U.K. comedian Russell Brand has not one but two new movies out next month: the animated Easter feature 'Hop' and the comedic remake 'Arthur.'
Brand is a funny guy, sure. He came over to America with balls of steel, insulting our pop stars (Jonas Brothers) and then marrying one (Katy Perry). Say what you will about his controversial hosting job at the 2008 VMAs or his explicit drug-fueled tell-all 'My Booky Wook' or his past troubles with sex addiction, but Brand has undeniable comedic presence.
But Brand is slowly becoming a little too ubiquitous in America; where there was once a devilish scene-stealer there's now someone whose face we're kind of tired of seeing.
Why is Brand the mouthpiece for British comedy in the States right now? Here are 15 U.K. comedians who are funnier -- but far less famous in the U.S. -- than Russell Brand.
15. Sean Lock
Sean Lock won the British Comedy Award in 2000 in the Best Live Comic category. He was also voted the 55th greatest stand-up comic ever on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups in 2007 and again in the updated 2010 list. (This time, as the 19th-greatest stand-up comic.)
Lock's known for his witty complaints, surreal gags and hilarious put-downs. Though he's not widely known in America yet, he is respected by his comedy colleagues. It's a good first step.
14. Jessica (Stevenson) Hynes
Jessica (Stevenson) Hynes is a comedy writer and stand-up who has worked with UK-to-U.S. crossover celebrities Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. She's a hilarious lady in her own right, having created, written and starred in the British sitcom 'Spaced.' Recently, she said she's hoping to focus more on her stand-up performance, which was exciting news for her fans.
In 2009, Hynes got her foot in the door in America by being nominated for a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play. She only lost out to the great Angela Lansbury. Not bad!
13. Martin Freeman
Martin Freeman will soon be known to American audiences as Bilbo Baggins in the 2012 'Lord of the Rings' prequel, 'The Hobbit.' Before that, he tickled our fancies as Tim on the British original version of 'The Office.' (His character became John Krasinski's Jim in the U.S.) Americans might also know him from 'Love Actually,' 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' and the BBC's new 'Sherlock Holmes' TV show.
While his 'Office' counterpart Krasinski broke out and starred in films in the States, Freeman unfortunately remained funny mostly in Britain. Hopefully, his turn as Bilbo will include some necessary humor or, at least, rockets him to superstardom.
12. Andy Zaltzman
While his buddy and comedy partner John Oliver tackles British issues on 'The Daily Show,' Andy Zaltzman hasn't hit it as big in America. It's a crying shame, too, because Zaltzman is a political comedic genius, whose material has fueled much-needed debate and analysis.
His latest work is a satirical news podcast with Oliver called 'The Bugle' that is as informative as it is hilarious. It's about time America paid attention!
11. Mark Watson
Watching Mark Watson do stand-up is like watching a puppy nose a ball around: He's so damn endearing. He smiles and laughs throughout his sets and his neurotic body language is part of what makes him so funny.
Watson's done a lot as a TV show host in Britain, hosting the quiz show 'We Need Answers' and the sports panel 'Mark Watson Kicks Off.' He's also written three novels. Perhaps Watson's too busy to bother breaking into America.
10. Stewart Lee
Stewart Lee is the comedian's comedian of Britain. He's best known for co-writing and directing the critically-acclaimed and controversial stage show 'Jerry Springer -- The Opera,' though he's been doing stand-up for what seems like forever. His nonchalant delivery lends itself to frequent repetition and call-backs.
Lee is universally beloved in the stand-up world and he's been ranked among American comedy legends Steve Martin and Robin Williams, yet he's still pretty unknown in the States. Unacceptable!
9. Robert Webb & David Mitchell
Mitchell & Webb, as this duo call themselves, are best known for their hilarious point-of-view Channel 4 sitcom 'Peep Show.' Mitchell plays the frumpy, neurotic nerd Mark and Webb is his dim-witted best friend Jeremy (Jez).
Together they're a perfect pair of horrible people you can't help but laugh at. The duo is shameless when it comes to creating comedy gold. It's questionable whether general American audiences could handle the brilliant irreverence of 'Peep Show.'
8. Johnny Vegas
Johnny Vegas definitely isn't for everyone, but the man knows how to commit to his act. Vegas is a staple in the UK comedy scene and he's known for his in-your-face antics and balls of steel. His bizarre rants, large size and high-pitched, yet throaty, voice make him one of a kind.
Vegas does things on stage no other comedian would dare to do and he does them amazingly. He's also been on TV and in some feature films -- some actually dramatic! If people thought Brand's VMA hosting was cheeky, they'd never recover if Vegas took the wheel.
7. Tim Minchin
Tim Minchin was born in the U.K., but he's spent most of his stand-up career in Australia. But it seemed wrong not to include him on this list. Minchin's unique musical comedy has led to three CDs, three DVDs and countless international stand-up tours. When you see Minchin (and his crazy hair) behind the piano, you know you're in for a good time.
In the American comedy scene, Minchin is well-known, but he's never gone mainstream in the States like other U.S. musical-comedy acts such as Stephen Lynch and Bo Burnham. That's a shame since he's arguably more talented than them.
6. Bill Bailey
American audiences might know Bill Bailey best from pirated YouTube copies of 'Nevermind the Buzzcocks,' where he was one of two team captains every week. Bailey is known for his "part troll" appearance, his witty musical stand-up and his flipped take on traditional joke formats.
Bailey is a big name in the UK, but he's hardly known in the States. A total travesty. Those Yanks need to learn to appreciate this troll.
5. Daniel Kitson
Perhaps Daniel Kitson hasn't broken out in America yet because he hates doing television gigs. Kitson is known in the industry for shunning TV work because of the lack of control over the final product. But that doesn't mean he isn't funnier than the people we do see on our boob tubes.
Kitson's thick Yorkshire accent adds to his intricate writing and warm story telling. Putting Kitson on this list is probably questionable, but only because it's a list Kitson doesn't seem to want to be on. His fans in the U.S., however, feel differently.
4. Josie Long
Josie Long's comedy is often described as whimsical. While that's true, it's not without sharp writing and hilarious execution. Long has been performing stand-up since she was 14 years old, winning BBC New Comedy Awards when she was just 17.
I once watched Long improvise by fielding questions from a live audience at New York's Upright Citizen's Brigade Theater while pretending to be a famous astronaut. It was brilliant and made me wonder why she hasn't yet broken out in the U.S.
3. Richard Ayoade
Richard Ayoade is best known for playing Maurice Moss on Channel 4's nerd-comedy show 'The IT Crowd,' of which he is regularly the best part. As a member of the legendary 'The Footlights' comedy troupe, he worked with John Oliver on hilarious pantomimes and shows. He's worked with 'The Mighty Boosh' and directs too -- most recently an episode of the U.S. comedy sitcom 'Community.' What a Jack of all hilarious trades!
Though 'The IT Crowd' doesn't air in America (Correction: It does run in the US, on IFC! Thank you, commentors!), Ayoade has gained a loving online fan-base that's definitely clamoring for more.
2. Simon Amstell
Simon Amstell got his start cracking wise on the celebrity interview show 'PopWorld' and moved on to cracking wise on the pop quiz show 'Nevermind the Buzzcocks.' Now, he cracks wise in his own one-man stand up show titled 'Do Nothing' and on a sitcom about his family called 'Grandma's House.' His quick wit, endearing self-deprecation and curly mop-top make it impossible not to fall a little bit in love with him.
Amstell and Russell Brand are buds, with Amstell appearing on Brand's radio show and Brand appearing on a controversial, never-aired episode of 'Buzzcocks.' Amstell has done his own show at New York's Upright Citizen's Brigade Theater to sold-out crowds. Not that Amstell's persona lends itself to caring about such things, but we think he should definitely be more famous than his friend.
1. Noel Fielding
Noel Fielding is more than the other half of 'The Mighty Boosh' duo (with fellow awesome human Julian Barratt) or a Bill Bailey-fill in on 'Nevermind the Buzzcocks' or even Brand's BFF from shows like 'The Big Fat Quiz of the Year.'
Fielding has proved he's a one-of-a-kind, insane comedic genius with his loopy, nonsensical stand-up stylings and outlandish 'Boosh' sketches. Is he always high-brow? No. But his comedy's relentlessly clever as hell.
After 'The Boosh' ran on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, Fielding started gaining a devoted U.S. following, which came in handy when he and Barratt toured in the States in 2009. But he still remains a cult favorite, not quite breaking into America's mainstream the way Brand has. Make it happen, Fielding!