Robin Ince's top 10 stand-up comedians

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The erudite wonder reveals his ten favourite comics – with video evidence

© Rob Greig

Following Dave Gorman's intriguing choices, we asked Robin Ince to namecheck his top 10 (living) stand-up comedians. He picked 11, and wasn't backing down. He also firmly stated that his choices 'are in no particular order, so you may count them as all number one or all number ten', or number 11, as the case may be…

What do you think of Ince's choices? Any glaring omissions? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.


  • 1

    Joanna Neary

    'She creates the most beautiful characters of charm and desperation. I first met her when I was performing in the same venue in Edinburgh. She was Perrier-nominated and I was a disaster with a show that ended with me punching a melon representing Vernon Kay. Her sex toy lecture continues render me helpless.'

  • 2

    Billy Connolly

    'I bought a cassette of "Wreck On Tour" when I was a teen and played it more than "Hatful of Hollow". It was not merely the words that made me laugh but the terrifying holler as he recalled dipping into the North Sea.'

  • 3

    Josie Long

    'I gigged with her when she was an enthusiastic child and now she is an enthusiastic 30-year-old. Few comedians have managed to convey the artist George Stubb’s frustration when trying to paint a fight between a horse and a lion with such aplomb.' at
    Read Time Out's interview with Josie Long

  • 4

    Stephen Merchant

    'A man evolved to the perfect height and shape to convey frustration. When we did an Edinburgh show together [2001's "Rubbernecker"] I watched him every night and laughed enough to fall through the poorly designed door at the back of the venue.'
    Read Time Out's interview with Stephen Merchant

  • 5

    Alexei Sayle

    'A thundercrack of absurdist ire and a huge influence on many comedians, some of whom don’t even realise the debt they owe to him and the way he changed the language of stand-up.'
    Read Time Out's interview with Alexei Sayle

  • 6

    Rik Mayall

    'Another enormous influence. Few things were as wonderful to me as an 11-year-old than the shaggy dog monologues of Kevin Turvey and the virginal fury of "Rick the People’s Poet".'

  • 7

    Alan Moore

    'Yes, you know him as a great writer, but a few of us are trying to ruin him by turning him into a stand-up. Effortless – he just wanders on and starts talking of Northampton, the big bang or mythological beasts.'

  • 8

    Stewart Lee

    'Despite selling out by becoming popular from doing exactly what he wanted to do and trying to make me like free jazz, I fondly remember him doing a gig to about seven students where he walked around a pool table and took occasional shots.'
    Read Stewart Lee's piece on Alternative Comedy

  • 9

    Eddie Izzard

    'I worked in the Greyfriars Kirk House at the 1990 Edinburgh festival and filmed his act every night for him. My friend KP and I knew Izzard's act off by heart; every slur, every story of being in the catering corps and why God was cruel to salmon.'

  • 10

    Sarah Kendall

    'Despite my annoyance that she always stares at me if I eat a banana, Sarah looks at the world with a perplexed frustration that taps into my greying displeasure with the world.'
    Read Time Out's interview with Sarah Kendall

  • 11

    Will Smith

    'Yes, I want a number 11 and I will have it. Will Smith, the Bergerac-obsessed posh boy is, for many reasons, a very underrated stand-up. Though I am glad he dropped his sing-a-long ending.'

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