Irish Catholic background...
Seth Woodbury MacFarlane was born in the small New England town of Kent, Connecticut, where he lived with his mother, Ann Perry (Sager), an admissions office worker, his father, Ronald Milton MacFarlane, a prep school teacher, and his sister Rachael MacFarlane
, now a voice actress and singer. He is of English, Scottish, and Irish ancestry, and descends from Mayflower passengers...
Jim Carrey, Canadian-born and a U.S. citizen since 2004, is an actor and producer famous for his rubbery body movements and flexible facial expressions. The two-time Golden Globe-winner rose to fame as a cast member of the Fox sketch comedy In Living Color
but leading roles in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
, Dumb & Dumber
and The Mask
established him as a bankable comedy actor...
Born and raised by his mother in Manhattan, New York City. His parents divorced when he was two months. His mother (as well as his father) worked in marketing, where they met. The long hours the mother worked left the young George by himself for long hours every day, providing him (in his own words)...
Robert De Niro
De Niro's longtime collaboration with Scorsese later earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull
. He also earned nominations for the psychological thrillers Taxi Driver
and Cape Fear
, both directed by Scorsese. De Niro received additional Academy Award nominations for Michael Cimino
's Vietnam war drama The Deer Hunter
Emmy-winning talk show host Ellen Lee DeGeneres was born in Metairie, Louisiana, a New Orleans suburb. She is the daughter of Betty DeGeneres
(née Elizabeth Jane Pfeffer), a speech therapist, and Elliott Everett DeGeneres, an insurance agent. Her brother is musician and producer Vance DeGeneres
. Her parents divorced when she was sixteen years old...
Jane Therese Curtin was born September 6th, 1947. Years later, a 27-year-old Jane Curtin auditioned for a comedy variety show. which turned out to be the the thing that would first expose her to fame, Saturday Night Live
. Jane won the audition against Mimi Kennedy
, a tough competitor. Also in the same year (1975), she married Patrick Lynch
Betty White was born in Oak Park, Illinois, to Christine Tess (Cachikis), a homemaker, and Horace Logan White, a lighting company executive. She is of Danish, Greek, English, and Welsh descent. Although best known as the devious Sue Ann Nivens on the classic sitcom Mary Tyler Moore
and the ditzy Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls
Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore was born on December 29, 1936 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, to Marjorie (Hackett) and George Tyler Moore, a clerk. Her maternal grandparents were English immigrants, and her father was of English, Irish, and German descent. Moore's family relocated to California when she was eight. Her childhood was troubled...
The woman who will always be remembered as the crazy, accident-prone, lovable Lucy Ricardo was born Lucille Desiree Ball on August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York. Her father died before she was four, and her mother worked several jobs, so she and her younger brother were raised by their grandparents...
Redd Foxx began doing stand-up comedy on the infamous "Chitlin' Circuit" in the 1940s and 1950s. Foxx was one of the premier "blue humor" comedians. Blue humor was very dirty, too dirty for white audiences. For years his party albums were not available in white record stores. In the 1960s his records became available...
Dick Van Dyke
Dick Van Dyke was born Richard Wayne Van Dyke in West Plains, Missouri, to Hazel Victoria (McCord), a stenographer, and Loren Wayne Van Dyke, a salesman. His younger brother is entertainer Jerry Van Dyke
. His ancestry includes English, Scottish, German, Swiss-German, and Dutch. Although he'd had small roles beforehand...
He was born Alfred Hawthorn Hill. It was his grandfather who introduced him to Burlesque Shows and the theatre from where the young Benny Hill was to draw much of his comic inspiration. After his national service with the army during WW2, Benny came to London, adopted the stage name Benny Hill (in homage to his all time favourite comedian Jack Benny
) and began appearing in variety shows...
Rowan Sebastian Atkinson was born on 6 January, 1955, in Consett, Co. Durham, UK, to Ella May (Bainbridge) and Eric Atkinson. His father owned a farm, where Rowan grew up with his two older brothers, Rupert and Rodney. He attended Newcastle University and Oxford University where he earned degrees in electrical engineering...
Robin McLaurin Williams was born on Saturday, July 21st, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois, a great-great-grandson of Mississippi Governor and Senator, Anselm J. McLaurin. His mother, Laurie McLaurin (née Janin), was a former model from Mississippi, and his father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams, was a Ford Motor Company executive from Indiana...
Highly influential, and always controversial, African-American actor/comedian who was equally well known for his colorful language during his live comedy shows, as for his fast paced life, multiple marriages and battles with drug addiction. He has been acknowledged by many modern comic artist's as a key influence on their careers...
Comedian Bob Hope was born Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham, London, England, the fifth of seven sons of Avis (Townes), light opera singer, and William Henry Hope, a stonemason from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. His maternal grandmother was Welsh. Hope moved to Bristol before emigrating with his parents to the US in 1908...
From the late 1940s through 1961, he was the highly successful host of You Bet Your Life
a quiz show on radio and television. His son, Arthur Marx
, is a successful writer of biographies and TV scripts. Arthur complained about his father always being "on". If he asked Groucho about something serious or personal, Groucho would reply with one-liners.
Steve Martin was born on August 14, 1945 in Waco, Texas, USA as Stephen Glenn Martin to Mary Lee (née Stewart; 1913-2002) and Glenn Vernon Martin (1914-1997), a real estate salesman and aspiring actor. He was raised in Inglewood and Garden Grove in California. In 1960, he got a job at the Magic shop of Disney's Fantasyland...
Elizabeth Stamatina Fey was born in 1970 in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, just west of Philadelphia, to Xenobia "Jeanne" (Xenakes), a brokerage employee, and Donald Henry Fey, who wrote grant proposals for universities. Her mother is Greek, born in Piraeus, while her father had German, Northern Irish, and English ancestry...
Johnny Carson, the legendary "King of Late Night TV" who dominated the medium's nether hours for three decades, was born in Corning, Iowa, but moved with his family to nearby Norfolk, Nebraska when he was eight years old. It was in Norfolk, where he lived until he was inducted into the US Navy in 1943...
Gene Wilder was born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Jeanne (Baer) and William J. Silberman, who manufactured miniature whiskey and beer bottles. His father was a Russian Jewish immigrant, while his Illinois-born mother was of Russian Jewish descent. Wilder caught his first big break playing...
Charlie Chaplin, considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular "Little Tramp" character; the man with the toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, bamboo cane, and a funny walk...
Joseph Frank Keaton, was born in Piqua, Kansas, October 4, 1895 to Joe Keaton
and Myra Keaton
. Joe and Myra were Vaudevillian comedians with a popular, ever-changing variety act, giving Keaton an eclectic and interesting upbringing. In the earliest days on stage they traveled with a medicine show that included family friend...
John Cleese was born on October 27, 1939, in Weston-Super-Mare, England, to Muriel Evelyn (Cross) and Reginald Francis Cleese. He was born into a family of modest means, his father being an insurance salesman; but he was nonetheless sent off to private schools to obtain a good education. Here he was often tormented for his height...
Dave Chappelle's career started while he was in high school at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC where he studied theatre arts. At the age of 14, he began performing stand-up comedy in nightclubs. Shortly after graduation, he moved to New York City where he quickly established himself as a major young talent...
Lenny Bruce was born Leonard Alfred Schneider on October 13, 1925, in Mineola, Long Island, New York. His British-born father, Myron, was a shoe clerk, his mother, Sadie, was a dancer. Lenny's parents were divorced when he was a child. To support herself and her son, Sadie Schneider persued a career in show business and sent Lenny to live with various aunts...
The entertainment world has enjoyed a five-decade love affair with comedienne/singer Carol Burnett. A peerless sketch performer and delightful, self-effacing personality who rightfully succeeded Lucille Ball
as the carrot-topped "Queen of Television Comedy," it was Burnett's traumatic childhood that set the stage for her comedy...
Famed actress, comedian, singer, and dancer Vicki Lawrence has appeared in television shows, on Broadway and in nightclubs. Her career included shows with such popular actors as Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, and Tim Conway. Lawrence was born Vicki Ann Axelrad in Inglewood, California, to Ann Alene (Loyd) and Howard Axelrad...
Funny man Tim Conway was born on December 15th, 1933 in Willoughby, Ohio. He was a fraternity man at Bowling Green State University, served in the army, and started his career working for a radio station. Conway got into comedy when he started writing and performing comedy skits between morning movies on CBS...
Eric Idle is an English comedian, actor, author, singer, playwright, director and songwriter. Co-creator of Monty Python on TV, stage and five films, including The Life of Brian and The Holy Grail, which latter he adapted for the stage with John Du Prez as Monty Python's Spamalot, winning the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2005...
As the short, hypertensive male counterpart of the stellar husband-and-wife comedy team "Stiller & Meara", Jerry Stiller and wife Anne Meara
were on top of the comedy game in the 1960s, a steady and hilarious presence on television variety, notably The Ed Sullivan Show
, on which they appeared 36 times...
Jerry Seinfeld was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Betty (Hesney) and Kalman Seinfeld. His father was of Hungarian Jewish descent, while Jerry's maternal grandparents, Salha and Selim Hosni, were Syrian Jewish immigrants (from Aleppo). He moved with his family, including sister Carolyn, to suburban Massepequa...
Al Franken is best known for nearly two decades of work on Saturday Night Live
. During that time he wrote, performed in and produced hundreds of sketches, including "Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley" and "The Final Days," a piece about the last days of Richard Nixon
's presidency. A noted political commentator and satirist...
Phil Hartman was born Philip Edward Hartmann on September 24, 1948, in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. His surname was originally "Hartmann", but he later dropped the second "n". He was one of eight children of Doris Marguerite (Wardell) and Rupert Loebig Hartmann, a salesman. He was of German, Irish, and English descent...
John William Ferrell was born in Irvine, California, to Betty Kay (Overman), a teacher, and Roy Lee Ferrell
, Jr., a musician. His parents were both originally from Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. A graduate of the University of Southern California, Ferrell became interested in performing while a student at University High School in Irvine...
One of SNL's most talented alumni, comedian Dana Carvey reigned supreme during his six-season run creating some of the show's most memorable characters, including "Church Lady", "Garth" of Wayne & Garth fame, Grumpy Old Man and bodybuilding "Hans" of Hans & Franz notoriety. So it is quite bewildering that this sharp and witty writer...
Michael John Myers was born in 1963 in Scarborough, Ontario, to Alice E. (Hind), an officer supervisor, and Eric Myers, an insurance agent. His parents were both English, and had served in the Royal Air Force and British Army, respectively. Myers' television career really started in 1988, when he joined Saturday Night Live
Gilda Radner was one of the great comic geniuses of the 20th century, ranked up with Lucille Ball
and other comedy legends of the highest caliber. She was born on June 28, 1946, in Detroit, Michigan, the younger of two children of Henrietta (Dworkin), a legal secretary, and Herman Radner, a businessman...
Billy Crystal was born on March 14, 1948 in Long Beach, Long Island, New York. He is the youngest of three sons born to Helen (Gabler) and Jack Crystal. His father was a well-known concert promoter who co-founded Commodore Records and his mother was a homemaker. His family were Jewish immigrants from Russia...
Ricky Dene Gervais was born in a suburb of Reading, Berkshire, to Eva Sophia (House) and Lawrence Raymond Gervais, who was a hod carrier and labourer. His father was born in Ontario, Canada, of French-Canadian descent, and his mother was English. He was educated at Ashmead Comprehensive School and went on to study at University College, London, where he gained a degree in Philosophy...
Raven-haired, suavely handsome and prolific actor Alec Baldwin was born on April 3, 1958 in Massapequa, New York, and is the oldest, and easily the best-known, of the four Baldwin brothers in the acting business (the others are Stephen Baldwin
, William Baldwin
and Daniel Baldwin
). Baldwin is the son of Carol Newcomb (Martineau) and Alexander Rae Baldwin...
John Stephen Goodman is a U.S. film, television, and stage actor. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Virginia Roos (Loosmore), a waitress and saleswoman, and Leslie Francis Goodman, a postal worker who died when John was a small child. He is of English, Welsh, and German ancestry. John is best known for his role as Dan Conner on the television series Roseanne (1988-1997)...
Janeane, the petite woman with the acerbic wit, was born in Newton, New Jersey, in 1964, to Joan, a secretary, and Carmine Garofalo, an Exxon executive. She is of Italian and Irish descent. Janeane had many jobs before breaking into show biz. She worked as a bike messenger, a shoe salesperson, waitress and temp secretary...
Richard Philip Lewis was born on June 29, 1947 in Brooklyn, New York City and raised in Englewood, New Jersey. He went to Dwight Morrow High School (where John Travolta
went a few years later). He graduated from Ohio State University in 1969 with a degree in marketing and communications. He wrote an ad copy in New Jersey while also writing jokes for comedians such as Morty Gunty
Damon Wayans is an American actor, comedian, writer and producer, and member of the Wayans family of entertainers. Wayans performed as a comedian and actor throughout the 1980s, including a yearlong stint on the sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live
, although his true breakthrough came as a co-creator and performer on his own sketch comedy show...
By August of 1994, Craig Ferguson was established as one of Great Britain's leading comedians - he had just had huge success at the Edinburgh Festival. In January 1995 he moved to Los Angeles where he now works as an actor-writer-director-producer-creator.
Rodney Dangerfield was born Jacob Cohen on November 22, 1921 in Deer Park, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. He was the son of Dorothy "Dotty" (Teitelbaum) and Phillip Cohen, who performed in vaudeville under the name Phil Roy. His father was born in New York, to Russian Jewish parents, and his mother was a Hungarian Jewish immigrant...
Bernard Jeffrey McCollough was born in Chicago in 1957. He grew up in Chicago, in a rougher neighborhood than most others, with a large family living under one roof. This situation provided him with a great insight into his comedy, as his family, and the situations surrounding them would be what dominated his comedy...
If "born to the theater" has meaning in determining a person's life path, then John Lithgow is a prime example of this truth. He was born in Rochester, New York, to Sarah Jane (Price), an actress, and Arthur Washington Lithgow III, who was both a theatrical producer and director. John's father was born in Puerto Plata...
Seann William Scott
Seann William Scott was born in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, to Patricia Anne (Simons) and William Frank Scott, a factory worker. He was discovered at a talent competition in Los Angeles, and almost immediately was flown to New York by ABC to test for All My Children
. His face has also been seen from his...
An actor, comedian and writer, Seth Rogen has come a long way from doing stand-up comedy as a teen. Rogen was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, to Sandy (Belogus), a social worker, and Mark Rogen, who worked for non-profits. His father is American-born and his mother is Canadian. He is of Russian Jewish descent...
Jonah Hill was born and raised in Los Angeles, the son of Sharon (Chalkin), a fashion designer and costume stylist, and Richard Feldstein
, a tour accountant for Guns N' Roses
. His siblings are music manager Jordan Feldstein
and actress Beanie Feldstein
. He graduated from Crossroads School in Santa Monica and went on to The New School in New York to study drama...
Rainn Wilson lives in Los Angeles with his wife, fiction writer Holiday Reinhorn
(Big Cats), and his son, Walter McKenzie Wilson who was born in 2004. He grew up in Seattle, Washington but graduated from New Trier H.S. in Winnetka, Illinois. After attending both Tufts University and the University of Washington...
Russell Brand was born on June 4, 1975, in Grays, Essex, England, the son of Barbara Elizabeth (Nichols) and Ronald Henry Brand, a photographer. An only child, his parents divorced when he was only six months old, and he was subsequently raised by his mother. Enduring a difficult childhood that saw...
Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on June 15, 1973. His parents, Sheila Gail (Scott) and Ronald Gene Harris, were lawyers and ran a restaurant. He grew up in Ruidoso, New Mexico, a small town 120 miles south of Albuquerque, where he first took up acting in the fourth grade. While tagging along with his older brother of 3 years...
Hanks climbed back to the top again with his portrayal of a washed-up baseball legend turned manager in A League of Their Own
. Hanks has stated that his acting in earlier roles was not great, but that he subsequently improved. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Hanks noted his "modern era of movie making ...
Chevy Chase was born Cornelius Crane Chase in Lower Manhattan, New York, to Cathalene Parker (Browning), a concert pianist and librettist, and Edward Tinsley "Ned" Chase, an editor and writer. His parents both came from prominent families, and his grandfathers were artist and illustrator Edward Leigh Chase and admiral Miles Browning...
Self-proclaimed troublemaker Owen Wilson was born in Dallas, to Irish-American parents originally from Massachusetts. He grew up in Texas with his mother, Laura (Cunningham), a photographer; his father, Robert Andrew Wilson, an ad exec; and his brothers, Andrew Wilson
(the eldest) and Luke Wilson
Seth Green has starred in numerous films and television series including the Austin Powers trilogy, The Italian Job, Party Monster, Without a Paddle, Can't Hardly Wait, Old Dogs and dozens more, including starring roles in 2013's Sexy Evil Genius, The Story of Luke and 2014's Yellowbird. He's portraying Christopher Guest in Netflix's upcoming National Lampoon origin film...
George Timothy Clooney was born on May 6, 1961, in Lexington, Kentucky, to Nina Bruce (née Warren), a former beauty pageant queen, and Nick Clooney
, a former anchorman and game show host (who was also the brother of singer Rosemary Clooney
). He has Irish, English, and German ancestry. Clooney spent most of this youth in Ohio and Kentucky...
Highly talented, lightly built American actor who always looks unsettled and jumpy has become a favourite of cult/arthouse film aficionados with his compelling performances in a broad range of cinematic vehicles. Turturro was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Italian-American parents, Katherine, a jazz singer...
John C. McGinley
John C. McGinley's path to stardom is a story that reads like a classic Hollywood script. While an understudy in New York in the Circle-In-The-Square production of John Patrick Shanley's "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea," he was spotted by director Oliver Stone and soon after was cast in "Platoon," the...
Eugene Levy is an award-winning actor, writer, and producer. He has appeared in more than 60 motion pictures to date, eight of which having topped the $100M mark. The box office success of films such as Bringing Down The House, Cheaper By the Dozen 2, and Father Of The Bride Part II have established him as one of Hollywood's most popular comedic actors...
Woody Allen was born Allan Stewart Konigsberg on December 1, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York, to Nettie (Cherrie), a bookkeeper, and Martin Konigsberg, a waiter and jewellery engraver. His father was of Russian Jewish descent, and his maternal grandparents were Austrian Jewish immigrants. As a young boy...
Breckin Meyer was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Dorothy Ann (Vial), a travel agent, and Christopher William Meyer, a management consultant. His ancestry includes German, English, and Irish. He went to grade school with Drew Barrymore
and attended Beverly Hills High School with Joshua John Miller
and Branden Williams
Paulo Costanzo was born on September 21, 1978 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He grew up in Brampton, a suburb of Toronto, of Italian (father) and Ashkenazi Jewish (mother) descent. He attended Mayfield Secondary School for the Arts where he starred in numerous plays and musicals. He then attended one year at Ryerson University for theater...
Paul Reubens was born Paul Rubenfeld on August 27, 1952 in Peekskill, New York, to Judy (Rosen), a teacher, and Milton Rubenfeld, a car salesman who had flown for the air forces of the U.S., U.K., and Israel, becoming one of the latter country's pioneering pilots. Paul grew up in Sarasota, Florida, where his parents owned a lamp store...
With a flourishing career that includes an Independent Spirit Award for his performance in writer-director Kevin Smith
's Chasing Amy
and memorable roles in multiple features for such directors as Smith, Cameron Crowe
and Lawrence Kasdan
, Jason Lee has solidly established himself among critics, directors and peers...
Kevin Patrick Smith was born in Red Bank, New Jersey, to Grace (Schultz) and Donald E. Smith
, a postal worker. He is very proud of his native state; this fact can be seen in all of his movies. Kevin is of mostly German, with some Irish and English, ancestry. His first movie, Clerks
, was filmed in the convenience store in which Smith worked...
Ethan Suplee has established himself over the past decade as an actor of considerable talent and accomplishment. His diverse and eclectic resume ranges from hilarious roles in such comedies as Mallrats
and Without a Paddle
to hauntingly dramatic performances in intense features such as American History X
After growing up in North Carolina, Jaime spent almost 11 years training in gymnastics and eventually entered the modeling world. Jaime can be seen on the cover of an older Teen Magazine, and has modeled throughout the United States, Italy, and Japan.
Ed O'Neill is an American actor best known for playing Al Bundy on Married with Children
, the most iconic working class character on television since Archie Bunker. Upon his debut on the world stage in Youngstown, Ohio on April 12, 1946, he was christened Edward Philip O'Neill, Jr. Both his father, Ed, Sr....
Christa Miller was introduced to the entertainment world at a very young age. As a toddler, she was photographed by the acclaimed Francesco Scavullo
for an Ivory Snow ad with her mother, and, at the age of three, appeared on the cover of "Redbook". Miller was bitten by the acting bug as a child, but couldn't pursue her passion because her parents had other plans for her...