World-famous Cambridge Comedians

Our world needs comedy, hence Comedians. But why is it so important?

First of all, in a world full of negativity, a good laugh makes our days easier, lighter, brighter and fuller. Next, a good joke makes our problems smaller and our hopes higher. Finally, we can mention the positive effects of laughing. For example, a good laugh can lower blood pressure and reduce their risk of stroke and heart attack. It can reduce stress hormone levels, work your abs and improves cardiac health. Also, laughing boosts T-cells, triggers the release of endorphins and produces a general sense of well-being. So, let us introduce 10 fantastic well-known Comedians; straight from the stages of Cambridge!

Comedy in Cambridge

Cambridge Footlights is a world-famous student comedy society, who first aired the talents of some of the foremost British comedians and actors. During term, they produce fortnightly Smokers at the ADC Theatre and other college and theatre venues around Cambridge. Many former members of the Cambridge Footlights have won Oscars, BAFTAs and other awards and are highly successful in the entertainment and media industry.

1. Stephen Fry

The English Actor, Comedian and Writer was a student at Queens College Cambridge in the late 70’s/early 80’s and was a member of Cambridge Footlights. He began his career in television with the broadcasting of The Cellar Tapes, the 1981 Cambridge Footlights Revue which was written by himself, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson and Tony Slattery. Fry and (also Cambridge Comedian) Laurie are the comic double act Fry and Laurie. Fry’s acting roles include the Golden Globe Award-nominated film ‘Wilde‘, the BBC television series Blackadder, the television series Kingdom, Bones, and V for Vendetta.

2. Hugh Laurie

Hugh Laurie was a member of Selwyn College, Cambridge at the same time as Stephen Fry and became a member of the Cambridge Footlights after glandular fever put pay to his Rowing Career. He is perhaps best-known as ‘Doctor House‘ from the Fox medical drama series House, for which he received two Golden Globe Awards. He was also listed in the 2011 Guinness World Records as the most-watched leading man on television. Laurie first gained recognition for his work from the comedy double act Fry and Laurie with his friend Stephen Fry, whom he met through Emma Thompson whilst attending Cambridge University, where Laurie was president of the Footlights.

3. Emma Thompson

The British Actress, Screenwriter, Activist, Author, and Comedian attended Newnham College, University of Cambridge, where she became a member of the Footlights troupe. After appearing in several comedy programmes, Thompson came to prominence in 1987 in two BBC TV series, Tutti Frutti and Fortunes of War, winning the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress for her work in both. Her other notable film and television credits include for example the Harry Potter film series, Wit, Love Actually, Angels in America, Nanny McPhee, Brave, Beauty and the Beast, Late Night, and so on.

4. John Cleese

John Marwood Cleese was attending Downing College in Cambridge. Emerging from the Footlights in the 1960s, he specialises in satire, black comedy, sketch comedy and surreal humour. Cleese achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter and performer on The Frost Report. In the late 1960s, he co-founded Monty Python, the comedy troupe responsible for the sketch show Monty Python’s Flying Circus. In the 1970s, he co-wrote Fawlty Towers with his first wife, Connie Booth, in which he starred as well. Cleese received the 1980 BAFTA for Best Entertainment Performance, and in 2000 the show topped the British Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes. He also starred in films, such as the Rat Race, Silverado, two James Bond films, two Harry Potter films and three Shrek films.

5. Peter Edward Cook (1937 – 1995)

The English Satirist and Comedic Actor was a leading figure of the British satire boom of the 1960s, and was also associated with the anti-establishment comedic movement that emerged in the United Kingdom in the late 1950s. During his studies at the University of Cambridge, Cooke became involved with the Footlights, where he later became president. After his graduation, Cook created comedy stage revue Beyond the Fringe beginning a long-running partnership with Dudley Moore. He also opened a comedy club called The Establishment in Soho, Central London in 1961. In 1965, Cook and Moore began a television career together with Not Only… But Also. Later he presented in Saturday Night Live in the United States.

6. Sue Perkins

Susan Elizabeth Perkins studied English at New Hall (now Murray Edwards College) at the University of Cambridge, graduating in 1991. Of course, she was a member of the Footlights as well, where she met Mel Giedroyc. In fact, she was Footlights president during the academic year 1990–91. Perkins and Giedroyc took their first steps into television under the name Mel and Sue. The duo began to gain success and they were short-listed for the Daily Express Best Newcomers Award at the Edinburgh Festival in 1993. Perkins also appeared on several BBC shows, such as Have I Got News for You, Mock the Week or Celebrity Weakest Link.


7. Eric Idle

Idle is a former member of Monty Python, a member of the parody rock band The Rutles, and the writer for the music and lyrics of the Broadway musical Spamalot. He attended Pembroke College, where he studied English. Later he was invited to join the Footlights Club by Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie, where he became a president in 1965 and was the first to allow women to join the club. Idle also performed many of Python’s songs, such as “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” (from Life of Brian), and the “Galaxy Song” (from The Meaning of Life). After Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Idle hosted Saturday Night Live in the US four times in the first five seasons.

8. Richard Ayoade

The English Comedian, Actor, Filmmaker, Author and Television presenter is probably best known for his role as a socially awkward IT technician in The IT Crowd, for which he won the 2014 BAFTA for Best Male Comedy Performance. Ayoade has also served as the president of Footlights during his studies at St Catharine’s College. Later he appeared in the comedy shows, for example, The Mighty Boosh. After directing music videos for the Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Kasabian, Ayoade wrote and directed the comedy-drama film Submarine in 2010, an adaptation of the 2008 novel by Joe Dunthorne.

9. David Baddiel

David Lionel Baddiel also studied English at King’s College, Cambridge, where he became a member of the Footlights and graduated with a double first. Later he became known for his work alongside Rob Newman in The Mary Whitehouse Experience and partnership with Frank Skinner. Besides comedy, Baddiel is also a published novelist and a screenwriter and the author of the children’s novels The Parent Agency, The Person Controller, AniMalcolm, Birthday Boy, and Head Kid.

10. Jimmy Carr

James Anthony Patrick Carr is a British-Irish comedian, writer and television presenter. Carr studied social science and political science at Gonville and Caius College and graduated with a first in 1994. After becoming established as a stand-up comedian, Carr began to appear in a number of Channel 4 television shows, becoming the host of the panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and also The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, a comedy panel show that airs each December to review the past year. He also hosted the Channel 4 game shows Distraction and Your Face or Mine? and presented the 100s series of programmes for Channel 4, such as the 100 Worst Pop Records, 100 Worst Britons, 100 Greatest Cartoon Characters, and so on.

Hope you had fun reading this blog post and that we provided some fun and useful information!
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