On Oct. 26, 2018, Rowan Atkinson's latest film, "Johnny English Strikes Again" — the third installment in the "Johnny English" series — hits theaters. For years, Rowan has been making audiences laugh in movies like "Bean," "Rat Race" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral." The star has dedicated his life to comedy and is known as one of the funniest British comedians of all time. In honor of his latest film, Wonderwall.com is taking a look at more British comedy stars who've all made a name for themselves — and their wicked senses of humor — across the pond.
Ricky Gervais achieved mainstream success with "The Office," a BBC mockumentary he created, wrote, directed and starred on, that premiered in the UK in 2001 and went on to spawn multiple international versions including a wildly popular U.S. show starring Steve Carell. However, Ricky's greatest claim to fame in America might have come from his repeated hosting of the Golden Globe Awards in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016. While certainly a controversial host — many of his jabs over the years made headlines — this Brit, who's also a successful children's book author, knows how to keep an audience laughing.
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Jennifer Saunders has done comedy on stage, in sitcoms, in films and on TV with her most notable gig, of course, being "Absolutely Fabulous," which she created, wrote and starred in. In the States, she's done a lot of voice work, exercising her British accent in films like "Shrek 2" and "Minions."
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Steve Coogan is most famous for his politically incorrect character Alan Partridge, for which he has been lauded in the comedy world. The character's feature film "Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa" was a box-office smash in Britain. In the States, he's made people laugh in movies like "Tropic Thunder" and "Night at the Museum." However, he's equally capable of being a more serious actor, as evident in his movie "Philomena," which earned Steve an Academy Award nomination for best picture (he was also a producer) and a nod for best adapted screenplay (he co-wrote the lauded film).
John Cleese is responsible for the wildly successful comedy franchise "Monty Python." The comedic actor founded the troupe in the 1960s and together they worked on four films and a sketch show. A lot of his recent hits in the States have been due to his extensive voice work — he can be heard in three of the "Shrek" films, "Charlotte's Web," "Winnie the Pooh" and "Trolls," among others.
Jack Whitehall is one of the younger comedians on this list. Though just entering his 30s, he's already done extensive comedy tours, comedy writing, acting and appearing on game shows. "I'll be telling a lot of stories that I probably shouldn't say out loud. Stories about me humiliating myself, or being embarrassing," he told The Guardian in 2014 of his comedy tour. "In every story, I'm hopefully the victim. I think that's the way it should be." Big things are happening for him Stateside: Jack, who previously dated actress Gemma Chan, landed a lead role in Disney's 2020 action-adventure film "Jungle Cruise" alongside Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt.
Over the course of her career, Tracey Ullman has headlined numerous comedy television shows on networks like HBO, the BBC and Showtime. She's also made time over the years to appear on a wide variety of series from "Sesame Street" and "The Simpsons" to "How I Met Your Mother" and "Ally McBeal." The lauded impressionist's hard work has paid off — she's reportedly Britain's richest comedian.
Before he was (briefly) Mr. Katy Perry, Russell Brand was just an outlandish British comedian. He started out as a stand-up comedian before winning his breakout role in "Forgetting in Sarah Marshall," which earned his character a spinoff movie, "Get Him to the Greek." Like many British comedy stars, Russell's also done voice work, notably lending his to the "Despicable Me" series. The recovering addict is also a successful book author.
Sacha Baron Cohen might be the most dedicated comedian on the list. The Brit is best known for creating wild, fictional characters and portraying them in absurd situations — the most popular of these characters being Borat, Ali G, and Brüno. His latest project, "Who Is America?," allowed him to portray a number of characters who did things like interview Bernie Sanders, convince a politician to arm children and teach the art of repelling terrorists.
Stephen Merchant is known for playing incredibly awkward characters that make you cringe and laugh at the same time. The 6-foot-7 star, who's worked closely over the years with fellow Brit Ricky Gervais, is also a successful comedy writer who's worked on shows like Britain's "The Office," "Extras," "Hello Ladies" and "Life's Too Short."
Miranda Hart has been making British audiences laugh since the early 2000s. However, it would be nearly another decade until her career really exploded with her BBC sitcom "Miranda," which centered around the awkward, socially inept title character. She both wrote and starred on the show that gave her repeated wins at the British Comedy Awards. Miranda might be more familiar to American audiences for her scene-stealing roles in "Spy" with Melissa McCarthy and on the period drama "Call the Midwife" as beloved nurse Chummy.
James Corden has won over American audiences with his "Carpool Karaoke" segment on his talk show, "The Late Late Show with James Corden," which he was doing in London before taking the U.S. by storm in 2015. In addition to his TV series, the Tony Award winner shows off his comedy chops with award show hosting and writing (he wrote, created and starred in the successful British sitcom "Gavin & Stacey" from 2007 to 2010). He's also appeared or done voice work in "Ocean's Eight," "Peter Rabbit," "The Emoji Movie," "Smallfoot" and "Into the Woods."
Simon Pegg got his start in sitcoms, creating and starring on the BBC show "Spaced," which premiered in 1999. The "Star Trek" franchise actor then transitioned into horror-comedy, famously co-writing and starring in the trilogy of "Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz" and "The World's End." True British comedy was the reason he pursued a career as a funnyman: "[British sitcom] 'The Young Ones' [starring Rik Mayall] was the whole reason I got into comedy as a kid," he told The Independent in 2014.
John Oliver has become a household name for his work on the HBO show "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver." The series, which premiered in 2014, takes a satirical look at news and politics. Before that, the Emmy-winning writer was the British correspondent on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," a stand-up comedian and an actor on "Community."
Hugh Laurie has received many accolades for his work in dramas, particularly the long-running show "House," but his comedy work is just as noteworthy. Hugh — who was once partnered with British star Stephen Fry — started out in comedy, performing in college after an illness kept him from athletics. After graduation, he continued, eventually mixing in some drama but also throwing in fun projects like the British period comedy series "Blackadder" and films such as "101 Dalmatians" and "Stuart Little."
Eddie Izzard's comedic inspiration comes from another famous British funymarn — John Cleese — as Eddie cites Monty Python as his comedy role model. The frequent on- and off-stage crossdresser has appeared in many U.S. box-office hits like "Ocean's Twelve," "Ocean's Thirteen" and "Valkyrie."
Scottish funnyman Craig Ferguson got his start as a drummer in a rock band. Her parlayed that into comedy, landing a role on "The Drew Carey Show" in the '90s after he moved from to the States from the U.K. In December 2004, he was made host of "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," a role James Corden ended up filling after he left in 2014. Since then, he's stayed busy with a show on History, a SiriusXM radio show and his third book, which set to be released in 2019.