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The UK’s Top Comedians by Search Volume

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Being a former stand-up comedian (Don’t just take my word for it – “Head, shoulders, knees and toes above the rest…mighty stage presence and impressively high punchline ratio” Brian Donaldson, Scotsman), inevitably my use of search stats was eventually going to turn towards the state of comedy in the UK. With the Edinburgh Fringe looming, now seemed like a good time to have a look at the figures.

Mind you, the Fringe is something that many comedians look forward to but that I usually look back on with the musical score from Platoon playing in my head.


Scotland vs. England vs. Wales vs. Northern Ireland

Regional differences are something that I was always aware of when doing stand-up. Not necessarily in as simplistic a way as England vs Scotland, but I did find that the further South I travelled, the more shocking any on-the-edge jokes seemed to become to audiences. Between Aberdeen and Manchester I was funny; any further down the road and the situation was less clear.

There’s also the more simple matter of cultural touchstones. Some aspects of comedy will touch on a ‘universal truth’, while others may touch on a more localised truth. Not all humour travels.

So, if looking at search numbers for comedians across the UK and then dividing them up into separate searches for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland – what would I find?

Well, in what will probably come as a surprise to very few comedians, Scotland and Northern Ireland seemed to share a similar taste in comedians when it comes to searching for them. The names in their top 3 are the same, albeit in a different order:


  1. Kevin Bridges
  2. Billy Connolly
  3. Russell Brand

Northern Ireland

  1. Russell Brand
  2. Kevin Bridges
  3. Billy Connolly

What of England and Wales though? It turns out that they share the same top 4 of most searched for comedians. Rhod Gilbert doesn’t quite make it into that number, though he is tied for the next spot with Russell Howard, John Bishop, Noel Fielding, Billy Connolly and Ricky Gervais.


  1. Russell Brand
  2. Michael McIntyre
  3. = Miranda Hart & Jack Whitehall


  1. Russell Brand
  2. = Miranda Hart, Michael McIntyre, Jack Whitehall

Russell Brand is the only name that England and Wales share with Scotland and Northern Ireland’s top searches and it was something of a debate as to whether to include him in the list or not. Is he an activist these days as much as a comedian? Is he a Hollywood celebrity rather than a stand-up? In the end, he’s been included so you can make up your own mind.

City vs. City

It’s probably not too surprising that Kevin Bridges and Billy Connolly dominate in Scotland (Frankie Boyle was no.4), due to an understandable pride over their talents as well as the way in which their material resonates with a home audience.

They’re both from Glasgow though and there’s often seen as being a distinction between the tastes and styles of Scotland’s largest city and the the country’s capital, Edinburgh. Would this be borne out by the search volumes? In a word, no.

For both Edinburgh and Glasgow, the results were the same:

  1. Kevin Bridges
  2. = Russell Brand, Billy Connolly

I looked at Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. Of those, Kevin Bridges only came top in the Scottish locations.

However, ‘local heroes’ did have an impact on other results. In Manchester, Jason Manford tied with Jack Whitehall for 2nd place behind Russell Brand, while in Newcastle, Sarah Millican did the same.

The UK picture overall

Treating comedy like snooker for a moment (and isn’t all of life kinda like snooker anyway? No? Fair enough.), I’ve found the Top 16 of comedians by UK Google search volumes.

comedian search volumes

For me, the interesting name on the list is Katherine Ryan, who has become something of a TV regular but who I wouldn’t initially have predicted as matching familiar faces like Jimmy Carr, John Bishop and Sarah Millican.

However, it is important to remember the factors that could have affected these stats, such as who was touring during that period or released a new DVD. Either/both would be likely to have an impact. These figures are fairly top-level, without too much drilling down into them having been done. Why’s that? Well, because I do actually have to do some work too.

However, hopefully these stats have not only given you an insight into the UK’s comedy tastes but also into what can be revealed by using search data. At Ambergreen, we’re keen to help you create content that really captures the interest of your intended audience. That doesn’t just mean using search data around pieces of content, it can also mean using search data to become content. Whatever area you’re interested in researching, we can help.

All figures relate to the 12 month period up to the end of May 2015.



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