Comics Creators

Who are the great comedic actors?


With the passing of Gene Wilder, I started thinking back on the movies he has made and what a great comedic actor he was. I can only find this scene as two clips but it shows his range:

Another clip that shows his range:

Slapstick and subtle in the same scene.

From Blazing Saddles:

The man was genius.

Who are some of the classic greats? Who are the contemporary ones or could be in the future?


Peter Cook jumps out for me.

Rowan Atkinson too.

Steve Martin in his prime.

And of course Bill Murray.

Oh! And Leslie Nielsen.

All of these can act as well as be funny, which I think is important for a comedic actor (as opposed to just a comedian).


Peter Sellers has to be in with a shout.

And much as his star has declined in recent years - Steve Martin.

Also - Cary Grant. One of the great light comic actors.

And given that I mentioned Porridge on another thread, the late, great Ronnie Barker (mostly a TV actor though)


I think Robin Williams was the gold standard. Gene Wilder was great too - he had a tremendous gentle nature which fit perfectly with many of his roles. Robin though could do anything. A 4 way actor.


Robin Williams did porn?


Part of me is curious about Martin’s 4th way, most of me though doesn’t want to know.


Williams is a good shout. Again, some great acting chops (as evidenced by his ‘straight’ roles in stuff like Insomnia and One Hour Photo).


I much prefer Robin Williams in straight roles, he was an excellent actor, his ‘wacky’ style of comedy does nothing for me at all, it seems like a distraction game “hey I’m Luigi the funny tennis coach and now Henrietta the English teacher” when neither are incisive. However comedy and what makes you laugh is the most subjective of all things.

I agree with Sir Alec Guinness that the best comic actor is Ronnie Barker.


Going back to the silent era, Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton really set the bar for physically comedy yet still conveyed emotion and heart.

While mostly known for her TV show, Carol Burnett really helped pave the way for women in comedy. She was also good in dramatic roles.


Britain seems to pump out incredible comic actors like there’s a factory, but unlike the US, there’s no SNL through-port to take them further so only a few have managed worldwide success.

Rowan Atkinson
Sasha Baron Cohen
Patricia Routlidge
Steve Coogan
That wee kid off Outnumbered
Chris Barrie
Arthur Lowe
Mark Heap
Paul Whitehouse
Both Fry and Laurie

There’s tons more.


Jackie Chan, certainly, and Stephen Chow lately. Robert Begnini has done a lot of great work as well. Not lately, though.


I second both Gene Wilder and Peter Sellers.

I can’t believe no-one has mentioned the Monty Python gang.

John Cleese

Michael Palin


Great choices. Anyone who hasn’t seen Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarns series needs to correct that immediately.


Palin is a great choice.



Gentlemen! You can’t fight here! This is the war room.



Graham Chapman
Robin Williams
Peter Sellars
Leslie Neilson
Richard Pryor
Eddie Murphy
John Candy
Adam Sandler
Mike Myers
John C Reilly
Will Ferrell
Chevy Chase
Steve Martin
Norman Wisdom
Bob Hope
Jim Carrey
John Cleese

That’s the list I think of when I think of great comedy actors. Can’t think of anyone else, Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd miss out because they are likable but I don’t find them that funny. Every on the list has given me belly laughs on multiple occasions at various stages of my life, has to be more than just a wry smile.


Madeline Kahn


I love the list, but this part is just unacceptable.