In show business, the hardest thing to do, they say, is to make people laugh. It's easy to tug at heartstrings if you're a performer. Any audience will always relate to dramatic moments when they see it performed onstage, in film and on TV. It's also easy, they say, to pump up the audience's adrenaline by presenting action-packed stories. It's mighty easy to scare the pants off of people, too! Imagine the popularity of horror stories, and their timeless tactics of scaring people.
But comedy? Now that is a totally different planet altogether. They say it's really hard to tickle the funny bone of audiences, because different people respond to different types of humor. What a comedian considers funny might not be so funny to someone else. Some comedy gags or jokes might be offensive to certain groups or sectors. And the thing is, a comedian will not know which is funny, and which is not, to a given audience at a certain time!
Tough, eh? That's the job of a comedian, whether they're performing stand-up, acting in sitcoms, creating comedy movies or something else. That's why you can just imagine how great these old-school legends are, since they became classics in their field, and they became timeless and classic to boot.
So, can you name these very funny men and women from before? Some of them are still active today! Give it a try - and have fun, fun, fun!
Talk about a transmedia comedian! George Burns originated in vaudeville, then made his way to radio, then films, and of course TV. He was 100 years old when he left us.
No one does comedy like Charlie Chaplin. He set the standards for many comedic things today.
Lucille Ball is undoubtedly the great dame of comedy. Her TV show "I Love Lucy" was such a big hit - and it's still continuing to find audiences in the younger generations.
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy make up one of the earliest comedy buddy teams of cinema. Laurel and Hardy delivered the laughs!
Have you heard Phyllis Diller's laughter? Even that is funny, like her antics and jokes.
Groucho Marx was one of those comedians who had a quick wit. His words were the funniest of 'em all!
Joan Rivers was a pioneer in late-night talk show hosting. But people remember her more for being the original "Fashion Police" host, poking fun at celebs without batting an eyelash!
Bob Hope was well-known for making military personnel laugh. Wherever they were stationed, and whatever the battle situation, Bob Hope was there with his comedic acts to really give hope to these service people.
Who could ever forget "The Carol Burnett Show"? The great comedy lady's show lasted for 11 seasons on air!
Jerry Lewis is undeniably the King of Comedy, and he hosted yearly telethons to help children with muscular dystrophy. He passed away in 2017.
Gilda Radner was one of the pioneering cast members of "Saturday Night Live." She succumbed to ovarian cancer at age 42, back in 1989.
Buster Keaton is another comedic genius who made people laugh during the silent film era of Hollywood. He also made a cameo as one of the "Waxworks" card game buddies of Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard."
"Who's on First?" Definitely Abbot and Costello, in our list of great comedic duos.
Milton Berle is one of the earliest big TV stars. He was popular during the so-called Golden Age of Television that started in the 1940s.
Jack Lemmon is one of the recognizable old-school comedy legends of cinema. He starred with Marilyn Monroe in "Some Like It Hot." He also won Oscar awards for his performances, but some of them were dramatic.
Everybody knows Jackie Gleason as a funnyman. But he was also a musician who had many albums to his name!
When you say Peter Sellers, people remember Inspector Clouseau. He's that clumsily funny detective character in the Pink Panther films.
Rodney Dangerfield is indeed a whiz of one-liners. He made many comedy movies as well. "I don't get no respect!"
Richard Pryor was known for his stand-up humor that also included social issues of the time. Racism was one theme prominent in his jokes.
George Carlin was more of a counterculture kind of comedian. But his humor is also philosophical, in a way.
Andy Kaufman was a different kind of comedian. He became popular in the '70s.
Fanny Brice is indeed the star of comedy on stage and in radio. Barbra Streisand portrayed her life in the movie musical Funny Girl.
Don Rickles was a regular guest on many late-night talk shows. He was also the voice of Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story films.
Lily Tomlin is a very versatile comedian. She has appeared on films, on Broadway, in TV, and now streaming media. "And that's the truth.... pfffft!"
Jimmy Durante is known as a versatile performer. He did comedy and made music, too, during the '20s, up until the '70s. "Ha cha cha!
Mel Brooks is undeniably the king of comedy parodies. He also became a director of comedy films.
Sid Caesar was a comedian that was advanced for his years. He influenced many other generations of comedians after him.
Cloris Leachman is already in her 90s, but she's still very active as of 2018! Good for her, and good for us who love her style!
Moe, Larry and Curly Joe were one incarnation of the group known as The Three Stooges. Their physical slapstick comedy style originated way back in the '20s!
Mary Tyler Moore is indeed an icon of television. She enhanced the spunky feminist image of a working woman, back when this kind of persona wasn't well-televised yet.
Bea Arthur is best remembered for being Dorothy in "The Golden Girls." But she was also an accomplished singer, even performing in Broadway musicals.
Redd Foxx starred in "Sanford and Son" in the '70s. But he was already popular as a comedian who came out with recordings of his act during the '50s and '60s.
Bob Newhart's style of comedic delivery reflects a deadpan style. And that really makes it very funny, for he's good at pulling it off.
W.C. Fields was a Ziegfield Follies veteran. He was also a famous comedian of the silent film era.
Moms Mabley was indeed like a mother to many other stand-up comics of her time. She was also very edgy and didn't have a filter in choosing taboo topics for comedic material.
Gene Wilder starred in many comedy films in his lifetime. But his Willy Wonka version stuck with many generations, especially when he sang "Pure Imagination."
Another comedian of the silent film era was Fatty Arbuckle. But a murder accusation overshadowed his work at the end of his career.
We can't seem to detach Betty White's naive Rose persona from "The Golden Girls" whenever we see her act in other roles. But she also had film roles where she was such a fighter, but in a comedic way, still.
Estelle Getty was hilarious in her "The Golden Girls" role of Sophia, mother of Dorothy. She won awards for her television work.
Madeline Kahn was a frequent collaborator of Mel Brooks in his films. She was Elizabeth in "Young Frankenstein." She had a healthy film, TV and theater career before succumbing to ovarian cancer in 1999.