The 12 Best Comedic Duos of All Time
For any comedy fan, this weekend is a dream. First up, Pixar’s dropping its highly anticipated new film, Inside Out, voiced by a dream team: Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, and Phyllis Smith, among other greats. When you’re done crying over that on Friday, settle for a nice night in on Saturday to watch Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig kill it in A Deadly Adoption. Airing on Lifetime, the film, about a couple who house a pregnant woman whose baby they’re about to adopt, is a completely stra
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost
Pegg and Frost are Britain’s funniest BFFs. The funnymen have been inseparable since the late ‘90s, when they first paired up on the Channel 4 sitcom Spaced. But their most unforgettable contribution to comedic history however is director Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy. The faces of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End, Pegg and Frost have become cult heroes, inspiring many a Comic Con costumes for a little over a decade. While The World’s End’s 2013 release closed that chapter of their lives, fans are waiting with bated breath to see what the duo will do next.
Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer
So what if these ladies are newbies? They’ve already set a standard. With Comedy Central’s Broad City, Jacobson and Glazer, who met on a practice team at New York’s Upright Citizen’s Brigade, have redefined comedy. Check your cynicism at the door because Jacobson and Glazer’s joyful brand of humor is infectious. Whether you’re watching them marvel at dudes’ pork swords in basketball shorts, support each other through experimental hook-ups, or talk each other down from a bad high, you can’t help but want them to be your best friends. That, or you’re desperately trying to model your own IRL friendships after theirs.
Amy Poehler and Tina Fey
Amy Poehler and Tina Fey go way back. Mean Girls? Nah, farther. Saturday Night Live? Nope, think again. The Golden Globes? No, WTF, were you born yesterday? Poehler and Fey met in class at ImprovOlympic in Chicago. As the story goes, Poehler initiated a friendship with Fey after hearing that Tina wrote an absurd play about Catherine the Great having sex with a horse. From there, the two helped form the improv team Inside Vladimir. Later, they’d both move to New York for Tina to write on Saturday Night Live and Amy to form UCB, which Tina would occasionally perform at. Finally, Fey convinced Poehler to join SNL in 2001, and they’ve been the #worldsmosttalkedaboutcouple since. Now, Fey and Poehler are prepping to release Sisters, their second co-starring film together after Baby Mama, which should make the entire world even more obsessed about them.
Key and Peele
There’s something to be said about Comedy Central shows. They don’t exactly get the attention they deserve, but they do, certainly, find their audience. It’s hard to argue that Key and Peele isn’t one of the most important comedy shows out today. Which is interesting, because unlike a lot of duos on this list, they don’t exactly have a rich history.Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are brilliant comedians, both in their own right. But something about them just clicks. The two didn't actually meet until they were cast members on MADtv in the 2000s, and now they're creating the most original sketches on TV. To top it off, they even have a movie deal. It’s hard to believe that these two met so late in life, and turned out to be perfect for each other comedically. But that’s serendipity, we guess.
Cheech and Chong
Cheech and Chong didn’t introduce you to weed, but the original stoner duo certainly made it funny. They met in Canada, where Cheech moved to avoid the Vietnam draft in Southern California, and off the bat they started to perform stand-up together. It only skyrocketed from there. Now, their films, like Up in Smoke, are certified cult classics. To this day, they still perform reunion shows and are much beloved, not just with the counterculture scene, but with anyone who appreciates their contribution to comedy and film. We wonder what's it like for these two guys, who just enjoyed pot so much they could write great jokes, to be respected by so many people.
Abbott and Costello
If you've never heard of the greatest comedy sketch ever, "Who's on First," we deeply encourage you to look it up. Even though it was created in the '40s, it’s still the funniest thing ever penned by man. Abbott and Costello were a vaudeville duo, who made their work known through stage, radio, film, and television. Their rapid-fire repartee served them well, and audiences were entranced. Eventually, after their radio work grew their audience, they were offered movie roles. William "Bud" Abbott and Lou Costello made 36 films together between 1940 and 1956, and they were among the highest paid entertainers in the world during World War II. In 1942, they were the top box office draw with four films earning a total of $10 million. They remained a top-10 box office attraction until 1952, all while working on their self-titled TV series that was filmed in front of a live audience.
Laurel and Hardy
Laurel and Hardy might sound like your dad’s favorite dive bar, but the meaning of the name is so much more than that. Look to the older generation. Laurel and Hardy served as the introduction of comedy to your grandparents, maybe even your great grandparents. If you can’t respect that, we’ll show you the door. According to many comedy purists, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s slapstick comedy is still the greatest that has ever been filmed. Before the two collaborated and made comedy gold, they were both established actors. Laurel appeared in over 50 films, while Hardly had been a part of more than 250 productions. Over time, they appeared in 107 films together, and even moved from silent films to talkies--seamlessly. They're still considered to be one of the greatest comedy duos of all time, even though their last film was released in 1951.
Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor
On their own, Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor are incredibly influential comedians. Somehow, together, they created unforgettable movies. The comedians as a duo is somewhat easy to forget. They didn’t star in many movies together, but they certainly worked on movies that are unforgettable. Case in point: Stir Crazy, where Wilder plays a deaf man and Pryor plays a blind man, and they’re blamed for a murder they did not commit. In 1975, Wilder’s agent sent him a script for a film called Super Chief. He accepted the role but told the producers the only person who could keep the film from being offensive was Richard Pryor. It was the first film they worked on together. Eventually, Sidney Poitier persuaded them to do another film together. From then on, they became incredible friends, despite Pryor's drug addiction. Richard was even set to star in the iconic Blazing Saddles, but studio heads thought he was too “rough” to appear in it. Mel Brooks begged studio heads to let him be in it, alongside Wilder, but rumors of Pryor’s mental health and drug use won out. Just think of what could’ve been.
Mike Nichols and Elaine May
It's possible you've never heard of Nichols and May. It seems that people who have are either older, or obsessed with Chicago comedy. Which is a shame, because the duo changed the game as we know it. The improv duo were so popular that their three comedy albums reached the Billboard Top 40 between 1959 and 1962.Nichols and May met as students at the University of Chicago, and began their career as The Compass Players, which eventually helped form Second City, an improv school and theater known for turning out comedians like Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, and Amy Poehler.
Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein
If you’re missing out on Portlandia, we feel bad for you. Armisen and Brownstein may just be the most pure comedy duo that’s hit the airwaves since... shoot, we can’t even think of a real life equivalent. Picture the smartest person you know. Then picture them having a best friend who is just as smart. But also imagine that they’re the most hilarious people you’ve ever met. That’s what this duo is like. Armisen and Brownstein’s comedy is incredibly original, which is funny to say, since they poke fun at everything that is “hip” today. IRL, they consider each other to be their soul mates, without the whole "sex and love" thing getting in the way. Comedy is often wrongly defined as something that comes from a place of joy--Fred and Carrie realize it comes from a place of absurdity. Sure, their trick is they’re a little bit mean, but they make their audience their number one accomplice.
Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders
Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda
By now you’ve seen Tomlin and Fonda’s newest Netflix series, Grace and Frankie, but they’ve been working together for a long time before that. They’re actually decades-long friends, despite what their characters would have you believe. The two have been BFFs since the incredible 1980 film 9 to 5, which not only redefined workplace comedies, but set the standard for female-driven comedies. While they haven’t starred in many films together, their influence on each other, and on the world of comedy, is undeniable. Don’t believe us? We’d never seen anyone smoke pot on screen before 9 to 5. In turn, we hadn’t seen two characters take peyote on screen before Grace and Frankie. Thirty-five years later and they’re still changing the game.
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