10 Funniest People of All-time

I have been watching comedians and comedy productions, whether theatrical or film-based, for nearly four decades and I like to think of myself as fairly knowledgeable when it comes to some of the funniest people to ever live.

Having said that, I must admit that when I sat down to write this column, I had a tougher time selecting the names for this list than my wife Theresa did giving birth to our son Emmanuel just a little over three years ago.

Okay, okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it was excruciating nonetheless coming up with the 10 funniest people to ever live. Of course this is strictly one man’s opinion, but here’s my top 10 at any rate.

1. Richard Pryor
Richard Pryor earned my number one spot, and not because he recently passed away and is being lauded by many in the media for his comedic genius. Pryor gets the number one spot simply because he was the funniest person I have ever seen in my entire life.

From the outlandish standup routines to the laugh-a-minute movies he made, Pryor was born to make people laugh. His recent passing only served to remind the world that, although many have tried to duplicate him, there will never, ever be another Richard Pryor.

2. Jerry Lewis
What can I say about Jerry Lewis except that the man could probably attend a funeral and have the entire procession in stitches by the time he left (not that anything is funny about dying mind). The numerous films that he made with straight man Dean Martin are the stuff of legend. Even after the pair split up, Lewis continued to make audiences across America double over in laghter. His 50-plus years in the business are a testament to his longevity and loveability. I initially didn’t think Lewis would rank this high, but after some serious soul-searching, this is where he ended up.

3. Eddie Murphy
When I first began putting this column together, I was pretty sure that Murphy would land the number one spot for me. After further review, I couldn’t, in good faith, vault Murphy over either Pryor, who Murphy aspired to be like, or Lewis. However, I wouldn’t necessarily go bonkers if someone suggested to me that Murphy was the funniest man ever. From Murphy’s early days on Saturday Night Live to his standup comedy routines and finally feature films, Murphy was and still is, one of the funniest people to ever walk the face of the earth.

4. Bill Cosby
How could any list of funniest people of all-time be complete without Bill Cosby? That’s right – it can’t. I mean really, that would be like drinking a Funky Cold Medina and not giving Tone Loc any credit. All jokes aside, Cosby has been one of America’s most beloved and respected comedians of all-time. His “clean” brand of humor has endured five decades and has made him one of the most popular entertainers in United States history. Cosby has covered all the bases too. From stand up to television and full-length feature films, Cosby has excelled in all three areas.

5. Benny Hill
Can anyone ever forget Great Britain’s Benny Hill? I know I couldn’t if I tried. Hill’s offbeat brand of slapstick humor was priceless and provided tons of late-night entertainment. I know a lot of people may have a problem with this selection – until they view an old Benny Hill rerun that is. If that doesn’t change your mind, at least you’ll still be on the floor trying to regain your composure.

6. Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball is the only woman to make my list. The beloved comedienne, who is the number one female comedienne ever in my mind, was a one-of-a-kind performer whose career spanned over half a century. Ball set the bar for every other female comedienne to follow her and set it so high that it may never be reached.

7. Steve Martin
I was threatened with bodily harm by my wife (again) if I didn’t put Steve Martin on this list. However, that’s not the reason he’s number seven on my all-time list. Martin is on this list because I genuinely think he is one of the top ten funniest people ever. Martin has had a wonderful career that has both, sustained longevity and excellence. His performance in “The Jerk” almost three decades ago remains one of the finest comedic performances of all-time. Martin is still providing laughs nearly 30 years later and appears as if he’s going to keep going for at least another decade.

8. Red Foxx
Red Foxx was the Eddie Murphy of his era. He pushed the envelope with his stand up routines and moved into television later on as if the transition was nothing. Like Pryor and Murphy, Foxx’s stand up routines were so original and reality-laden that numerous comedians tried to emulate Foxx’s originality. However, no one could duplicate Red Foxx if they tried for a million years.

9. Robin Williams
From the time I first saw Robin Williams as a teenager in the 70s when he made several cameo appearances as the outer space alien “Mork” on the hit television show, “Happy Days,” I couldn’t get enough of Williams. His spinoff, “Mork and Mindy” catapulted Williams into the national spotlight and the big screen where his comedic talent shined like ray of light. Williams was also a wonderful stand up comedian and his imitations were incredible. Who cares if he tried to play a psycho in one of his films, I believe Williams is one of the funniest people to ever live.

10. Jim Carrey
I didn’t know who to put in the final spot on this list, but after careful consideration, I chose Carrey. The funny man may not have the longevity of some of my aforementioned selections, but it’s not like he’s exactly chopped liver. Almost every vehicle Carrey has starred in has been a hit (or at the very least, comical). Obviously Carrey still has at least another decade to go before he can reach the rarefied air of performers like Pryor, or Lewis, but he’s well on his way.

So there you have it, my all-time list of funniest people ever. Sure, I could have substituted a name or two here or there, but for me, these 10 have provided enough laughs to last two lifetimes.

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