There are over 200 legitimate candidates to make this list, and it is impossible not to miss someone who is deserving. The best (read: easiest) way to approach narrowing down the list was to eliminate contenders by who 1) have yet to establish themselves over time in comparison to the classic female comediennes. That means most of the younger comediennes did not make the list. Another criteria was media attention, which is really very unfair, but for the purposes of a list that people today can relate to it seems to make sense.
Most standup comediennes didn’t make the list because very few have established themselves elsewhere. There are far more TV comediennes on this list than any other broad category because in general they will be getting more media attention and a steadier stream of viewers – Internet or no Internet. Another note of unfairness is that comediennes who appear on long running shows such as Saturday Night Live have the difficulty of surpassing their previous talent – sometimes impossible by historical standards.
Some comediennes, made the list because of their versatility; their ability to play dramatic roles as well as make us laugh. The most basic criteria of all is exactly that – the ability to make us laugh. That makes any list of all-time female comediennes very personal and very fragile. So scream and shout to the rafters when I am certain leaving a particular, very popular and famous comedienne off the list will cause unlimited stress to the reader.
You have been warned. This list is in no particular order of preference or absolute authority.