12 Comedy Acts That Laughed Their Way to Billboard Chart Success -- From Eddie Murphy to The Lonely Island
Comedians and humorous troupes like The Lonely Island have made their mark on Billboard’s charts -- with many scoring impressive feats usually reserved for mainstream pop and rock stars. Here's a look at a selection of acts that laughed all the way to big chart hits.
Cheech & Chong: The Grammy Award-winning duo has claimed eight charting albums on the Billboard 200 chart -- with three of those reaching the top 10. Further, two of them went all the way to No. 2: Big Bambu and Los Cochinos. Cheech & Chong even scored eight hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with one of those, “Earache My Eye,” hitting the top 10 (and peaking at No. 9).
Dane Cook: When his Retaliation album debuted and peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart dated Aug. 13, 2005, it became the first comedy album in nearly 27 years to hit the top five. The last to do so was Steve Martin’s A Wild and Crazy Guy, which peaked at No. 2 for six weeks in late 1978 and early 1979. Cook charted a second top 10 with Isolated Incident in 2009 (peaking at No. 4).
Jimmy Fallon: The host of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon earned his first top 40 hit on the Hot 100 in 2014 with the humorous “Ew!,” featuring will.i.am. The novelty track -- a spin-off from Fallon’s recurring Tonight Show skit of the same name -- debuted and peaked at No. 26. When he found out he hit the chart, Fallon told Billboard, “Oh my goodness. I’m, like, freaking out right now. This is unbelievable! No. 26? I’d be happy with 99!” Fallon previously spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Comedy Albums chart with the Grammy Award winner Blow Your Pants Off, and first dented the Billboard charts in 2002 with The Bathroom Wall (No. 47 peak on the Billboard 200).
Jeff Foxworthy: The actor and comedian loomed large on the Billboard 200 chart in 1995 with four charting albums: You Might Be a Redneck If… (peaking at No. 38), Games Rednecks Play (No. 8), Redneck Test Volume 43 (No. 155) and The Original (No. 184). He notched six further albums, for a total of 10 charting sets. In total, his solo albums sold 8.5 million copies in the U.S.
The Lonely Island: The comedy trio has scored three 20-charting efforts on the Billboard 200, and all of them topped the Comedy Albums chart: Incredibad (No. 13 on the Billboard, No. 1 for 22 weeks on Comedy Albums), Turtleneck & Chain (No. 3 on the Billboard 200, No. 1 for 34 weeks on Comedy Albums) and The Wack Album (No. 10 on the Billboard 200, No. 1 for 11 weeks on Comedy Albums). In addition, they’ve notched seven hits on the Hot 100 (including a top 40 single with the No. 30-peaking “I Just Had Sex,” featuring Akon).
Steve Martin: He first hit the Billboard charts in 1977 with his album Let’s Get Small, which peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard 200. That same year, he reached the Hot 100 with the No. 72-peaking “Grandmother’s Song.” The following year would bring great chart success for the entertainer, as his A Wild and Crazy Guy album spent six weeks at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, while its hit single “King Tut” peaked at No. 17 on the Hot 100. Martin won the second of his five Grammy Awards for A Wild and Crazy Guy (best comedy recording). In 2009, Martin took a detour on the charts, releasing his debut all-music effort, the bluegrass set The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo. It reached No. 93 on the Billboard 200, spent 31 weeks at No. 1 on the Bluegrass Albums chart, and won a Grammy Award for best bluegrass album. He has since charted three more No. 1s on the Bluegrass Albums chart: Rare Bird Alert (with The Steep Canyon Rangers), Love Has Come For You (with Edie Brickell) and Live (with The Steep Canyon Rangers and Brickell).
Eddie Murphy: The entertainer went from stand-up to NBC’s Saturday Night Live to the big screen… and then to the Hot 100, where he scored a smash single in 1985 with “Party All the Time.” The single, which was written and produced by Rick James (who also provided background vocals and drums on the track), climbed to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 8 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Murphy would return to the Hot 100 once more, with “Put Your Mouth On Me” (No. 27 in 1989). He fared better on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, where he claimed seven hits, with “Put Your Mouth On Me” topping out at No. 2. He last charted on the list with the No. 74-peaking “Whatzupwitu” in 1993, featuring Michael Jackson. More recently, Murphy notched three entries on the Reggae Digital Songs chart between 2013 and 2016, and a top 30 hit on the Adult R&B Songs airplay chart in 2013 with “Promise (You Won’t Break My Heart).”
Bob Newhart: The Emmy Award-winning TV legend and stand-up comedian is also a Billboard 200 chart-topper. In 1960, he notched two No. 1 albums with The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart (spending 14 weeks at No. 1) and its follow-up, The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back! (one week at No. 1). The first Button-Down album won the Grammy Award for album of the year, while Strikes Back took home the Grammy for best comedy performance (musical). Newhart won a third Grammy for best new artist of 1960.
Richard Pryor: The five-time Grammy Award winner was not only a comedy legend and movie star, but also a Billboard chart topper. He scored two No. 1s on the then-named Soul LP’s chart in 1974 and 1975 with That N-----’s Crazy and Is It Something I Said? (The chart would later be renamed Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.)
‘Weird’ Al Yankovic: The master of pop song spoofs has scored 11 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including one top 10 effort: the No. 9-peaking “White & Nerdy” -- a humorous take on “Ridin’” by Chamillionaire featuring Krayzie Bone. In 2014, after more than 30 years on the charts, Yankovic earned his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with Mandatory Fun. It was the first comedy set to top the chart since 1963’s My Son, the Nut, by Allan Sherman, and tallied the largest sales week for a comedy album since 1994.
Joan Rivers: The late comedian scored a top 40-charting album on the Billboard 200 in 1983 with What Becomes a Semi-Legend Most? The effort, which reached No. 22, earned Rivers a Grammy Award nomination for best comedy recording. Rivers also charted a No. 10 entry on the Comedy Albums chart in 2013 with Don't Start With Me.
Adam Sandler: Put on your yarmulke, it’s time to celebrate Adam Sandler! The actor/comedian’s evergreen “The Chanukah Song” has been a favorite around the Chanukah season each year since its release in 1995. The song has been a top 40-charting hit on the Alternative Songs, Adult Contemporary Songs, Adult Pop Songs, Pop Songs, and Mainstream Rock Songs charts. The song has sold 718,000 downloads in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music, through May 19, 2016. The song’s parent album, What the Hell Happened To Me?, is one of five charting sets on the Billboard 200 for Sandler.