Students seeking to crown a ‘King of British comedy’ reveal a rich history of talent

In a discussion aimed at crowning Britain’s comedy king, students failed to find a natural heir, instead revealing an abundance of British talent, past and present.

‘A stand up’s as good as you like their personality, the clothes that they’re wearing and their last act.’

On The Student Room’s entertainment forum, students created a thread to find Britain’s greatest stand up Comedian. While several names recurred throughout making a good case to take the comedy crown, the numerous candidates nominated demonstrate students’ wide appreciation of British comedy heroes, both new and old.

  • Classic Comedy

‘Tommy Cooper.’

‘Just like that’ students suggested sadly deceased fez-sporting comic-magician, Tommy Cooper, and also, Irish “sit-down” comedian, Dave Allen, as legendary talents producing humour that has stood the test of time.

‘****ing hell you lot, it’s Dave Allen’

More modern but comparatively classic comedians compared to today’s panel show and stand-up regulars included Lenny Henry and Billy Connolly.

‘Lenny Henry didn’t come up with the most groundbreaking of acts, but was an important act to breakthrough into the mainstream. While the contemporary comedians are very good, I don’t think a huge number of them will stack up longevity-wise.’

Both were seen as an important part of the development of British comedy who have left a lasting influence unlikely to be matched by many of the current comics.

‘Billy Connolly’s old stuff was hilarious. I don’t think any contemporary comedians really measure up to him tbh.’

  • ‘Stand-out’ Favourites

‘For me its definitely Eddie Izzard. What a genius!’

The names that had some of the most mentions were Eddie Izzard, Omid Djalili and Michael McIntyre.

‘I love Michael McIntyre! So funny!’ / ‘Russell Howard & Michael McIntyre!

‘Wasn’t billy connolly voted as britains greatest stand up? Quite like Eddie Izzard, wouldn’t say he was the best though. Bill Bailey is really good as well but my favourite is Omid Djalili!’

  • Comic Contemporaries

‘Absolutely ADORE Kevin Bridges. I want him as a friend so badly it’s pathetic. I like Peter Kay when he gets it right too.’

There were no real regional divides with students selecting comics from the North and jokers from the South, ranging right across England, Scotland and Ireland.

‘Ross Noble’s brilliant, also Dara O’Briain (if that counts as British!)’

From the young Scottish comedian Kevin Bridges down to Northern favourite, and creator and star of comedy series “Phoenix Nights”, Peter Kay, and across the sea to stand-up comedian and host of the comedy panel show ‘Mock the Week’, Dara O’Briain.

‘Does Dylan Moran count? I know he isn’t British, but he lives in Scotland so that counts for something.. right? Other than him, I like Lee Mack.’

Many, however, could not choose a single stand-up instead putting forward their favourite line-up.

‘Not sure I’d be able to pick between:

Billy Connolly

Bill Bailey

Frankie Boyle

Ross Noble

Eddie Izard

At a push, Bailey.’


‘In my opinion the three greatest comedians are:

1) Tim Vine.

2) Jimmy Carr.

3) Michael McIntyre.’

Despite the wealth of homegrown British comedians, some still chose to salute overseas talent that has successfully crossed over to the UK, such as American comedian Reginald D. Hunter, who has made a transatlantic transition to feature in popular panel shows including “Have I Got News For You” and “8 Out of 10 Cats”.

‘David Mitchell or Reginald D. Hunter (I know, he’s American, still)’

  • But on a serious note…

Strangely, it wasn’t all light-hearted with one post instead offering a heavier cultural analysis of what makes a good comedian, and criticising the influence of trends over talent.

‘So great, professional, well dressed, wordsmiths for everybody like Bob Monkhouse and Les Dawson go out of fashion with people when putting on a tight T Shirt and appealing to only one type of audience becomes the vogue. I do not trust anybody to know what is worth preserving in our culture. The idea that it is often in the hands of some ‘hipster’ magazine writer putting it down to being their ‘guilty pleasure’ rather than acknowledging that it was always timelessly good, is appalling.’

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