Who's the funniest of them all?
PUBLISHED: 14:53 01 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:15 01 May 2019
We won't find out until the end of may but a shortlist of 30 has been drawn up. Who would you choose... or has your comedy hero failed to make the cut?
If ever there was a matter of personal taste, it's humour.
What makes me laugh (eg Chuckle Brothers slapstick), doesn't necessarily make other people laugh - even close relatives.
Earlier this year, TV Channel Gold asked people to vote for your favourite comedians (vote now closed) and the top 30 has now been revealed, in alphabetical order. On Sunday, May 26 at 8pm a panel of experts will count down from 30 to1 in a three-hour television special to crown #BritainsGreatestComedian
As a writer of pantomimes, I have a fairly silly, unsophisticated sense of humour and I trust the voting panel − which includes Suffolk-dweller and comedy legend Roy Hudd − will include points for overall daftness.
So who features in the 30? Here is the full list: Caroline Aherne, Dave Allen, Rowan Atkinson, Bill Bailey, Ronnie Barker, Sasha Baron Cohen, Jo Brand, Kathy Burke, John Cleese, Billy Connolly, Steve Coogan, Tommy Cooper, Ken Dodd, Lee Evans, Micky Finnigan, Dawn French, Ricky Gervais, Eddie Izzard, Peter Kay, Stewart Lee, Sir Lenny Henry, Lee Mack, Rik Mayall, Michael McIntyre, Spike Milligan, Stan Laurel, Eric Morecambe, Jennifer Saunders, Peter Sellers, Victoria Wood.
Crumbs, the panel of judges has a tall order. www.comedy.co.uk lists the jury as Roy Hudd, Sally Phillips, Stephen Mangan, John Thomson, Darren Harriott, Ronni Ancona, David Quantick, Boyd Hilton and Nina Wadia.
There are going to be some disappointed people out there. Iain Coyle, who commissioned the show for UKTV, for one. He saud: 'We've almost come to blows just discussing this in the office... However, if Les Dawson isn't in the top ten, I'll be livid.”
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He's not in the top 30, sorry, Iain. Although I'm a great fan of Les Dawson's too. I often quote his mother-in-law jokes when I talk to women's groups and my favourite is: “I didn't speak to my mother-in-law for three years... I hadn't liked to interrupt her.”
Meanwhile the Royal television Society website cites Charlie Chaplin and Bob Monkhouse as being in the running. Just wrong, I'm afraid, they didn't make the cut.
There are a few oddities in there. Both Eric Morecambe and Stan Laurel are famous for being in a double act, which makes it difficult to assess them singly. Would we have found Eric as funny without Ernie there as his foil? Would Stan's silliness made us laugh without Ollie's reactions?
Some of the contenders might be termed comic actors rather than comedians - but that would be splitting hairs, I suppose.
The comedians that go out on stage alone and entertain live audiences command my greatest respect. Unforgettable performances I have witnessed include Rowan Atkinson, dressed as a public school master, reading out the morning register and Eddie Izzard's surreal vamping at the Amnesty International We Know Where You Live concert. But for me, the top spot goes to Tommy Cooper who still makes me laugh out loud (LOL). Why? Here are some clues:
• Last night I slept like a log. I woke up in the fire place.
• I was cleaning out the attic the other day with the wife - filthy, dirty and covered with cobwebs....
but she's good with the kids.
• I went to the doctor the other day. I said: 'Have you got anything for wind?' So he gave me a kite.