5 Best-Known Prop and Puppet Comedians

Looks like the joke's on him
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Prop comics don't get much respect. Often considered the lowest man on the comedy totem pole, prop comics — and, by extension, puppet comedians, and even some magicians, all of whom are represented here — are dismissed because of their reliance on more than just their own words and jokes.

That doesn't make them any less talented, though, and it certainly doesn't make them any less successful — several of the comedians who work with props or puppets are among the biggest names in comedy, with sold-out tours and long-running shows in Las Vegas. Here are the five best-known examples.

01
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Comedian Gallagher
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Known first and foremost as the comic who smashes watermelons with a sledgehammer, Gallagher — born Leo Anthony Gallgher, Jr. — is one of the godfathers of prop comedy. With over 40 years in stand-up and 15 comedy specials to his name, Gallagher is practically a comedy institution.

Public battles with his brother — who for years was performing an identical act under the same name — and some outspoken political views have made the comic pretty controversial in his later years, but he'll always be remembered as the guy who covered the front row of his audience in chunks of watermelon. More »

02
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Comedian Jeff Dunham
Photo by Richard Mclaren/Courtesy Comedy Central

Insanely popular ventriloquist Jeff Dunham doesn't use props so much as he does puppets, traveling with a suitcase full of "friends" with colorful and distinct personalities, bringing audiences to tears with his puppet variety show since he first performed in high school in the early 1980s.

Dunham's characters are perhaps just as beloved as Dunham himself, from the angry "Achmed the Dead Terrorist" to "Peanut," a purple alien with ADHD. With several popular standup specials and even his own Comedy Central series behind him, Dunham is one of the biggest and most successful comics of the 2000s, selling out theaters across the country. More »

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Comedian Carrot Top
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Often considered to be the heir to Gallagher's prop comedy empire, red-headed comedian Carrot Top (born Scott Thompson) has become something of a punchline among comedy fans unwilling to afford him much respect.

He built his popular prop act on the college circuit before setting up a permanent residency in Las Vegas, where he's practically an institution. People can make fun all they want, but Carrot Top is a huge success — he's definitely having the last laugh about that! More »

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Terry Fator
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Winner of the second season of "America's Got Talent" in 2007, ventriloquist and singer Terry Fator is more of an all-around entertainer than just a comedian with his shows incorporating musical numbers, impressions and ventriloquism.

Like Jeff Dunham, Fator has a stable of regular puppets and personalities he incorporates into his act, though his comedy is a much gentler sort. Fator is also a regular performer in Vegas, having done over 1,000 shows at the Mirage Hotel and Casino.

However, his raw talent makes Fator stand out above the rest. His version of "At Last" by Etta James, performed by his puppet Emma Taylor in Fator's first audition for "America's Got Talent," is a spot-on impression of the late singer — and he doesn't even move his lips to do it! More »

Amazing Jonathan

Neither a prop comic nor a ventriloquist, the specialty of The Amazing Jonathan (born John Edward Szeles) is magic — that is, he creates comedy illusions. With his trademark headband, irreverent act and a show that includes gory, funny tricks, The Amazing Jonathan has been well known in the comedy community since he started in the early 1980s.

Like most of the other comics on this list, Jonathan has regularly performed in Las Vegas. He's on here because his comedy does rely on props for its success, though it's a lot more involved than just pulling out a hula hoop and giving it a funny name. Whereas the other comics just have to make jokes, The Amazing Jonathan has to make magic feel real. More »

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Bromley, Patrick. "5 Best-Known Prop and Puppet Comedians." ThoughtCo, Aug. 15, 2017, thoughtco.com/comedians-who-use-props-801839. Bromley, Patrick. (2017, August 15). 5 Best-Known Prop and Puppet Comedians. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/comedians-who-use-props-801839 Bromley, Patrick. "5 Best-Known Prop and Puppet Comedians." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/comedians-who-use-props-801839 (accessed November 21, 2017).