As the Glasgow International Comedy Festival prepares to launch with a gaggle of giggles later this month, we count down Scotland's funniest 60 people.

60) Lubna Kerr

Who the heck is Lubna Kerr? Pharmacist or comedian; Pakistani or Scot; Weegie or Edinburgher? Kerr is all those things, and her current show is a hilarious exploration of the hot political topic of identity. Where is she really from? Ask her if you dare. Just don't expect a straight answer ...

Lubna Kerr, Where Are You Really From?, Yesbar, March 29

59) Christopher Macarthur-Boyd

For the past few years the buzz on the Scottish stand-up scene has been that Macarthur-Boyd is the future – androgynous, boyish, at home with getting laughs out of themes of mental health, masculinity and loneliness. The 24-year-old boy-man hails from the East End of Glasgow and jokes that he lives up to its tough image. “You wouldn’t want to bump into me in a dark alley – because you’d feel guilty about leaving me there.” Watch this space.

Christopher Macarthur-Boyd, Home Sweet Home, The Stand, March 30; Work In Progress, The State Bar, March 23

58) Richard Gadd

In 2016 Richard Gadd won the Edinburgh Comedy Award for his painfully honest and revealing show Monkey See, Monkey Do, about toxic masculinity and his own experience of sexual assault. A reminder that comedy can go to the darkest places.

57) Jay Lafferty

A regular on Radio 4 and Radio Scotland, Jay Lafferty has been on the stand-up circuit since 2005 and has performed everywhere from Tokyo to New York. She brings her 2018 Edinburgh Fringe show Wheesht! to the Glasgow Comedy Festival later this month.

Jay Lafferty: Wheesht! is on at Blackfriars Basement on Friday, March 22.

56) John Gordon Sinclair

These days he’s writing crime books, but for some of us he will always be the lanky, maladroit schoolboy from Bill Forsyth’s Gregory’s Girl. Sinclair was the cinematic equivalent of a Postcard single, a walking rejection of all those old tired west of Scotland macho male stereotypes. Bella Bella.

55) Julia Sutherland

Julia Sutherland is a stand-up because she was forced to be. A former on-air sidekick to Fred MacAulay on his radio show, she was entered in a stand-up competition as a stunt for the show and ended up having to do five minutes of material. People laughed. She thought: I can do this and she has built a career on it ever since. You might have also heard her interviews with comedians on Radio 4.

Julia Sutherland, New Material Night, Yesbar, March 20 & 27; and Exposed, The Stand, March 26

54) Lex McLean

McLean's nickname was 'Sexy Lexy' which was of course ironic, given the comic had a 'comfortable' face on top of which to place his checked bunnet. But the last of the great music hall comedians always had the last laugh with great Pavilion Theatre gags such as; "To whoever stole my anti-depressants – I hope you're happy now."

53) The Bodgers/Absolutely: Jack Docherty, Gordon Kennedy, Moray Hunter and Peter Baikie

The quartet formed The Bodgers as school friends in Edinburgh and from this emerged Absolutely, the Channel Four comedy that bucked the trend by being a hit on TV then radio. Bred characters like rabbits, but most memorable have to be the stout men and women of Stoneybridge Town Council. If only Stoneybridge had been in charge of Brexit

Jack Docherty: Miekelson and McGlashan – Serious Men, King's Theatre, March 20

52) Lynn Ferguson

Fabulous Ferguson, from Cumbernauld, is an award winning writer, performer and stand-up. Now based in the US, running a storytelling coaching business, her first play was Heart and Sole, about a woman who falls in love with a fish. She joined the judging panel for the International Emmys and hosted their Comedy Panel in New York. Her brother is comedian and talk show host Craig Ferguson.

51) Arnold Brown

If stand-ups comedians were compiling this list, then there’s every chance that Arnold Brown would be in the top ten such is his status among people who try to make other people laugh. Why did the Glaswegian not become a bigger star? Perhaps it’s because his slow style seemed too slow for television, but Brown was always best on a small stage: he built his reputation in smoky rooms and then, after the smoking ban, in non-smoky rooms and that’s where he’s continued to this day. If you don’t like alternative comedy, then Arnold Brown is one of the men you should blame.

50) Rhona Cameron

Razor-sharp Cameron, from Dundee, is a stand up comic and writer who shot to fame in 1992 after winning Channel 4’s So You Think You’re Funny? She co-wrote and starred in Rhona, a sitcom about a lesbian Scot living alone in London, which was shown in 2000. She played the first ever female narrator in The Rocky Horror Show.

49) Susan Calman

Formerly a lawyer, Calman switched to stand-up in 2006, and became a regular on panel shows and comedy dramas like Fresh Meat. But it was her sparkling appearance on Strictly Come Dancing that made her a household name. Asked, once, when she was happiest, she said, “Genuinely – and my wife, Lee, knows this – dancing with Kevin Clifton on Strictly.” Calman has also written about her depression, in Cheer Up Love, and joy, in Sunny Side Up: A Story Of Kindness And Joy.

48) Emma Thompson

Can we claim her? Scots mother. House north of the border. Of course, we can. Thompson is best known for her serious turns these days, but she cut her teeth in the Cambridge Footlights, did TV sketch shows Alfresco and Thompson, and then gave us Suzi Kettles in Tutti Frutti. And if we’re taking Emma, can we take sister Sophie (Detectorists) Thompson too?

47) Jonathan Watson

His career stretches back to Naked Video and Local Hero, and he is best known for his 23-year shift on Only An Excuse, but Watson has come into his tragicomic own in Two Doors Down, where he and Doon Mackichan have turned Cathy and Colin into the Liz Taylor and Richard Burton of Glesga.

46) John Byrne

Paisley-born Byrne is best known as a painter but anyone who has seen it knows there’s wit in his work – a wit that becomes even more apparent when he swaps canvas for paper and brush for pen. His autobiographical series of plays, the Slab Boys trilogy, is a landmark of late 20th century Scottish theatre (and superbly funny to boot). Meanwhile his cult status as a writer of small screen fare was assured the moment the credits rolled on the first episode of Tutti Frutti, the BAFTA-laden 1987 series which starred Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson and Richard Wilson.

45) Iain Stirling

“Basically,” said voice of Love Island, Iain Stirling, as he launched the new BBC Scotland channel last week, “I’m the only comedian in Scotland who has managed to make his voice more recognisable than his actual face.” Stirling’s crazed, pantomimic, querulous voiceover has been the best thing about Love Island. His voice and face are now wanted all over.. He’s even a go-to for advice on the Millennial condition, which he doles out in his book Not Ready To Adult Yet: A Totally Ill-informed Guide To Life.

44) Karen Dunbar

Dunbar was a national treasure in the making right from when she arrived, nostrils-flaring, on our televisions in Chewin' The Fat, delivering us classics like Fiona the lonely shopkeeper. Since then she’s done just about everything from panto and stand-up, to Calendar Girls: The Musical, and a TED talk about comedy. Plus, hers was the voice that delivered the Commonwealth Games to the world, saying, “This is our house and you're all very welcome.”

43) Harry Lauder

When Harry Lauder met Charlie Chaplin in 1918 it was one huge world star meeting another. It’s sometimes forgotten that: just how big a star of music hall and comedy Harry Lauder was. Like Chaplin, Lauder passed the biggest test of comedy and entertainment there ever was: a loud, drunken audience in a music hall. He’d also entertained his fellow miners when he worked down the pits and his great skill was the comic song touched with pathos. He knew how to make people laugh but he knew how to cry as well: his son was killed on the Western Front during the First World War.

42) Ken Bruce

Yes, him off the radio. The trained chartered accountant from Glasgow is not, it is fair to say, a well kent face on the stand-up circuit, but his gently humorous, easy-osey manner on Radio 2 every morning makes everything all right with the world for millions. Jonathan Ross is a big fan.

41) Rab Christie and Iain “Noddy” Davidson

Pick a hit comedy series over the past two decades – Rab C Nesbitt, Still Game, Burnistoun, Scot Squad, Gary: Tank Commander, Chewin’ The Fat, Limmy’s Show – and chances are their names are on the credits. Christie is managing director of The Comedy Unit and Davidson a producer/director.

40) Danny Bhoy

As you read this Daniel Danni Chaudhry is about to begin a huge tour of Australia and New Zealand where he is, by all accounts, “huge”. You can understand why. Originally from Moffat, he is a likeable, adroit purveyor of observational comedy.

39) James Finlayson

Emigrated to America in 1911 and made a living in theatre before moving to Hollywood where he became the fifth Beatle to Laurel and Hardy. No-one has ever done a double take head move better than the boy from Larbert.

38) Una McLean

Scottish acting royalty McLean, from Strathaven in South Lanarkshire, can turn her hand to comedy sketch shows, panto, serious theatre and film. She is currently appearing in BBC Scotland drama series River City. Her career began at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews in 1955 and in 1967, she starred in Scotland's first one-woman television show, Did You See Una?

37) Chic Murray

The Godfather of surrealist comedy? Probably. Murray also had a free range style that allowed for music hall gags; "kippers – fish that like a lot of sleep" and the rather more philosophical. "Get into yourself to get yourself out of your self. Then try to lose yourself." They driest delivery this side of Gobi desert milk run also helped him sell surreal jokes such as "I drew a gun. He drew a gun. I drew another gun. Soon we were surrounded by lovely drawings of guns." Most modern comedians worship at the altar of Murray's memory.

36) Sanjeev Kohli

For years Kohli, who as a youngster worked in his family’s convenience stores, was the comic king of the cornershop, delivering us laugh after belly-laugh from behind a counter, as Navid Harrid, the grey-bearded shop-owner in Still Game, or as Ramesh Manju in award-winning, cult radio comedy Fags, Mags & Bags. Now a regular on River City, he’s left the shop behind, playing banker-turned-baker AJ, and recently appeared in the biopic Stan And Ollie.

35) Ivor Cutler

It was George Melly who maybe summed up the late Ivor Cutler best: “Very funny in a sinister sort of way.” The Scottish poet, songwriter and humourist grew up in a Jewish family in Govan, appeared in The Beatles film Magical Mystery Tour and was a favourite of John Peel’s. Proof that England doesn’t have a monopoly on eccentricity.

34) Jerry Sadowitz

Few comedians dare take their stand-up to the places Sadowitz has been known to go, probably for good reason. The humour is as black as the trademark top hat, the material wince-inducingly controversial and the live shows chaotic and aggressive, meaning TV appearances have been rare (and sometimes disastrous). Despite this, the Glaswegian remains one of the most influential – and divisive – stand-ups of the last 30 years.

33) Bruce Morton

Bruce Morton did the best comedy show ever. March 1999 at the MacBob in Stirling when he was touring Blood Below the Window, his autobiographical one-man show, which was hilar (natch), but had a sucker punch of hurt at the heart of it. Apart from his dalliance with Channel 4 (now nearly three decades ago), Morton has always been too marginal a figure for his talent. But no one is better at hearing the comic music of the Scots tongue.

32) Dorothy Paul

The undisputed Queen of Scottish comedy, the Dennistoun woman is as funny as she is loved by Glaswegians who love to be taken down memory lane to a world of jeely pieces and fumbles and the dancin'. Paul convinced as an excellent actress in the likes of The Steamie, and more recently Still Game, but it was her live touring shows that revealed her glorious skills of holding an audience in the palm of her hand.

31) Robert Florence and Iain Connell

The duo behind sketch show Burnistoun brought us characters such as Jolly Boy John, Biscuity Boyle and Quality Polis, as well as co-writing the sitcom Legit which starred Clare Grogan, Jordan Young and Raymond Mearns. Florence will front topical satire series, The State of It, on the new BBC Scotland channel.

Iain Connell: Work In Progress, Blackfriars Basement, March 21 and 28; Robert Florence is Biscuity Boyle: My Bastart Life - One Last Time!, Oran Mor, March 20 and 27

30) Ronni Ancona

One of the best impressionists of her generation, Ancona, who grew up in Troon, is also an accomplished stand-up and an impressive actor. But it’s her uncanny ability to capture everyone from Nigella Lawson to Audrey Hepburn, Victoria Beckham to Ruby Wax, Renee Zellweger to Jennifer Saunders that continues to amuse.

29) Scotland The What

The talented triumvirate of Buff Hardie, Stephen Robertson and George Donald ruled the North-east (and beyond in eagerly-awaited tours) in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s with the now-neglected art of comedy revue. Don't miss the phone call to the Queen, inviting her to open Oldmeldrum's sports day (available on YouTube).

28) Fern Brady

Fern Brady reached the finals of So You Think You're Funny at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe and hasn't looked back since. The performer from Bathgate is bold, honest and at times startling – listen to her trashing of heterosexual marriages, or her take on Australia's abortion laws – but never less than very funny. What's not to like about a former journalist and stripper who's dryer than the inside of a sand lizard’s top lip and more blunt than the new Mary Poppins.

27) Janet Brown

The Rutherglen-born actor and impressionist will always be best-known for her memorable impersonation of Margaret Thatcher at the height of her pomp, which cropped up throughout the 1970s and 80s everywhere from Mike Yarwood’s popular Saturday night show to Bond film For Your Eyes Only.

26) Gerard Kelly

Kelly, from Glasgow, was a panto favourite in the city and a talented serious actor, but his big break was as hapless bank worker and would-be author Willie Melvin in the BBC Scotland comedy City Lights. He was the lynchpin of a stellar cast (including Andy Gray, Jan Wilson and Elaine Collins). He died in 2010 following a brain aneurysm.

25) Jane McCarry

She steals the show as loveable busybody Isa Drennan on Still Game. As the hit BBC Scotland comedy bows out later this month, who wouldn’t love to see Isa and shopkeeper Navid (Sanjeev Kohli) get their own spin-off series? The campaign starts here.

24) Robbie Coltrane

Coltrane made his name in the alternative comedy movement of the 1980s before becoming a household name. He was brilliant as a criminal psychologist in Cracker; he appeared in two Bond movies; he was an outsize presence as Hagrid in the Harry Potter films. In the 2016 C4 series National Treasure he was outstanding as Paul Finchley, an ageing comedian suddenly beset with allegations of historical rape and sexual assault.

23) Richard Wilson

If you ever see Richard Wilson in the street, do not shout his catchphrase at him. In fact, don’t even think about the catchphrase. You’re thinking about it now aren’t you? The thing is, Wilson was, and is, much more than catchphrase comedy. He once said that there was some of his dad in Victor Meldrew, star of One Foot in the Grave, and some of the writer David Renwick too, but the point is that, as he shakes his fist at idiocy, there is some of all of us in him.

22) Arabella Weir

She coined the catchphrase "Does my bum look big in this?" for The Fast Show, lit up our screens as long-suffering neighbour Beth in Two Doors Down and most recently had a star turn on comedy drama Pure as a mother whose OCD-suffering daughter is plagued by sexually explicit thoughts.

21) Janey Godley and Ashley Storrie

From Godley’s “Trump is a c***” sign held aloft as the US president visited his Ayrshire golf resort in 2016 to Storrie’s hilarious parodies of Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and The Handmaid’s Tale becoming viral hits, this mother and daughter are fearlessly chipping away at comedy’s glass ceiling. Godley’s Nicola Sturgeon/Theresa May/Big Soup Pot skits are on the money.

In Conversation with Janey Godley, City of Glasgow College, March 27; Janey Godley: 20 Years & Counting, Oran Mor, March 28-31; Ashley Storrie: Hysterical is at The Stand Comedy Club, March 21 and 22

20) Greg McHugh

The Edinburgh born actor struck comedy gold when he dreamed up the character of Gary McLintoch, a soldier with a fictional Scottish regiment who delivers bon mots in broad Embra in much-loved mockumentary Gary: Tank Commander. McHugh also starred in Channel 4’s Fresh Meat, written by Peep Show creators Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain. He has since moved on to straighter roles – he’s currently in Channel 4 spy drama Traitors and Sky’s A Discovery Of Witches – but don’t think we’ve seen the last of Corporal McLintoch.

19) Alan Cumming and Forbes Masson 

Drama school pals Cumming, from Aberfeldy, and Masson, from Falkirk, performed as musical double act and Kelvinside men Victor and Barry throughout the 80s and 90s, before finding success separately on stage and screen here and in the US. They briefly reunited in similar guise for the sarcastic, surreal cabin crew comedy The High Life alongside Siobhan Redmond.

18) Stanley Baxter

Stanley Baxter once cleared the streets with his television specials that attracted 20m but the Glaswegian suffered all his life from anxiety and a need to be in control. As a result, Stanley, who lives in North London, offered up product sparingly, the world having the opportunity to see his Dietrich or his Coward only episodically. What he has created however is an incredible Bafta-winning legacy.

17) Limmy

If you like your comedy surreal with a good dash of daft, Glaswegian Brian Limond has been the go-to purveyor for more than a decade. Arguably the first true UK comedian of the internet age, Limmy grew a loyal local online audience with his strangely loveable band of characters – who could forget former heroin addict Jacqueline McCafferty or frustrated adventure gameshow host Falconhoof? – but has found national recognition thanks to TV, live shows and two books.

Limmy, Surprisingly Down to Earth, and Very Funny, Oran Mor, March 14, 17, 18 and 19

16) Alastair Sim

You have to be very serious to be good at comedy and Alastair Sim was very serious, particularly about his stage career. But it’s the films we love. Like A Christmas Carol. Is Sim’s the greatest Scrooge? Probably. Or Laughter in Paradise in which he’s a good man forced to go bad to inherit some money (how much would it take you to throw a brick through a window?) And The Belles of St Trinians of course in which he plays the headmistress Millicent Fritton. British comedy finds pretty much nothing funnier than a man in a dress but Alastair Sim did it best.

15) Gregor Sharp and Simon Carlyle

The creators and writing partnership behind Two Doors Down which is hands-down one the funniest comedies to grace our TV screens in recent years with echoes of sitcom greats – from Abigail's Party to The Royle Family – in its winning formula. More please.

14) Gregor Fisher

The ragtag Govan philosopher Rab C. Nesbitt was, as Fisher once noted, "somebody who was forgotten, somebody from the so-called underbelly of society." Indeed he was, but Nesbitt managed to be one of the funniest comedy characters to emerge from Scotland, and one of the most poignant, too. He made us laugh but the laughs were sometimes uncomfortable – there were lots of acute social truths in them.

13) Daniel Sloss

Netflix-approved and still not 30, Sloss has the armour-plated arrogance of youth. Sometimes that can come across as simply arrogance. But, as his latest show X, which tackles toxic masculinity, proves, he is ambitious for his comedy. He also has the stagecraft. In other words, he’s good now, but how good is he going to be 10 years from now?

12) Michelle Gomez

From unhinged staff liaison officer Sue White in Green Wing to murderous Missy in Doctor Who, Gomez brilliantly nails weirdly offbeat, deeply funny characters. The Glaswegian, also known for comic turns in The Book Group and Bad Education is currently appearing in the Netflix supernatural horror series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

11) The Krankies

The Krankies in the top 20 best Scottish comedians of all time? Are we mad-dabi-dozi? Not really: remember that Janette and Ian Tough were masters of three neglected areas of comedy: the club circuit, which is where they first made their mark in the 70s; comedy for children on Crackerjack and the like (if you’re a ten-year-old child, a lady dressed up as a ten-year-old child is very funny indeed); and pantomime, which the Krankies have dominated in Scotland for years. And no, we’re not defending the single they released. It was not fan-dabi-dozi. No-one danced all night. And it was not all right.

10) Rory Bremner

He once fooled Margaret Beckett, then a minister in a Labour cabinet minister, into thinking she was talking on the phone to the Chancellor Gordon Brown. She wasn't, of course: it was the mischievous Bremner, who had Brown's distinctive burr down to a T. The spoof was a reminder of his formidable impersonation skills and his gift for political satire. The hit Channel 4 show, Bremner, Bird and Fortune, is much missed.

9) Rikki Fulton

Not many comedians can make us laugh merely by saying ‘hello’. Watch, on YouTube, any of Rikki Fulton’s turns as Rev I.M. Jolly on the Hogmanay Scotch and Wry shows, and you see just that: the lights going up, and Rikki, with an almost audible sigh, uttering that ineffably melancholy ‘hello’. Fulton had been one-half of Francie and Josie, had starred in variety and panto, and was a serious actor, too. The Rev I.M. Jolly became a Hogmanay must-see for many Scots.

8) Ashley Jensen

Jensen was fetchingly eccentric as Ricky Gervais's best friend, Maggie, in the Gervais/Stephen Merchant-penned TV hit, Extras. She has gone on to refine her comedic and acting gifts in TV and in film, including Ugly Betty and Agatha Raisin. The good news is that she can be seen alongside Gervais again in After Life, Ricky's latest dark comedy, in which he plays a man struggling after the death of his wife. It starts on Netflix on March 8.

7) Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill

The co-creators, writers and stars of Still Game and Chewin’ The Fat have more than earned their place among the upper echelons of Scottish comedy’s hall of fame, gifting the nation an enduring lexicon that includes “Two pints, p****”; “That’s plenty!”; “You’ve taken that too far”; and “Take a drink!”.

6) Ronnie Corbett

Both venerated and under-rated (how did he pull that off?) Edinburgh-born Corbett came for the fore during the satire boom of the 1960s. But it was in the 1970s and 1980s that his star truly ascended, courtesy of his double act with Ronnie Barker and the programme they fronted, The Two Ronnies. Notionally he was the straight guy, but only notionally as subsequent generations of comics knew full well: David Walliams, Matt Lucas, Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais were among those who sought him out in his later years.

5) Frankie Boyle

Dark and pessimistic humour. Close to the bone jokes. Brutal analogies. Boyle stokes controversy with his no-holds-barred subject matter. A rare family-newspaper-friendly sample: “Las Vegas and Glasgow have a lot in common: they’re the only two places in the world where you can pay for sex with chips.”

4) Kevin Bridges

Impish, irreverent, clever, the natural successor to Connolly on the comedy stage – if he has the desire to keep going. Bridges manages to take seemingly ordinary life experience and turn it into something far less than ordinary. And he clearly has a head for political satire. "Working in Poundstretcher for no wages…working in a shop where everything is worth a quid except you.”

3) Elaine C Smith

A bona fide national treasure, Elaine C Smith’s career to date has encompassed not just comedy but also singing, straight acting (on both stage and screen), journalism, political campaigning, even teaching, all delivered with the aplomb and brio of a natural raconteur who excels at everything she turns her hand to.

Typically, however, she has a more self-effacing take on the motives behind her genre-defying years in the spotlight. The idea, she once said, is to “just keep moving – you’ll be less of a target”. Seriously, though, nobody is likely to be taking aim at the star, who turned 60 last year: the charisma oozing from her when she’s in character is unforced, and off-stage she’s as warm, personable, generous and defiantly un-starry as you would expect (and hope) her to be.

Smith’s list of achievements and associations runs the gamut from A (autobiography: hers is called Nothing Like A Dame) to, well if not Z than at least as far as W, standing for Wildcat Theatre. Smith first encountered its politically-inspired progenitor, 7:84, at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow as an 18-year-old and, suitably inspired, performed regularly with Wildcat throughout the 1980s, including in the original production of The Steamie. Among her other credits in serious acting roles are BBC One drama Two Thousand Acres Of Sky and Kay Mellor’s hit series The Syndicate.

But it’s for her contribution to comedy that she’s best known and in particular for the role filed under M: Mary Nesbitt, aka Mary Doll, aka the long-suffering spouse to Govan ne’er-do-well Rab C Nesbitt, he of string vest and filthy gutties fame.

Smith clocked up her first of many Rab C episodes when the show debuted with a one-off pilot episode in late 1988, and she was still there in 2014 for the New Year’s Day Special which found Rab fighting the bedroom tax. As an integral part of the much loved and award-winning show, she’s now firmly embedded in Scotland’s cultural DNA.

Nobody will ever hail Mary as a role model for Scottish women or a worthwhile advert for hands-off parenting, but as an iconic comic character there’s no touching her, and it’s hard to see who else in the Scottish acting firmament could have done her justice.

Away from the dysfunctional world of the Nesbitt family Smith’s comic skills have been put to good use in pantomime (she loves it. “I won Best Fairy in the UK which for me was better than winning a Bafta,” she cooed in 2018) and in less nihilistic TV sitcoms such as City Lights, in which she starred alongside the great Gerard Kelly, and in current hit Two Doors Down (she actually did win a BAFTA for that one).

Importantly, Smith also developed her own one-woman show, first mounting it in the mid-1990s and blazing an inspiring trail for a generation of younger Scottish actresses and comics to follow. And follow they have, another reason Elaine C Smith sits so high on our Scotland’s Funniest People list.

An Audience with Elaine C Smith, Kings Theatre, March 15

2) Armando Iannucci

In an era when fake news is both a reality and a slur to be flung at reputable media organisations by emotionally incontinent politicians, it often feels as if current affairs and the reporting off them have moved way beyond satire. Which may explain why Glasgow-born writer, producer, director and arch-satirist Armando Iannucci is heading into space for his next project – Avenue 5, a sci-fi comedy for HBO starring Hugh Laurie.

But if the next chapter in the Scot’s comic journey takes place off-planet he leaves behind a treasure trove of earth-bound gems and it’s on account of that three decade back catalogue that he ranks so highly in our Scotland’s Funniest People list.

Cerebral and opinionated, with a liking for the scabrous and possessed of the outsider’s eye which is vital for satire, Iannucci cut his teeth at BBC Radio Scotland in the late 1980s on the likes of No’ The Archie McPherson Show. But those same gnashers first left their mark on the wider cultural landscape when he co-created Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge character for BBC Radio 4’s On The Hour in 1991. In 1994 Iannucci and On The Hour co-star Chris Morris took the show to television as news parody The Day Today but Coogan and Iannucci would continue the Partridge association across three more series following the inimitable Alan, surely one of British comedy’s greatest creations, from the highs of television stardom to the lows of a static caravan and a berth on Radio Norfolk.

In 2001, Channel 4 gave Iannucci his own self-titled show. Inexplicably, it ran for only one season but had it not then we may have missed out on the show that came next – The Thick Of It, a fly-on-the-wall style mockumentary which debuted in 2005 and burrowed its way into the heart of the New Labour machine where it dispensed satirical headbutts to one and all. Many, though not all, of these were delivered by another inspired Iannucci creation, spin doctor and full-time sociopath Malcolm Tucker. He was played in the show by Peter Capaldi, another Glaswegian of Italian descent whose family were actually near-neighbours of the Iannuccis in Springburn.

Of course with so much of the UK’s political and media landscape being influenced and affected by the United States, the endlessly ambitious Iannucci was never going to limit himself to these shores. In 2009, he adapted The Thick Of It for cinema and dropped hapless British government minister Tom Hollander into Washington’s then un-drained political swamp where he was pitted against boorish American general James Gandolfini. The film was called In The Loop and it won Iannucci an Oscar nomination.

Three years later he created Veep for HBO. Starring former Seinfeld stalwart Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the US Vice President it took the TTOI format and tweaked it to create a hilarious political comedy which did for life in the West Wing what TTOI had done for the fictitious Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship (or DoSAC, as it was known). Veep is now in its seventh and final season and the previous six were all nominated for Emmy Awards. To date it was won 17, including Outstanding Comedy Series for the last three years running.

So, it’s space next for Armando Iannucci, a place where no-one can hear you scream (with laughter). But if the Scot remains true to form, don’t think you won’t be doing exactly that.

1) Billy Connolly

WHAT makes Billy Connolly not only the greatest comedian in the UK, but the world? We’ve long attached superlatives to his name, long tried to wonder what makes the Glaswegian so funny. There are those who cite Sir Billy’s surrealist streak and highlight how the former shipyard worker was influenced by the great Chic Murray.

But what is it about Connolly that’s allowed him to become a global superstar, a comedian, actor, documentary film maker and half decent banjo player? What defines him?

INSECURITY: All the great comedians are blessed with tragic insecurity and Connolly is no exception. It instils constant searching, an analysis of the world around which they keep trying to make sense of, in the hope that along the way it can provide comedy gold. “I think my securities far outweigh my insecurities,” he said. “I am not nearly as afraid of myself and my imagination as I used to be.”

But that wasn’t always the case at all. Recalling the seven year-old schoolboy who fell in a puddle and was laughed at, Connolly realised that being mocked was far better than being beaten by nuns, or the Aunt who looked after him, or his father who sexually abused him. He knew then that escape from perpetual misery involved making people laugh and actually enjoyed his puddle moment. But he also knew if he were to become a comedian he would have to cultivate a personality, to “make myself look windswept and interesting.”

It took time however. The quest involved the teenager experimenting with several worlds, from libraries to the Scouts, to cycling clubs to a religious group with whom he would travel to houses and read the Rosary to those “waiting to watch the Beverly Hillbillies.”

CAMPERY: Even during his years in the shipyards, Connolly was never reluctant to draw attention to himself, with outrageous footwear and outfits so far away from the regulation Burton The Tailor two-piece. Later on, this inveterate show-off’s stage outfits were never quite a threat to Elton, (an artist who also needed to hide behind the comfort of the costume) but he came close. No opportunity was ever missed to surprise, whether appearing in lurex, banana boots or deck chair jackets. The result provided a delicious incongruity; the insecure clown on stage telling jokes about his grim childhood, yet doing so with a continuous flick of highlighted hair, or a swish of the silky poncho.

HAIR: Connolly certainly put his hair to good use. He has always had a very good head of it, which allowed him to leave the shipyard aged 24. Anyone with less hair would never have dared to enter the milieu that was the Scottish folk scene in the Sixties. The folk scene was really a front however for his true intent; to follow Jimmy Logan and Stanley Baxter onto the entertainment circuit, and make the world laugh. But the hair suggested different characters; he could be the urban philosopher, he could be a hippie, before later taking on a grander power and nailing his audience with the Crucifixion.

AWARENESS OF REALITY: Connolly was shaped, moulded, battered and plated by the experience of working as a boilerman in the shipyards, from the ages of 16-24. Yet, while that provided reams of raw material for a comedy act, Connolly hadn’t yet worked up the courage to make the leap. Indeed, it took a colleague in the yards who told him to leave and never come back, to see him go off and pursue the dream.

Connolly, however, was clever enough to know he wasn’t ready to go it alone and for a while held the hands of Humblebums’ musicians Tam Harvey and Gerry Rafferty. And he was aware, that when matched with Rafferty, he was out of his depth. “I’ve got a voice like a goose farting in a tunnel,” he admitted. “And Gerry was very good for me. He taught me that I would never be a musician as long as my arse looked south. He was just so outstandingly good and getting better, and although I was getting better too, the space between us remained huge.”

BOLDNESS: Comedy, not folk music, was the future and success grew in Scotland with the release of his live albums. In 1975, a taxi driver told Michael Parkinson how good the Big Yin was and he landed an invite. But how many comedians when offered the chance to appear on the biggest chat show in the land would tell a joke about wife-murdering, sexual depravity and cheeky bicycle-parking? Connolly’s manager Frank Lynch figured this career was over before it really began. Wrong, Frank. So wrong.

REFUSAL TO BE CONSTRAINED: If Billy Connolly once had to battle with an inferiority complex, being told he was useless by the aunt he lived with, he did a very good job of hiding it as his career rolled on. If anyone every bothered to tell him he could never become a playwright, he certainly didn’t listen. (And Me Wi’ A Bad Leg, in 1976.) If anyone mentioned he couldn’t become a pop star, that too fell on deaf ears and he appeared on Top of The Pops several times with pastiches of Tammy Wynette’s DIVORCE and the Village People’s In The Navy. (In the Brownies).

What was also apparent was Connolly wasn’t afraid to cause political upset, to create divide, at one time describing the newly devolved Scottish government as “a pretendy wee parliament.” The man who at one time owned homes in Aberdeenshire, New York and Malta, believed himself to be a citizen of the world. And somehow he got away with his critiques because, well, he was above it all.

SOCIAL CHAMELEONISM: Connolly has been able to adapt to and fit in to a variety of worlds. His film career brought him into the orbit of the showbiz greats, the likes of Robin Williams and the Pythons, but far from feeling out of his depth, the Scot not only thrived but fed on his new source material. He discovered being Glaswegian could be a bonus. He made Glaswegians, for the first time, believe something very positive could come out of a housing scheme.

WRITING: But it’s his comic writing that confirms the man’s genius. Aged 14, he moved to the Glasgow housing scheme, Drumchapel. He said later, “Drumchapel is a housing estate just outside Glasgow. Well, it’s in Glasgow, but just outside civilisation.” His similes are close to perfect. After appearing on the same bill as Elton John in the States in 1976, the Scot was hit on the head with a pipe. “They made me feel as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit,” he said later.

HE’S A VARIETY ARTIST: While Connolly could come up with Chic Murray like aphorisms – “Marriage is a great invention – but then so is the bicycle repair kit,” or brilliant parodies such as the Crucifixion, he has never been afraid to bend towards the Bernard Manning; “If women are so bloody perfect at multi-tasking, how come they can’t have a headache and sex at the same time.” Or how about: “A biker goes to the doctor with hearing problems. ‘Can you describe the symptoms to me?’ ‘Yes. Homer is a fat yellow lazy b****** and Marge is a skinny bird with big blue hair!'”

AND A PSYCHOLOGIST: Connolly offers big performance. No Rich Hall -side-of-mouth-jokes. He doesn’t just tell you a funny story. He throws it right onto your face. But he also understands and highlights the fragilities and complexities of the human condition, revealed with his line, "Never trust a man, who when left alone with a tea cosey doesn't try it on." Even his throwaway comments “Bigotry is a hobby in Glasgow” can’t fail to resonate.

SELF-DEPRECATION: He can be in your face and seemingly confident but knows his limits and when to rein it in. Connolly, for example, points out he is usually killed off in the first 15 minutes of his movies. But he can act as he revealed in Queen Victoria biopic Mrs Brown, a perfect vehicle for his ability to switch from aggression to tenderness in the flick of an eyelid. But it’s also hard to see past his deliciously quixotic role in 2014 dark comedy What We Did On Our Holiday.

HE’S A SALESMAN: Connolly has sold Glasgow to the world. Okay, it wasn’t a shortbread tin version of his hometown, more a rusty Spam tin, with bits of stale meat still inside, but he never, ever failed to make it funny. Where Joyce’s Ulysses transformed the image of Dublin from a backwater to a metropolis, Connolly too has sold his hometown, its colour and vibrancy, its humour as dark as a boilermaker’s overalls.

HE’S A FIGHTER: Billy Connolly offers up the black comedy line, “I’ve got Parkinson’s Disease. And I wish tae f*** he’d take it back.” But at the same time Sir Billy is entirely aware of the impact he’s had on so many people. And so he should be. "I'm very lucky in as much as I made a bit of a mark, and you think, well, I must have done something right.”

The Glasgow International Comedy Festival runs from March 14-31. See

Compiled by Susan Flockhart, Barry Didcock, Susan Swarbrick, Brian Beacom, Vicky Allan, Russell Leadbetter, Drew Allan, Marianne Taylor, Teddy Jamieson, Mark Smith, Alison Rowat and Ann Fotheringham.

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