Comedy is always a good option. It is a delight. Even when your mood is off or you are not having a good day, a good comedian will make you laugh. Now, British humor is a bit different than American humor. And you might have trouble understanding some of the jokes by the best British comedians. But we promise you, they are good.
Every comedian has his own thing. That is what makes British comedians diverse. Depending on what you like at the moment, you can enjoy unstoppable laughing.
With that in mind, let’s get to know them.
Understanding British Humor
Before we get to the list of best British comedians, let’s talk a bit about British humor. It carries a strong element of satire aimed at the absurdity of everyday life. Common themes include banter, insults, taboo subjects, puns, wit, innuendo, sarcasm, and the British class system.
They are almost always accompanied by a deadpan delivery. The British sense of humor usually can bury emotions in a way that seems unkind in the eyes of other cultures.
Nothing is off-limits. Jokes are told about everything.
Brits love sarcasm and irony and they often use it in the form of saying one thing but meaning the opposite. For example, you can say, “you looked great on the dance floor” to a friend who is a terrible dancer.
Understatement is very British. That is when someone deliberately makes out that something is less significant than it is. For example, saying something like this rain is nothing serious when it is pouring outside.
And of course, satire is a way of using biting humor to criticize people and institutions with power. Usually, that applies to politicians and the government. For example, Boris Johnson is a huge target at the moment for jokes.
Banter is a jokey conversation between friends including teasing. And let’s finish off with innuendo. Usually, their jokes include sexual innuendo. There are varying degrees, depending on the comedian you hear.
Top 11 British Comedians
In the past few years, Ricky is one of the most famous English comedians. Born in 1961, the English comedian and actor is famous for co-creating and co-writing the British television mockumentary sitcom, The Office.
He has won the BAFTA Award seven times, the British Comedy Award five times, the Golden Globe Award three times, and the Emmy Award two times. He is among the most influential comedians. In the past few years, Ricky is famous for supporting veganism and animal rights.
Fun fact: he started working in the music industry. He tried to start a career as a pop star in the 1980s. but he quickly moved into acting and comedy.
In the late 1990s, he started his stand-up career and performed during comedy tours. He has never looked back since.
James Anthony Patrick Carr
Jimmy Carr is a British Irish comedian, television presenter, writer, and actor. Born in September 1972, James is famous for his dark humor, distinctive laugh, and heckler interaction.
He worked as a marketing executive before starting a comedy career in 2000. He established himself as a stand-up comedian and then began appearing on Channel 4 television shows.
Some of his humor has been controversial and campaign groups criticized him for his joke about the genocide of Romani people during the Holocaust.
Some say he is the funniest British comedian using pantomime. Born in February 1962, the English comedian uses a style that takes the form of rambling whimsical monologues and self-referential pantomime.
Some of his accolades include two Primetime Emmy Award wins and a Tony Award nomination. In 2009, he completed 43 marathons in 51 days for Sport Relief.
Rowan Sebastian Atkinson
Who can forget Rowan Atkinson, better known as Mr. Bean? The English comedian and writer is famous for playing title roles in the sitcoms like Blackadder, Mr. Bean, and the film series Johnny English.
He came to prominence in the BBC sketch comedy Not the Nine O’Clock News. In 1981 he received a BAFTA Award for Best Entertainment Performance.
The Observer has listed him as one of the 50 funniest actors in British comedy. In November 2012, news emerged that he intended to retire Mr. Bean. But he appeared a few more times in the character.
Lee Gordon McKillop
He is more famous by his stage name Lee Mack. The English actor and presenter is famous for his lightning wit, writing, and starring in the sitcom Not Going Out.
Lee Gordon came to prominence by winning So You Think You’re Funny at the 1995 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
He filmed his first DVD in 2006 at the Bloomsbury Theatre.
Peter John Kay
Born in 1973, Peter Kay is an English actor and stand-up comedian. Born and brought up in Bolton, he studied media performance at the University of Salford.
He began working as a stand-up comedian. Similar to many other comedians on this list, he won the prestigious British comedy award by Channel 4, So You Think You’re Funny in 1997.
As his public profile improved, in 2000 he co-wrote and starred in That Peter Kay Thing for Channel 4. He even got a spin-off sitcom, Phoenix Nights.
In 2016, he won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Male Comedy Performance.
Dawn Roma French
Let’s continue our list of famous British comedians with the first lady on the list. Dawn French is a British actress, comedian, presenter, and writer. Famous for writing and starring on the BBC comedy sketch show French and Saunders.
She has won the 1997 British Comedy Award for Best TV Comedy Actress. She has been nominated for the award two more times, once in 1998 and 2011.
She and her friend Saunders won the honorary Golden Rose of Montreux Award in 2002. In February 2013, she was named as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom.
Mark Robert Bailey
Born in January 1965, Bill Bailey is an English actor, musician, and singer. He got famous for his role as Manny in the sitcom Black Books. He has also appeared on panel shows like Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Have I Got News for You, and more.
The Observer listed him as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy in 2003.
In 1994, he performed Rock at the Edinburgh festival with British comedian Sean Lock. The show was about an aging rockstar and his roadie.
Russell Joseph Howard
Born in March 1980, he is the youngest funniest comedian on this list. Famous for his television shows Russell Howard’s Good News and Russell Howard Hour, he won Best Compere at the 2006 Chortle Awards.
He started touring for his show in September 2008 and has played various dates through December of the same year. He was named Best Theatre Show at the 2009 Chortle Comedy Awards. In 2009 alone, he earned more than $5 million for his comedy shows.
David James Stuart Mitchell
Born in July 1974, David Mitchell is a British comedian, actor, writer, and television personality. He is part of the comedy duo Mitchell and Webb with his partner and fellow comedian, Robert Webb.
The two starred in the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show. From there, their friendship and partnership has evolved through the years.
He is a frequent participant on British panel shows. For example, he is a team captain on Would I Lie to You and host of The Unbelievable Truth.
The Great Sean Lock was an English comedian and actor. He began his comedy career in 2000 and won the British Comedy Award for Best Live Comic.
He frequently appeared on stage, television, and radio. He delivered his routines in a deadpan style. They looked surreal. British comedian Sean Lock also wrote material for others like Mark Lamarr, Bill Bailey, Lee Evans, and more.