5 Top Family-Friendly Comedians

Discover What It Means to "Work Clean" in Stand-Up Comedy

As opposed to working blue, working clean in comedy means having a show with jokes and gags appropriate for audiences of all ages. The comedians who work clean have a knack for making the crowd laugh without resorting to toilet humor, sexual jokes, or foul language, resulting in fun the whole family can enjoy.

From the classic stylings of Jerry Seinfeld's dry stand-up and hilarious sitcom to Bill Engvall's light-hearted blue-collar comedy specials, the five clean comedians on this list are sure to delight your entire family. It's important to note, though, that even though the humor may be clean, it may also be too sophisticated for young children.

Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld
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Jerry Seinfeld is best known for his self-titled sitcom "Seinfeld," but his stand-up act is an equally clever blend of sly observations and neurotic self-deprecation with an absurdist bent—which makes sense as his sitcom was developed out of his stand-up material.

Seinfeld is a rare comedian who's able to appeal to everyone — even those comedy fans that may typically stay away from "clean" comedians they may deem "too safe." Seinfeld is proof that funny is funny, with or without vulgarity. 

Ellen Degeneres

Comedian Ellen Degeneres
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Comedian and talk show host Ellen Degeneres has a lot in common with Jerry Seinfeld: her routines are largely observational, occasionally absurdist, and often based on her own neuroses. Plus, like Seinfeld, Degeneres works clean.

Like most of the comics on this list, Degeneres' comedy isn't for everyone—some audiences want more "edge" in their stand-up. But there's little denying that Degeneres is an incredibly funny, quick-witted comedian and brings her own comic sensibilities to every project she takes on, rather than adapting as the job demands.

When comedians work clean, it can sometimes be easier to avoid compromising themselves. Degeneres is proof of that, and her daily show delights millions each week with her positive, bright humor and infectious smile.

Brian Regan

Comedian Brian Regan

Comedy Central

Despite his status as a "clean" comedian, Brian Regan has become a comic's comic—one of those comedians who is beloved by his peers for just how good he is at the form despite his never feeling the need to work blue.

With a love of the absurd and a manic energy that played a clear role in influencing the likes of Dane Cook, Regan never tries to be edgy or dangerous. He has, however, built up a devoted following of comedians and fans who love him all the same.

Jim Gaffigan

Comedian Jim Gaffigan

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Deadpan oddball Jim Gaffigan might best be recognized from his numerous TV commercial gigs, but in his day job, he's one of the most popular comics working today. As the voice of the lazy, suburban everyman, Gaffigan's material is derived from dealing with America's obsession with food and eating—his most popular, signature bit is all about Hot Pockets. He often contrasts his monotone style with an odd, high-pitched voice meant to represent the audience's opinion of what he's saying. 

Gaffigan is incredibly prolific, releasing seven stand-up albums in nearly as many years. He also works clean, allowing him to reach as wide an audience as possible without ever losing his bizarre edge.

Bill Engvall

Comedian Bill Engvall

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Bill Engvall — a founding member of the original "Blue Collar Comedy Tour"— is one of the most "family-friendly" of the working-class comics, but he never works blue and a good deal of his comedy is based on his own life as a family man.

With eight stand-up albums and over two decades in the field, Engvall has proven himself to be incredibly hard-working and devoted to comedy. He's still on tour as of 2017, too — this man just won't stop!

His material may play it safe a lot of the time, but that can sometimes be the trade-off when you're working for all age groups and audiences. Plus, it's hard to disagree that he seems like a heck of a nice guy and deserving of his success.