Who makes us laugh?

by oparthenon | created - 28 Aug 2011 | updated - 28 Aug 2011 | Public

The 22 best in comic film and TV

1. The Marx Brothers

Actor | Duck Soup

The Marx Brothers, Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo are a group of actors known for Duck Soup (1933), Animal Crackers (1930) Horse Feathers (1932) A Night in Casablanca (1946) A Day at the Races (1937) and A Night at the Opera (1935). They began their careers in Vaudeville, before becoming stars in ...

2. Bob Hope

Actor | The Ghost Breakers

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...

3. Jack Benny

Actor | The Jack Benny Program

The son of a saloonkeeper, Jack Benny (born Benny Kubelsky) began to study the violin at the age six, and his "ineptness" at it later become his trademark (in reality, he was a very accomplished player). When given the opportunity to play in live theatre professionally, Benny quit school and joined...

4. Milton Berle

Actor | It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Milton Berle was born Milton Berlinger on July 12, 1908, in New York City. He was educated at New York Professional Children's School and began performing at age 5. His first stage appearance was in "Florodora" in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He appeared at the Palace Theater in New York in 1931, ...

5. Charles Chaplin

Writer | The Great Dictator

Considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin 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 character, the Little Tramp; the man with the ...

6. Buster Keaton

Actor | The General

Joseph Frank Keaton was born on October 4, 1895 in Piqua, Kansas, 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 ...

7. Stan Laurel

Actor | Pardon Us

Stan Laurel came from a theatrical family, his father was an actor and theatre manager, and he made his stage debut at the age of 16 at Pickard's Museum, Glasgow. He traveled with Fred Karno's vaudeville company to the United States in 1910 and again in 1913. While with that company he was Charles ...

Laurel must, of course, be coupled with Oliver Hardy, but the IMDB doesn't list comedy teams, only solo performers.

8. W.C. Fields

Actor | It's a Gift

William Claude Dukenfield was the eldest of five children born to Cockney immigrant James Dukenfield and Philadelphia native Kate Felton. He went to school for four years, then quit to work with his father selling vegetables from a horse cart. At eleven, after many fights with his alcoholic father ...

His genius transcended the film medium which enclosed him, creating the quintessential comic antagonist.

9. Lou Costello

Actor | Hold That Ghost

Lou Costello was born Louis Francis Cristillo in Paterson, New Jersey, to Helen (Rege) and Sebastiano Cristillo. His father was from Calabria, Italy, and his mother was an American of Italian, French, and Irish ancestry. Raised in Paterson, Costello dropped out of high school and headed west to ...

Again, it's the comedy team of Bud Abbot and Lou Costello which should be placed here: the classic straight man who never laughed against the bumbling fool who spoiled him.

10. Sid Caesar

Actor | Grease

Comedian, saxophonist, composer, actor and musician, he performed within the orchestras of Charlie Spivak, Shep Fields and Claude Thornhill as saxophonist. Later, as super-hip jazz musician "Cool Cees" in television skits, he played tenor saxophone, and sang with the satirical trio "The Hair Cuts" ...

11. George Burns

Actor | Oh, God!

George Burns was born on January 20, 1896 in New York City, New York, USA as Nathan Birnbaum. He was an actor and producer, known for Oh, God! (1977), The Sunshine Boys (1975) and Going in Style (1979). He was married to Gracie Allen and Hannah Siegal. He died on March 9, 1996 in Beverly Hills, Los...

...and Gracie Allen, a perfectionist in timing her off-hand wit.

12. Jerry Lewis

Actor | The Nutty Professor

Jerry Lewis (born March 16, 1926) was an American comedian, actor, singer, film producer, screenwriter and film director. He is known for his slapstick humor in film, television, stage and radio. He was originally paired up with Dean Martin in 1946, forming the famed comedy team of Martin and Lewis...

13. Ernie Kovacs

Actor | The Ernie Kovacs Show

Author, actor, comedian, composer and producer. He was educated at the New York School of Theatre, and received the Sylvania Television Award. Joining the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) in 1957, he composed a number of songs and themes, a number of which were used in ...

14. Jackie Gleason

Actor | The Hustler

Comedian, actor, composer and conductor, educated in New York public schools. He was a master of ceremonies in amateur shows, a carnival barker, daredevil driver and a disc jockey., and later a comedian in night clubs. By the mid-1950s he had turned to writing original music and recording a series ...

Gleason, the king of joie de vivre.

15. Jackie Mason

Actor | The Jerk

Jackie Mason was born on June 9, 1931 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, USA as Jacob Moshe Maza. He is an actor and writer, known for The Jerk (1979), Caddyshack II (1988) and History of the World: Part I (1981). He has been married to Jyll Rosenfeld since August 14, 1991.

16. Carl Reiner

Actor | Ocean's Eleven

Carl Reiner is a legend of American comedy, having achieved great success as a comic actor, a director, producer and recording artist. He has won nine Emmy Awards, three as an actor, three as a writer and two as a producer. He also won a Grammy Award for his "2,000 Year Old Man" album, based on his...

17. Red Skelton

Writer | The Red Skelton Show

The son of a former circus clown turned grocer and a cleaning woman, Red Skelton was introduced to show business at the age of seven by Ed Wynn, at a vaudeville show in Vincennes. At age 10, he left home to travel with a medicine show through the Midwest, and joined the vaudeville circuit at age 15....

18. Mel Brooks

Actor | Spaceballs

Mel Brooks was born Melvin Kaminsky on June 28, 1926 in Brooklyn, New York. He served in WWII, and afterwards got a job playing the drums at nightclubs in the Catskills. Brooks eventually started a comedy act and also worked in radio and as Master Entertainer at Grossinger's Resort before going to ...

19. Don Rickles

Actor | Casino

Don Rickles was born May 8, 1926 in New York. After the Golden Era of Hollywood ended, Don Rickles was, until early 2017, one man still living to tell his tales. One of the most respected talents in entertainment, Rickles got his start in the night clubs, toiling for over 20 years, until 1958, when...

20. Peter Sellers

Actor | Being There

Often credited as the greatest comedian of all time, Peter Sellers was born to a well-off English acting family in 1925. His mother and father worked in an acting company run by his grandmother. As a child, Sellers was spoiled, as his parents' first child had died at birth. He enlisted in the Royal...

Sellers should be higher on the list, but re-numbering is impossible (even in the edit mode) using this IMDB list-making method. I should place him probably after Ernie Kovacs, only because Kovacs devised and wrote all his own material, and included improvisational skills which stretched the impoverished TV medium to the limit.

21. John Cleese

Actor | A Fish Called Wanda

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 ...

Chiefly for his dead-pan Q in the recent Bond films and above all for Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers.

22. Rowan Atkinson

Actor | Johnny English

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 ...

He possesses the liveliest wit amongst still-living British or American comics.