Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Groucho Marx.
Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Billy Connelly, Eddie Izzard
Other than the two people mentioning Carol Burnett…no women?
I’m not bitching about it or “saying something” just noticing it
I tentatively suggested Lucille Ball. But you’re quite right in pointing out that it is a field overwhelmingly dominated by men. Just as an aside, I’m surprised that nobody has said Robin Williams. I once had a speech instructor who assigned his class the task of writing a brief essay on an orator whom they most admire. He said that one semester, every single student in the class did the assigned piece on Williams. I’d be very hard pressed to come up with an extensive list of female candidates. I don’t think anybody who has ever worked SNL is worthy to make the cut, with the possible exception of Gilda Radner. So Lucy, Carol Burnett, maybe Ellen DeGeneres, perhaps an honorable nod to Jean Stapleton and/or Bea Arthur—who else?
This would actually be a worthwhile project if someone wants to take on the enormous workload of setting it up with polls and brackets and we whittle it down to a writer, an actor, a standup, and a wildcard.
(I was going to initially say woman instead of wild card but thought better of it. Women are underrepresented in comedy though.)
Benny Hill, Jerry Lewis, John Cleese?
Joan Rivers is a legend!
ETA: maybe Howard Stern for his influence on American radio?
Mae West is my pick for the best female in comedy. She created her own iconic character, wrote all her plays and movies, and delivered her own best lines. Nobody mentioned comes close to that achievement. She’s above the Marx Brothers in that way, since they were dependent on outside writers. W. C. Fields is her only true peer.
Men: Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Paul Lynde, Johnny Carson
Women: Lucille Ball, Roseanne, Gilda Radner, Betty White
And she 's the only one on the list to have shagged Moses! That’s GOTTA count for something.
Nichols and May – their stuff is truly astounding.
Richard Pryor – anyone who can make you laugh as he describes himself running down the street on fire and screaming in pain is a genus.
Dennis Wolfberg – Maybe the funniest comedian ever; he died far too young.
My mom used to go catch their acts almost every weekend when they played the dive bars in and around the University of Chicago.
Chaplin, Hope, Ball, Lewis
This is tough, maybe tougher than the “Mount Rushmore” topic I threw out there last year on American music.
The first two that come to mind for me are George Carlin and Richard Pryor. Those are the two that, if they aren’t on the mountainside, I’m going to invest in some weapons grade explosives and blast that sucker clean. Past that, I could probably accept an argument for any number of names. I’d probably add Groucho Marx and Will Rogers, but it’s hard to leave off Bill Cosby, Lenny Bruce, Louis CK, Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Mitch Hedberg, Rodney Dangerfield, Johnny Carson, and probably dozens of others that just aren’t coming to mind right now.
Richard Pryor, Andy Kaufman, Dave Chappelle, Louis C.K.
I think I’d reserve the UK Mt. Rushmore more for the writers than the performers. To that end I’m thinking Eddie Braben, Barry Cryer, Armando Ianucci, Graham Linehan etc. It is often those people who provide the material that makes you laugh.
If I was to be less objective and pick the four most important comedic influences on me personally, I’d pick:
Spike Milligan, Terry Pratchett, Eric Morecambe, and Paul F Tompkins
Keep the faces as is. Make their mouths move as they speak. Hire four writers to come up with topical political humor.
ETA: sorry, Novelty Bobble,didn’t see yours when I posted.