Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were total originals. They are hugely iconic, pioneering the classic look of the mismatched comedy duo. They appeared together in over 100 films, starting with silent fare in the 1920s and moving to features in 1931 with Pardon Me. They were masters of slapstick and friends to the end, when their partnership dissolved due to health issues in the mid 1950s.
Mike Nichols and Elaine May's comedy partnership was short-lived but totally brilliant. They met as students and began their career at The Compass Players with Paul Sills, Del Close, and Nancy Ponder””pioneers of improv comedy. Nichols and May had such a chemistry and played off each other so well that they quickly rose in popularity thanks to appearances on The Steve Allen Show and Omnibus. They released three hugely popular comedy albums between 1959 and 1962. Though they separated to pursue different careers (Nichols as a director, The Graduate) and May as an actress and screenwriter (The Birdcage), they remained close and have worked together in many different capacities throughout the years.
Tom and Richard "Dick" Smothers were masters of the give-and-take comedy style. Tom, though the savvy businessman of the two, played the dim-witted brother to Dick's more mature straight man. They played the guitar, sang songs, and looked like All-American boys, but their show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was revolutionary, controversial, and quite bold for its time (the late 1960s). The Smothers Brothers were outwardly anti-war, saying things on television that no one had dared to say before. They pushed boundaries, were a staple of the counterculture, and clashed with network censors. Without the Smothers Brothers, there would be no Saturday Night Live. Not to mention, a few of the people who got their start writing for the Smothers Brothers have names like Albert Brooks, Steve Martin and Rob Reiner.
The saga of Lucy and Desi is well-known these days, but in their heyday, they were the most powerful comedic duo on television. Lucy was a brilliant physical comedian and Desi was a charming straight man. I Love Lucy, which ran from 1951-1957, is still one of the funniest shows of all time, and is a pioneer of the multi-cam sitcom format. This power couple also starred in numerous films over the years””they were truly titans of comedy.
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were the most popular comic duo in the 1950s. They made 17 films together in addition to performing on the radio and on stage at clubs. They were the first major comedy duo to make it on national TV with their variety show, The Colgate Comedy Hour. Over the years, critics began focusing on Lewis as the real comedic talent, which didn't sit right with Martin; their relationship became contentious, and they went their separate ways (both to glowing solo careers) in 1956. They reconciled in public in 1976 when Martin made an appearance on Lewis's telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
The two young women behind Comedy Central's brilliant hit, Broad City are unstoppable. They met while studying at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City and melded their sensibilities into a veritable force of funny. Abbi and Ilana are here to stay.
The perfect union of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi was presented to the world on the first season of Saturday Night Live. They became instant friends when they met before SNL began and started a beautiful comedy partnership, becoming Jake and Elwood Blues, otherwise known as The Blues Brothers. It's an iconic duo and a classic movie, one that has lasted for many years, even after the tragic death of Belushi.
They're the best of friends and the funniest of men. They started working together in 1950 on Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows, and the rest is history. In 1961, they partnered up for The 2000 Year Old Man, in which Carl Reiner interviewed the oldest man in the world, played by Mel Brooks. They released five albums together. Brooks and Reiner have both had illustrious solo careers, but nothing beats a friendship and comedy partnership between two geniuses that has lasted the better part of a century. Even watching them get together for their nightly Jeopardy! viewing makes us laugh harder than we knew was possible.
Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele took the internet (and the world) by storm when they entered the sketch comedy game with their eponymous Comedy Central show several years ago. Their hyper socially aware, super well produced taped sketches rival some of the best and most classic in the history of sketch comedy. Their masters at what they do, and we should feel lucky to get to watch them. Check out some of their best work here.
George Burns and Gracie Allen are one of the few successful husband-and-wife comedy duos in history. They started in vaudeville and conquered radio, TV and film as well. Burns played the straight man to Allen's sort of ditzy, silly woman, and they made films all throughout the 1930s before transitioning to television, where they saw massive success with The Burns and Allen Show, which ran through the '50s, eventually right alongside I Love Lucy in CBS's primetime lineup.
Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding had a career together that lasted five decades. They were master satirists, often making fun of the format they were working in, whether it be radio or TV, and their signature deadpan style distinguished them from many other comedy duos of their day.
Randy and Jason Sklar aren't the first sibling pair on the list, but they are the first (and only) set of identical twins. They're successful stand ups that perform together with a rapid fire give-and-take pace that's so fluid and organic in only the way that two men with the exact same genetic makeup can be. The brothers are also sportscasters and have a popular podcast called Sklarbro Country. Twins, bros, comedic duo!
In the late '70s and throughout the '80s, Cheech and Chong were fixtures in American pop culture. They were surreal, always accompanied by a cloud of smoke and giddy, giggly attitudes. They broke up in 1985 but recently got back together, in 2008. One of their best movies is Still Smokin', and we hope that's exactly what they keep doing.
They've become awards show hosts extraordinaires, but Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have been making us burst out laughing since before their time on Saturday Night Live. They've been hugely influential in the worlds of improv and sketch comedy (Poehler is a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade, Fey was the head writer of SNL for several years), and they're just amazing to watch, whether on film (Baby Mama) or on TV (Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, anyone?!). These two are already iconic comedians, and they're far from done.
Though they both had super successful careers individually, something magical happened every time Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder got together. Among their genius collaborations were the films Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, and (my personal favorite) See No Evil, Hear No Evil, in which Pryor plays a blind man and Wilder plays a deaf man. The two team up to stop murderous criminals, and hilarity ensues.
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are the masters of weird. They created several hit shows for Adult Swim including Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Check it Out! with Dr. Steve Brule, and Tim & Eric's Bedtime Stories. Their comedy is often grotesque, perverted, and intentionally visually tacky. They have a very distinct style and vision””their comedy is more absurdist performance art than traditional slapstick or witty banter, and we love them for it.
Hope and Crosby worked together for the first time 1932 and enjoyed themselves so much that they partnered up for seven movies between 1940 and 1962. Though they weren't quite the best of friends off screen, they had a great onscreen chemistry.
Tenacious D is Jack Black and Kyle Gass. Together they have released three comedy rock albums””they may be one of the only comedy duos ever to have won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance.They've both gone on to have solo careers, but their partnership has endured, and it was announced early in 2015 that they are working on their fourth album.
"Who's on First" is just about the most iconic comedy sketch there is, and we have the fast-talking, fully silly vaudevillian comedic partnership of William "Bud" Abbott and Lou Costello to thank for that. They were hugely popular in their time, making thirty-six films between 1941 and 1956.
Bert and Ernie may be puppets, but that doesn't make them any less of an enduring comedy duo””in fact, it might make them more of one. Sesame Street has provided us with some of the most classic TV characters of all time, not the least of which are Bert and Ernie. Ernie is the wild one and Bert is a bit of a stiff. Their classic dynamic is unforgettable.
Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara are a husband-and-wife comedy duo that also happened to spawn a very successful comedian in his own right (Ben Stiller). Stiller and Meara were popular between the 1960's and '70s being some of the earliest member of the Second City improv troupe.
Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci are Garfunkel and Oates, the quirky musical comedy duo named for "two famous rock-and-roll second bananas." Their sweet ukulele melodies paired with hilarious, sometimes not-so-clean lyrics, are a magical union.
The Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End) would be nothing without the adorable, unshakable friendship of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. Do yourself a favor and watch the TV show, Spaced, an early collaboration of theirs. Everything they touch turns to comedy gold.