There's no doubt that when it comes to physical and schtick comedy Jerome "Curley" Horowitz Howard is the king, no one comes close, 2nd place is like light years behind. Groucho Marx takes the cake in my book for best ad libber, his retorts on You Bet Your Life are tremendous. The best story teller has to be the Cos, Bill Cosby, Lenny Bruce is the pioneer of reality comedy, many of his predictions have come to be. Jonathan Winters is perhaps the best all around comic of the past 50 years, George Carlin the most intellectual, Richard Pryor the most controversial as well as hippest.
Of the Howards, Shemp was the most succesful actor by far.
Has anyone else noticed how much of the US comedy traditions were established by Eastern Europeans and their children of the Judaic faith? Moreover, a high % of them are from Broooklyn and NYC in general. This goes hand in hand with the architects of Hollyweird, the studio owners.
Flip Wilson is under rated in my book, Don Rickles over rated. Godfrey Cambridge and Dick Gregory...brilliant,
Bob Newhart and Joey Bishop, I just don't get them.
My favorite ad lib by Groucho on You bet Yoiur Life, how it got past the 50's censors, I don't know
Groucho How long have you been married?
Older Italian Contestant 16 years
G Have any children?
C Groucho, I have 13 kids!
G With a sly look, what is the secret to your sucess?
C I love my wife
G I love my cigar too, but I take it out once in a while