I don’t watch much in the way of television, but a topic I’m at the forefront of is comedy on British telly. I spend way too much time watching repeats and the like, but that puts me in the perfect position to handle this subject: What are the names Britain’s best comics bear? And are any off the beaten track? As it turns out, yes, even if we’re looking at their surname, instead:
I love this girl, she is on the verge of cult status – and before she even hits 10 years of age. She appears as Karen in the sitcom Outnumbered, but her birth name is far more exciting. Ramona recently won the Best Female Comedy Newcomer Award, so expect a bright and long future from her. The name Ramona ultimately comes from the name Raymond, meaning wise protector. In 2009, Ramona had only 8 uses in England&Wales.
Another kid from the Outnumbered cast, Tyger was actually born as Lindzi, but clearly prefers to use his middle name. He plays Jake in Outnumbered and was also nominated for the male version of the award Ramona won. Tyger is an alternate spelling of Tiger, and Lindzi coming from Lindsay, although either way it is nice to see a name almost exclusively taken over by females to be used on a lad born in the mid-1990s. Even if both his parents bear the name – Simon Lindsay and Linzi. Lindsay itself is from a place name, meaning island of Lincoln. Tyger was used only 3 times in 2009, compared to 11 for Tiger.
Russell Howard’s Good News is guaranteed to raise a smile, but in this case, we’re looking past his fairly usual first name to his surname. Howard may be popular amongst pensioners, but not in the younger generation. It’s also worth noting that boy band royalty Take That have a Howard (Donald) in their midst, and they’re quite popular at the moment, so there is a case for him to increase in popularity. Howard can either mean brave heart, or high guardian. It’s a case of picking your favourite. Howard had 13 uses in 2009.
Dara Ó Briain
This comic is a male from Ireland, which flies in the face of those who believe the name to be feminine. As well as touring the country as a stand up comic, he also hosts the wildly popular satirical panel show, Mock the Week, which is made by those who brought us Whose Line is it Anyway? back in the 1990s. It’s Mock the Week which could also be credited with giving Russell Howard his real big break into the British concious, when he began a regular. As for Dara, since it’s here in an Irish capacity, it’s meaning is oak tree. It could also mean gift, wealthy, star or wisdom (Macedonian, Iranian, Khmer and Hebrew), depending on which culture you’re drawing the name from. Dara was used 20 times for lads in 2009, compared with 6 for girls.
Not all British comics come from our fair isle, these two both originate from Iran but immigrated to England in their childhood. Shappi was born Shaparak, and has stated in her act that her mother told her Shaparak is Persian for butterfly, and that she looked it up to find it actually means moth. So that’s half my work done already. Omid means hope in Persian, and had 4 uses in 2009, whilst Shaparak/Shappi didn’t even classify.
Simon Bird/Simon Cooper/Simon Bellamy
Simon Bird plays Will McKenzie in The Inbetweeners, whilst Simon Cooper is played by Joe Thomas in the sitcom. Now I will admit to not really watching this show, but my friends all swear by it. Apparently it’s quite funny, but that’s their words, not mine. Simon Bellamy is a character in Misfits, another comedy aimed at my age group that for some reason I don’t actually watch. Again, my friends love it. Simon ranked at #301 in 2009, with 140 uses. Simon comes from Hebrew, and means he has heard.
A stand up comic who recently played to an audience of cows for an experiment. This guy has some of the best – and worst – one liners in the business, and like Russell Howard, became really popular after his first appearance in Mock the Week. His name is a place name, meaning mill town, and 4 lads were named it in 2009.
Rhod is Welsh, and was born Rhodri. He’s another seriously funny stand up comic, who released a comedy DVD entitled Rhod Gilbert and his award-winning mince pie. Either way, Rhodri was used 16 times in 2009, with the majority of those uses being in Wales, not England. Meaning wheel king, it was the name of a Welsh king from the 9th Century.
Rob Brydon/Bryn West
Another Welshman, who uses his middle name as his stage-surname. His actual surname is – surprise surprise – Jones. Rob is perhaps best known for his appearances in Gavin&Stacey, a British comedy about an Essex lad falling in love with a Welsh girl, where he appears as Bryn. I actually know a Welsh lad called Bryn, who was born Brynsley. Bryn was at #596 with 54 uses in 2009, whilst Brydon did not chart. Bryn can mean either hill or mound in Welsh, and I’m at a slight loss with Brydon. He comes from a Scottish surname, also spelt Briden or Bryden, and there is speculation he loosely refers to Britain, or even means noble.
Whilst Michael is relatively popular, his surname McIntyre and middle name Hazen both have potential, with the former as an alternative to McKenzie and the like. Either way, neither rank in the 2009 list. McIntyre means son of a carpenter, whilst Hazen is a variant of Hayes, meaning hedged area.
Griff Rhys Jones
Whilst not at the forefront of British Comedy anymore, anyone seriously interested in the subject should know about Griff from his work on Not the Nine O’Clock News, another Welshman, he was born Griffith, to parents Elwyn and Gwyneth. Griff has actually been used 9 times as a stand alone name in 2009, alongside the 3 uses for Griffith. Griffith means lord, prince and was a common name amongst Welsh royalty.