There’s nothing like a good laugh to cure what ails you. No matter what kind of mood you’re in, laughter will improve your outlook.
Some people were put on this earth to make us laugh. I have a great love and affinity for comedians and the art of humor. With that I’d like to pay homage to several funny people who’ve made me laugh throughout my lifetime, Mount Rushmore style.
I’m going to break the Mount Rushmore rules by highlighting those who didn’t make the mountain but still tickle my funny bone just the same. I had no criteria other than I find them amusing and they are in the order I regard them as to how many laughs they’ve provided me over the years. Rating funny is difficult and picking just four is nearly impossible so I picked one person to represent every decade I’ve been alive: 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s.
And since I’d hate to make a funny person sad, here’s an honorable mention list to boot: Jim Parsons, Amy Poehler, John Candy, Ray Romano, Conan O'Brien, Zach Galifianakis, Jerry Stiller, Nathan Lane, Russell Brand, David Letterman, Bob Hope, Dan Aykroyd, Bob Newhart, Wanda Sykes and Lucille Ball.
25. Jack Black
High Fidelity, School of Rock, Kung Fu Panda, Orange County, Nacho Libre. Jack Black just cracks me up.
Quote: “God of Rock, thank you for this chance to kick [butt]. We are your humble servants. Please give us the power to blow people's minds with our high voltage rock. In your name we pray, Amen.”
24. Michael Keaton
He’s got a trio of highly re-watchable movies that are guaranteed to make you chuckle; Mr. Mom, Beetlejuice, Multiplicity.
Quote: “I understand that you little guys start out with your woobies and you think they're great... and they are, they are terrific. But pretty soon, a woobie isn't enough. You're out on the street trying to score an electric blanket, or maybe a quilt. And the next thing you know, you're strung out on bedspreads Ken. That's serious.”
23. Dick Van Dyke
He’s pretty much done it all. From the Dick Van Dyke show to the Carol Burnett show. From Mary Poppins to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. When it comes to physical comedy Dick Van Dyke is the king.
Quote: “You know, she's a wonderful girl. She's going to make some head-hunter a great little wife someday.”
22 & 21. Richard Pryor & Gene Wilder
Although both are incredibly talented and funny on their own, how can you not put these two together. Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, See No Evil, Hear No Evil. That’s a dynamic duo. Wilder’s got classics like Willy Wonka and Blazing Saddles and I can’t help but laugh every time I see the clip of Richard Pryor mocking himself with a lit match stick (funny but wrong).
Quotes: “DEAD honky”, “You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know... morons.”
20. Billy Crystal
Saturday Night Live has spotlighted some of the funniest human beings to ever live and Billy Crystal is the first of many to be named on this list. Miracle Max on Princess Bride is one of my favorites. City Slickers, When Harry met Sally, Analyze This, Monsters Inc., now that’s funny stuff.
Quote: “Value this time in your life kids, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices, and it goes by so quickly. When you're a teenager you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, "What happened to my twenties?" Your forties, you grow a little pot belly you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Your fifties you have a minor surgery. You'll call it a procedure, but it's a surgery. Your sixties you have a major surgery, the music is still loud but it doesn't matter because you can't hear it anyway. Seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale, you start eating dinner at two, lunch around ten, breakfast the night before. And you spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate in soft yogurt and muttering "how come the kids don't call?" By your eighties, you've had a major stroke, and you end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse who your wife can't stand but who you call mama. Any questions?”
19. Chevy Chase
Another SNL alum. Caddyshack, any of the Vacation movies, Fletch, Three Amigos, Spies Like Us. You want to laugh give Mr. Chase a look.
Quote: “Remember Danny - Two wrongs don't make a right but three rights make a left.”
18. Eddie Murphy
Bill Simmons may object to his low ranking but this is no slight I assure you. Eddie burst out of SNL with smash 80’s hits like 48hrs, Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop and Coming to America. Sure he’s done a string of children’s movies but that doesn’t mean they aren’t funny.
Quote: “You can't have my cornbread. That's for damn sure. You try and take my cornbread, Killing Spree, Part 2 gon' begin up in here on your [butt]. You thinking about my cornbread, better get the taste out your mouth. That's for damn sure.”
17 & 16. Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David
Another pair tied at the hip through comedy. Their work on Seinfeld is unmatched. Larry David has gone on to shine with cable appropriate comedy in Curb Your Enthusiasm and Jerry is a first rate stand up but Seinfeld is still their crown jewel.
George: And to think I'd fail at failing...
Jerry: Aw, come on, now.
George: I feel like I can’t do anything wrong.
Jerry: Nonsense. You do everything wrong.
George: You think so?
Jerry: Absolutely. I have no confidence in you.
George: Well, I guess I'll just have to pick myself up, dust myself off, and throw myself right back down again.
Jerry: That's the spirit. You suck.
15. Tim Allen
Better known for Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor and Buzz Lightyear but Tim Allen has one of the funniest stand up bits I’ve seen, Men are Pigs. He’s gone from a foul mouthed comedian to a family film and TV star. He’s played Santa for crying out loud.
Quote: “Women now have choices. They can be married, not married, have a job, not have a job, be married with children, unmarried with children. Men have the same choice we’ve always had: work, or prison.”
14. Chris Farley
There will always be a soft, fat spot in my heart for Chris Farley. Matt Foley is an all time great SNL characters and I’ve quoted Tommy Boy more than almost any other movie in my lifetime. Just his small part as the bus driver in Billy Madison almost brings me to tears.
Quote: “I'd better not. I have what doctors call a little bit of a weight problem. I used to grab bear claws as a kid, two at a time, and I'd get them lodged right in this region here.”
13. Robin Williams
Hysterically funny for decades now. Mork & Mindy, Good Morning Vietnam, Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Birdcage. That’s not even mentioning Aladdin, name one other voice actor who absolutely stole the show in an animated film. You can’t. They should have called it Genie and Aladdin.
Quote: “It's like riding a psychotic horse toward a burning stable.”
12. Jon Stewart
If you’ve ever watched The Daily Show then you know why he’s on here. I don’t care what side of the isle you are on Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz is one funny dude. Also The Daily Show has launched more careers than any comic show outside of SNL, including two of my top 10.
Quote: “Just a quick observation- when people do not want to play the blame game... They’re to blame”
11. Tom Hanks
The Oscar winning and extremely accomplished actor actually started out in comedies. Bachelor Party, The Money Pit, Dragnet, Big, The 'burbs, A League of Their Own and co-starring with our No. 15 comedian in Toy Story.
Quote: “Hear about that guy up in the Bronx? Just went crazy; thought he was a pigeon. They've found him in the park, throwing breadcrumbs at himself.”
10. Tina Fey
The current holder of the “Funniest Woman Alive” trophy. Her time on SNL was great. Her big screen efforts in Baby Mama and Date Night are solid but both pale in comparison to Liz Lemon and her adventures in 30 Rock. That’s my new shameful way to waste an evening sitting down and watching syndicated 30 Rock reruns.
Quote: “Hey, nerds! Who has two thumbs, speaks limited French and hasn't cried once today? This moi.”
9. Kevin James
Speaking of hours well wasted on syndicated reruns, King of Queens is an awesome way to kill a half hour. For us fat guys Sweating the Small Stuff is a hilarious stand up routine as well. He’s done some movies too but who cares.
Quote: “I'm going to come up with something so romantic and heartfelt it's gonna make you feel like a piece of crap! A piece of crap!”
8. Steve Carell
Our first Daily Show graduate who has, comedically speaking, conquered the big and small screens. The Office’s Michael Scott is a character we will never see the like again. Evan Almighty, Get Smart, Despicable Me and his role alongside No. 10 Tina Fey in Date Night will definitely leave you smiling and satisfied. That’s what she said!
Quote: “Last week I would've given a kidney to anyone in this office. I would've reached right into my stomach and pulled it out for them. But now, no. I don't have the relationship with these people that I thought I did. I hope they ask, so they can hear me say, "Uh, no, I only give my organs to my real friends. Go get yourself a monkey kidney.”
7. Will Ferrell
This kicks off a slew of SNL standouts. Although most of his film are a little off color; Old School, Anchor Man, Talladega Nights, not to mention FunnyorDie.com, he’d be on this list solely for his role as Buddy in Elf. My all time favorite Christmas movie by a mile and he is amazing in it. Our family quotes that movie the entire month of December. It’s causing me physical pain to only highlight one quote here.
Quote: “First we'll make snow angels for a two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookiedough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle.”
6. Steve Martin
This wild and crazy guy is far more than a compilation of his movies but just that compilation alone is impressive. The Jerk, The Three Amigos, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Parenthood, Father of the Bride, Cheaper by the Dozen, The Pink Panther and an underrated appearance in Baby Mama.
Quote: “I'll tell you what I'm doing. I want to buy eight hot dogs and eight hot dog buns to go with them. But no one sells eight hot dog buns. They only sell twelve hot dog buns. So I end up paying for four buns I don't need. So I am removing the superfluous buns. Yeah. And you want to know why? Because some big-shot over at the wiener company got together with some big-shot over at the bun company and decided to rip off the American public. Because they think the American public is a bunch of trusting nit-wits who will pay for everything they don't need rather than make a stink. Well they're not ripping of this nitwit anymore because I'm not paying for one more thing I don't need. George Banks is saying NO!”
5. Bill Murray
I don’t even feel the need to make a case for Mr. Murray, also an SNL giant. Go see these movies and thank me later: Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, What About Bob?, Groundhog Day and The Man Who Knew Too Little.
Quote: “This is pitiful. A thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat. What a hype. Groundhog Day used to mean something in this town. They used to pull the hog out, and they used to eat it. You're hypocrites, all of you!”
Without question, in my mind, Carol Burnett is the Queen of funny women. Matter of fact I’d say that the funniest woman alive trophy should be henceforth and forever bare her name. Pick any one of her variety shows and you are guaranteed to laugh out loud. She even made the villain in Annie both loveable and hilarious. Beyond the characters she’s played she’s just a supremely funny individual.
Quote: “Adolescence is just one big walking pimple.”
The Cosby Show really defines the ideal American family for most and Cosby as the patriarch was superb. It’s no wonder that his comedy revolved largely around his family. You want to treat yourself just sit down and watch an hour or so of Bill Cosby: Himself. Now that’s high comedy.
Quote: “When you're a father you censor yourself. You get just as angry with a child but you don't want to say, "What the filth and foul and I'll filth and foul, filth and foul and, yeah, ya filth and foul face, and I'll filth and foul, foul, filth!" You don't want to say that to a child so you censor yourself and you sound like an idiot: "What the... Get your... I'll put a... Get out of my face!"”
Say what you want about his movies but I came of age with Adam Sandler’s brand of humor. It’s why I’m so demented. In junior high we’d listen to his CD’s which are full of his vulgar warped sense of humor and we’d laugh and laugh. I still laugh thinking about it. After SNL he went on to make some pretty funny films too: Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, Big Daddy, Mr. Deeds, Anger Management, 50 First Dates and the only one I’ll let my kids watch, Bedtime Stories. I'm well aware this is a controversial one and I don't care.
Quote: “No I will not make out with you. Did ya hear that? this girl wants to make out with me in the middle of class. You got Chlorophyll Man up there talking about God knows what and all she can talk about is making out with me. I'm here to learn, everybody, not to make out with you. Go on with the chlorophyll.”
Not only was he a correspondent on The Daily Show but he wrote for SNL too. If you’ve never watched The Colbert Report you are missing out. Four times a week Stephen T. Colbert brings it like no other. How he stays in character night after night is beyond me. I tune in just waiting to see what he’ll do next.
Quote: “Sure they may be old and sick, but as Jesus said, "Walk it off."”