The Best Comedians of the 1980s

The 1980s was a time of optimism and cheerfulness compared to the bleaker outlook of the previous decade. The humor and comedy of the time reflected this change and comedians became huge stars in concert halls, TV, and movies.

Now this kind of list is going to be controversial, since it will inevitably miss some names which you think ought to be in this list. But what’s life without controversy? After all, many of the comedians here even welcomed controversy.

So let’s start with our list:

Eddie Murphy

No list of 1980s comedians is going to be complete without Eddie Murphy. He was the undoubted star of films such as 48 Hours, Beverly Hills Cop, and The Golden Child. His comedy concerts shown in films like Raw were all sold-out hits. Of course, later on a few missteps would knock him off his pedestal, but back in the day he was a star and he knew it.


Beverly Hills Cop
Eddie Murphy In “Beverly Hills Cop” 1984

Bill Cosby

The Cosby Show he created was the #1 show for five straight years, from 1984 to 1989. This was arguably his greatest and most popular work. He asked for and got total creative control of the show, and he endeavored to portray an African-American family that was loving, gentle, educated, and affluent. Unfortunately, this smashing TV success didn’t translate to the movies. However in recent times Bill Cosby has come under fire for numerous rape allegations and his reputation has seemingly been tarnished beyond repair.


Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby In “The Cosby Show” 1984-1989

Robin Williams

This guy is arguably one of the most successful comedians of all time, as his career spanned far beyond the 1980s. He first got his big break as the star of Mork and Mindy, which stayed on the air until 1982. In 1982, he started working in film beginning with Popeye in 1980. For the decade, his most famous film work is probably Good Morning Vietnam in 1987.


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Robin Williams In “Mork And Mindy” 1978-1982

Bill Murray

He was already well-known by the time the 1980s rolled in because of his work in Saturday Night Live and the film Meatballs. But the 80s cemented his place in comedy history, with his work in Caddyshack in 1980, Stripes in 1981, and the massive hit Ghostbusters in 1984 (which had a sequel in 1989).


Bill Murray
Bill Murray In “Ghostbusters” 1984

Michael J. Fox

Fox was all the rage back in the 1980s when he played Alex Keaton in Family Ties, which was a role he got only because Matthew Broderick was unavailable. That show ran from 1982 to 1989, and during those years he got himself 3 Emmy wins. He also got a Golden Globe in 1989.

He was the focus of the show most of the time, and Family Ties was so popular that at its height 1 out of 3 households in the US were tuning in every week.


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Michael J. Fox In “Family Ties” 1982-1989

Then in 1985 he was again cast as a replacement, this time for Eric Stoltz for a film called Back to the Future. This film would spend 8 straight weeks at the top of the US box office, and worldwide it made Fox a superstar as the film went on to earn more than $381 million.

So now that the list is made, who did we miss? And who do you think should not be on this list?




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