Feature: Comedy idols

Date posted: 20 Mar 2013Author: STC

To mark the Sydney season of the National Theatre's hit comedy One Man, Two Guvnorsin Sydney Theatre, the cast share with us their comedy idols...

Owain Arthur: Just like my character in One Man, Two Guvnors, I'm a bit greedy and I can't make do with one comedy idol. It's got to be two and they are Jerry Lewis and Norman Wisdom (pictured). Why? Well it's obvious isn't it… because they're FUNNY!

Ed Bennett: I've also opted for two comedy idols! Bill Hicks (pictured) and Norman Wisdom. Bill because his humour was dark and he didn't give a damn, and Norman because I grew up watching him and he was a wonderful mix of old school Buster Keaton-style physical humour and modern Ealing comedy. A truly hilarious combination.

Amy Booth-Steel: My comedy idol is Julie Walters. She's an absolute LEGEND!!!! Her characters are larger than life but always rooted in absolute truth. I've loved her since the second I saw her rocking a silver catsuit in Stepping Outcirca 1992.

Nick Cavaliere: My comedy idol is Oliver Hardy (pictured right). I used to watch Laurel and Hardy as a kid. I like Stan Laurel too. And if I'm being greedy, I'd like to add Ronnie Barker in the comedy TV series Porridge. Awesome.

Sabrina Carter: My comedy hero is Billy Connolly. Maybe it's a Scottish thing (being a weegie like Billy) but his observations on life are funny, realistic and on the money. All generations love him for his anecdotes. My particular favourite being The Crucifixionwhich if you haven't heard, take a listen.

Alicia Davies: I'd have to say Jennifer Aniston. Her comic timing is, in my opinion, second to none. She's bold, brave and totally willing to be vocally and physically ridiculous for the sake of comedy. A modern day female clown who was clearly born gifted with naturally funny bones.

Mark Jackson: John Cleese is my comedy idol because he taught me that comedy is essentially cruel but that's just how we like it. Oh, and also because he's got it in for waiters!

Richie Hart: My idol has to be Calvin (pictured left) from Calvin & Hobbes, the comic strip. I know it's a comic, but I grew up reading Calvin & Hobbes from an early age and Calvin is basically me.

Joshua Lacey: I think my comedy idol would be Peter Sellers. Simply watch Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: three different characters in one film, each of which are given completely different nuances. Like all his characters, it's the subtlety combined with the physical choices that make him a genius.

Colin Mace: Aged 10, sitting on the floor of my school assembly, a man arrived, who within minutes, had us falling about. 'Who's that?' I asked my neighbour. 'That's Eric Morecombe, stupid,' he replied. 'The funniest man on the planet.' How right he was. The 10-year-old me fell in love with Eric that day, with performing in general and with the whole idea of making people laugh. Cheers Eric.

Mark Monero: I have two comedy idols: John Cleese for his wonderful and extreme physicality and Les Dawson (pictured) for his marvellous sardonic wit.

Philip Murray Warson: Eddie Izzard is my comedy idol. He's smart, fearless and comfortable in his own skin, and his comedy style of stream of consciousness with a hint of Pythonesque humour makes him pretty unique. And he looks good in a dress.

Alan Pearson: Jack Lemmon (pictured second from left). His performance in the film Some Like It Hotis hilarious. One of my favourite lines is: 'We're up the creek and you wanna hock the paddle.'

Oliver Seymour Marsh: My comedy idol is Christopher Guest. His role play, subject choices and improvised characters lead to a lot of very naturalistic and keenly observed filmmaking. One of my favourite films would have to be This is Spinal Tap, which stars Guest and is a spoof mocumentary about a British 1970s rock group struggling to find their place in the 1980s.

Kellie Shirley: Kathy Burke is someone I find inspiring as a comedian. She's a fantastic actress, writer and director, and always has me in stitches. Harry Enfield and Chumswas on the box when I was growing up and really made an impact on me. I'd love to work with her as not only is she hugely talented, I bet she'd be fun to have a cheeky pint with. She was recently on Desert Island Discsand I fell in love with her even more.

Sheun Shote: I don't have a comedy idol, but I do have a comedy idol duo which is Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder with their performance in the movie Stir Crazy... it's a classic.

Billy Stookes: My comedy idol has to be Steve Coogan, for creating the utterly brilliant Alan Partridge. He is one of the most cringeworthy characters ever created, who is realistic and worryingly relatable to people in day to day life. There's nothing else like it.

Russell Wilcox: My comedy idol was Tommy Cooper, because he made absolute precision look completely chaotic...!

Leon Williams: David Jason (pictured centre) as Del Boy in the TV series Only Fools and Horses. I watched it from the age of 11 and would buy the video tapes every two weeks with my pocket money. I would watch the whole VHS tape on that Saturday night and I can still quote much of it word perfect. I found his character so upbeat and charming and a proper jack the lad but on the converse he would also find moments of real heart and vulnerability. That show made me want to be an actor.

Matthew Woodyatt: My comedy hero, if I was forced to choose just one, would be Nathan Lane. I love his mix of pace, precision and pathos. He swoops from zany to heartbreaking via pithy and outrageous in the blink of an eye. A true clown. I'd love to smuggle in Ronnie Barker and Terry Scott too, if I'm able. Brilliant character comedians with genuinely funny bones. Love 'em.

Rosie Wyatt: My favourite comedy character ever is David Brent (created and performed by Ricky Gervais, pictured). Every couple of months I watch the whole of The Officefrom start to finish in one go; it never fails to make me laugh no matter how many times I've watched it. The stand-ups that I admire are Daniel Kitson, Josie Long, Sam Fletcher and I've just started watching Louis C.K's work. And if I could ever get anywhere close to being as funny an actress as Julie Walters then I'd be pretty happy.

One Man, Two Guvnors, Sydney Theatre, 30 March - 11 May, 2013.

This is an extract from the program for One Man, Two Guvnors, available in the Sydney Theatre foyer for $10.