Pappy’s all time comedy top 10

Comedy sketch troupe Pappy's — aka Ben Clark, Matthew Crosby and Tom Parry —are back in Norwich next week with their latest evening of silliness, All Business. But who is the business in the comedy business? SIMON PARKIN asked them to pick their top 10 comedy heroes.

'When we were asked to write about our top 10 comedians we decided to split the list in two. Here are the top five comedians that inspired us to get into comedy and our top five favourite comedians from today's live circuit. We'll leave it to you to work out which is which…'

1. Harry Hill – There are few comics on TV today who have a genuine cross-generational appeal but Harry Hill is one of them. He has a tremendous commitment to being stupid and manages to be family friendly without ever feeling like he's doing a kids show. A lot of comedians are described as risky or edgy but Hill takes genuine comic risks in his stand-up, setting up jokes that won't pay off until much later in his set. He didn't compromise he let the mainstream come to him.

2. Marx Brothers – No one makes movies like the Marx Brothers. They feel like very straight, conventional movies have been invaded by these three anarchic, joyful, weirdoes. We aspire to be like them, a lunactic group with 3 very distinct characters creating chaos wherever they go.

Most Read

3. Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer – The first time in our lifetimes that we saw something genuinely weird and silly on TV. We've certainly been inspired by the homemade feel of their shows. There's also something a bit old fashioned about them which appeals to us: the characters, the singing the old-school variety element. There's also a real bonhomie between the two of them. You get the feeling that no one in the world finds Vic Reeves funnier than Bob Mortimer.

4. Morecambe and Wise – The Guv'nors. We can't think of anyone who doesn't like Morcambe and Wise. They were popular without ever being cool and, like Harry Hill, their comedy is extremely unifying; the entire family can sit down and laugh. Another thing that has inspired us is that they'd never shy away from a joke no matter how groanworthy it might be.

5. Monty Python's Flying Circus – In terms of sketch there's no one who can touch them. The structure of the Python TV shows was a massive inspiration, sketches and ideas flowing into each other with jokes being set up early to pay off later in the show. When we first started we were described as Pythonesque, which we took as a compliment (even when it wasn't used as one).

6. Nick Helm – We saw Nick Helm's last Edinburgh show, Keep Hold of the Gold, 4 times in a month. He's this gruff, shouty comic who also manages to balance stupid jokes, songs and audience interaction with a tremendous fragility and pathos. What's so impressive about Helm is the audacity of his ideas. Within the first ten minutes of his show in Edinburgh he had the entire audience up on the stage singing a song. Most performers would have closed a show with that. Not Helm.

7. Tim Vine – Obviously Tim is loved for his puns and one-liners, but he's so much more than just a jokesmith. He's got a deep understanding of comedy that comes across in everything he does. This is why you can watch him deliver joke after joke, pun after pun for hours and not get bored. We also share with him a love of silly props. Last year we shared a venue with him in Edinburgh and, after he'd watched us lug our home-made props off the stage, he said, 'My life's been held together by gaffer tape too.'

8. Simon Munnery – The word genius (especially in relation to comedy) can be overused but Simon Munnery is a true original. There's no one else on the circuit who writes comedy- or even thinks- in the way that he does. He's currently on tour with his show, Self Employed. If you have a chance, definitely go and see it.

9. Josie Long – Josie's a brilliant example of a performer who can apparently turn any aspect of her life into comedy. If she's read a particularly dense book on the make up of the galaxy she can not only talk about it engagingly onstage, she can be brilliantly funny about it. She also encourages the same in others with her fantastic bespoke comedy nights. When we first started she really championed our stuff, calling us her 'favourite mid-twenties skit team'.

10. Pappy's – The self-styled best live sketch team in the UK. Not that original, but they've stolen from some of the very best (see above).

t Pappy's: All Business is at Norwich Arts Centre on April 26, �12 (�10 cons), 01603 660352,