In 2021, with the majority of the UK plunged into lockdown, we’re desperately in need of something to brighten the January blues. But at a time when our feeds have been filled with bleak headlines, Teflon-coated politicians and an increasingly barren cultural scene, there has been a ray of hope.
A number of comedians have set up camp online, dedicating the content they’d usually save for comedy clubs and fringe festivals to their social media followers. From celebrity impersonations to lipsyncing, original sketches and musical routines, they’ve adapted to new mediums such as TikTok and Instagram Live, showing off online the improvisational skills they’d usually use on stage.
As a much-needed break from the doomscrolling (and scrolling and scrolling), here are 11 comedians you should be looking out for this year...
Armed with a green screen and some questionable wigs, Lucia Keskin – or Chi with a C – made a name for herself last year parodying some of the biggest shows on TV in which she played every role. But these aren’t your normal parodies, as the ridiculously talented 19-year-old writes her own new mini-episodes, in which the cast of Sex Education are forced to self-isolate or Lorraine Kelly interviews the actor formerly known as Lorraine Kelly on daytime ITV. Genius doesn’t even come close, honestly.
If you like your comedy laden with eye rolls and tongues smugly curled over the teeth, then Alistair Green is the comedian for you. No one is safe from his parodies, from anti-maskers to your family and their insufferable Christmas games of Trivial Pursuit. You’ll struggle to find someone who puts more effort into their personalised video messages on Cameo too; they’re works of art.
I have a firm belief that there’s nothing funnier than self-delusion or saying words wrong, so Meg Stalter ticks two big comedy boxes for me. The American comedian produces side-splitting sketches for Twitter, playing characters such as “The waitress who keeps flirting but won't put your order in” and “Woman goes on date seconds after getting the vaccine” and subsequently won’t stop singing about kissing in French.
It was actually a video of Abi Clarke lipsyncing to the Mamma Mia! musical soundtrack with her dad – who originated the role played by Colin Firth in the film – that first introduced me to the comedian. But musical theatre aside, Clarke has spent her lockdown producing hilarious original comedy sketches for TikTok, playing office colleagues who answer every question with a never ending chain of “good, you?”, lipsyncing Mean Girls and even contributing to the Ratatouille musical trend with a song from the perspective of the woman with a gun.
Trevaldwyn provided some much-needed light relief during the UK's first lockdown, editing Boris Johnson's big announcement to make it look as if he was grounding his teenage daughter (played by Trevaldwyn): "Please tell me I can still go to the inter-schools spring fling formal." Whether it's recreating the vibe at the Christmas lunch table or offering up obnoxious New Year's Resolutions – "The only meat I'll be having is meetings for my new lifestyle blog" – he's been offering up doses of levity ever since.
If you have friends who are a) attracted to men and b) on dating apps, chances are you saw Will Hislop’s “feminist f***boy” video last year. In it, the comedian – who is the son of Ian Hislop – plays the instantly recognisable “man who’s not as woke as he thinks”, uttering the immortal lines: “I don’t read white men anymore and neither should you, apart from my texts” and “How can I be a misogynist when I wear a little earring?” Elsewhere on Twitter, you can find Hislop imitating Michael Gove drawing up the school curriculum and an English teacher trying to be cool, all to hilarious effect.
As we leave 2020 behind for (hopefully) better things in 2021, one much-tweeted phrase should be carried through with us: “The devil works hard, but Munya Chawawa works harder.” The British-Zimbabwean comedian was rightly celebrated for his lightning-fast sketches in response to news of the day, from BLM protests to grime feuds. His best known characters are BBC News reporter Barty Crease, as well as posh drill rapper Unknown P, the latter of whom’s name he signed a major record deal under last year. Not bad, eh?
Musically trained comedian Sooz Kempner is well known on the comedy circuit for her cabaret-style stand-up, but has been treating fans to shows and videos on Twitch throughout 2020. You might have read her genuinely jawdropping Twitter thread about performing for freemasons last year (I implore you to read it if not), but a recent favourite has to be her incredible impression of Liza Minnelli reading the transcript of Donald Trump’s controversial call to officials in Georgia. It shouldn’t work but it really, really does.
In the age of TikTok, when users can take audio from other TikTokkers videos and use it to soundtrack their own, having a recognisable voice is key. There are few more distinctive than Majimbo, a 19-year-old student from Kenya who became a viral sensation in 2020 for her hilarious videos that are basically made to be shared with the caption: “Mood.” “I’ve had some people think I’m shy, others have said I’m an introvert,” she says in one video, before cackling and adding: “I just don’t like you, you’re the problem.” Who among us cannot relate?
Another face you’ve probably seen all over your social media, US comedian Skinner – AKA Benny Drama – always puts 100 per cent into his videos, from his spot-on celebrity impersonations to his flawless make-up. A recent gem sees Skinner heading home for Christmas from Los Angeles with a face pumped full of Juvederm, spouting: “Daddy, have you heard of Quibi? I was an extra on Chrissy Teigen’s courtroom show – Ryan Murphy hasn’t noticed me yet but I think I’ve got this whole acting thing in the bag.”
Daisy May Cooper
Relatability in its true form is something basically every celebrity wants to exude, but very few manage. The queen of relatability has to be Daisy May Cooper, who may be best known as the co-creator and star of This Country, but was introduced to a new audience during lockdown for her hilarious Instagram videos. She’s since racked up more than 800,000 followers with her honest videos about the realities of parenting in a pandemic, her braless dancing and her lipsyncing, and has earned herself national treasure status in the process.
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