The Best Male Stand Up Comedians of the '70s

Over 1.6K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Male Stand Up Comedians of the '70s
Voting Rules
Vote up the male comedians that were the best at stand up in the '70s

The best 70s comedians range from Richard Lewis to Richard Pryor, from David Letterman to David Brenner, and from Bob Newhart to Bob Hope. A list of game-changing comics of the decade must also includes men like Albert Brooks and Redd Foxx, who were two of the best male comedians of the 70s. Andy Kaufman, quite obviously, is a legendary funnyman that rose to prominence in the 1970s. He has to be considered one of the funniest 70s stand up comedians because he redefined humor with his odd, oftentimes unsettling, stage act.

Another recognizable name on this list is George Carlin, whose stand up comedy was so influential that it led to a famous court case about obscenity and the First Amendment. These great comedians of the decade, like Dave Allen and Flip Wilson, were inspired by 1960s humor but they largely forged their own path and paved the way for everyone else. 

In fact, Bill Maher once explained that his generation of comics spawned from the standup of Robert Klein, who is not only one of the best 70s male comedians, but one of the greatest comics of all time. A list of the top 70s stand up comedians must also include Jerry Seinfeld, who was truly in his onstage prime. The comedians on this list range from old school comics like George Burns to future talk show legend Jay Leno.  The elephant in the room here is Bill Cosby. Likely one of the best comedians of that era. Before growing infamous in the 2010s, Cosby was a standup sensation in the 1970s. His personal life aside, he must be included in this list for it to be accurate. This list of great 70s comedians — not including the women but rather the great 70s male comedians — is full of legendary comics. Be sure to vote up who you think deserves the top spot!

Most divisive: David Letterman
Ranked by
  • George Carlin
    637 votes
    Dec. at 71 (1937-2008)

    George Carlin, the master of satirical cynicism, reigned supreme in the 1970s comedy scene. His groundbreaking specials, including "Class Clown" (1972) and "Occupation: Foole" (1973), shook the foundations of conventional humor with his razor-sharp wit and unapologetic socio-political commentary. Daring to tread where few dared, Carlin's "Seven Dirty Words" routine became a legendary testament to his fearless pursuit of the comedic truth.

  • Richard Pryor
    468 votes
    Dec. at 65 (1940-2005)

    Richard Pryor, a comedy genius with an unmatched ability to weave gut-wrenching hilarity from the darkest corners of life, transcended the boundaries of stand-up in the 1970s. His specials, like "Live & Smokin" (1971) and the iconic "Live in Concert" (1979), showcased his uncanny talent for storytelling and brutally honest observations on race, addiction, and the human condition. Pryor's rollercoaster life fueled his explosive, heartrending performances, forever etching him into the pantheon of comedy legends.

  • Steve Martin
    436 votes

    A wild and crazy guy, Steve Martin's stand-up in the 1970s was a unique blend of absurdity, physical comedy, and banjo playing. His specials like "A Wild and Crazy Guy" (1978) showcased his zany humor that would later catapult him into stardom with films such as "The Jerk" (1979).

  • Bob Newhart
    368 votes

    Known for his deadpan delivery and impeccable timing, Bob Newhart brought an understated wit to the world of stand-up comedy throughout the '70s. With routines often involving one-sided phone conversations or sketches about everyday life, he paved the way for future observational comedians.

  • Redd Foxx
    307 votes
    Dec. at 68 (1922-1991)

    The king of risqué humor in the 1970s, Redd Foxx had audiences roaring with laughter at his unapologetic jokes on taboo subjects. Best known for starring in television's Sanford & Son during this era, Foxx continued to make waves on stage with raunchy yet hilarious performances.

  • George Burns
    272 votes
    Dec. at 100 (1896-1996)

    Ageless wonder George Burns made sure that even though he'd been performing since vaudeville days, everyone knew he still had it during the '70s! Armed with a cigar and razor-sharp wit; Burns delighted fans both young and old alike all decade long.