The 25 Dirtiest Comedians of All Time
(Let’s get this out of the way right at the top: This is an article about dirty comedians. Dirty comedians tell dirty jokes. There will be nasty subject matter, copious sex talk, and if we’re lucky, heinous profanity. If such depravity doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, turn back now. You’ve been warned.)
“You’ll find out very early on that people laugh much harder at a dirty joke,” professes joke-teller extraordinaire Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling. “Because laughter comes from tension. You set up a situation and then you pop the bubble with the punch line. That’s what creates the laugh. And there’s a lot more tension that’s caused by a fart or fucking or sex or shit.”
Any joke can become a dirty joke if you add one of those elements, explains Martling. “Marriage jokes are so funny because everybody can relate to them. Relationship jokes are going to kill. And a dirty relationship joke — that’s the straight flush.”
Martling, who did a 15-year tour of duty with crude comedy connoisseur Howard Stern, has been collecting dirty jokes nearly his entire life. Back in the 1970s, he joined one of those clubs advertised in the back of comics — “12 books for a penny!” — solely so he could get his hands on a copy of Rationale of the Dirty Joke, a book that analyzed more than 2,000 filthy gags. Martling claims he already knew 90 percent of the jokes, but that never stopped him from searching for more.
That meant listening to some of the greatest dirty comics of all time to expand his punchline collection. Martling rattles off the names of comedians who created some of the earliest naughty records — Belle Barth, Redd Foxx, Pearl Williams. “Those were the days when if you wanted to buy their albums, the record stores had them hidden down behind the counter,” he tells me. “And they’d pull them out almost like they were selling pot.”
To hear some comics complain, it might seem like we’re heading back to hiding dirty jokes for fear of cancelation. “I don’t pay attention,” confesses Martling. “I do what’s funny.” These days, that means Martling only tells “a smattering” of Jewish jokes or Polish jokes but as far as he’s concerned, sex humor is still what the people want. And for the few who don’t? “If you don’t want to hear dirty jokes,” he says, “stay the fuck home.”
Dirty jokes are never getting old, he argues. “And if it does go out of style, then it goes underground and becomes hip again.” Many of today’s dirty jokes go back centuries, Martling says, citing punchlines for Dolly Parton jokes that were originally about Cleopatra. The jokes may evolve to adapt to the culture, but the core of the gags live forever.
To prove the Joke Man’s point, here are 25 of the dirtiest comedians of all time, from the earliest days of recorded humor to the filthiest mouths working today. And there's no need for these dirty comics to worry about cancel culture. “You just got to do whatever you’re doing. Whoever follows you follows you into the sea,” Martling reasons. “And the rest of them, they can go fuck themselves.”
The foul-mouthed Barth slayed them in the 1950s, although she was the victim of arrests and lawsuits for her bawdy behavior. “I love Belle Barth because she called her pussy her knish,” laughs Martling. “It’s so funny because you can get away with murder calling it a knish. If you tell it to the wrong audience, they’re gonna scratch their head trying to figure out what the knish is. It’s just very funny.”
Attell’s Insomniac was an early Comedy Central hit and he wrote for Saturday Night Live, but fans of his live shows knew how nasty he could be once away from TV censors. Hey, the guy hosted the AVN porn awards and a Showtime series called Dave’s Old Porn, making him one of comedy’s premier smut artists.
In Silverman’s breakthrough special, Jesus Is Magic, she beguiled audiences with an innocent delivery about salacious subjects. You’d never hear Carol Burnett telling this one: “I was licking jelly off of my boyfriend’s penis, and all of a sudden, I’m thinking, ‘Oh my god, I’m turning into my mother.’”
Silverman’s approach was instrumental in Glaser’s early comedy career. “I was a freshman in college and everyone in my dorm took over the cafeteria,” she told Revue. “I went in there and instead of studying I just looked at them, judged them and tried to think, ‘What would Sarah Silverman say about these people?’” That’s evident in jokes like, “I didn’t have sex until I was 21 because I was saving myself for Jesus, which luckily was my gardener’s name.”
Otto and George
To set himself apart from other ventriloquist/comics, Otto Peterson developed an X-rated act with his wooden pal George. “At least I stay hard when I’m drunk,” was a typical dummy quip. The jokes weren’t mind-blowingly original, but there’s something about a wild-eyed puppet saying “fuck” that’s irresistible.
Even as the Machine ventures more and more into comedy about his family, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s cleaned up his act. Other comics talk about how they love their wife, but only Kreischer discusses how his beloved measures up in the blow job/hand job department.
School bus stories about boys touching her coochie just continue the legacy of Girls Trip, in which Haddish explains the sexual possibilities of the grapefruit.
Wong continues to tell filthy jokes about anal sex and vaginal secretions, but her early career was especially raunchy. “I was very dirty back then,” she told The Guardian. “Even now, I’ll look back on those days and think: ‘God, you were disgusting.’”
What can you say about a guy who joked about making obscene suggestions to a lady from the Make-A-Wish Foundation? Schimmel was a master of blue humor, which made him a popular Howard Stern guest but got him booted from Hollywood Squares and Conan O’Brien.
Surgeon General’s warning: Listening to Morgan’s jokes might make you pregnant. The guy even dishes dirty jokes on the Today Show, telling the uncomfortable Hoda Kotb that he spent the pandemic doing sex roleplay with his wife. “She’s playing a young maiden whose grandfather was infected with Coronavirus,” he joked. “And I’m the scientist who discovered the cure, and she’ll do anything to save her grandfather’s life, and I mean anything.”
Before Murphy made a career U-turn by starring in kid-friendly favorites like Dr. Dolittle and Daddy Day Care, he was one of the most playfully foul-mouthed comics alive. He’s since apologized for the homophobic rants that showed the uglier side of dirty jokes.
In 19-frickin’-30, the press was going after Moms Mabley for her liberal use of the word “damn,” although one critic observed that she “tells the dirtiest jokes without causing offense.” She tiptoed around profanity, sang suggestive song parodies and spoke openly of sex, according to Shawn Levy’s In On the Joke: The Original Queens of Standup Comedy. “I don’t pull my punches often,” Mabley said, “because if people are too stuck up to enjoy a good laugh, they ought to stay home and let the other folks enjoy themselves.”
More dark than dirty, Hicks was still capable of getting scatological. He would joke about Dick Clark being the Antichrist, bending fellow wholesome celebrity John Davidson over a desk and having his way with him. You think the joke went too far? “My mom wrote that.”
Dangerfield took decades to become an overnight success, but the comic who people saw on Johnny Carson and in Miller Lite commercials wasn’t who they got in person. “People really got a kick out of going to Dangerfields (Comedy Club),” says Martling. “People would go through the roof when he came out on stage. The first time you see Rodney Dangerfield say ‘fuck,’ it's staggering because you've never seen him in his element.”
While Dangerfield’s recorded work rarely included profanity, sex was a constant theme of his one-liners:
- I’m not a sexy guy. I went to a hooker. I dropped my pants. She dropped her price.
- I tell you, I’m not a sexy guy. I was the centerfold for Playgirl magazine. The staples covered everything!
- I’m a bad lover. Once I caught a Peeping Tom booing me.
- My wife only has sex with me for a purpose. Last night she used me to time an egg.
- Last night my wife met me at the front door. She was wearing a sexy negligee. The only trouble was, she was coming home.
With albums like Knockers Up, Songs for Sinners and Sin-sational, Warren was a favorite of hip couples who wanted to introduce a little sex into their 1960s cocktail parties. This was in the era of Martling’s “below-the-counter” record sales, but that didn’t stop Warren from blowing up. Despite being “on the fringe,” Knockers Up was “on the charts for a full year in the Top 10 spot,” she told Nesteroff.
On Everybody Hates Chris, there’s an episode where young Chris starts telling dirty jokes after listening to his parents’ comedy records. The real Chris never stopped telling them, like this one about masturbating to Aunt Jemima.
“Pearl Williams was like a 400-pound woman who played the piano and told dirty jokes,” says Martling. “She said the finale of her act was she would sit on the piano and make it disappear.” Williams would joke about the “broads” who would come to her shows to sit in judgment. “Everything I do, they stare at me,” she said in her act. “Then they walk out saying, ‘She’s so dirrr-ty!’ If they’re so refined how come they understand what I’m saying?”
Gottfried named his 2005 comedy special Dirty Jokes and that’s just what he delivers. Here’s a sample: “An armless, legless girl is lying on the beach. A man walks along, he goes, ‘What are you crying about?’ She goes, ‘I’m crying because my whole life, I’ve never been kissed.’ So he kneels down and kisses her, then gets up and starts walking away. Then she’s crying twice as hard, and he comes back. He goes, ‘What are you crying about now?’ She goes, ‘I’m crying because my whole life, I’ve never been fucked.’ So he picks her up, tosses her in the ocean and goes, ‘You’re fucked now!‘”
When Page starred as Bible-toting Aunt Esther on Sanford and Son, viewers likely never suspected that she was once among the dirtiest comics on the Chitlin Circuit. While contemporaries like Belle Barth and Rusty Warren traded in winking innuendo, Page was straight-on, unapologetically dirty like in this cut, “Suck It Dry.” Prepare to blush.
Andrew Dice Clay
Whether or not you’re a fan of the Diceman’s dirty limericks, there’s little arguing that he is one of the most successful filthy comics of all time. While some of the comics ahead of him on this list could be just as lewd, Clay was the only one who made an entire act of it. For a few years there, fans would fill stadiums to hear what rhymed with “Hickory dickory dock.”
The dirtiest joke-teller in The Aristocrats? Even among the world’s most profane comics, the award has to go to Full House’s Danny Tanner, er, Bob Saget. Maybe it was all those corny jokes he had to tell on his TGIF sitcom and America’s Funniest Home Videos, but Saget seemed to relish sharing his naughty side on stage. He even called his memoir Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian.
Redd Foxx “single-handedly invented the modern comedy album,” according to Ken Jennings’ Planet Funny: How Comedy Took Over Our Culture. Those records, full of lecherous jokes, were a big source of material for young Martling. “Some of those albums, you can tell there were six people in the audience,” he says. “But that’s wonderful.”
Foxx’s comedy career took off after he “just opened up and let myself be Redd Foxx,” he is quoted as saying in Kliph Nesteroff’s The Comedians. “I was in the men’s room after the show and heard some cat on the phone saying, ‘You get down here and catch this guy; he’s the dirtiest son of a bitch I ever heard!’”
With his “Seven Dirty Words” routine, Carlin turned profane comedy into high art, exploring the inherent silliness of language and the random meanings we assign to the “bad words.” The bawdy bit was also historic, the subject of a landmark Supreme Court case about what kinds of crass comedy could be shared over community airwaves.
When Pryor hosted Saturday Night Live, the network insisted on a rare five-second delay in the broadcast in case the comic unleashed some of his trademark obscenities. “Nixon took justice and broke its jaw,” Pryor once said about the cursing and sexual content in his act. “Now that is profane.”
The patron saint of dirty comics, no one suffered more than Bruce for poking fun at sex and religion. If anyone could complain about being canceled, it was St. Lenny — arrested and jailed for telling the dirty jokes that Carlin and Pryor would later tell (mostly) without incident. If you like heading to your local comedy club for an evening of dirty jokes, thank that son of a bitch Bruce for making it possible.