The Top 100 most influential people in comedy: Ten to watch
Andrew Mickel15 June 2012
Who are the top up and coming people in comedy? Ahead of SSP's Top 100 People List next week, we look at the ones to watch...
On Monday we're hitting the button on a big new project for us: the top 100 most influential people in comedy.
Do we need another list, we metaphorically hear you cry? Well, this isn't any old list of comedians: it includes all the venue managers, agents, TV execs and assorted other folk that make the comedy world tick to build up a solid picture of who has real control in the industry in 2012.
From what we can tell, no-one has tried to do this since the Observer had a sort-of similar crack back in 2003. That's a time before Michael McIntyre made stadium-sized gigs the norm, Latitude made comedy a major festival draw, or shows like Mock The Week resculpted the industry. Put together with the advice of a crack team of comedy experts, we'll be unveiling the list over the course of next week.
But before we delve into the biggest mover's and shakers in UK comedy, we've put together a list of the ten people we see as most likely to make the list in the next few years. These names will be well known to everyone in the industry, but they have the sort of sparkiness and originality that means they could well tip into public consciousness in the next couple of years and have a wider impact.
No-one had a better Edinburgh Fringe last year than Cariad Lloyd, between her character show helping to reinforce the Free Fringe's credibility (and landing her a best newcomer nomination) and sketch group Men of War's fantastic show. The overflow of ideas mean that things have continued to soar since then, with Austen improv troupe Austentatious – alongside the also widely-tipped Rachel Parris – and a series of shorts on BBC Comedy.
With a new show for Edinburgh, and slots on everything from Cardinal Burns to the these-days-pretty-important CBBC, she could be on the verge of a breakthrough.
It's never easy to start out on your own and when Brett Vincent left the esteemed company of the Underbelly to go solo with his new venture, Get Comedy, you wondered whether he'd made the right choice. It was the middle of the first financial crisis, the comedy market was saturated with promoters and the clamour to get on TV made comedians look longingly in the direction of the big agents.
However within two years Get Comedy has laid the foundations for a bright future with exciting talent such as Dana Alexander and Pete Johansson as well as established names such as Jim Jefferies on the roster. Get Comedy has also moved into the realms of festival booking, looking after the live comedy stages at Rockness, Camp Bestival and Bestival - not to mention Altitude, the perennial Comedy Ski jolly in the Alps. In total, Get Comedy shows enough promise to have the likes of OTK and Avalon looking over their shoulder.
Tuck was readily established in comedy as one of the Penny Dreadfuls, but it's his smash hit show Thom Tuck Goes Straight to DVD that has put on the map as a solo comedian, touring the popular show and landing him a show on Radio 4 at Christmas. Crucially, organising shows such as tom:foolery and his involvement in the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society have earned him the respect of his contemporaries and show he's got the appetite for hard work to make it to the next level.
Majendie is a man of two halves. At BBC Comedy he's helping the Corporation find its comedy feet online, as well as producing the BBC Comedy Presents live shows at Edinburgh; as the man behind Knock2Bag, he's brought together big-name acts and has a great eye for up-and-comers. The two have won him respect and Majendie deserves credit for helping to bridge the gap between emerging talent and that first real TV commission.
It's not outlandish to think he could be the first of a new style of commissioners or promoters in the industry – the big question is which one he'll go for...
Lycett has gone a long way in a short time, from student comedy awards to co-hosting prime time Saturday night BBC One shows.
There would be a risk of overselling himself if it wasn't for two key things: he's already admitted he needs to work on his material to keep up with his growing stature, and he's actually managing to get on with it. Given that he's only eight years old, it will be amazing to see how big he gets, and he's perfectly placed to get a more robust TV career underway quick sharp.
Why is last year's Edinburgh award winner on the NKOTB list instead of the top 100? His bellowing characters, all of which throw some new angles on heavily-postured manliness, have made him the poster boy for getting your audience involved with what you're doing - but what's he going to do next?
Other Edinburgh winners of a similar ilk, such as Laura Solon, have worked their way around the periphery of comedy without becoming a household name, although what exactly the big time would look like for either of them frankly needs inventing. Still, if he can find the right next move then he could bring something truly new to a much wider audience.
As a new captain on Argumental and the face of youth on Mock The Week, the Brighton-based comedian has a relaxed confidence beyond his age (26, last time we checked). Panel shows may be in their salad days thanks to Dave wringing the format dry, but there's a bit of life left in them yet and Walsh seems well-placed to capitalise on that.
Add in a comfortable stage presence for stand-up and a well-chosen project could take Walsh to become a household name.
Max and Ivan didn't do last year's biggest comedy event Wrestling by themselves: Really Lovely Comedy's Beth O'Brien produced the logistical nightmare and made sure everything came together as well as it did. With Ditto Productions representing solid acts such as Jay Foreman, The Beta Males and through Really Lovely Comedy remaining one of the most reliable nights in London comedy there's a reliable day job, but it's the expectation of a successor to the Wrestling that makes O'Brien one to watch.
It takes something really special to bring absurdity and songs together and not end up with a Boosh derivative, but Cahill has quickly worked his way up the first few rungs of the comedy ladder with his common-or-garden approach to pulling together a very tight act.
He's the least established name on this list and we're going to have to wait for 2013 for his first full Edinburgh show, but that gives plenty of time to hone what has to already be a shoe-in for best newcomer.
2011's Edinburgh comedy newcomer award winner has slowly been edging her way in to the public consciousness with a fantastic turn on E4's why-did-it-only-get-one-series Show and Tell, and an appearance on the all-important Have I Got News For You. Most importantly there's a script in the very early stages with Channel 4, and her gobby amiability – combined with the channel's keenness to develop some strong female talent – mean the omens are good.
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