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Simon Evans’s top ten stand-up comedians

The circuit favourite and ‘Live at the Apollo’ star reveals his favourite comics

1/10

Ivo Graham

‘I used to do a joke about having an “educated accent”, but Ivo is the real deal and he carries it off brilliantly. His asides are as lucid and witty as his material, studded with unexpected images and great phrasing. Plus, amazing hair.’

Watch a clip of Ivo Graham

2/10

Hal Cruttenden

‘It pains me to say it, since we are contemporaries and have been for the last 17 years, but I suspect Hal is about to, as they say in the industry, “happen”. He’s found the button. Audiences just love him; seat-sanitation-level love him. I don’t get him myself, but what can you do? (I toyed with using a wink emoticon there but fuck it, let him sweat).’

Watch a clip of Hal Cruttenden

3/10

Jethro

‘One of the most distinctive and original comedians of the last twenty years, Jethro’s quick mind and refusal to play to type have… I’m just kidding. He’s shit. My spell check wanted to call him “Jet hero” which is funnier than anything you’re likely to hear him say. I realise that puts him outside the remit of this article but think of him as the control, or placebo.’

Watch a clip of Jethro

 (© Koury Angelo)
4/10
© Koury Angelo

Bill Burr

‘A genuine iconoclast. Actually non-PC instead of just trying to walk around in those shoes to get some press. He has brilliant delivery, and his weird whiny voice makes him always seem like the victim, even when he’s taking his targets to pieces – he keeps your sympathy way after he should have lost it. It’st like he has jokes crawling over his skin and needs to tell them to get them off. Really, really makes me laugh.’

Watch a clip of Bill Burr

5/10

Boothby Graffoe

‘Wait, no, not Boothby, I meant… What? You’ve put him in now? Can’t you cross him out? Fuck it, all right. Boothby Graffoe. Very, you know, clever and that. Affordable.’

Watch a clip of Boothby Graffoe

 (© Ian Hoskin)
6/10
© Ian Hoskin

Moose Allain (@mooseallain)

‘Yes, OK, he’s not technically a live comedian. But you can watch his tweets appear live, in real time, and he is for me the most joyous, mischievous yet oddly gentle soul creating funniness in the country. His joke output makes conventional comics look like they’re wading through molasses. And it’s all free, on Twitter.’

Follow @mooseallain on Twitter

7/10

Kevin Bridges

‘I’m slightly biased because he’s a stable mate and I did a spot on his Glasgow TV shindig recently, but I genuinely think Kevin is a bit special. It just feels like it goes all the way down to the bone with him, like watching Viv Richards play. Maybe he’ll get injured, though.’

Watch a clip of Kevin Bridges

 (© Avalon)
8/10
© Avalon

Al Murray

‘The king of bringing the audience in to the show: by the end of the night you’re not the crowd, you’re the cast. It still strikes me as the most fundamental yet almost invariably neglected alchemy of stand-up. And I include myself among those who woefully hobble on and off stage, hoping to get by without risking talking to anyone.’

Watch a clip of Al Murray

 (© Steve Best)
9/10
© Steve Best

Steve Best

‘One of the first stand-ups I can remember seeing. It was at Bound and Gagged in Tufnell Park, since you ask, and I pissed myself then as I always do. I think the venerable Malcolm Hay [former Time Out comedy editor] used to describe him as “delightfully silly” and I don’t think I can improve on that. Pure fizz.’

Watch a clip of Steve Best

 (© Rob Greig)
10/10
© Rob Greig

Count Arthur Strong

‘As above, but even more so. Still the only act to make me actually fall of my chair laughing, the first time I saw him in Edinburgh about 15 years ago. No offence to those involved, but his BBC sitcom didn’t capture one tenth of the lunacy – the almost shocking, escalating entanglement – of his verbal contortions on stage. He encounters his own desire to speak in the same way Buster Keaton encounters the physical universe around him. In short, really rather good.’

Watch a clip of Count Arthur Strong

Dry-as-a-bone stand-up and TV regular Simon Evans brings his solo show, ‘Leashed’, to London this month. But which comics does he rate? He runs us through his top ten stand-ups. 

See more comedians’ favourite comedians

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