Within the world of comedy or comedic acting sexism is still going strong. When most people think of comedians they think of men. The amount of male comedians or comedic actors is staggering when compared to female. Throughout the history of stand-up and films there has been a few females who have managed to break through the comedic glass ceiling and won the hearts of millions.
Though times have changed in comedy it really is only a little bit. There have been a few women who have made it obvious that women can be as talented in the comedic arena as men. Here is a list, in no particular order, of the funniest females in stand-up, comedic acting or both:
Tina Fey: Smart, him and funny. She has had success on every level. Writing (movies, television and a novel – Bossypants), acting and producer. Tina Fey got her big start as a writer on Saturday Night Live. Then she went on to move in front of the camera as the co-anchor on the show’s Weekend Update. Now she is the creative mind behind and the star of the NBC show 30 Rock. In between all that she has written the film Mean Girls and acted in films like Date Night, The Invention of Lying, Baby Mama, and Beer League. Her work and writing is timeless. At the prime of her career.
Lucille Ball: A total no-brainer. This ginger is on everyone’s list of funniest people. Probably the single most important female comedic actress of all time. She forged the path for women on television. For more than 50 years on television this lady made everyone laugh with her zany and physical comedic style. Her hair brained schemes rank right up there with Ralph Kramden and Fred Flintstone. Even today her shows run in syndication.
Gilda Radner: Though she died at the very young age of 42 from ovarian cancer Gilda made her mark in comedy on Saturday Night Live. Ranked as one of the great comedic talents of the 20th century. She was stealing the show before Kristen Wiig was out of diapers. Her outrageous characters on the show are still remembered today. Considered one of the most influential women in comedy and an influence for many of today’s female comedic actors. This lady was so committed to her craft that she had no boundaries and would go as far as it took to make people laugh. A big part of her appeal was her charismatic personality.
Margaret Cho: This Asian-American fought against many of the stereotypes and forged the path for many comediennes today. Not only funny on stage but has also acted in television series. Most recently she has a supporting role as the hilarious secretary to the lead lawyer on Drop Dead Diva. She has become the voice for the disenfranchised. Her 1994 television show All-American Girl definitely broke some barriers. As inspirational as she is funny. Is witty and has a great delivery.
Amy Poehler: Her first gig was as on Late Night with Conan O’Brien as his sidekick Andy Richter’s enraged and hyper kid sister. Next up for her was her real breakthrough on Saturday Night Live. Every skit she was part of she stole. Then she went on to be the co-anchor on Weekend Update. Now she is the star of the sitcom Parks and Recreation. Inserting a smart feminist angle in loads that she does, Poehler has a YouTube channel called Smart Girls at the Party, where you can laugh and get positive body images for women.
Madeline Kahn: Another female comedian who was taken from us way too young. Most famous for all the work she did with Mel Brooks in films like Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and High Anxiety. She also three times hosted Saturday Night Live in the early years and those episodes are considered some of the best.
Kristen Wiig: There are few comedic actors who are so dedicated that they will go as far as Kristen to get a laugh. Joined Saturday Night Live in the 2005-06 season and just left after the last season. Quickly became the star of the show due to her ability to play any type of character. Has starred in films like Knocked Up, Whip It, Bridesmaids, Paul, and Friends With Kids. Has been nominated for Oscars (Bridesmaids) and Golden Globes. Her career is really blossoming.
Maya Rudolph: Her only goal is to be funny. Simple and she accomplishes it. Maya Rudolph was on Saturday Night Live for eight wonderful years and created many a beloved character on it. Who did not love her Donatella Versace? She was brilliant as the Italian designer and in a myriad of other zany characters. A comedic actress who can do just about any character. After SNL she starred in several great films like Bridesmaids, Gattaca, Friends With Kids, A Prairie Home Companion, and As Good As It Gets.
Betty White: Sue Ann Nivens on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls. For an intelligent woman she has made quite a career from playing ditzs. She has been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, is the oldest person (88) to host Saturday Night Live, and received a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. Quite a career! She has been making people laugh for almost 60 years. Few possess her timing and control.
Carol Burnett: We have been blessed with an over five decade love affair with this crazy redhead. There are few sketch comedy performers as talented as this lady. Succeeded Lucille Ball as the Queen of Television Comedy. A natural talent, she has no qualms about making herself look silly. After a guest stint on The Lucy Show she hosted her own variety show, The Carol Burnett Show. Hers was the last successful variety show on television. Few were able to replicate her combination of humour and song. After the different incarnations of her show she is best remembered for her Emmy winning reoccurring role on Mad About You. A living legend. One of the most respected women in show business.