10 funniest Londoners

  • 3. Armando Iannucci

    Silly satirist Iannucci has worked behind the scene on everything from ‘The Day Today’ and ‘I’m Alan Partridge’ to New Labour comedy ‘The Thick of It’. Not only can Iannucci write, produce, perform and direct, he can also slip seamlessly between political and media satire and straight-out silliness. The only thing he appears not to enjoy doing is book readings, because listening to an author reading from his own book is like ‘watching Delia Smith sick up on mince,’ he says.

    4. Craig Brown

    Doyen of the spoof The ‘Diary’ in Private Eye, in which he takes the voice of vacuous celebrities (Posh Spice, Gordon Ramsay), is unsurpassable and nearly makes all other comic writing in British newspapers completely redundant (so the rest of you – especially you, Zoe – can stop trying right now). He also looks a bit odd, which helps. Pretending to be Martin Amis, he wrote: ‘Walk the kids to school accompanied by photographer from Time Out. Take a taxi back home. Sit at writing desk. Poor kids, bound to die in nuclear war. At least they weren’t in the Holocaust. Or maybe they were. Possible idea for novel or short story?’

    5. Simon Pegg

    Writer, actor, zombie Zeitgeisty London sitcom ‘Spaced’ extended the Adam & Joe concept of comedy as a dumping ground for popular culture. With ‘Shaun of the Dead’, Pegg took the concept to the big screen, and created one of the funniest scenes in recent memory – he and Nick Frost choosing the records with which to decapitate approaching zombies. ‘Stone Roses?’ ‘No.’ ‘It’s the Second Coming’ ‘I like it!’

    6. Linda Smith

    Queen of Radio 4 One of the sharpest-witted contestants on ‘The News Quiz’ and ‘Just a Minute’, Smith was recently voted The Wittiest Living Person by Radio 4’s discerning listeners. Her comedy series ‘A Brief History of Timewasting’ was an instant radio classic, set in an East End tower block and featuring an ancient tortoise called Sir Cliff. It’s Smith’s calm and soothing delivery that makes every quip sound like sheer common sense: ‘If God wanted us to believe in him, he’d exist.’

    7. Ken Livingstone

    Newt-loving mayor Ken’s been in politics for ages, but always manages to act like he’d rather do something else. His nasal pronouncements on the state of the nation are wonderful examples of miserabilist humour: ‘If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it.’

    8. Jack Dee

    ‘I hate people who think it’s clever to take drugs… like customs officers.’

    9. Cockney Wanker

    Viz character Viz creators Graham Dury and Simon Thorpe: ‘It’s about hating London. We sat down and thought about London properly; because – although we’re northern biased – we didn’t want the south left out. Cockney Wanker was inspired by the moment about 12 years ago when we came to London, went to cross the road and a black-cab driver tried to run us down. In response we did a cab driver with unfeasibly large testicles covered in pink hair. The point about Cockney Wanker is that he is effectively a London taxi driver crossed with Jeffrey Archer, Arthur Daley and Mike Reid. But not the bad DJ who writes musicals, the cockney. The basic idea is, for northerners, ‘He’s a cant.’ The London Taxi Association asked us to tone it down. We didn’t. And the reason he is so little, with a big head, is because it’s easier to draw that way.’

    10. Sean Lock

    Ultimate pro One of the most hardworking and underrated comics on the London circuit. In the words of fellow stand-up Adam Bloom, ‘I get a slightly twisted feeling in my stomach as I realise that I’m in the presence of someone who sees the world from such an intelligently warped perspective that they could completely destroy the purpose of something’s existence with a throwaway remark. Add the crazed look in his eye that hypnotises you to the point that if he told you to kill yourself, you’d not only do it, but would also convince yourself that it was obviously the right thing to do, and you’ve got a gripping hour ahead of you (provided he doesn’t tell you to kill yourself).’

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