Names to Know in Comedy

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    This page is part of the "Names to Know" project.

    The groundbreaking, the influential, the seminal... but not necessarily the most famous people in Comedy -- Stand-Up or otherwise. (However, please don't list Comic Actors who've never been on a stage in front of a live audience.)

    These people are the genre definers, the Trope Makers, the people that other people in the Comedy field look to for inspiration.

    For classic routines, or at least classic punchlines, see Stock Shticks and Stock Jokes.

    Black Comedians

    Because of the nature of "race relations" in the USA, these comics make their skin color part of their act to a lesser or greater extent.

    Borscht Belt Comedy

    Comedians who honed their craft in the Borscht Belt -- the summer resorts of the Catskills in New York state, active mostly from the 1920s to the 1970s -- or whose style reflects the tradition of Jewish comedy established there.

    Character Comedy

    Comedians who take on the role of a character who then performs the comedy, sometimes as a consequence of the character's personality and/or history. Sometimes the character is an exaggerated version of themselves; sometimes it is a wildly-different persona. Some performers may use multiple characters. And some may refuse to "break character" when in public, making it hard to determine that it is a character.

    Comic Music and Parodies

    Performers who routinely create or created humorous music as part of (or as) their regular act. One-Hit Wonders and novelty recordings by otherwise non-comedic acts should not be listed, nor should serious music produced by comic actors (such as Hugh Laurie's jazz recordings).

    Online Comedy

    Acts, shows, or humorous New Media which exist solely in an online form.

    Prop Comedians

    Often considered by other comedians to be the lowest form of humor.

    Radio Comedy



    Comedians who got their start in Vaudeville and/or Burlesque, particularly in the fading years of the circuit.


    See also the list of ventriloquists on Names to Know in Puppet Shows; which has a lot of overlap with this list.

    Award Winners