When one thinks of comedy, usually images of American comics such as Richard Pryor, Martin Lawrence, or British comics such as the late, but still well-loved English comic Benny Hill come to mind. But did you know that some of the most talented, yet overlooked comics have been Welsh? In this post, we will take a brief look at the careers of 10 such comedians. One of them is a woman.
List of Top 10 Funniest Welsh Comedians of All Time until in 2017
10. Lloyd Langford
He was born on August 6, 1983. He was originally from Nearth, but he developed his talents for comedy while a student at the University of Warwick, in England. In 2004, he received a prize as the Chortle Student Comedian of the year.
His TV breakthrough came as a participant on Ask Rhod Gilbert, but he has also done voice acting work on various TV shows, and is perhaps one of the most recognizable voices in all of Wales.
He has a quick sense of wit, and has parlayed that, as well as slapstick, into his act.
9. Harry Secombe
He may be no longer with us, but his humor is remembered by many. He fought in World War II, and was a deeply spiritual man who sang hymns.
He got his start in comedy in an observational sketch about shaving. He first performed the act at the Windmill Theatre. He was chosen as a comedian on a Welsh radio show, the Goon Show. She teamed up with some other big named comedians, such as Peter Sellers and Spike Mulligan for this.
He attended church, and it was here that he developed his singing voice. Later in life he presented on such shows as “Songs of Praise.”
It is also worth noting that he had a #2 hit on the British chart with the Petula Clark song, “This is My Song,” which had taken off in America, and also reached #1 on the British charts–all during early 1967. He had a fine, operatic style voice, as heard on the song.
In 2001 he died from prostate cancer, aged 80.
8. Rhod Gilbert
He has taken the comedy world by storm in recent years. He was born in Carmarthenshire, but he has had a habit of telling his audiences that he is from Llanbobl. He made up the name, according to the Wales Online website, to avoid giving hecklers ground to make fun of the name of the town from which he really hails.
His funniest quote is based on a story taken right out of the Bible. “God made it rain 40 days and 40 nights. That’s a pretty good summer for Wales. That’s a hosepipe ban waiting to happen.”
7. Terry Jones
His claim to fame is that he was one of the masterminds behind Monty Python, the British comedy group known for its appearance in movies and on albums. The majority of laughs he received during his career, however, came from his dressing as a woman.
I speak of him in the past, because sadly, he is no longer performing. According to his wife, and to Wikipedia, he has dementia, and is no longer able to make people laugh as he used to.
He was born in Colwyn Bay on February 1, 1942, but moved to Surrey at a young age.
He is also noted for his work in promoting the comedy stretch show with the Flying Circus. Sketches in the show, according to the Wales Online website, were usually interlinked one to another.
He has always been outspoken about politics, and now has had much to say about relatively recent events, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of his famous quotes is based on those wars on terrorism:
“How do you know you’ve won (the war on terrorism)? When you’ve got it removed from the Oxford English dictionary.” In other words, this may have been interpreted to mean that this is an unwinnable war.
6. Ryan Davies
This was another well-loved celebrity of the past. He got his start on a Welsh TV show, “Ryan and Ronnie,” in which he appeared with Ronnie Williams. The show was so popular that it was moved to BBC and broadcast in English. One of the most famous parts of his shtick was to dress as a woman. He put on a costume and acted the part of a Welsh housewife in a sketch on the show.
He was a man of many talents. He was a songwriter, singer, musician, writer, and an impressionist–or a mimic. One of his famous quotes is: “The countless people who said to me that they enjoyed watching (his Welsh output) yet could not understand a single word, was quite remarkable.”
Born in 1937, he died, probably of asthma, back in 1977.
5. Rob Brydon
He is called the heavyweight of Welsh comedy. But he is more than just a comedian. As the Wales Online website states, he has narrated a number of radio shows, advertisements, and animated films, appearing on an number of films and TV shows. He has one of the most recognizable voices in the industry. He started his radio career at age 20. He narrated “Flight of the Conchords, which aired on BBC Radio before it was made into an HBO TV series. He played Uncle Bryn on the TV series “Gavin and Stacey.”
His funniest quote was about Jesus walking on custard: “Actually this was one of the Lord’s favorite pastimes. Out with the bread, out with the fish. Oh, look what I got! He is one amongst the Top 10 Funniest Welsh Comedians of All Time till 2017.
4. Lee Evans
He is known for bringing slapstick together with observational comedy . This combination has seen him to sell out numerous places when appearing on stage or TV. Another thing he is widely known for–having to change multiple suits through the night because he has sweated so profusely. He showers often during his intermissions. He is also known for his sound effects, putting on voices like a character of his named Malcom.
His funniest quote: “Things that my wife is into now, and it’s f—— doing my head, is really pebbles. Pebbles. She collects them. No! I don’t mean ordinary pebbles. It’s where you go on a weekend love? Skimming.”
3. Paul Whitehouse
He was born in Stanleytown, Glamorgan, in 1958. He was inspired to go into comedy when at work as a painter and decorator on a house owned by Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.
Once in comedy, he has stated that his overall vision, according to Wales Online, is to “create the best TV comedy format ever devised.” He was featured on a show known as “The Fast Show, ” the turning point of his career,which was canceled, then came back briefly in 2011.
His funniest quote is “Do you want it, sir? Oh, suit you, sir.”
2. Tommy Cooper
Tragically, Tommy Cooper has one thing in common with at least two American comedians that died just as tragically: Redd Foxx and Dick Shawn. While each of these men were actually having their fatal heart attachs, both were thought that the heart attack was just part of the act. Cooper died the same way, on Sunday, April 15, 1984. He was 63 years of age, having been born in Caerphilly, on March 19, 1921.
He served in Egypt in World War II. It was in this juncture of his life that he began to wear the fez for which he was most famous. The reason he kept it on from then on was it gave his audiences a huge laugh.
The story behind this whole fez thing was that he had forgotten his prop helmet, leaving it at home. The rest, as they say was history.
Another thing noteworthy about his career was that–while the usual magician was known for magic tricks that succeeded, he was known for botching his.
Perhaps his most famous joke was about a dream his doctor kept having about beautiful women coming to him that he kept pushing away. The doctor begged him to break his arms.
1. Gladys Morgan
She was born in 1898 in a town called Swansee. According to the Wales Online website, by the time she died in 1983, she was hailed as the Queen of Comedy. She was known for her infectious laugh and toothless grin. She was famous on the airwaves as the resident comedienne in the Welsh rarebit show. She shared top billing with Harry Secombe, with Morgan’s laugh dominating the show.
Back in the 60s she hosted a comedy radio show, “The Morgans,” with her family. She began to feel at home in the world of comedy. She wanted to die during comedy.
But unfortunately, her health dictated otherwise. Arthritis forced her into retirement, to Worthing, where she died, at age 85.
Her legacy is that she was one of few–if not the only–woman who excelled in a field–comedy–that was dominated mostly by men. And she truly deserves kudos for that.
So, these above are the Top 10 Funniest Welsh Comedians of All Time until 2017. This has been a snapshot of the history of comedy in Wales. Not too many comedians–male and female–hail from this part of the British Isles. When someone thinks of Wales–they probably think of the singer, Tom Jones. But, like all other parts of the world–Wales is home to diverse types of talent.