15 famous comedians of the 80s and 90s that were iconic

15 famous comedians of the 80s and 90s that were iconic

The famous comedians of the 80s and 90s greatly influenced the majority of today's comedians. These comedians were iconic, making a mark in the entertainment industry. While some ventured into acting, others still do comedy and have since gotten better.

comedians of the 80s and 90s
Famous comedians of the 80s and 90s, from (L-R) Woody Allen, Sandra Bernhard and Bill Cosby. Photo: Rocco Spaziani, Slaven Vlasic, Michael Loccisano (modified by author)
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The famous comedians of the 1980s and 1990s were exceptionally talented. They left a lasting impression on the world of comedy. Many of them are considered some of the greatest comedians of all time.

Famous comedians of the 80s and 90s

Many consider the 80s the golden age of stand-up comedy. These stand-up comedians of the 80s were highly respected and were just a great vibe. Here are a few notable comedians from that era and their contributions:

1. Robin Williams

comedians of the 80s and 90s
Robin Williams during "One Hour Photo" Press Conference with Robin Williams and Michael Vartan at Park Hyatt Hotel in Century City, California, United States. Photo: Vera Anderson
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Robin Williams is widely recognised as one of the greatest comedians ever. During the mid-1970s, he began performing stand-up comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and in 1980, he recorded numerous comedy albums, including Reality... What a Concept.

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William cited his mother as a major early influence on his sense of humour. Unfortunately, on 11 August 2014, Williams' body was discovered in his Paradise Cay, California home.

2. Roseanne Barr

stand up comedians of the 80s
Roseanne Barr, host of FOX Nation’s "Cancel This!," Visits FOX News Channel’s "Gutfeld!" in New York City. Photo: Steven Ferdman
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Roseanne Barr is an American actress, comedian, writer, and producer. She is among the best female comedians of the 80s. She began her career in stand-up comedy before gaining acclaim in the television sitcom Roseanne. Barr performed stand-up comedy in Denver and other Colorado cities.

She later auditioned at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles and appeared on The Tonight Show in 1985. Barr has also hosted events such as MTV Video Music Awards, Saturday Night Special and Momsters: When Moms Go Bad.

3. Eddie Murphy

comedians from the 80s
Eddie Murphy attends the Los Angeles Premiere of Netflix's "You People" at Regency Village Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
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Eddie rose 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 regarded as among the most influential black comedians of the 90s and 80s.

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At 21, Eddie Murphy co-starred in 48 Hours, and he went on to star in Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, The Nutty Professor, and Shrek.

4. Whoopi Goldberg

female comedians of the 80s
Whoopi Goldberg speaks onstage during Revels & Revelations 11 hosted by Bring Change To Mind in support of teen mental health at City Winery in New York City. Photo: Noam Galai
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Whoopi Goldberg is an American actress, comedian, television personality, and author. Whoopi boasts of a successful career that dates back to the early 1980s. She began her career on stage in 1983 with her one-woman show, Spook Show, which transferred to Broadway under the title Whoopi Goldberg.

She starred in the comedy Sister Act (1992) and its sequel Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993). Since 2007, she has co-hosted and moderated the daytime talk show The View. She has also hosted the Academy Awards ceremony four times.

5. Rodney Dangerfield

famous comedians of the 80s
Rodney Dangerfield in his apartment circa 1978 in New York City. Photo: Allan Tannenbaum
Source: Getty Images

Rodney was known for his self-deprecating one-liner humour, his catchphrase "I don't get no respect!". He began his career working as a stand-up comic at the Fantasy Lounge in New York City.

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His act grew in popularity as he became a mainstay on late-night talk shows throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Rodney Dangerfield died from surgery complications on 5 October 2004 at age 82.

6. Ellen DeGeneres

female comedians of the 90s
Ellen DeGeneres speaks onstage during the Michelle Obama: The Light We Carry Tour at Warner Theatre in Washington, DC. Photo: Tasos Katopodis
Source: Getty Images

Her stand-up career started in the early 1980s and included a 1986 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. She began touring nationwide in the early 1980s, and in 1984, she was crowned Showtime's funniest person in America.

She hosted the syndicated television talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show from 2003 to 2022. She collected 33 Daytime Emmy Awards from 2003 to 2022 for the show.

7. Woody Allen

comedians of the 80s and 90s
Film director Woody Allen during a performance at the 55th edition of the Voll-Damm Barcelona Jazz Festival at the Teatre Tivoli in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Photo: Kike Rincon/Europa Press
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Allen began writing short jokes when he was 15 and sending them to various Broadway writers. At the age of 19, he was invited to join the NBC Writer's Development Program in 1955. This was followed by a job on The NBC Comedy Hour in Los Angeles.

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Allen later performed as a comedian to supplement his comedy writing. He then ventured into acting, appearing in 50 feature films as of 2023. His latest film is Coup de chance (2023).

8. Elayne Boosler

stand up comedians of the 80s
Elayne Boosler onstage at Politicon 2018 at Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Michael S. Schwartz
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Known for her wild stage presence and unapologetic humour, Elayne Boosler burst onto the comedy scene in the '80s, tackling her life as a single woman and political commentary.

Her talent for comedy was recognised early by comedians and the media alike. She went on and appeared on shows like Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell, The Merv Griffin Show and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. She is considered among the best female comedians of the 90s and 80s.

9. Bill Cosby

famous black comedians 1980s
Actor Bill Cosby performs at the King Center for the Performing Arts in Melbourne, Florida. Photo: Gerardo Mora
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Bill Cosby is a legendary American stand-up comedian who doubles up as an actor and author. Bill is globally famous for the NBC sitcom television series The Bill Cosby Show, which ran for eight seasons (1984–1992).

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The 86-year-old celebrity made his debut in 1965 Spy Espionage. He even delved into the music world, producing the album Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings. Bill Cosby is one of the most famous black comedians of the 1980s whose talent is still remembered.

10. Sandra Bernhard

comedians from the 80s
Sandra Bernhard during Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen show. Photo: Charles Sykes/Bravo
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Sandra Bernhard first gained attention in the late 1970s with her stand-up comedy, where she often critiqued celebrity culture and political figures. Her popularity grew when she was cast as a supporting performer on The Richard Pryor Show in 1977.

Bernhard performs classic pop music, jazz, and blues tunes. She has released several albums, which are a combination of music and comedy. They include Without You I'm Nothing, Everything Bad & Beautiful and Whatever It Takes.

11. Jerry Seinfeld

female comedians of the 80s
Jerry Seinfeld is seen on stage at the Classic Car Forum, part of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Monterey, California. Photo: Matt Jelonek
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Jerry Seinfeld rose to stardom in the 1980s thanks to his uncanny ability to find humour in the most commonplace situations. In 2004, Comedy Central named him the 12th-greatest stand-up comedian of all time.

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He received twenty Primetime Emmy Award nominations for his work on Seinfeld and Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

As an author, he has written several books such as SeinLanguage, Halloween and Is This Anything? His observational humour and wit made him a household name and one of the best comedians from the 80s.

12. Janeane Garofalo

famous comedians of the 80s
Actress Janeane Garofalo visits the Build Series to discuss the film “Come As You Are” at Build Studio in New York City. Photo: Gary Gershoff
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Garofalo started her career as a stand-up comic before joining the casts of Saturday Night Live, The Larry Sanders Show, and The Ben Stiller Show. She has since acted in more than 50 films.

Her comedy is often self-deprecating. She has made fun of popular culture and the pressures on women to conform to body image ideals promoted by the media.

13. Bernie Mac

black comedians of the 90s
Bernie Mac on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show on ABC. Photo: Jesse Grant/WireImage.com
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Mac was an American actor and comedian. Bernie Mac rose to prominence as a stand-up comedian in Chicago's Cotton Club. He appeared in films and television shows such as Mo Money, Booty Call, Friday, and The Players Club.

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Mac Bernie died due to pneumonia complications. He also had sarcoidosis, an inflammatory illness of uncertain origin that causes tissue inflammation.

14. Paula Poundstone

female comedians of the 90s
Comedian Paula Poundstone performs onstage at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Michael S. Schwartz
Source: Getty Images

Paula Poundstone is an American stand-up comedian, author, actor, interviewer, and commentator. She performed a series of one-hour HBO comedy specials.

She has also ventured into acting and has appeared in several films and TV shows such as Wanda Sykes Presents Herlarious, Hercules, Reasonable Doubts, Inside Out and Hyperspace.

15. Andrew Dice Clay

comedians from the 80s
Andrew Dice Clay performs at The Stress Factory Comedy Club in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Photo: Bobby Bank
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Andrew Dice Clay rose to prominence in the late 1980s with a brash, deliberately offensive persona known as "The Diceman". He is regarded as one of the unforgettable figures in 1980s stand-up comedy.

Clay's comic acts pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable, pushing cultural standards and expectations for humour. He has appeared in several films and television shows, including Blue Jasmine (2013) and A Star Is Born (2018).

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The famous comedians of the 80s and 90s brought their unique styles and perspectives to the comedy world. They continue to influence young up-and-coming comedians today. Their work remains celebrated and cherished by fans and fellow comedians alike.

Legit.ng recently published a list of the top 10 best comedians in Nigeria. Nigerian comedy is one of the country's most important entertainment businesses. It has developed enormously in recent years due to technological advancements, becoming one of the highest-paying occupations.

Comedians have progressed from telling jokes in village halls and church basements to performing on worldwide stages. The top comedians in Nigeria are also among the country's wealthiest celebrities. Read on to find out who they are.

Source: Legit.ng

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Mercy Mbuthia (Lifestyle writer) Mercy Mbuthia is a content writer with five years of experience writing on various topics, including biographies, entertainment, and lifestyle. She joined the Legit team in 2019. Mercy earned a Master of Science (Food, Nutrition & Dietetics) from Dedan Kimathi University in 2022. Her articles have appeared on several media sites such as The Health Channel, The Nation, Tekrati, ValiantCEO and Celebrity Leader. In 2023, Mercy finished the AFP course on Digital Investigation Techniques. Email: mercymmbuthia18@gmail.com

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