Who Am I?
The 50 funniest comedians of the 21st century
On the eve of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, our critics pick the defining stand-ups of the century so far, from Fern Brady to Billy Connolly
Written by Mark Monahan in The Telegraph on July 29th, 2023
This list is a bit of a joke. This sort of list always is. Rank the 50 best anything – novels, crisps – and people start fuming. “Why isn’t Middlemarch #1?” “How dare you snub Wotsits?”
Comedy is, as any fule kno, subjective. Stand-up is a broad church, taking in character comedy (the Pub Landlord) and musical parody (Bill Bailey). But we had to set limits somewhere, so ruled out troupes and groups (sorry, Pappy’s; farewell, Flight of the Conchords).
This is not a list of the funniest sitcom actors, scriptwriters or podcast hosts. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s play Fleabag was a hilarious piece of theatre, and a terrific 12 episodes of television, but it wasn’t a stand-up comedy gig.
We bent our own rules slightly to acknowledge recorded shows made in lockdown – that awful moment when a laptop became the closest thing to a comedy club. But otherwise, this list is based purely on shows four comedy junkies have seen (and loved) since the turn of the millennium on stages across the UK, in pubs and clubs, attics and basements, community centres and West End theatres. The UK has the world’s best live comedy circuit, and we wanted to celebrate it.
10. Bridget Christie