The most popular funny men and women of the 90s continued a trend from the 1970s and 1980s — namely, they leveraged their popularity on the stage to much bigger fanbases and paydays in the movies and on television. Which of these 1990s comedians were your favorites?
Chris Farley rose to national prominence on Saturday Night Live starting in 1990. He quickly became an audience favorite for over-the-top characters like Matt Foley, a motivational speaker who was constantly trying to avoid work. Farley’s most famous movie role is probably the 1990s cult classic Tommy Boy.
Farley died of a drug overdose in 1997.
Nealon found fame on Saturday Night Live as well. His best-known characters were Doug Butters and Bob Swerski, a Chicago Bears fan. Nealon had more of a supporting role in 1990s comedies like Happy Gilmore but he has put together a long, interrupted string of television roles over the last 30+ years.
James is best known for his starring roles in The King Of Queens (which followed Doug and Carrie Heffernan’s life in 1990s Long Island) and big screen comedies such as Grown Ups, Hitch, and Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
Carrey was a breakout 1990s comedian because of his exaggerated facial expressions that often parodied the physical traits of the character he was playing. His movies include The Mask, Dumb And Dumber, and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Carrey has had a long career in film but is also an actor on television and stage as well.
Mitchell’s 1990s work includes starring roles in Nickelodeon shows such as All That and Kenan & Kel. He also starred in the 1990s TV sitcom Good Burger that he co-created with his best friend, Keenen Ivory Wayans.
Today, Mitchell continues his long career on television.
Shannon’s 1990s credits include Saturday Night Live, where she pioneered her outrageous depiction of Mary Katherine Gallagher, which she parlayed into a feature film — Superstar — in 1999.
Rock’s 1990s credits include writing on Saturday Night Live, acting on In Living Color, and starring on The Chris Rock Show. 1990s stand-out comedy albums from him include Roll With the New (2000) and Bigger & Blacker (1999).
Rock’s recent work includes appearances on Fargo and Kevin Can Wait. He also hosted the Academy Awards in 2005 and 2016.
Like several others on this list, Rock first came to national prominence on the SNL stage.
1990s comedy superstars like Dave Chappelle proved that it was possible to go from small, independent films to big Hollywood projects. Not only did he have the power of their 1990s standup team behind him, but the comedian was in high demand as an actor with a reputation for being quality comedic talent.
Dave Chappelle’s 1990s comedy career was like a meteor as he burst onto the scene and quickly became one of America’s most beloved comedians, but after his success with “Chappelle Show,” Dave walked away from it all. He famously told Oprah Winfrey that he left because there were too many people around him telling him what to do, but the truth is he also wanted to preserve his own sanity and not be at the mercy of other people’s decisions.
Known for her sketch comedy show “The Tracey Ullman Show,” Ullman also had success as an actress in the 1990s. Today, she’s still acting and has also done high-profile voiceover work in projects like The Simpsons Movie and Rugrats Go Wild.
Yet another Saturday Night Live alum, Spade became famous for his 1990s TV show, “Just Shoot Me,” and movies like Tommy Boy. Today he is a stand-up comedian who has appeared on reality TV series, game shows, and talk shows.
One of 1990s comedy’s most successful stars with films like Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore under his belt, Sandler has continued on a strong career arc in recent years as he produced movies like Grown Ups and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.
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