British humour dates back centuries, but some of the most famous and distinctive came out of the 1980s and 1990s. Typically, satirical or based on sarcasm and everyday happenings, British humour tends to make fun of life, society, and the absurdity of happenings, with puns and innuendo common practice, along with one-liner jokes.
Studies on British humour, which centralised on what people enjoyed and laughed at the most, found that classic British comedians, such as Tommy Cooper and Les Dawson, were true crowd pleasers. Let’s look at why these two comedians, and others that are famous and distinctive.
Top British Comedians
Some of the most popular British comedians use their talents and performance skills to ‘wow’ an audience. These attributes also make them to stand out, and extremely popular. The most famous and distinctive British comedians are as follows:
Tommy Cooper [March 19, 1921 April 15, 1984]
Classified as a prop comedian and magician, Cooper wore a distinctive red ‘tarboosh’ hat. His career spanned from 1947 to 1984, and he used his military experience to invent the character ‘Cooper the Trooper’ as an act. He liked making mistakes during performances that made people laugh. An example of Cooperisms, or Cooper’s gags, is, “Have you heard the one about the man who wanted to buy camouflage trousers? He just could not find any.”
Rowan Atkinson [January 6, 1955 Present]
One of Britain’s best-known comedians, Atkinson comes across as a bumbling fool, and this gets laughs. His best works are in sitcoms and sketch comedy shows such as the Blackadder, Not the Nine O’clock News, and unforgettable Mr Bean.
Billy Connolly [November 24, 1942 Present]
One of Britain’s most loved comedians, Connolly thrives on stand-up and is a top world performer. Using observational comedy and profanities to make fun of sex, old age, daily rituals and habits, and world happenings, Connolly is somewhat offensive. However, this has made him extremely popular. As Connolly says, “Never trust a man who tries on a tea-cosy when he’s left alone.”
John Cleese [October 27, 1939 Present]
Best known for his work in Monty Python and Faulty Towers, Cleese often dresses in costume and poses as middle-classed authority figures such as police officers, Nazi officers, and the owner of a hotel. Cleese uses satire in his acts and always has an expressionless face, which makes people laugh even more. As Cleese says, “I’m just offended every day. I want to say, right, just stop that, stop that now.”
Of course, this is just a handful of Britain’s best comedians. There are many more that are worth looking-up and they’re sure to give you laugh.