Who would make it onto the Mount Rushmore of Comedy?

This May, in celebrating Don Rickles on his 88th birthday, Jerry Seinfeld said of his elder hero: “”On the Mount Rushmore of stand-up comedy, there are four faces, in my opinion: Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Bill Cosby and Don Rickles.”

This weekend, following the death of Joan Rivers at 81, Chris Rock offered a simple counterargument: “She’s better than Rickles. She’s one of the best female stand-ups to ever live. No man ever said, ‘Yeah, I want to go on after Joan.’ No, Joan Rivers closed the show every night.” Rock also said that while Rickles and Cosby both have slowed down in their later years, Rivers never did. “She was the hippest comedian from the time she started to the day she died. So don’t put Joan Rivers in a box, because she’s like Mount Rushmore.”

So those are two opinions from two of the top stand-ups in the game today.

What’s your opinion?

What four faces of comedy would you sculpt out of rocky mountains — in South Dakota or elsewhere — to honor for as long as Mother Nature would allow?

Google Images turns up a few other ideas.

The top image above shows Groucho Marx, George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce. A lot of conventional wisdom — particularly from comedians who themselves came of age in the 1970s or 1980s — puts Carlin and Pryor in the top two slots, interchangeably. And since Bruce’s revolutionary spirit inspired them and so many others, he gets plenty of mentions, too.

So here’s another one.


This drawing of Pryor, Woody Allen, Carlin and Bruce also is available for purchase on any number of clothing items or accessories, via RedBubble and artist jayebz.


If you’d rather not think of about Allen’s personal life, and instead reward a comedian very much in the spirit of Bruce and Carlin who died far too young, there’s Bill Hicks.


And then for a more modern take on comedy icons, someone Photoshopped this version of Mount Rushmore with Stephen Colbert, Carol Burnett, Adam Sandler and Cosby.

But what’s your Final Four? Which comedy faces would you have on your Mount Rushmore of Comedy?

Would you limit it to stand-up? Or would you put Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on there already? Does the current cult of Louis CK vault him up to the top? What about Steve Martin? Robin Williams? Elder statesmen and stateswomen such as Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner? Moms Mabley? Dave Chappelle? Rodney Dangerfield? How about Seinfeld and/or Rock? The list can go on and on, which is why I want to know your own personal comedic Mount Rushmore?

Please let me, let us all know in the comments! I’ll follow up with another story based on your suggestions, and adding my own.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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7 thoughts on “Who would make it onto the Mount Rushmore of Comedy?

    1. this is worse than a baseball version. ..
      I think it needs to be narrowed down to categories, stand up, sketch, movies, groundbreakers, etc. different comedy muscles. ..
      my stand up comedy Mt. Rushmore :
      Pryor, Carlin, Dangerfield and Rickles.

  1. I know, four is tough! When I thought just about pioneers of comedy, I quickly came up with six: Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Moms Mabley, Lenny Bruce, Dick Gregory and Andy Kaufman.

  2. Personally, I’d go with Cosby, Louis CK, Mitch Hedberg and Steven Wright. Cosby is the only pre-1980s guy that’s truly hilarious to me; while I can appreciate Rickles Pryor and Carlin, they don’t crack me up as much.

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