10 Deadpan Comedians

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Bromley, Patrick. "10 Deadpan Comedians." ThoughtCo, Mar. 24, 2017, thoughtco.com/list-of-deadpan-comedians-801822. Bromley, Patrick. (2017, March 24). 10 Deadpan Comedians. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/list-of-deadpan-comedians-801822 Bromley, Patrick. "10 Deadpan Comedians." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/list-of-deadpan-comedians-801822 (accessed October 19, 2017).

Not all comics have to be energetic or animated on stage to make us laugh. Some comics are able to do it without raising their voices. With a flat or monotone delivery and a succession of one-liner jokes or punchlines that hardly very from the setups, these deadpan comedians are hilarious and calm. Always calm.  

01
of 10

Steven Wright

Steven Wright

The king of deadpan comedy, Steven Wright practically defined this style of comedy with his frizzy hair, his unmistakable voice, his monotone delivery style and his brilliant absurdist observations. Wright, who came up through the famous Boston comedy scene, is the deadpan comic to which every other deadpan comic owes a debt of inspiration.

Mitch Hedberg
Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images

If Steven Wright is the king of deadpan humor, Mitch Hedberg is his prince. His delivery was more fun and laid back, but his absurdist observations and hilarious one-liners were every bit as brilliant. Unfortunately, Hedberg died of a drug overdose way too young, but his comedy lives on. More »

03
of 10

Tig Notaro

Comedian Tig Notaro
Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images

Tig Notaro doesn't seem to get a rise out of much -- even a breast cancer diagnosis which she successfully beat (and which has since been documented on her incredible comedy album Live). Like a lot of other deadpan comedians, her delivery lets her better comment on the world she sees around her from a distance -- it gives her a remove that makes her the voice of reason.

04
of 10

Nick Thune

Nick Thune
Photo by FilmMagic/Getty Images

Not just one of the best deadpan comedians currently working but also an essential musical comedian, Nick Thune combines live guitar playing punctuated by Steven Wright-style one-liners. Though he's perhaps not as well known as some of the other comics on this list, Thune's debut album Thick Noon is a great representation of his comedy, offering a steady stream of deadpan one-liners that hit more often than they miss.

05
of 10

Rita Rudner

Rita Rudner
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

One of the biggest breakout comedians of the 1980s, Rita Rudner is one of the most successful female deadpan comedians. A veteran of more than 30 years in the business, Rudner's flat, airy delivery is unmistakably her own. Now a fixture in Las Vegas, Rudner has sold over a million tickets to her live show since the early 2000s. She proves that deadpan comedy is alive and well.

06
of 10

Demetri Martin

Demetri Martin
Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images

Picking up where Steven Wright and Steve Martin left off, comedian and actor Demetri Martin has turned deadpan comedy into a multimedia experience, incorporating multiple instruments (all of which he plays) and drawings he uses as a kind of instruction. His short-lived Comedy Central series Important Things with Demetri Martin suggested that maybe deadpan comedy doesn't translate well to sketch form; maybe it's best reserved for his live act.

07
of 10

Nick Offerman

Nick Offerman
Photo by Phillip Chin/Getty Images

Best known as the stone-faced Ron Swanson on NBC's Parks and Recreation, Nick Offerman isn't all that different from the character he made famous on TV. He's a guy who believes in a code, in making things with your hands, in having a skill and who rarely changes his facial expression or tone of voice when delivering a joke. He's Ron Swanson, only sometimes without the mustache.

08
of 10

Bill Murray

Bill Murray in Groundhog Day
Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

The great Bill Murray has built a career on straight-faced, withering sarcasm. From his early days at Second City to his deadpan deliveries on Saturday Night Live through a long career of some of the funniest comedies ever made, Murray is a guy who turned deadpan into a weapon against the establishment.

09
of 10

Tim Heidecker

Tim Heidecker
Photo by Tim Dudelson/Getty Images

One-half of the legendary comedy duo Tim and Eric (stars of Adult Swim's Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job), Heidecker's comedy is strange and wonderful and always delivered with a completely straight face. His deadpan humor isn't just saved for his TV show or his live appearances, either; he's considered one of the funniest voices on Twitter, too.

10
of 10
Todd Barry
Photo by David A. Smith/Getty Images

"Comic's comic" Todd Barry hardly ever raises his voice for laughs, whether he's delivering prepared material or, as he does on his special Crowd Work, doing improvised jokes with the audiences at his shows. His stuff is often absurdist in nature and there's a very funny disconnect between the self-congratulatory boasting he does and the meek, flat delivery with which he does it. More »