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Greatest Theatrical Comedy Performances You Have Seen

Jarethan
Broadway Legend
joined:2/10/11
Broadway Legend
joined:
2/10/11

Can be supporting or lead.  My choices.

 
Actor -- Musical:

Nathan Lane -- The Producers

Phil Silvers -- A Funny Thing Happened

Lenny Baker -- I Love My Wife

 
Actress -- Musical:

Barbara Harris -- The Apple Tree

Beatrice Arthur -- Mame

Beatrice Lillie -- Hugh Spirits

 
Actor -- Play:

James Corden -- One man, Two Governor

Philip Bosco -- Lend Me a Tenor

George Rose -- My Fat Friend

 

Actress -- Play:

Maggie Smith -- Lettice and Lovage

Maggie Smith -- Private Lives

Angela Lansbury -- Blithe Spirit

 

Updated On: 7/15/20 at 12:39 PM
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Hot Pants
Leading Actor
joined:4/24/19
Leading Actor
joined:
4/24/19

Some of the top of my head would be:

Nathan Lane and Gary Beach in The Producers

Mark Rylance in Twelfth Night

Daveed Diggs in Hamilton

Jeff McCarthy in Urinetown (granted, everyone was hilarious in that cast, but he really stood out)

Really the whole cast of the recent Noises Off since it’s such a team effort, but the real standouts were Megan Hilty, David Furr, and Andrea Martin

Bertie Carvel in Matilda (Gabriel Ebert and Lesli Margherita were also hysterical)

James Corden in One Man, Two Guvnors

Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad in Book of Mormon

Christian Borle in Peter and the Starcatcher and Something Rotten

Sure there’s other examples that’ll come to me later

Updated On: 7/15/20 at 12:58 PM
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qolbinau
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/08
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/29/08
Bernadette Peters in Hello, Dolly.
"Rose in Gypsy was like going through therapy for me. Playing Rose helped me put a lot of emotions to bed. There was so much lacking in Rose and that's why she had to prove herself through her children. [interviewer]In ways that reminded you of your mom?[/interviewer]. Let's just say the role was very interesting for me. That one was the most interesting [I've ever played]" - Bernadette Peters (2018)
Broadway61004
Broadway Star
joined:4/14/11
Broadway Star
joined:
4/14/11

Not sure I'd say this is the greatest I've ever seen, but I feel Josh Gad in Mormon was by far one of the most underappreciated performances of the past decade.  I don't know that I've ever seen another performer strike as perfect of a mix between being big and goofy and funny and over-the-top with just the exact right amount of warmth and heart and realness underneath it all which he never lost sight of throughout the show and really made you love and cheer so hard for his character as a result.

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dianamorales
Featured Actor
joined:8/9/15
Featured Actor
joined:
8/9/15

CHRISTOPHER FITZGERALD in Waitress 1000000%. The definition of a scene-stealing performance. One of the best performances I've ever seen, period.

yankeefan7
Broadway Legend
joined:4/14/12
Broadway Legend
joined:
4/14/12

The first ones that came to my mind were the following:

Nathan Lane - The Producers

Christine Baranski - Rumors

Sara Ramirez - Spamalot

Updated On: 7/15/20 at 03:38 PM
cliffordbradshaw2
Understudy
joined:3/2/15
Understudy
joined:
3/2/15

Dorothy Loudon in "Annie."  Judy Holliday in "Bells Are Ringing."

And another vote for Maggie Smith in "Private Lives."

Updated On: 7/15/20 at 03:44 PM
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The Distinctive Baritone
Broadway Legend
joined:8/28/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
8/28/04
I’ll jump on the bandwagon and say that I was lucky enough to see Nathan Lane from the center orchestra during previews for The Producers and it remains the greatest musical comedy performance I’ve ever seen. Of course, he had good material!

In terms of turning straw into gold however, Mark Rylance was pure genius in Boeing-Boeing.

lachri5
Stand-by
joined:1/4/11
Stand-by
joined:
1/4/11

Norbert Leo Butz - Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Steven Boyer - Hands to God

bowtie7
Stand-by
joined:7/27/11
Stand-by
joined:
7/27/11

Geraldine McEwan and Richard Briers in the 1998 Broadway production of The Chairs.

 

(and, of course, Nathan Lane in The Producers)

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Huss417
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/15/03

I will just list the first one that came to mind. I know not many had the chance to catch it at Encores but Christine Baranski in Promises, Promises. In her very limited time onstage she stole the show. 

Not the best quality but there is a clip online.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0TYj1Hvc9U

"I hope your Fanny is bigger than my Peter." Mary Martin to Ezio Pinza opening night of Fanny.
Updated On: 7/15/20 at 05:30 PM
jagman1062
Stand-by
joined:7/25/19
Stand-by
joined:
7/25/19

These performances come immediately to mind:

George Hearn, La Cage aux Folles

Michael Jeter, Grand Hotel

James Corden and Tom Edden, One Man, Two Guvnors

Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher

 

Faith Prince, Guys and Dolls

Mercedes Ruehl, Lost in Yonkers

Jan Maxwell, The Royal Family

Mark Rylance, Boeing-Boeing and La Bête

Christopher Plummer, Barrymore

Julie White, The Little Dog Luaghed

The two actors performing in Sleuth at a theater in Dublin, Ireland in the early-mid 90s. I can't remember their names or the name of the theater.

 

 

 

 

Jarethan
Broadway Legend
joined:2/10/11
Broadway Legend
joined:
2/10/11

cliffordbradshaw2 said: "Dorothy Loudon in "Annie." Judy Holliday in "Bells Are Ringing."

And another vote for Maggie Smith in "Private Lives."
"

You saw Judy Holliday in Bells Are Ringing?  If I could go back in time and see 3 or 4 performances that I was unable to see, Judy Holliday in Bells Are Ringing would be one of them.  I still play the OCR regularly, although it is relatively short.  I have cut the Midas Touch, I seem to recall a Beatnik number, and at least one other song.  What's left represents an incredible score AND audible proof that her live performance must have been incredible.

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jasonf
Broadway Legend
joined:12/26/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
12/26/03

The funniest performance I ever saw in a show was Christian Borle in Peter and the Starcatchers. There's a moment - if you've seen the show you know what I mean - that stopped the show dead for a solid three or four minutes because the laughter was so extreme. I've never laughed that hard in a theater, and I saw Nathan Lane in The Producers (my runner up choice).

Hi, Shirley Temple Pudding.
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VotePeron
Broadway Legend
joined:5/2/13
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Andy Karl’s physical comedy in Groundhog Day was only amplified by the huge heart and depth he played Phil with. Really wish he had gotten the recognition he deserved for that role.
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Hot Pants
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joined:4/24/19
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VotePeron said: "Andy Karl’s physical comedy in Groundhog Day was only amplified by the huge heart and depth he played Phil with. Really wish he had gotten the recognition he deserved for that role. "

To be fair, given his precursor run, he probably would’ve won if it weren’t for him being up against such an undeniable performance in a way bigger show.

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Leaf Coneybear
Leading Actor
joined:4/12/16
Leading Actor
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4/12/16

Mulaney and Kroll in Oh Hello! Obviously not a traditional play with traditional actors, but definitely the funniest thing I've seen on a Broadway stage. 

 

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DiscoCrows
Featured Actor
joined:11/15/18
Featured Actor
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11/15/18

Pretty recent, but I really though Sarah Stiles in Tootsie was just stellar. I really enjoyed most of the cast in that show anyways but Sarah was absolutely incredible in that role.

thedrybandit
Featured Actor
joined:12/10/18
Featured Actor
joined:
12/10/18

James Corden - One Man Two Guvnors

Mark Rylance - Twelfth Night

Rick Holmes - Peter & The Starcatcher at New World Stages as Black Stache. Absolutely stole the show, pure brilliance. I also saw Borle, but he had nothing on what Holmes managed to do. Went back to see the closing performance just for him.

John Cameron Mitchell - Hedwig (Broadway, CRATE)

FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
7/22/03

Lily Tomlin - The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in The Universe

 

 

Can you hear me now? Twitter: @NamoInExile
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OlBlueEyes
Broadway Legend
joined:5/31/10
Broadway Legend
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5/31/10

I'm going to throw in a vote for Peter Gallagher for the revival of On the Twentieth Century. I didn't think he was giving anything away to John Cullum, but he wasn't even nominated. He slid under the radar, as did the show pretty much after it flopped in the Tonys.

 

And I'll see you a Christine, and raise you a Katie. They were both great in a great role. Katie won the Tony.

I forgot how to make the video stop, so this goes on for another minute after Katie.

https://youtu.be/ACctFwjkAzI?t=510


 

 

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castlestreet
Broadway Star
joined:7/2/10
Broadway Star
joined:
7/2/10
The original Broadway cast of Gods of Carnage. That foursome had perhaps the greatest timing and chemistry I’ve ever seen on stage. I’ve never laughed so hard in the legitimate theater in my life as I did that night.
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broadway86
Broadway Legend
joined:10/8/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
10/8/03

The first one that comes to mind is Mark Rylance in Boeing-Boeing.

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bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
Broadway Legend
joined:
7/4/10

Actor -- Musical:

Bertie Carvel - Matilda

Matt Doyle - Company

Josh Gad - The Book of Mormon

Andy Karl - Groundhog Day and On the Twentieth Century

Andrew Rannells - The Book of Mormon

Ethan Slater - SpongeBob SquarePants

Taylor Trensch - Hello, Dolly!

 
Actress -- Musical:

Laura Benanti - She Loves Me

Bette Midler - Hello, Dolly!

Kate Rockwell - Mean Girls

Jennifer Simard - Company, Disaster, and Hello, Dolly!

Sarah Stiles - Tootsie

Alyssa Umphress - On the Town

Helene Yorke - Bullets Over Broadway

 
Actor -- Play:

Steven Boyer - Hand to God

Sean Hayes - An Act of God

Marc Kudisch - Hand to God

Michael Oberholtzer - Hand to God


Actress -- Play:

Laura Benanti - Meteor Shower

Megan Hilty - Noises Off

Geneva Karr - Hand to God

Sarah Stiles - Hand to God

"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
sassylash3s
Understudy
joined:7/5/11
Understudy
joined:
7/5/11

Laura Benanti in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown remains one of my all time favorite comedic performances.