Laugh. We all like to do it. Throw off the worries of the world for a few hours and giggle, grin and guffaw. But comedy is always subjective; what makes one person hold their side with stitches, makes another cringe with distaste.
So here are the ten funniest comedic actors and actresses whose comedy has stood the test of time and continue to make us laugh today.
List of Top 10 Most Funniest Comedic Actors And Actresses of All Time until in 2017
10. Charlie Chaplin
Chaplin’s comedic genius saw him write, direct and star in such comic gems as The Gold Rush (1925), City Lights (1931) Modern Times (1936) and the prescient and timeless The Great Dictator (1940).
During the Great Depression when the world really needed laughter, crowds flocked to the cinemas to witness the adventures of the Little Tramp. His mix of pratfalls and pathos combined with an irrepressible cheekiness made for a winning combination that few of his comic contemporaries could match (with respect to the great Buster Keaton).
His physical humour meant his films crossed cultural boundaries and still have the ability to make us laugh today, nearly a century later.
9. Will Ferrell
Ferrell’s seven year tenure on the legendary and long running Saturday Night Live brought us such brilliant characters as Neil Diamond, Gene “More cowbell!” Frenkle, Robert Goulet and his unforgettable take on American president George W Bush.
His transition to the big screen was no less successful. In the ensuing decade Ferrell has brought us memorably hysterical characters including Mugatu (Zoolander), Ricky Bobby (Talladega Nights), Chazz Michael Michaels (Blades of Glory) and Chazz Reinhold (The Wedding Crashers)
But it was his turn as Ron Burgundy in 2004’s Anchor Man, that really seared him into the public consciousness. The genius of that character alone is enough for him to make this list.
8. Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball was a woman in a man’s world. Her character of Lucy Ricardo in the 1951 television series I Love Lucy was a seismic shift in a comedy scene until then dominated by men. Lucy not only was the lead in a long running successful sitcom, but she drove the comedy, taking the bulk of the laughs.
Constantly thwarting her husband’s attempts to make her a ‘good’ wife, Lucy showed women pushing against the social mores and conventions of the time. It was her ability to reflect the frustrations of contemporary women, yet still remain likable by doing it in an hilarious way that ensured her popularity among both women and men.
Ball’s exquisite comic timing, physical ability and facial contortions made her a television comic staple for over three decades and her shows still run today.
7. Leslie Nielsen
Originally a suave romantic lead in the 1950’s and 60’s, Nielsen reinvented himself as arguably the greatest deadpan comic actor ever. His dry as bone delivery and the utter seriousness with which he took the most ridiculous situations made for comedy gold.
His list of absolutely classic comedies is impressive: Airplane (1980), The Naked Gun series (1988 – 1994) as well as the unfairly short lived Police Squad (1982).
Nielsen’s characters defined deadpan, and was often imitated but never bettered. Some may argue that Nielsen played the same character throughout his comedy career, but when you’re that good at something, why change?
6. Rowan Atkinson
Best known to American audiences through his rubber faced mime character of Mr Bean, Atkinson’s comedic resume stretches far beyond that single character. His long running TV series Blackadder is an under appreciated gem outside of the UK.
Atkinson’s rubber faced ability is quite extraordinary, making him possibly the greatest contemporary physical comedian. However, he packages this with a dry wit and incredibly nuanced delivery making him the total comedic package. He is one amongst the Top 10 Most Funniest Comedic Actors And Actresses of All Time until 2017.
5. Peter Sellers
Peter Sellers was the consummate character actor, receiving two Academy Award nominations for Best Actor in the course of a far too short career. His early work on the hugely influential Goon Show (named by Monty Python as their biggest inspiration) brought him to the attention of Hollywood.
It is perhaps his stellar comedic creation of the bumbling Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies that he is best remembered for. However, his list of funny credits is remarkable, particularly his star turn in Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove (1965). Playing three brilliant characters, including President Merkin Muffley and ex-Nazi scientist, Dr. Strangelove himself, it is a comedic masterclass that’s pretty hard to beat.
4. Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Another SNL alum, Louis-Dreyfus created the character of the self centered Elaine in the classic 90’s sitcom Seinfeld. After such huge success (as well as being identified with such an iconic character) many actors would have been content to rest on their laurels. However, JLD has continued to push the comedic envelope, developing another brilliant character in former Vice President, now President Selina Meyer on HBO’s Veep.
The smiling and easy charm Louis-Dreyfus brings to her characters hides a sharp and often feral wit. Her comic timing is second to none, but it is perhaps her nuanced expressions that say so much that really bring the laughs.
3. John Cleese
The tall, gangling, highly neurotic figure of Basil Fawlty from the UK sitcom Fawlty Towers (1975) is enough to ensure John Cleese’s place on this list. However the English comedian has a wealth of other comic brilliance on his resume.
The founding member of legendary comedy troupe Monty Python, he has both written and performed some of the most genius comic moments ever. From Life of Brian’s (1979) Reg (“What have the Roman’s ever done for us?”) to A Fish Called Wanda’s (1988) long suffering lawyer Archie Leech, Cleese’s characters are often characterized by barely suppressed rage and manic desperation.
2. Bill Murray
Murray’s laconic style and dry sarcasm has endeared him to generations of comedy fans. Joining Saturday Night Live in 1976 as their first new cast member, (replacing the popular Chevy Chase) Murray had a shaky start, forgetting lines and seeming awkward. He quickly turned this around with characters such as the sadly desperate ‘Nick the Lounge Singer’ and the sleazy chauvinist Todd DiLamunca. His earnest groundskeeper Carl Spackler in Caddyshack (1980) proved just how versatile Murray could be.
Breaking into the big time with 1984’s Ghostbusters, Murray has made a career of playing hip, wise-ass sarcastic types, tho with a (often deeply) hidden streak of humility. most notably Phil in Groundhog Day (1993)
1. Robin Williams
A comedic force of nature, Robin Williams remains one of the most unique actors ever to roam the earth. Although he played roles both dramatic and comedic, it is for his comedy he will be best remembered.
Williams reputedly won the role of the alien Mork from Ork by sitting upside down in the chair when asked to take a seat in the audition. As producer Gary Marshall later said ‘He was the only alien to audition.’
Despite finding huge fame as Mork, and being a brilliant stand up comedian and improvisor, Williams initially struggled to convert this into big screen success. It was 1987’s Good Morning Vietnam that changed him into in international movie star.
Williams showed his comic brilliance in such roles as the Genie from Aladdin (1992) Armand Goldman in The Birdcage (1996) and the titular Mrs Doubtfire in Mrs Doubtfire (1993).
Williams unique brand of madness, invention and immense energy makes him a fully deserving recipient of the #1 spot on this top 10 most Funniest Comedic Actors and Actresses of all time until 2017.