The world of comedy has always been dominated by dudes, and even the most prolific comedy writers have been silenced because of gender. The stories of sexism on Saturday Night Live are as a part of its legend as the camaraderie between castmates. Even a comedy hero like John Belushi was guilty of it. Writers like Anne Beatts, an SNL writer who admitted that Belushi would purposefully perform female-written sketches poorly so they'd never make it past rehearsal, and Irma Kalish, who created more than 300 scripts for TV on shows like All in the Family and Maude, are the unsung heroes of comedy. Television executives and film producers clung stubbornly to the idea that no one would watch something starring, or written by, a woman.

For years, women weren't the leads on sitcom, let alone feature films. And, if a woman did find herself in a starring role, it was because of her her romantic relationship with a man. Now, we have heroes like Melissa McCarthy and Amy Poehler taking the baton that was passed to them from Gilda Radner and Mary Tyler Moore.

In honor of Kristen Wiig's birthday, click through our list of the funniest women ever to grace the screen.

Written by Hope Schreiber (@HopeSchreiber)

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