The Top 100 most influential people in comedy

Top 100 People In Comedy
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Here we introduce who we think define the comedy genre which thrives in Britain today, from 100 - 1, from Monday to Friday. If you want to know why, then read on...

Dip has been thrown, cups of tea drunk, and careers scrutinised in long nights and heated debates. However, after a couple of months staring into the comedy abyss, one thing has become clear: the comedy industry is a hive of activity and is influencing popular culture more than ever.

 

Here at SSP we're aware that lists can be controversial, and have looked at the pros and the more substantial cons of such lists before, but the one common feature of all of them is that they focus on creative influence and artistic endeavour. 
 
As far as we can tell, no-one has attempted to put together a list like ours since the Observer had a crack at it back in 2003
 
The comedy world today is a very different place. Stellar comedians fill out the O2, while a handful of household names are sewing up the TV schedules. Middle-tier comedians are at the mercy of taste-making summer festival schedulers and radio commissioners, while a glut of up-and-comers are having to find continually fresh ways to make an impression.
 

It's a complex scene, and so while this might be an odd admission to make when launching a list like this, we're well aware that for every person on the list, there’s another five who could arguably be there. 

In particular, the behind-the-scenes players need giving credit for staying out the public limelight better than a Trafigura executive playing hide and seek (just try finding a picture of agent to the stars Hannah Chambers). So consider it a starting point, and let us know your thoughts about what who we've missed on Twitter @smallportions or email tim@suchsmallportions.com. 
 
Some of the judging panel argued up the importance of recognised influential comedians, on the grounds that they still directly affect the shape of today's industry that we have to give them credit. Others argued that the effects are now too difficult to tease out and pay tribute to effectively: where does Tony Hancock's influence stop and Paul Merton's start? Similar arguments raged over whether today's comedians who are en vogue – Jack Whitehall and Russell Howard chief among them – represent flag-bearers for particular styles, or are passing fads who won't mean nowt in five years' time.

 If anything, that shows the interesting times that comedy is living through. The eighties' comedians are vanishing in the rear view mirror and we must surely be on the verge of a battle royale to see who's going to survive the current stand-up glut. So those are our caveats and warnings: now you should get stuck into the list. We're publishing them 20 a day over the course of this week, and don't forget to check our list of the ten people we think are most likely to break the top 100 in the next few years.  And before anyone asks, no: Stewart Lee isn't at number 41.

 

Top 100: Intro | 100 - 81 | 80 - 61 | 60 - 41 | 40 - 21 20 - 1 | >Ten to watch | Oxbridge

 

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