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The Most Famous

COMEDIANS from United States

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This page contains a list of the greatest American Comedians. The pantheon dataset contains 91 Comedians, 78 of which were born in United States. This makes United States the birth place of the most number of Comedians.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary American Comedians of all time. This list of famous American Comedians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of American Comedians.

Photo of Robin Williams

1. Robin Williams (1951 - 2014)

With an HPI of 77.06, Robin Williams is the most famous American Comedian.  His biography has been translated into 129 different languages on wikipedia.

Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014) was an American actor and comedian. Known for his improvisational skills and the wide variety of characters he created on the spur of the moment and portrayed on film, in dramas and comedies alike, he is regarded as one of the greatest comedians of all time. He received numerous accolades including an Academy Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, five Grammy Awards, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. He was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2005. Williams began performing stand-up comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles during the mid-1970s, and released several comedy albums including Reality ... What a Concept in 1980. He rose to fame playing the alien Mork in the ABC sitcom Mork & Mindy (1978–1982). He received his first leading film role in Popeye (1980). Williams went on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting (1997). His other Oscar-nominated roles were for Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), and The Fisher King (1991). Williams starred in the critically acclaimed dramas The World According to Garp (1982), Moscow on the Hudson (1984), Awakenings (1990), Insomnia (2002), One Hour Photo (2002), and World's Greatest Dad (2009). He also starred in Toys (1992), The Birdcage (1996), and Patch Adams (1998) as well as family films such as Hook (1991), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995), Jack (1996), Flubber (1997), RV (2006), and the Night at the Museum trilogy (2006–2014). He lent his voice to the animated films Aladdin (1992), Robots (2005), Happy Feet (2006), and its 2011 sequel. During his career he suffered substance abuse issues and instances of severe depression. Williams was found dead at his home in Paradise Cay, California, in August 2014, at the age of 63. His death was ruled a suicide. According to his widow, he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and had been experiencing depression, anxiety, and increasing paranoia. His autopsy found "diffuse Lewy body disease" and Lewy body dementia professionals said his symptoms were consistent with dementia with Lewy bodies.

Photo of Eddie Murphy

2. Eddie Murphy (1961 - )

With an HPI of 66.81, Eddie Murphy is the 2nd most famous American Comedian.  His biography has been translated into 96 different languages.

Edward Regan Murphy (born April 3, 1961) is an American comedian, actor, and singer. He shot to fame on the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, for which he was a regular cast member from 1980 to 1984. He is widely recognized as one of the greatest comedians of all time. Murphy received a Grammy Award, and an Emmy Award. In 2015, Murphy was honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and in 2023 the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award.Murphy broke out as a movie star in the 1980s films 48 Hrs., Trading Places, and Beverly Hills Cop. He established himself as a leading man with starring roles in: The Golden Child (1986), Coming to America (1988), Harlem Nights (which he also directed) (1989), Boomerang (1992), The Nutty Professor (1996), Dr. Dolittle (1997), Bowfinger (1999), Daddy Day Care (2003) and Norbit (2007). Murphy both won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Dreamgirls (2006).Murphy has worked as a voice actor, including Mushu in Disney's Mulan (1998), Thurgood Stubbs in the sitcom The PJs (1999–2001), and Donkey in the Shrek franchise (2001–2010), the latter of which he earned a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role nomination. Murphy often takes on multiple roles in a single film, such as in Coming to America , the Nutty Professor films, Bowfinger and Norbit. This is intended as Murphy's tribute to one of his idols, Peter Sellers. After starring in a string of children's films he starred in Tower Heist (2011), Dolemite Is My Name (2019), Coming 2 America (2021), You People and Candy Cane Lane (both 2023). In 2020, he won his first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for hosting Saturday Night Live. Murphy's films have grossed over $3.8 billion ($6.5 billion adjusted for inflation) in the United States and Canada box office, and over $6.7 billion worldwide. In 2015, his films made him the sixth-highest grossing actor in the United States. As a singer, Murphy has released three studio albums, including How Could It Be (1985), So Happy (1989), and Love's Alright (1993). He is also known for the hit song "Party All the Time" from 1985.

Photo of Bill Cosby

3. Bill Cosby (1937 - )

With an HPI of 64.90, Bill Cosby is the 3rd most famous American Comedian.  His biography has been translated into 61 different languages.

William Henry Cosby Jr. ( KOZ-bee; born July 12, 1937) is an American former comedian, actor, spokesman, and media personality. Cosby gained a reputation as "America's Dad" for his portrayal of Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show (1984–1992). He has received numerous awards and honorary degrees throughout his career, many of which were revoked following sexual assault allegations made against him in 2014. Cosby began his career as a stand-up comic at the hungry i nightclub in San Francisco during the 1960s. Throughout the decade, he released several standup comedy records which consecutively earned him the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album from 1965 to 1970. He also had a starring role in the television crime show I Spy (1965–1968) opposite Robert Culp. Cosby made history when he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1966, making him the first African American to earn an Emmy Award for acting. His acting career continued as he starred in the sitcom The Bill Cosby Show, which ran for two seasons from 1969 to 1971. In 1972, using the Fat Albert character developed during his stand-up routines, Cosby created, produced, and hosted the animated comedy television series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids which ran until 1985, centering on a group of young friends growing up in an urban area. Throughout the 1970s Cosby starred in various films including Sidney Poitier's Uptown Saturday Night (1974), and Let's Do It Again (1975), and Neil Simon's California Suite (1978) alongside Richard Pryor. He also starred in the original cast of The Electric Company alongside Rita Moreno and Morgan Freeman from 1971 to 1973. He was also a popular spokesperson in advertising for decades, for various products including the Jell-O ice pop treats Pudding Pop. Beginning in the 1980s, Cosby produced and starred in the television sitcom The Cosby Show, which was rated as the number one show in America from 1985 through 1989. The sitcom highlighted the experiences and growth of an affluent African American family. Cosby produced the spin-off sitcom A Different World, which aired from 1987 to 1993. He also starred in The Cosby Mysteries (1994–1995), the sitcom Cosby (1996–2000) and hosted Kids Say the Darndest Things (1998–2000). He then created and produced the animated children's program Little Bill (1999–2004). He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2002. Cosby has been the subject of numerous sexual assault allegations which became highly publicized in 2014, after Hannibal Buress brought them back into the public spotlight during a stand-up routine, prompting more women to come forward with accusations. Following the allegations, media organizations pulled reruns of The Cosby Show and other television programs featuring Cosby from syndication. In 2018, he was convicted of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand. He was imprisoned until the conviction was vacated in June 2021 by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, for violations of Cosby's 5th Amendment and 14th Amendment due process rights. Cosby's legal issues have continued following his release from prison.

Photo of Adam Sandler

4. Adam Sandler (1966 - )

With an HPI of 63.75, Adam Sandler is the 4th most famous American Comedian.  His biography has been translated into 80 different languages.

Adam Richard Sandler (born September 9, 1966) is an American actor and comedian. Primarily a comedic leading actor in films, his accolades include nominations for three Grammy Awards, five Primetime Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. In 2023, Sandler was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Sandler was a cast member on the NBC sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live from 1990 to 1995. He returned to Saturday Night Live as a host in 2019 earning a Primetime Emmy Award nomination. He has starred in Hollywood comedy films that cumulatively grossed over $2 billion worldwide. Sandler had an estimated net worth of $420 million in 2020, and signed a new four-movie deal with Netflix worth over $250 million.Sandler's comedic roles include Billy Madison (1995), Happy Gilmore (1996), The Waterboy (1998), The Wedding Singer (1998), Big Daddy (1999), Mr. Deeds (2002), 50 First Dates (2004), The Longest Yard (2005), Click (2006), Grown Ups (2010), Just Go with It (2011), Grown Ups 2 (2013), Blended (2014), Murder Mystery (2019) and Hubie Halloween (2020). He also received praise for his dramatic roles in Punch-Drunk Love (2002), The Meyerowitz Stories (2017), Uncut Gems (2019), and Hustle (2022). He also voiced Dracula in the first three films of the Hotel Transylvania franchise (2012–2018). Several Sandler comedies, such as Jack and Jill (2011), have been panned, resulting in nine Golden Raspberry Awards and 37 Raspberry Award nominations, more than any actor except Sylvester Stallone.

Photo of Steve Martin

5. Steve Martin (1945 - )

With an HPI of 62.95, Steve Martin is the 5th most famous American Comedian.  His biography has been translated into 54 different languages.

Stephen Glenn Martin (born August 14, 1945) is an American comedian, actor, writer, producer, and musician. He has won five Grammy Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, and was awarded an Honorary Academy Award in 2013. Additionally, he was nominated for two Tony Awards for his musical Bright Star in 2016. Among many honors, he received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2005, the Kennedy Center Honors in 2007, and an AFI Life Achievement Award in 2015. In 2004, Comedy Central ranked Martin at sixth place in a list of the 100 greatest stand-up comics. The Guardian named him one of the best actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination.Martin first came to public notice as a writer for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1969, and later as a frequent host on Saturday Night Live. He became one of the most popular US stand up comedians during the 1970s, performing his brand of offbeat, absurdist comedy routines before sold-out theaters on national tours. Martin went on to star in film roles, such films as The Jerk (1979), Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982), The Man with Two Brains (1983), All of Me (1984), ¡Three Amigos! (1986), Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), L.A. Story (1991), Bowfinger (1999) and Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003). He played family patriarchs in Parenthood (1989), the Father of the Bride films (1991–1995), and the Cheaper by the Dozen films (2003–2005). Since 2015, Martin has embarked on several national comedy tours with fellow comedian Martin Short. In 2018, they released their Netflix special An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life for which they received three Primetime Emmy Award nominations. In 2021, he co-created and starred in his first television show, the Hulu comedy series Only Murders in the Building, alongside Short and Selena Gomez, for which he earned three Primetime Emmy Award nominations, two Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, a Golden Globe Award nomination, and a 2021 Peabody Award nomination. In 2022, Martin and Short co-hosted Saturday Night Live together with Gomez making an appearance. Martin is also known for writing the books to the musical Bright Star (2016) and to the comedy Meteor Shower (2017), both of which premiered on Broadway; he co-wrote the music to the former. He has played banjo since an early age and has included music in his comedy routines from the beginning of his professional career. Since the 2000s he has increasingly dedicated his career to music, acting less and spending much of his professional life playing banjo, recording, and touring. He has performed with various bluegrass acts, including Earl Scruggs, with whom he won a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance in 2002. His first solo music album, The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo (2009) received the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album.

Photo of Whoopi Goldberg

6. Whoopi Goldberg (1955 - )

With an HPI of 62.57, Whoopi Goldberg is the 6th most famous American Comedian.  Her biography has been translated into 86 different languages.

Caryn Elaine Johnson (born November 13, 1955), known professionally as Whoopi Goldberg (), is an American actor, comedian, author, and television personality. A recipient of numerous accolades, she is one of 18 entertainers to win the EGOT, which includes an Emmy Award, a Grammy Award, an Academy Award, and a Tony Award. In 2001, she received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Goldberg began her career on stage in 1983 with her one-woman show, Spook Show, which transferred to Broadway under the title Whoopi Goldberg, running from 1984 to 1985. She won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album for the recording of the show. Her film breakthrough came in 1985 with her role as Celie, a mistreated woman in the Deep South, in Steven Spielberg's period drama film The Color Purple, for which she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. For her role as an eccentric psychic in the romantic fantasy film Ghost (1990), she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and a second Golden Globe Award. She starred in the comedy Sister Act (1992) and its sequel Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993), becoming the highest-paid actress at the time. She also starred in Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986), Clara's Heart (1988), Soapdish (1991), Ghosts of Mississippi (1996), and Till (2022). She also is known for voicing roles in The Lion King (1994) and Toy Story 3 (2010). On stage, Goldberg has starred in the Broadway revivals of Stephen Sondheim's musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and August Wilson's play Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. She won a Tony Award as a producer of the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie. In 2011 she received her third Tony Award nomination for the stage adaptation of Sister Act (2011). On television, Goldberg portrayed Guinan in the science fiction series Star Trek: The Next Generation (1988–1993), and Star Trek: Picard (2022). Since 2007, she has co-hosted and moderated the daytime talk show The View, for which she won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host. She has hosted the Academy Awards ceremony four times.

Photo of Ellen DeGeneres

7. Ellen DeGeneres (1958 - )

With an HPI of 61.80, Ellen DeGeneres is the 7th most famous American Comedian.  Her biography has been translated into 73 different languages.

Ellen Lee DeGeneres ( də-JEN-ər-əs; born January 26, 1958) is an American former comedian, television host, actress, and writer. She starred in the sitcom Ellen from 1994 to 1998, which earned her a Primetime Emmy Award for "The Puppy Episode". She also hosted the syndicated television talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show from 2003 to 2022, for which she received 33 Daytime Emmy Awards. Her stand-up career started in the early 1980s and included a 1986 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. As a film actress, DeGeneres starred in Mr. Wrong (1996), EDtv (1999), and The Love Letter (1999), and provided the voice of Dory in the Disney/Pixar animated films Finding Nemo (2003) and Finding Dory (2016); for Finding Nemo, she was awarded the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress, the first time an actress won a Saturn Award for a voice performance. In 2010, she served as a judge on the ninth season of American Idol. She starred in two television sitcoms, Ellen from 1994 to 1998 and The Ellen Show from 2001 to 2002. During the fourth season of Ellen in 1997, she came out as a lesbian in an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Her character, Ellen Morgan, also came out to a therapist played by Winfrey, and the series went on to explore various LGBT issues, including the coming-out process. In 2008, she married her longtime girlfriend Portia de Rossi. DeGeneres has hosted the Academy Awards, Grammy Awards, and the Primetime Emmys. She has authored four books and started her own record company, Eleveneleven, as well as a production company, A Very Good Production. She also launched a lifestyle brand, ED Ellen DeGeneres, which comprises a collection of apparel, accessories, home, baby, and pet items. She has won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, 20 People's Choice Awards (more than any other person), and numerous other awards for her work and charitable efforts. In 2016, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In January 2020, DeGeneres received the Carol Burnett Award at the Golden Globes for her work on television, becoming the first recipient after its inaugural namesake Carol Burnett.

Photo of Dick Van Dyke

8. Dick Van Dyke (1925 - )

With an HPI of 61.62, Dick Van Dyke is the 8th most famous American Comedian.  His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.

Richard Wayne Van Dyke (born December 13, 1925) is an American actor and comedian. His career has spanned over seven decades in film, television, and stage. Van Dyke is the recipient of a Golden Globe, Tony, Grammy, a Daytime Emmy, and four Primetime Emmys. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012. He was honored with the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award in 2013, the Kennedy Center Honors in 2021, and was recognized as a Disney Legend.Van Dyke began his career as an entertainer on radio and television, in nightclubs, and on the Broadway stage. In 1960, he starred in the original production of Bye Bye Birdie, a role which earned him the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Carl Reiner then cast him as Rob Petrie on the CBS television sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show from 1961 to 1966, which made him a household name. He went on to star in the movie musicals Bye Bye Birdie (1963), Mary Poppins (1964), and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), and he starred in the comedy-drama The Comic (1969). Van Dyke also made guest appearances on television programs Columbo (1974) and The Carol Burnett Show (1977), and he starred in The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1971–74), Diagnosis: Murder (1993–2001), and Murder 101 (2006–08). Van Dyke has also made appearances in the films Dick Tracy (1990), Curious George (2006), Night at the Museum (2006), its 2014 sequel, and Mary Poppins Returns (2018).

Photo of Chevy Chase

9. Chevy Chase (1943 - )

With an HPI of 60.47, Chevy Chase is the 9th most famous American Comedian.  His biography has been translated into 42 different languages.

Cornelius Crane "Chevy" Chase (; born October 8, 1943) is an American comedian, actor, and writer. He became the breakout cast member in the first season of Saturday Night Live (1975–1976), where his recurring Weekend Update segment became a staple of the show. As both a performer and a writer on the series, he earned two Primetime Emmy Awards out of four nominations.After leaving Saturday Night Live early in its second season, he established himself as a leading man, starring in some of the most successful comedy films of the 1980s, starting with his Golden Globe-nominated role in the romantic comedy Foul Play (1978). Most famously, he portrayed Ty Webb in Caddyshack (1980), Clark W. Griswold in five National Lampoon's Vacation films, and Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher in Fletch (1985). He also starred in Seems Like Old Times (1980), Spies Like Us (1985), Three Amigos! (1986), and Funny Farm (1988). He has hosted the Academy Awards twice (1987 and 1988) and briefly had his own late-night talk show, The Chevy Chase Show (1993). Chase had a resurgence with his role as Pierce Hawthorne on the NBC sitcom Community (2009–2014).

Photo of Lucille Ball

10. Lucille Ball (1911 - 1989)

With an HPI of 60.36, Lucille Ball is the 10th most famous American Comedian.  Her biography has been translated into 59 different languages.

Lucille Désirée Ball (August 6, 1911 – April 26, 1989) was an American actress and comedienne. She was nominated for 13 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning five times, and was the recipient of several other accolades, such as the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award and two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She earned many honors, including the Women in Film Crystal Award, an induction into the Television Hall of Fame, a Kennedy Center Honor, and the Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Ball's career began in 1929 when she landed work as a model. Shortly thereafter, she began her performing career on Broadway using the stage name Diane (or Dianne) Belmont. She later appeared in films in the 1930s and 1940s as a contract player for RKO Radio Pictures, being cast as a chorus girl or in similar roles, with lead roles in B-pictures and supporting roles in A-pictures. During this time, she met Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz, and they eloped in November 1940. In the 1950s, Ball ventured into television, where she and Arnaz created the sitcom I Love Lucy. She gave birth to their first child, Lucie, in 1951, followed by Desi Arnaz Jr. in 1953. They divorced in March 1960, and she married comedian Gary Morton in 1961.Ball produced and starred in the Broadway musical Wildcat from 1960 to 1961. In 1962, she became the first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu Productions, which produced many popular television series, including Mission: Impossible and Star Trek. After Wildcat, she reunited with I Love Lucy co-star Vivian Vance for The Lucy Show, which Vance left in 1965. The show continued, with Ball's longtime friend and series regular Gale Gordon, until 1968. Ball immediately began appearing in a new series, Here's Lucy, with Gordon, frequent show guest Mary Jane Croft, and Lucie and Desi Jr.; this program ran until 1974. Ball did not retire from acting completely, and in 1985 she took on a dramatic role in the television film Stone Pillow. The next year she starred in Life with Lucy, which, unlike her other sitcoms, was not well-received; it was canceled after three months. She did not appear in film or television roles for the rest of her career and died in 1989 from an abdominal aortic aneurysm and arteriosclerotic heart disease at the age of 77.

Pantheon has 78 people classified as comedians born between 1888 and 1990. Of these 78, 57 (73.08%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living comedians include Eddie Murphy, Bill Cosby, and Adam Sandler. The most famous deceased comedians include Robin Williams, Lucille Ball, and George Carlin. As of April 2022, 1 new comedians have been added to Pantheon including Gallagher.

Living Comedians

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Deceased Comedians

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Newly Added Comedians (2022)

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Which Comedians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 21 most globally memorable Comedians since 1700.