10 Funniest Women in America

Updated on July 3, 2018
Kosmo profile image

Celebrities have always fascinated Kelley, particularly ones who have made the earth a more compassionate, equitable and healthy place.

If a man smiles all the time, he's probably selling something that doesn't work.

— George Carlin

Laughs are endless with these 10 very impressive female comedians

Since the middle 1800s, American women have performed comedy in the theater, radio, television, films, videos, CDs, records or the internet, and this list suggests which women are the best in American comedy. But it doesn’t include women who have passed away or have retired from performing.

Please keep reading as we begin the countdown to name the 10 funniest women in America!

Kids do have to learn that life is a humiliating charade of endless disappointment and tragedy ultimately culminating in pain, decay, and death. My parents used to sing me to sleep with that one.

— Samantha Bee

10. Samantha Bee

Having joint citizenship in Canada and the US, Samantha Bee, at 26, began her performing career by playing the title role in the stage production of Sailor Moon. Then she progressed dramatically by joining the cast of The Daily Show with John Stewart in 2003, appearing for 12 years as a female correspondent, one of the first such performers on the program. Then, moving up the comedic ladder, in 2016 Samantha Bee starred in TBS’s Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, a satirical late-night, news and talk show, the first of which hosted by a female comedian. She’s also appeared in many other TV shows: Sesame Street, Bob’s Burgers, Game On, Creative Galaxy and Good God. She’s also appeared in numerous movies: Ham and Cheese, Furry Vengeance and Sisters. And, in 2010, she published the book, I Know What I Am, But What Are You?

I had all the intention of being the next Eddie Murphy.

— Leslie Jones

9. Leslie Jones

Leslie Jones’ comedy career has been a long and rocky one. She did stand-up during her college days in the 1980s, and then she moved to Los Angeles, where she appeared at various comedy clubs. Then one night she opened for Jamie Foxx and was badly booed by the audience, so she quit performing for three years. But in 2013, Jones auditioned for Saturday Night Live and snagged a job as a writer and soon began appearing in sketches, though her material was at times controversial. Since then, Jones’ career has grown to a stellar degree; she’s appeared in numerous TV shows, as well as movies such as Christmas in Compton, Trainwreck, Ghostbusters and Masterminds. Unfortunately, Jones’ pain-in-the-butt factor has been high in her show biz career. In 2016, she had to quit Twitter because of racially charged attacks, and her personal website was hacked, after which she had it removed. And there’s nothing funny about that!

I went home with this French guy because he said something adorable like, ‘I have an apartment.’

— Amy Schumer

8. Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer claims she isn’t an observational comedian. “I like tackling the stuff nobody else talks about,” she says, “like the darkest, most serious thing about yourself. I talk about life and sex and personal stories and stuff everybody can relate to, and some can't." Schumer began her comedy career by appearing Off-Off Broadway in Keeping Abreast in 2003; then she did stand-up at the Gotham Comedy Club. Over the following years, Schumer appeared on many TV shows, including NBC’s The Last Comic Standing in 2011. Then Schumer starred in her own sketch comedy series, Inside Amy Schumer, on Comedy Central in 2012. Notably, Schumer starred in Trainwreck, a film she had written, which the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association nominated for Best Original Screenplay. Not winning that award, Schumer has nevertheless won numerous comedy awards. And in 2016 Schumer published her memoir entitled The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo.

(Speaking of Britney Spears’ comeback), Wow, she is amazing. I mean, she is 25 years old, and she has already accomplished everything she's going to accomplish in her life.

— Sarah Silverman

7. Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman’s sarcastic, deadpan comedic style rubs some people wrong. She began her comedy career by doing stand-up at 17, which he described as “awful,” and then she performed in Greenwich Village, presumably doing somewhat better. Thereafter, she joined Saturday Night Live in 1993, working as a writer and featured player. Unfortunately, SNL aired none of her sketches and fired her after one season. Silverman was devastated but came back a much tougher performer - as controversial and smartalecky as ever. Airing on Comedy Central from 2007 to 2010, Silverman starred in her own sitcom, The Sarah Silverman Program, which was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. Astonishingly, at the awards show, he wore a fake moustache. It seems safe to suggest Sarah Silverman is truly one-of-a-kind in the realm of contemporary American comedy.

I used to carry my dad's empty guitar case around the neighborhood because I wanted people to think I played the guitar. I would put Flintstones vitamins in it in case I got tired, so I could pop some and keep walking.

— Kristen Wiig

6. Kristen Wiig

Kristen Wigg didn’t always want to be a performer. But while in college she took an acting class and her teacher told her she should continue acting. So she moved to Los Angeles, of course, and joined the Empty Stage Comedy Theatre and then The Groundlings, a comedy group. Feeling improvisational comedy would hone her skills the best, she appeared on Spike TV’s The Joe Schmo Show in 2003. Brimming with confidence, she auditioned for Saturday Night Live and joined the show in 2005. Including various impressive gigs on TV, Wiig has also appeared in numerous movies: Bridesmaids, The Martian, Unaccompanied Minors, Despicable Me, Knocked Up, Ghostbusters, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Masterminds and Zoolander 2. Interestingly, in 2011, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo from The Groundlings co-wrote the screenplay for Bridesmaids, for which they received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

I dropped out of college my junior year of college to do Saturday Night Live, and I didn’t even consult my parents. They were supportive because they had no choice.

— Julia Louis-Dreyfus

5. Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Born in New York City, Julia Louis-Dreyfus began her comedy career by joining The Second City, a famous Chicago-based, theater improvisational group. Then in 1982 she joined Saturday Night Live at the age of 21, one of the youngest cast members for SNL ever. Thereafter, Louis-Dreyfus appeared in many movies such as Hannah and Her Sisters, Soul Man and National Lampoon’s Vacation. In the early 1990s, she joined the cast of Seinfeld, considered one of the most popular sitcoms off all time. Afterward, she starred in the CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine from 2005 to 2010. Then she starred in HBO’s Veep, playing the Vice President of the US, and then eventually runs for the presidency, a role for which she won a succession of Primetime Emmy Awards. In fact, Louis-Dreyfus is one of the most award-winning actresses in the history of American TV. She also won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2018.

What would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?

— Ellen DeGeneres

4. Ellen DeGeneres

Raised as a Christian Scientist, Ellen DeGeneres became a kind of social scientist by beginning her comedy career specializing in observational comedy, as shown by the cast on the sitcom, Seinfeld. Throughout the 1980s and into the ’90s, DeGeneres toured the country doing stand-up comedy, eventually being named Showtime’s funniest person of the year in 1982. Then from the 1990s into the 2000s, DeGeneres starred in her own sitcom, Ellen and then The Ellen Show. Interestingly, on an episode of the The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1997, DeGeneres played a character that came-out as lesbian, the first time such a character had been played by an openly lesbian woman. Also, astonishingly, DeGeneres has been a host (multiple times for each show) on the Academy Awards, the Grammy Awards and the Primetime Emmy Awards. (She also hosted Saturday Night Live in 2001.) And DeGeneres has appeared in many movies, including Mr. Wrong, Goodbye Lover and The Love Letter.

To say I’m an overrated troll, when you have never seen me guard a bridge, is patently unfair.

— Tina Fey

3. Tina Fey

In 1997, Tina Fey began her comedy career by performing with The Second City, after which became a writer on Saturday Night Live. Fey excelled at writing comedy scripts for SNL; in fact, she became the show’s first female head writer. Then Fey began performing in sketches on SNL in 2000, joining Jimmy Fallon on Weekend Update. Specializing in self-deprecating humor and a deadpan delivery, Fey has reminded many of Phyllis Diller. After leaving SNL in 2006, Fey developed the sitcom 30 Rock and also starred on the show, which received numerous accolades and is often considered one of the best TV series of all time. In 2015, Fey created, produced and starred in the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, also garnering much critical acclaim. Fey has also starred in many comedic films: Mean Girls, Date Night, Sisters, Baby Mama and Admission. And in 2010, Fey won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (the youngest person ever to win the award).

As a teenager I went all Goth, but I wasn't mopey enough. I would pretend to be, but I'd end up making people laugh.

— Melissa McCarthy

2. Melissa McCarthy

Excelling in the physical comedy as done by such masters as Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett, Melissa McCarthy began her comedy career in the late 1990s, appearing in TV shows such as Jenny, Gilmore Girls, Samantha Who?, Mike and Molly and Nobodies. She’s also appeared in countless movies, including Charlie’s Angels, The Nines, Bridesmaids, Identity Thief, Spy, The Hangover Part III, The Boss, The Heat, Central Intelligence and Ghostbusters. (McCarthy worked as a screenwriter/and or producer on many of these films.) Her tally of awards for her work on these shows and movies is truly astonishing: over 50 awards and 80 nominations! Presumably a record of some sort, one would think. McCarthy is also one of the highest paid - if not the highest paid actress - in Hollywood today. It seems safe to suggest that Melissa McCarthy may be the funniest woman in America. And if she isn’t, who is?

I used to dress up and impersonate our next-door neighbor, Miss Cox. She wore rubber boots, a wool hat, and her nose always dripped.

— Tracey Ullman

1. Tracey Ullman

Having joint citizenship in America and Britain, Tracey Ullman developed an interest in comedy at nine, when she realized she had a talent for mimicry while watching herself in the mirror. But, before she became a comedian, she had a career as a pop star, her singing described as “retro before retro was cool.” Soon growing tired with singing, Ullman appeared in the British comedy program, A Kick Up the Eighties. Ullman broke into America TV in 1987 when she starred in The Tracey Ullman Show, which featured sketch comedy highlighting Ullman’s remarkable range of impersonations, prompting one to wonder, Is that the real her? Or him? Or Tracey? (Animated shorts on the show included the first appearance of The Simpsons.) Since those early days, Ullman has appeared on stage and network TV, HBO and Showtime, as well as movies, including Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Bullets over Broadway. And Ullman’s list of praise, honors and awards is completely off the charts. Simply put, Tracey Ullman seems able to impersonate just about anybody – and make people laugh.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Kelley Marks

    Comments

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      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        2 months ago from California

        I'm a Democrat, and that's all I'm going to write. Later!...

      • bradmasterOCcal profile image

        bradmasterOCcal 

        2 months ago from Orange County California

        Kelley

        What are those several reasons for Barr?

        At least you didn't put Wanda Sykes on your list!

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        2 months ago from California

        Thanks for the comment, Pat Mills. I never considered putting Roseanne Barr on this list - for several reasons. As for Beth Littleford, I've never heard of her, but I will educate myself very shortly. Thanks!

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        2 months ago from California

        Thanks for the comment, Paula. It agree about Whoopi Goldberg. I put her on her on the list because she's been very funny for many years and has the awards to prove it. But in recent times she's not been very funny. As for what she's done on "The View" I don't watch the show. At some point in time, I may pull her from the list and replace her with, uh, I'll have to think about it.

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 

        2 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        I love, LOVE Kristen Wiig. IMHO, the woman is a comedic genius~actress......I have an excellent sense of humor, enjoy laughing and making people laugh...so honestly, I KNOW FUNNY when I see it. ( Whoopi has destroyed her once "funny woman" reputation since being such a total jackass on "The View!" She is unbearable and basically stupid!)

        This is a great article!

      • bradmasterOCcal profile image

        bradmasterOCcal 

        2 months ago from Orange County California

        What did you do tap the anti trump list for these people.

        They may be amusing, but they aren't funny.

      • profile image

        Pat Mills 

        2 months ago from East Chicago, Indiana

        Sam Bee wasn't the first lady on TDS. During the Craig Kilborn and early Jon Stewart era, Beth Littleford served as a correspondent on the show. Bee is obviously one of the best known has had, and she certainly took her style to Full Frontal. Still, a good list.

        PS - Aren't you glad you didn't include Roseanne Barr now?

      • Kosmo profile imageAUTHOR

        Kelley Marks 

        2 months ago from California

        Thanks for the comment, Haley Kieser. This list was lots of fun to write. Regarding Ellen DeGeneres, I'm sure many people would pick her as numero uno. Later!

      • Haleykieser profile image

        Haley Kieser 

        2 months ago from Arizona

        Love all of these women! My favorite - Ellen D., hands down. Fun article! Thanks for sharing.

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