Shy Comedians

A List of Shy Comedians

Shy comedians are few and far between but they do exist. Most comedians who are shy come to use humor as a way of coping with uncomfortable feelings in social and performance situations. Joking about yourself is one way to both cover shyness and connect with others. Here is a list of comedians who have at some point considered themselves to be shy.

Carol Burnett

Photo: Getty / Frazer Harrison
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Carol Burnett is an American actress and comedian who became famous for her variety show that aired from 1967 to 1978 featuring comedy sketches, music, and dance. Burnett describes herself as a shy person who is able to perform only when in character and who gets nervous when meeting people that she holds in high regard.

Jim Carrey

Photo: Getty / Frederick M. Brown
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Jim Carrey is a Canadian actor and comedian who began his career doing stand-up comedy at Yuk Yuk's in Toronto. He went on to open for Rodney Dangerfield, play a role on "In Living Color" with Damon Wayans, and star in major films such as "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," "Dumb and Dumber," and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Carrey admits to being painfully shy as a child and becoming the class clown in freshman year of high school to deal with his shyness and make friends.

Johnny Carson

Photo: Getty / Hulton Archive
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Johnny Carson was an American comedian and host of the late night television talk show, "The Tonight Show" for 30 years. Over the course of his career he was the winner of six Emmy awards. Although Carson was comfortable being in control onstage as a performer, he was shy and reclusive in his private life. Carson died at age 79 on January 23, 2005.

David Letterman

Photo: Getty / Dimitrios Kambouris
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

David Letterman is an American comedian and was the host of the late night television talk show, "The Late Show with David Letterman." Although Letterman appears relaxed and outgoing, he is known for carefully planning and orchestrating his show as a way of coping with his own shyness. He also has a small circle of friends and is not known for attending social functions.

Don Rickles

Photo: Getty / Pascal LeSegretain
Pascal LeSegretain/Getty Images

Don Rickles is an American comedian and actor, best known for his work as an insult comic. Rickles admits to being very shy as a child and credits acting and comedy for bringing him out of his shell.

Joan Rivers

Photo: Getty / Cindy Ord
Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Joan Rivers is an American comedian, actress and television personality. Known for her brash personality and outlandish comic style, it is hard to believe that this New Yorker is shy in her personal life. Rivers describes being fearful after her husband's death because of the social obligations that she would have to face such as going out and talking to people one-on-one.

Robin Williams

Photo: Getty / Ryan Pierse
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Robin Williams was an American comedian and actor. He started out in the television series "Mork and Mindy," and later went on to star in numerous feature films, winning multiple awards including an Academy Award for best supporting actor. Williams admitted to being a shy child who entertained himself with his own imagination.


CBS News.The Private Side of Johnny Carson.

Carducci BJ. (1999). Shyness: A bold new approach. New York: Harper Collins.

Arlene Henderson. Interview with Don Rickles.

Yahoo movies. Robin Williams biography.

Rivers J. (1997). Bouncing back: I've survived everything... and I mean everything... and you can too. New York: Harper Collins.

Shake Your Shyness. Shyness is everywhere

Zimbardo P. (1990). Shyness: What it is, what to do about it. Boston: Addison Wesley.