You can read the edited article here - but here are my full answers
The funniest stand-up I've ever seen
Watching Billy Connolly at the Hammersmith Apollo in the late 90s was a masterclass of long form comedy that still felt intimate in a 3000-seater. I love the way he goes off at a tangent, but remembers to return to the original story thirty minutes later. I also shared a hotel lift with him at the Montreal festival and he was funnier in the time it took us to go up the one floor to the lobby than any of the proper shows I saw that year.
The funniest sketch I've ever seen
This constantly changes, but my favourites are the ones that you can watch over and over again and find funnier each time. Recently the David S Pumpkins sketch from SNL has hooked me in for many viewings and it’s hard to beat the relentless Story of Mount Everest from Mr Show. The sketch is great, as is imagining the reset of props between each section.
The funniest book I've ever read
My Less Than Secret Life by Jonathan Ames was a revelation to me, as shocking as it is funny. The funniest book I’ve ever had read to me is I, Partridge by Alan Partridge. It’s a brilliantly written book, but it’s the greatest audiobook there has ever been.
The funniest TV show I've ever seen
Although there are many fantastic American sitcoms like Community, Parks and Rec and 30 Rock, Rick and Morty is the most consistently brilliant, densely plotted and enjoyable television show I have ever seen. It’s childish, yet super-clever, without ever being clever-clever. Best character is Mr Poopy-Butthole, but don’t let that put you off.
The funniest film I've ever seen
I grew up on the Monty Python films and Life of Brian is very hard to beat, with all of the Pythons at the top of their game in a film that fizzes with brilliant ideas, but holds together as a narrative. But This is Spinal Tap is funnier and another comedy that bears and rewards repeated viewings and has probably had more influence on modern comedy than any other piece of work.
The funniest person I know
I was lucky enough to interview Bob Mortimer on my Leicester Square Theatre Podcast and he is effortlessly and brilliantly funny. In real life, my friend Christina Martin always makes me laugh. She writes letters for Viz and is obsessed with the quiz show Bullseye.
The funniest heckle I've ever had
When I was in a double act with Stewart Lee we would do a bit where I picked on the youngest lad we could see in the audience (usually around about 13) and arrogantly explain why I was better than him, (because my mum didn’t give me my money and because I had pubic hair and so on). We would then invite them to heckle back and they’d usually say, “You’re fat” and I’d pretend to be crushed. But one night the sharp-eyed child said, “The sleeves of your jacket are slightly frayed.” And they were. I barely had to act as if I had been destroyed. Because that was my jacket, not the character’s and it said so much about me. The inclusion of the word “slightly” is what marks it out as genius. Most hecklers are terrible and drunk though. There’s a video on youtube of me having to deal with a typical one. It’s just horrible.
The funniest item of clothing I've ever owned
In Lee and Herring I used to wear horrendous multi-coloured shirts. It was a character thing really, an unspoken parody of that awful thing where people try to use a whacky item of clothing to indicate a personality. Having said that I also wore those clothes in real life too. Although there’s always a place for a comedy in a ridiculous item of clothing (Simon Munnery’s hats and capes in the League Agains Tedium spring to mind), the real comedy probably comes from the more boring items of clothing, that in tiny detail can give you an indication of some tragedy within the person wearing them
The funniest meal I've ever eaten
The comedian Grainne Maguire once made my wife a birthday cake. It was a noble and sincere gesture, but it had collapsed in on itself in the most tragic-comic way. It was nearly a cake, but it wasn’t a cake. And because it was intended to be a cake and not a joke cake and because I wasn’t meant to laugh it made me laugh for ten minutes. And then again every time I thought about it for the next five years. And right now.
The funniest hairstyle I've ever had
I had a toothbrush moustache for the best part of a year to try and reclaim it for comedy, cos Charlie Chaplin had it first and then Hitler came along and kinda ruined it for everyone. It was probably the worst thing he ever did. The show’s message was that it was important to vote to keep fascists out of power - so that worked then. The moustache got a lot of laughter from people in the street, but only once they had passed me, where they seemed to assume if they were behind me they were out of earshot.
The funniest dream I've ever had
I don’t really have funny dreams, just horrible ones where horrific things are happening, or I am on stage with no script or taking my Maths A Level again, but with the maths knowledge that I have now. Any time I do a joke that seems hilarious in a dream, when I wake up, it’s just a pile of gibberish. I wish funny stuff came in dreams, but it’s all boring bullshit about insecurities (which to be fair could be said of my act too).
The funniest thing that shouldn't be funny
Pretty much everything that shouldn’t be funny is funny. Or there’s something funny in there. And people getting offended by a joke when they haven’t really understood it might be the funniest of all. Or the most tiresome. I always get those mixed up. Other than that, Grainne Maguire’s attempts at baking.
The funniest number
Assuming Stewart Lee has already told you of the power of the funniest age (28 years old - guaranteed laugh when you are recounting a childhood incident and someone asks your age at the time) numbers aren’t really funny in themselves. Though I think mathematical terminology and processes can be. Venn diagrams are a great tool for comedy, because they are both nostalgic of a time when they were relevant and you can make amusing points with them. One of my proudest achievements it to get a big laugh on the phrase “exponential mathematics” which doesn’t seem funny out of contest, but worked well in my routine.
The funniest word
The relentless use of an incorrect word amuses me greatly to the extent that I now always say “skellington” instead of skeleton, even when having a serious conversation with a doctor. Or Frankingstein. Or Trivial Pursuits. Adding an s to the end of a word that doesn’t have one, like your gran used to, is probably the thing that has amused me most for the longest time. And the name “Ian” is also very funny.
The funniest joke I've ever heard
I never remember them and most of them leave me cold. But sometimes one surprises me. Here’s the last joke I Retweeted from the brilliant Brian Gittins - What d'you get if you cross Buzz Aldrin with Mad old Mr Griffin, who lives at the end of my road?
You get an astronaut who's obsessed with the colour of your dustbin.