funniest comedians

These Are The Funniest British Comedians, According To Science

Published: 08/02/2021

In 2020, Netflix’s subscriber count hit 195 million after receiving a boost from people looking for much-needed comfort, entertainment, and distraction from everyday life during the pandemic. From being chased by predators in horrors to getting hot under the sheets with some seriously sexy movies – you name it, we’ve watched it. 

Not only are films and TV shows a great source of entertainment, but stand-up comedy is too! This got us thinking, who are the funniest British comedians of all time? We reveal all in our latest scientific study.


The lowdown

Laughing people

We asked 2,563 participants to choose their favourite British comedians from a list and then collated those answers to find the top 20. We then asked 120 volunteers to watch some stand-up shows from a random selection of our top 20 comedians - all while hooked up to a microphone and a decibel-measuring computer programme - to investigate which comedian caused our participants to roar with laughter the most. From there, we ranked each comedian based on the total laughter duration per hour!


Who wins the title of funniest comedian?

Jimmy Carr is crowned the UK’s funniest comedian! Known for his dark humour and quick-fire heckler comebacks, viewers of his most recent stand-up laughed for 4 minutes and 46 seconds on average. His latest show on Netflix, Jimmy Carr: The Best of Ultimate Gold Greatest Hits (2019), scores 7.3 out of 10 on IMDb, proving that Brits love a bit of controversy!

In second place is Bolton royalty, Peter Kay – on average, viewers laughed for 4 minutes and 38 seconds while watching his show. It’s fair to say he surprised the UK when he cancelled his comeback tour scheduled for 2018, and we’d love to see him live on stage once more in the future.

Clinching third is Jack Whitehall, with laughter totalling 3 minutes and 59 seconds per hour. Jack’s camp persona and interactions with his no-nonsense father are a hit with Brits - although the rating of his latest show on IMDb doesn’t seem to reflect that, coming in at only 6.5 out of 10!

While he hits the high life now as a game and talk show host, Michael McIntyre’s comedic roots did begin in stand-up. With fans laughing for 3 minutes and 53 seconds per hour on average in his latest comedy show, Michael McIntyre: Showman (2020), Michael comes in fourth place. What’s more, the show scores an impressive 7.2 out of 10 on IMDb – one of the highest of all comedians studied.

Mock the Week regular, Ed Gamble, placed in fifth with 3 minutes and 44 seconds of laughter per hour, followed closely behind by the comedy legend, Billy Connolly, who landed the sixth place. Fans of Billy’s most recent show in 2016 laughed for 3 minutes and 37 seconds per hour. Billy Connolly: High Horse Tour Live also has the second highest rating on IMDb out of all comedians considered (7.9/10).

Other influential British comedians making the top ten include: Jason Manford (3 minutes 20 seconds), Romesh Ranganathan (3 minutes 11 seconds), Bill Bailey (3 minutes 7 seconds), and Ricky Gervais (3 minutes 1 second).


Who else places in the top 20?

Flipping the table, Rhod Gilbert is the least funny comedian of all 20 in our list. His most recent show, Rhod Gilbert and the Cat That Looked Like Nicholas Lyndhurst, achieved a high rating of 7.8 on IMDb, but viewers laughed for just 1 minute and 50 seconds per hour on average. 

Sarah Millican places in 19th and is one of only two female entries – Eddie Izzard is the other in 15th place. Millican’s stand-up performance had participants laughing for 2 minutes and 4 seconds per hour on average, with her most recent show receiving an impressive score of 7.2 on IMDb, proving her worthy of a place in the top 20 list.

Other influential comedians include Tom Allen in 16th (known for his hyperbolic comedy) with 2 minutes 17 seconds of laughter per hour, topical commentator Nish Kumar in 13th (2 minutes 35 seconds per hour), and fellow dark humoured comedian Frankie Boyle in 11th (2 minutes 58 seconds).


Who are the funniest female comedians?

With so few female comedians making the top 20 list, we thought they deserved their own moment in the spotlight. In honour of our favourite quick-witted women, above are the top ten comediennes that make us laugh the most per hour, including the queen of dry humour, Miranda Hart (1 minute and 44 seconds), and the late, great Victoria Wood (1 minute and 59 seconds).


Methodology:

1. OnBuy.com asked 2,563 participants to choose their favourite British comedians of all time from a list and then took the top 20.

2. 120 volunteers agreed to watch the most recent hour-long stand-up show from a random selection of comedians from the top 20 line up. This was done over a period of three weeks (11/01/21 – 01/02/21). All participants listened via headphones and were hooked up to a microphone and a computer programme that measures decibels.

3. Where a comedian’s full stand-up show wasn’t available, their most recent comedy appearance was found and the results were extrapolated to achieve laughter duration per hour.

4. Based on the duration of laughter per stand-up show, OnBuy was able to rank the funniest British comedians.

5. A laugh was counted as one where the volume reached at least 60dB. The duration measured the total time (seconds) that the laughter was sustained for per person on average, across each show.

6. According to EarQ, the average decibels of laughter is 60-65 dB.


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