The Best Comedy Teams of All Time

Today I needed a laugh, so I started thinking about some of the funniest entertainers of all time. There were individual comedians and stand-alone actors with great comic ability, but for the most part I recalled duos or teams, folks who earned their laughs by working with others.  It's tough to find the right person (or persons) that bring out the best.  Here's a list of the ones that discovered comedy gold together, the best comedy teams of all time, along with some of the projects that built their legacy.

Abbott and Costello - Bud Abbott was the straight man and Lou Costello was the bumbling buffoon -- together they were magic. On stage, radio, film, and television, they created a routine that made audiences chuckle and guffaw over and over again.  From their brilliant "Who's on first?" skit, to their long string of motion pictures (Buck Privates, Hold That Ghost, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein), their comedy still endures.

Allen and Keaton - Woody Allen is a great director, Diane Keaton is a great actress. Arguably, they did their best, most consistent work together -- Play It Again, Sam; Sleeper; Love and Death; Annie Hall; and Manhattan.

Burns and Allen - George Burns and Gracie Allen were great together, as a married couple and as a comedy duo.  They started out in vaudeville, made some movies together, honed their craft on radio, and ended up on a hit television show.  "Say goodnight, Gracie." "Goodnight, Gracie."

The Carol Burnett Show - Has there ever been a team that worked so well together as Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, and Harvey Korman (and to a lesser but still entertaining extent Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner)?  No matter how many times I watch some of the skits they did, they still make me laugh out loud.

Cheech and Chong - Their drug culture humor isn't for everyone, but they were the Harold and Kumar of their time. "Cheech" Marin and Tommy Chong made a bunch of cult favorite movies together, including Up in Smoke, Nice Dreams, Things Are Tough All Over, Yellowbeard, The Corsican Brothers, Born in East L.A., and Far Out Man.

Farley and Spade - Chris Farley died too young, but some of his best work was with David Spade -- Tommy Boy and Black Sheep.

Ferrell and Reilly - Will Ferrell's humor doesn't always work for me, but when he's co-starring with John C. Reilly as he did in Talladega Nights and Step Brothers, it's comedy in top form.

Hope and Crosby - Their seven "Road" movies are classics, and for good reason -- Bob Hope and Bing Crosby worked great together. Check out Road to Singapore, Road to Zanzibar, Road to Morocco, and Road to Utopia.  Then catch the other three, Road to Rio, Road to Bali, and Road to Hong Kong.

Laurel and Hardy - From the silent era into the age of "talkies," Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were fantastic together and much parodied afterwards, but never duplicated.  My favorite film of theirs is Babes in Toyland. "Here's another fine mess you've gotten me into."

Lemmon and Mathau - What amazing careers these two have had, separately and, of course, together. Look up some of these classics: The Fortune Cookie, The Odd Couple, The Front Page, Grumpy Old Men, and Out to Sea.

Martin and Lewis - What a team! Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were great together, it's a shame they ever split up their act.  Their movies were a lot of fun, including At War with the Army, Sailor Beware, Jumping Jacks, The Stooge, Scared Stiff, The Caddy, 3 Ring Circus, and more.

The Marx Brothers - Chico, Harpo, and of course Groucho (as well as Gummo and Zeppo) were the terrific comedians, and together they made some laugh-filled films -- The Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Duck Soup, A Night at the Opera, and A Day at the Races.

Monty Python - The British comedy troupe of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin did some fine work together.  From the TV show Monty Python's Flying Circus and their movies And Now for Something Completely Different, Holy Grail, Life of Brian, and The Meaning of Life, it's humor at its finest.

Parker and Stone - The creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, also have the Broadway hit The Book of Mormon on their resume, as well as cult favorites Baseketball, Orgazmo, and Team America: World Police.

Pegg and Frost - They're the modern-day comedy dynamic duo.  Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have made some brilliant films together -- Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Paul.

Saturday Night Live's "Not Ready for Primetime Players" - The chemistry these guys and gals shared together will never be replicated.  Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Bill Murray, Laraine Newman, Steve Martin, and Gilda Ratner caught lightning in a bottle by working together on TV and then teaming up here and there in movies.

The Smothers Brothers - Here's another pair who had great chemistry together -- Tom and Dick Smothers. "Mom always liked you best!"

Stiller and Wilson - Ben Stiller has worked so well with so many other actors, but I think he's in top form with Owen Wilson in movies like Zoolander, The Royal Tenenbaums, Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, Night at the Museum, and even Starsky and Hutch.

The Three Stooges - Hollywood is remaking the Stooges with different actors, but can anyone ever top Moe Howard, Curly Howard, and Larry Fine?  Even later replacements Shemp Howard, Joe Palma, Joe Besser, and then "Curly Joe" DeRita (and for a brief moment toward the end, Emil Sitka.) Check out Soup to Nuts, Turn Back the Clock, Meet the Baron, Rockin' in the Rockies, Have Rocket Will Travel, Snow White and the Three Stooges, and The Three Stooges Meet Hercules.

Wilder and Pryor - What better way to end this list than with one of the best cinematic comedy teams ever?  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in Silver Streak; Stir Crazy; See No Evil, Hear No Evil; and Another You.

There you have it. Did I leave out your favorite comedy team?  Tell me all about it.

Comments

Nick Geier said…
OK, I found this site as a result of a lunch conversation with my boss today then a Google search afterwards to see if we were wrong. We were discussing comedy teams and remarked on how there are not any today like there were in the old days. You mention one as "modern day" but I never heard of them so they can't be as great and as popular as teams from the old days. You asked if you left out my (our) favorite team. Well, At lunch I mentioned Hudson and Landry but one that stands out most in my mind as having been left out is Lucille Ball and her partners Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance and William Frawley. Another site lists Amos and Andy and Frick and Frack which were a little before my time, but what about the Little Rascals? I would count them as comedy teams.

Nick Geier
Nick said…
Thanks for your feedback, Nick. Some good suggestions there! Comedy is tough enough for an individual comedian, but it takes real skill (and a bit of luck) to find the right teammates to work with to deliver the laughs.