The 15 Best Comedy Duos Of All Time

Sometimes all you need for a good laugh are the right two people. The comedy duo is a pop-culture staple, an archetype with vaudeville roots. With a few variations, one member of the duo is usually straight-laced and the other is outrageous. Sometimes, the dynamic is about one-upping each other's weird. Going back to acts like Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello (who made successful transitions from stage to motion pictures) every generation has its familiar headliners.

Baby boomers saw more variety in their comedy teams, with the Smothers Brothers blending music into their stage act. That helped set the standard for newer comedy duos such as Sonny and Cher. However, not everyone needed an extra talent to get laughs. Mary Tyler Moore and Ed Asner thrived on their charisma, and together, they brought the comedy duo into the modern era. 

Today, we have a wide variety of comedy pairings on the big screen, from iconic one-offs to regular team-ups. The only caveat: Don't take the exclusion of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler personally. They're the best friends we all wish we knew, but outside of "Saturday Night Live," they rarely appear together.

Catharine O'Hara and Eugene Levy

Frequently appearing together since they met way back in the days of the 1970s and '80s Canadian comedy show "SCTV," Catharine O'Hara and Eugene Levy are a delight wherever they appear. Effortlessly bouncing off one another, both of these comedy artists are weirdos in different ways. It's usually Levy that plays it straight while O'Hara gives off great unhinged vibes. Christopher Guest often pairs Levy and O'Hara in his mockumentary films. As "Best in Show" proves, they barely even need a dog to showcase how screwed up their characters could be.

Today, O'Hara and Levy are best known for their roles as Moira and Johnny Rose on "Schitt's Creek," the Canadian answer to (and for many fans, an improvement upon) "Arrested Development." This long-lasting duo had six seasons to build on their decades-long friendship. The embezzlement of the Roses' business and the aptly named town are window-dressing to the main attraction which is everyone playing off of each other as humanly and hilariously as possible.

Steve Martin and John Candy

Steve Martin and John Candy are both hilarious on their own, but their only movie together, 1987's "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles," is a letter-perfect comedy. It's so iconic and untouchable that it made us feel like these two had been together forever. The key to their comedic chemistry plays heavily on their physicality. As the straight man prone to cold fury, Martin is rigid as rebar. Candy, however, is so cuddly and extroverted that he becomes an irritant. Still, they have much to learn from one another. But first, they have to get out of the frozen Midwest.

Both comedians honed their skills in sketch comedy, with the affable and loud Candy graduating from "SCTV,"  the show that would give Martin other great onscreen partners, including Rick Moranis and Martin Short. Steve Martin can change tone on a dime. While he's Candy's straight man, Martin's early stand-up comedy and 1979's "The Jerk" prove Martin can be the perfect screwball. Together, their timing was flawless. Today, Martin still remembers Candy with both fondness and heartfelt sorrow.

Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor

Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor made four films together, and it's a heavy-handed quirk of fate that the Mel Brooks classic, "Blazing Saddles," wasn't one of them. Yet, Pryor's humor is still felt throughout that script, underlining the professional partnership these two men had. "Silver Streak," released in 1976, was their first project together, and for some (including myself), it's still the best with its train-heist-gone-wild plot. After that was 1980's "Stir Crazy" and 1989's "See No Evil, Hear No Evil."

Although Wilder and Pryor made one more film, 1991's "Another You," it's unfortunately barely worth mentioning. The first three are their grand works in which both men are as manic or subdued as the moment demands. Their chemistry is irreplaceable. Professional to the end, they were onscreen partners but not real-life friends. However, they gave us more than enough hilarious movie memories to cherish, and you should watch at least one of their collaborations right now.

Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan

There was a big resurgence in the popularity of Hong Kong martial arts flicks in the '90s because of the power of artists like Chow Yun-fat, Jet Li, and Jackie Chan. Though they'd all take a shot at Hollywood, it was Chan who became the most enduring staple of American action comedies. In 1998, New Line Cinema took a crack at a cross-culture buddy cop comedy, putting Chan together with rising star Chris Tucker, who was looking for another hit after his roles in "Friday" and "The Fifth Element."

"Rush Hour" became a smash franchise, taking the classic "Lethal Weapon" formula and adding Chan's stunts and Tucker's rapid-fire comedy. Their cultural clash isn't played for easy racially-based laughs, and the pair turned their sincere onscreen chemistry into a real-life friendship that lasts. Though "Rush Hour 4" continues to be the stuff of rumors, the first three films are a rapid-fire mashup of fun tropes and physical comedy.

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly

When it comes to the legendary comedy team-up of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, let's just ignore that Sherlock Holmes movie, okay? It's bad, and everyone knows it. Why focus on the negative when both "Stepbrothers" and "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" exist as perfect pearls of brilliantly stupid and absurd comedy?

"Talladega Nights" was the first match-up between these two cornballs who are always dead-set on outperforming each other. It's rough stuff when they're both dealing with Sacha Baron Cohen at his best, but as a take-down of tough-guy racing movies, both Reilly and Ferrell come out in first place. "Stepbrothers" brought them back together just two years later as man-children forced to grow up (slightly) when their joint immaturity risks their comfy lives. The dirty secret of this wacky duo is that John C. Reilly is an excellent actor who is capable of real drama. He's so good at being serious that he understands tone and timing in a way that Ferrell sometimes just flails through.

Penn and Teller

After decades on stage and screen, you'd think the classic comedy powerhouse of Penn & Teller would finally start to fade from the limelight. Yet, they carry on as strong as ever. Active as a duo since the 1970s and still maintaining a Las Vegas residency at The Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, Penn & Teller mix Penn Jillette's opinionated comedy with Teller's silent shenanigans while creating amazing illusions onstage. It's the sort of gig that, if it works, you don't mess with. Their ongoing success means they're doing something very right.

Penn & Teller sometimes use their comedy to talk about big issues as they did with their long-running Showtime series "Penn & Teller: Bullsh*t." For seven seasons, the duo used the platform to discuss pseudoscience and politics. Today, they appear on "Fool Us," a magical competition show in which the goal is to impress the famed magicians-comedians. They also turn up in unexpected places, including a one-off TV appearance on "Babylon 5" as intergalactic comedians Rebo & Zooty, and as Pain & Terror, psychopathic showmen with a "Mad Max" style boss fight in the video game "Borderlands 3."

Statler and Waldorf

Look, Statler and Waldorf might be a pair of Muppets, but they are real in our hearts and souls. Typically, the best part of "The Muppet Show," these crusty old coots sit high above the action and heckle it all in a way that would be cruel if it wasn't so funny.

Named for two stately old New York City hotels, the Waldorf-Astoria and the Statler Hotel (although the Waldorf-Astoria still stands, the Statler, renamed the Hotel Pennsylvania, has closed), these grumpy old men rarely leave the balcony. But when they do, it's a treat. Accidental bad guys for a small part of 2011's "The Muppets," their persnickety understanding of the Muppets' contract clues real villain, Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), in on a way to bulldoze the famous Muppet Studios. But God forbid Statler and Waldorf lose their cushy box seats to this capitalist captain of industry. Even if these cranky codgers complain incessantly about Kermit and company, they're still part of the Muppet family,

Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson

Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are one of the most wholesome comedy teams we could hope for. 

Full of well-meaning fools and a goofy plot that relies on a vague understanding of "The Manchurian Candidate," their 2001 comedy "Zoolander" deflates the fashion industry, Yes, "Zoolander" has a rather unfortunate sequel, but Stiller and Wilson's pairing in the "Night at the Museum" franchise keeps on giving. All three films are delightful, relying on the affable friendship between these two.

Less excellent (but still silly fun) is their 2004 attempt to bring the classic cop show "Starsky & Hutch" to the big screen as a corny period piece with a distinct lack of '70s porn mustaches. Stiller and Wilson are also Wes Anderson guys. Their performances in "The Royal Tenenbaums" mix the humorous and the heartfelt. 

These dudes are funny, but they can also act. While doing press interviews during "Loki," Tom Hiddleston asked Owen Wilson if he'd ever performed Shakespeare. Wilson, displaying expert knowledge of the Bard, replied with chagrined charm and a quote from "The Two Gentlemen of Verona." But c'mon! Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson would make the perfect Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Let's see it!

Jay and Silent Bob

The 1990s have a definitive aesthetic characterized by grunge music, flannel, and the rise of an independent film scene that pushed back on society via the slacker movie. Everyone has their '90s faves, but we can't ignore the way "Clerks" became a cultural touchstone. With the film's success came Jay and Silent Bob, the constantly loitering alter egos of Jason Mewes and director Kevin Smith. The pair has been Gen X's confused Greek chorus ever since.

Having appeared in everything from the short-lived "Clerks" animated series to "Dogma," Jay and Silent Bob can't be contained by Kevin Smith's View Askewniverse. They also show up for a fun subplot in "Degrassi: The Next Generation," playing themselves as they pretend to film another Jay and Silent Bob joint (pun intended). More recently, they appeared in "The Flash." Onscreen and off, Smith and Mewes are lifelong friends who have had each other's backs in good times and bad. They've survived and thrived. And so will we.

Key and Peele

There were plenty of hints about Jordan Peele's future in Comedy Central's "Key & Peele." Jaw-achingly funny, the series set some of its jokes inside the world of classic horror. One of the show's best sketches is "Continental Breakfast" in which Peele's Room 237-staying tourist extolls the virtues of hotel buffets with eerie passion. The cinematography makes the subtle jokes at Stanley Kubrick's expense land without being mean, and the finale is a nice homage to the ending of "The Shining."

What makes both horror and comedy work is an understanding of timing, and that's where Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael-Key shine. Whether they're pretending to be the fussy Meegan and her tired boyfriend, Andre, or President Obama and his famous anger translator, they know how to pace themselves and are always perfectly in tune with each other. Key and Peele may not be together as much these days, but they gave us a hell of a ride.

Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O

I don't mean to do a disservice to the rest of the "Jackass" crew or suggest their success is due to solely Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O. Nevertheless, it is the friendship between these two men that's helped keep their stuntman insanity alive. Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O are part of each other's lives, and their friendship helped save Steve-O's life. Knoxville urged Steve-O into rehab, and the "Jackass" movies have run clean sets ever since to help support Steve-O.

Manic and fearless and always up for the dumbest stunts on Earth, the two feed off each other's energy on set. It's an honor to watch them together — a testament to the true power of American brotherhood. I weep a proud tear every time Steve-O jostles around inside a flying port-a-potty full to the brim with human waste. " Bless you, gentlemen. You help me greet each day with joy in my heart.

Cheech and Chong

Would Jay and Silent Bob exist without Richard "Cheech" Marin and Tommy Chong? Would Harold and Kumar? Snoop Dogg and Willie Nels — Well, those guys would probably still be toking up together regardless. Anyway, Cheech and Chong are the classic stoner duo, the men that made the trope what it is today. Their first film, "Up in Smoke," is still the landmark cinematic moment where marijuana movies went from social taboo to classic comedy.

Cheech and Chong filmed eight movies together that created a legacy of unavoidable stoner media. Yet even apart, they are fantastic, and both are great actors. Cheech Marin is one of director Robert Rodriguez's regulars, and plays Lieutenant Joe Dominguez alongside Don Johnson on the fan-favorite cop show, "Nash Bridges." Tommy Chong continues to advocate for causes like marijuana legalization and ALS awareness, but he's also a voice in "Zootopia" and had a small role as a hippie living in the mysteriously changing woods in the Lovecraftian horror movie "The Color Out of Space." Together, Cheech and Chong changed comedy forever. Light up and remember our forefathers.

Tenacious D

Kyle Gass and Jack Black love heavy metal so much that they know exactly how to make it funny. 

Music is a huge part of their lives. Their mock rock band Tenacious D first hit the scene in 1994, and the duo soon became a Los Angeles club scene staple. The pair eventually crossed paths with David Cross and Bob Odenkirk, who would help them produce the "Tenacious D" comedy series for HBO. These six episodes feature Gass and Black on their journey to make everyone realize that they're the best rock band in the world.

"Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny" follows up where the series left off. With Dave Grohl as Satan and the legendary musician Ronnie James Dio as himself, it's a loving, crude, and funny tribute to the music the duo love. Jack Black continues to work their style of music into solo projects like Tim Schaefer's cult hit video games, "Brutal Legend" and "Psychonauts 2" while Gass tours solo. We're pretty sure they'll be together again soon.

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum

"21 Jump Street" and its sequel, "22 Jump Street" are films that could have easily faceplanted into cringe. Instead, they're two of the best comedy movies of the 2010s. Much of their success is due to the charisma between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. Tatum is perfect when he brings his himbo charm to bear, and Hill is equally great as his straight-laced partner. Together, they share custody of one brain cell, and somehow, they fight crime.

These buddy cop comedies aren't the only movies in which Hill and Tatum appear together. Tatum has a surprising cameo in Jonah Hill's "This Is the End," and they both voice DC superheroes in 2014's "The Lego Movie." Yup, that's Channing Tatum as Superman and Jonah as Green Lantern. 

With "Magic Mike 3" on the horizon, maybe there's a chance we'll see Tatum team up with Hill again. I don't think anyone would (or should) bat an eye at seeing Channing Tatum's funniest counterpart somewhere on the dance floor.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost

From across the pond, we have the duo that's the heart of the British comedy "Spaced." 

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are capably funny apart. Pegg struck out on a solid solo career that's taken him from "Star Trek" to "Star Wars," and Frost had a strong turn in 2005's "Kinky Boots." Frost is also currently a regular on HBO's wonky science fiction drama "The Nevers" as The Beggar King, Declan Orrun.

Still, it's when they're together that we love Pegg and Frost the most. Friends since before "Spaced" hit British airwaves, Frost and Pegg made an impact on America with the 2004 surprise zombie smash, "Shaun of the Dead." The pair are perfect together, with Frost relying on physical humor to match Pegg's rapid-fire zingers. It's both funny and poignant that some of Frost's dialogue in "Hot Fuzz" was borrowed from a removed romantic subplot and left intact. The gag works because of their obvious friendship.