From old school legends like Bob Hope and Richard Pryor to new-age comedians like Joe Rogan and Jim Jefferies, the world of comedy has only grown over the past century, and we are all the better for it. What's life without a good laugh, after all? It's not much fun; that's for sure.
The greatest comedians have been granted a gift that not many people have access to. Their comedic skills, timing, and well-crafted jokes are central points for entertainment. It's what helps drive half of the industry, demonstrating that the world undoubtedly needs them around to lighten the mood when everything seems out of whack.
They are not always appropriate, and often times, their jokes can be downright obscene. Luckily, the best comedians refuse to back down, and we, along with that sharp laughing pain in our guts, are so much better for it.
How well do you know the comedy legends who have dominated the industry? If we give you an image, can you name the comedian? Here's your chance to find out.
When you're ready to test your knowledge on these hilarious human beings, jump into this quiz and see if you are witty enough to get a high score!
George Carlin's 1972 comedy routine, "Class Clown," was heavily criticized for its use of profanity. The Federal Communications Commission banned the routine from the radio, a decision that was later upheld by the Supreme Court.
In his stand-up, Richard Pryor brought a vast range of topics from the black experience to the stage. One of the comedian's greatest traits was his vulnerability, which helped him reach a broader American audience.
"I went on a hardcore drinking and smoking binge. It lasted right about nine months. And then, as soon as I was born, I was like, 'Do not go in there.'" –Tig Notaro.
Trained at the Juilliard School, Robin Williams possessed enough energy to encapsulate an entire room while also carrying a high level of precision in his work. The comedian was particularly sharp when it came to portraying various characters with different backgrounds and accents. His suicide in 2014 reminds lovers of comedy that being hilarious and creative doesn't mean that comics don't experience depression. If you're experiencing depression, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Mo'Nique's comedy career led her into hosting such programs as "Showtime at the Apollo." In 2009, she began hosting her own talk show called "The Mo'Nique Show" on BET.
"Why do they call it a building? It looks like it's finished. Why don't they call it a built?" –Jerry Seinfeld.
Though he was a hard worker, known for showing up at least an hour early to a show, Don Rickles had plenty of lucky breaks during his career. However, his greatest break he created himself when he abandoned his normal stand-up routine to insult his audience, a decision that shaped his comedy moving forward.
From an early age, Johnny Carson was destined to be a performer. As a kid, he taught himself the skill of being a magician and regularly performed his act at fairs and other events in Nebraska.
"Advice to children crossing the street: damn the lights. Watch the cars. The lights ain't never killed nobody." –Moms Mabley.
Chris Rock garnered national attention when he began appearing on "Saturday Night Live" in the early '90s. Rock was added to the show as it transitioned from older cast members, such as Jon Lovitz and Nora Dunn, to a new cast of talent.
Jon Stewart has been vocal about his views on the importance of dismantling systemic oppression throughout his lengthy career. After leaving the "Daily Show" in 2015, Stewart became an advocate for 9/11 first responders whose funds have been cut for things like healthcare.
Trying to break racial barriers for Asian-Americans, Margaret Cho starred in the television show "All-American Girl," which ran for one season in 1994–1995. Her political critique and fierce activism has won her awards from the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and the National Organization for Women.
"Does anyone have a mother that would hit you with a shoe? I had a mother that would throw a shoe at you at the drop of a dime. So by the time I was like ten, my mother was like Clint Eastwood with a shoe." –Eddie Murphy.
Joan Rivers' career launched in 1965 when she appeared on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson." Her appearance on "The Tonight Show" led to her own program called "'That Show' With Joan Rivers."
Melissa McCarthy's first major film role was in "Bridesmaids," where she played alongside other great comedians including Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph. The movie launched her to stardom, and she has since appeared in other major comedies like "Tammy" and "The Heat." McCarthy has been Oscar-nominated twice, for Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress.
David Letterman spent 33 years of his career hosting the "Late Night Show with David Letterman." When the show ended in 2015, Letterman was the longest-tenured host in American television history.
Dave Chappelle came onto the comedy scene in 1998 when he starred in the film "Half Baked." Chappelle co-wrote the movie with Neal Brennan, who he would later work on the sketch-comedy series "Chappelle's Show" with.
"My husband occasionally changes diapers, and when people hear that, confetti everywhere. When my baby girl was first born, I would do skin to skin contact every day to bond with her. She [crapped] on my chest. Where's my confetti?" –Ali Wong.
Stephen Colbert was trained as a dramatic actor at Northwestern University, where he graduated with a degree in Communications. While in college, Colbert got involved in improv comedy and eventually became an understudy to Steve Carell.
Bill Hicks became a regular at the Comedy Store after moving to Los Angeles following his high school graduation in 1980. His popularity grew throughout the '80s, and he released his first comedy album in 1990 called "Dangerous."
Chelsea Handler got into comedy in an unusual way, through a DUI charge. While telling the story of how she got the DUI to other criminals, she realized she had a talent for comedy because they all found the story to be hilarious.
The first stage name Jacob Rodney Cohen used was Jack Roy, which he stopped using when he took a break from show business in the 1950s. He re-emerged as Rodney Dangerfield in the early '60s.
Raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Redd Foxx left home at the early age of 13 to pursue a career as a performer. He got into comedy in the 1940s when he joined the black vaudeville circuit.
Bill Burr created the animated sitcom "F Is for Family," which appeared on Netflix beginning in 2015. Burr plays the voice of the main character Francis X. Murphy.
Joe Rogan gained national attention as the host of "Fear Factor," which first aired on NBC in 2001. Rogan has stated that the show gave him the economic opportunity to pursue other avenues in comedy.
Catherine O'Hara rose to fame as a member of The Second City, an improvisational theater troupe. Her success in the troupe eventually led her to "Saturday Night Live," where she served as an understudy to Gilda Radner. These days, she's most noted for her role on Schitt's Creek.
Sheryl Underwood is one of the five hosts on the daily talk show "The Talk." Underwood has been a member of the show since 2011 when she replaced Leah Remini.
Sam Kinison died at the age of 38 in an automobile accident while he was traveling to a sold-out show. He was hit by a young driver who had been driving under the influence of alcohol.
Sarah Silverman was only 17 years old when she started her stand-up career. Her early success earned her a spot on "Saturday Night Live," but she was fired after only one season. However, that did little to derail her career.
Bernie Mac's career found success after he won the Miller Lite Comedy Search in 1990. The contest helped him secure a role on "Def Comedy Jam," where Mac put on a legendary show in front of a not-so-friendly crowd.
When Norm Macdonald began appearing on "Saturday Night Live" in 1993, he became well-known for his impersonations and critical remarks. Two of his greatest impersonations were of Larry King and Burt Reynolds.
In a joke about her age during The BET Awards, Leslie Jones says, "In my head and heart, I'm in my 30s. I be like, yeah, mid-30s. My body be like, you better sit your [butt] down. You are 50!"
Steve Harvey was part of "The Original Kings of Comedy," a film directed by Spike Lee and released in 2000. The film also featured Cedric the Entertainer, Bernie Mac, and D.L. Hughley.
Jeff Foxworthy's comedy routine was shaped by his "You Might Be a Redneck" jokes. The jokes were first featured in his 1993 comedy album released under the same name.
Living to be 100, George Burns continued to have success even in his later life. In fact, he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor at the age of 79 for his role in "The Sunshine Boys."
Ellen DeGeneres starred in a sitcom titled "Ellen" from 1994 until 1998. It was during the 1997 season that she famously came out on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
"I wanna hang a map of the world in my house. Then, I'm gonna put pins into all the locations that I've traveled to. But first, I'm gonna have to travel to the top two corners of the map, so it won't fall down." –Mitch Hedberg.
With a career spanning nearly eight decades, Bob Hope accomplished as much if not more than most other comedians. One of his greatest honors was hosting the Academy Awards, which he did 19 times.
"My dad, growing up, called my Princess. He drilled it in my head as a kid that I was a frigging princess. And then I grew up, and I got into the real world, and I realized that no one else was on board with the whole princess thing. Princesses don't lose their virginity at Lollapalooza." –Whitney Cummings.
Trevor Noah was born to a black mother and white father in South Africa, which was under apartheid law at the time. According to the law, their relationship was deemed illegal.