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23 Best Irish Comedians (Of All Time)

23 Best Irish Comedians (Of All Time)

For a small island, there’s an almost never-ending list of exceptional Irish comedians, both young and old.

And, although it’s the likes of Graham Norton and Brendan O’Carroll that tend to get a lot of the attention, there’s a heap of often-overlooked Irish comics that guarantee a giggle.

In this article, you’ll find a mix of Irish stand up comedians that you’ll have heard of along with plenty you probably won’t have. Enjoy!

The best Irish comedians

famous irish comedians

Now, a quick disclaimer – the article below is in no particular order. Each of the Irish comics below are, in our opinion, well worth checking out.

You’ll find everyone from Joanne McNally and PJ Gallagher to Dara Ó’Briain, Tommy Tiernan and much more.

1. Brendan O’Carroll

Brendan O'Carroll

Brendan O’Caroll is arguably one of the most famous Irish comedians. Born in the town of Finglas in Dublin in 1955, he is the well-known face of foul-mouthed Agnes Brown in the Irish TV show Mrs Brown’s Boys.

As well as being a comedian, he’s an actor, producer and writer. In 2015, he received the Irish Film and Television Academy Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Irish television.

Few Irish comics have achieved the success that Brendan O’Carroll has. And, while he’s best know for his hit TV show, there’s some excellent footage of his stand up shows available online.

2. Brendan Grace

The hilarious Brendan Grace is best remembered as “Bottler”, a comedy schoolboy character, and later as Father Fintan Stack in the TV sitcom Father Ted.

Born in 1951 in Dublin’s Liberties neighbourhood, Brendan also starred in the Irish drama Moondance.

He was also a singer and his hit releases include “The Dutchman” and “The Combine Harvester”. 

3. Joanne McNally

Joanne McNally

Joanne McNally is one of a handful of Irish comedians that’s currently experiencing monumental success.

If you haven’t already, the podcast she co-hosts with Vogue Williams, ‘My Therapist Ghosted Me’, is well-worth a listen!

Over the years, she co-hosted RTÉ 2’s flagship comedy show, Republic of Telly, and has had a string of popular stage shows, including the sell-out Prosecco Express tour.

4. Dara Ó’Briain

Dara Ó’Briain is one of the more famous Irish comedians and television presenters and he’s arguably best known for hosting the likes of “Mock the Week” and “The Panel”.

Ó’Briain’s insightful and witty style has seen him amass considerable recognition in both Britain and Ireland.

Known for his storytelling and crowd interaction, Ó’Briain’s stand-up shows often revolve around observational humour.

Aside from comedy, he’s also frequently seen on science-based shows, like “Dara Ó’Briain’s Science Club” and “Stargazing Live”.

5. Dermot Morgan

Dermot Morgan

Few Irish comics are as widely loved as Dermot Morgan. He was an Irish comedian and actor that shot to fame during his portrayal of Father Ted Crilly in the cult comedy series “Father Ted”.

Known for his sharp wit and satirical humour, Morgan initially gained recognition through radio sketches and stand up shows.

Tragically, his career was cut short by a sudden heart attack in 1998, but his comedic legacy continues to live on.

6. Hal Roach

Hal Roach was a renowned Irish comedian. Often dubbed the “King of Blarney”, Roach boasts a career that spanned an impressive six decades.

Known for his quick wit, Roach was famous for his storytelling and one-liners, particularly in the pubs of Dublin.

He was a regular at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin and set a record of making 25 consecutive appearances at the Royal Variety Performance in London.

7. Pat Shortt

Pat Shortt

Born in Thurles in County Tipperary, Pat Shortt first gained fame as part of the comedy duo ‘D’Unbelievables‘ with Jon Kenny.

He’s arguably best known for playing the fairly odd Tom in Father Ted (yep, the lad with the mono-brow that you’d see sitting on a wall).

Most recently, you’ll have seen Shortt in the hugely popular ‘Banshees of Inisheerin‘ staring Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell.

8. Foil, Arms and Hog

Foil, Arms and Hog‘ are a comedy trio made up of Sean Finegan (Foil), Conor McKenna (Arms) and Sean Flanagan (Hog).

The chances are you’ll have seen one of their sketches go viral on the likes of Instagram or Facebook!

The trio have amassed a huge following on YouTube with sketches such as ‘Getting Past US Immigration’ and ‘When Irish People Can’t Speak Irish’.

9. Aisling Bea

Aisling Bea

Aisling Bea is an Irish comedian, actress, and writer known for her energetic, engaging style of comedy.

She broke onto the scene in 2013, winning the “So You Think You’re Funny” award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

As an actress, she’s appeared in numerous TV shows, and she created and starred in the critically-acclaimed comedy-drama series “This Way Up”.

Bea is also a regular on British comedy panel shows such as “QI” and “8 Out of 10 Cats”.

Related read: See our guide to 13 of the best Irish TV shows

10. Maureen Potter

Maureen Potter was a beloved Irish actress, singer, and comedian, celebrated for her talent in both drama and comedy.

She started her career in theatre as a child, eventually becoming a mainstay at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin. Known for her versatility, Potter performed in pantomimes, revues, and dramatic roles.

Her one-woman shows were especially popular, showcasing her comedic timing, musical talent, and storytelling ability. Potter, who passed away in 2004, left an indelible mark on the Irish entertainment industry.

11. Tommy Tiernan

Tommy Tiernan

Tommy Tiernan is arguably one of the most famous Irish comedians on-the-go at the minute and he’s known for his energetic, free-wheeling, and often controversial style of stand-up comedy.

He achieved international recognition by winning the Perrier Comedy Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1998.

Tiernan has also appeared in several TV shows and films, notably playing Da Gerry in the successful sitcom “Derry Girls”.

Additionally, he hosts “The Tommy Tiernan Show” on RTÉ, where he interviews guests without prior knowledge of who they’ll be, demonstrating his quick wit and improvisational skills.

12. Dylan Moran

Dylan Moran is an Irish comedian, writer, and actor known for his distinctive observational and often absurdist humuor.

He gained fame with his successful show “Monster” and for co-writing and starring in the British sitcom “Black Books”, where his portrayal of misanthropic bookshop owner Bernard Black garnered critical acclaim.

Moran was the youngest ever winner of the Perrier Comedy Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1996.

His style, marked by sharp wit, poetic language, and visual storytelling, cements him as a key figure in contemporary comedy.

13. Pauline McLynn

Pauline McLynn

Pauline McLynn is an Irish actress and author, best known for her role as Mrs. Doyle in the popular Irish comedy “Father Ted”.

Her portrayal of the tea-obsessed housekeeper earned her significant recognition and multiple awards. Outside of “Father Ted”, McLynn has had a diverse acting career in both TV and theatre.

As a writer, she’s penned several novels. While not primarily known as a comedian, her comic timing and skilful character work have contributed significantly to her acclaim in the world of comedic acting.

14. Jarlath Regan

Jarlath Regan is an Irish comedian and writer, known for his witty observational humor and engaging storytelling.

He’s made numerous appearances on British and Irish television, including panel shows and stand-up comedy programs.

Regan is also the creator and host of the successful podcast “An Irishman Abroad”, which features interviews with notable Irish personalities living overseas.

His blend of humor and heartfelt conversation has made the podcast a favorite among audiences and critics alike, cementing his place in contemporary Irish comedy.

15. Sharon Horgan

Sharon Horgan

Sharon Horgan is a highly acclaimed Irish actress, writer, and producer. Known for her sharp wit and insightful storytelling, she co-wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed sitcoms “Pulling” and “Catastrophe”, the latter earning her several award nominations.

Horgan also co-created and produced the successful HBO comedy “Divorce”. Her work often explores the complexities and humor in everyday relationships and life situations.

As a central figure in contemporary Irish comedy, Horgan continues to push boundaries and influence the television landscape.

16. PJ Gallagher

PJ Gallagher is an Irish stand-up comedian and actor, recognised for his energetic performances and animated storytelling.

He gained significant attention through his candid, often outrageous, hidden camera show “Naked Camera”, in which he portrayed multiple characters.

Gallagher has also appeared on numerous Irish TV and radio programs. As an actor, he’s known for his role in the RTE Two sitcom “The Young Offenders”.

With a career spanning over two decades, Gallagher remains a significant figure in Irish comedy.

17. Ardal O’Hanlon

Ardal O’Hanlon

Ardal O’Hanlon is an Irish comedian and actor, best known for his portrayal of the naive Father Dougal McGuire in the hit Irish comedy “Father Ted”.

His comic acting and unique style of stand-up comedy, often playing on his innocent, bewildered persona, have earned him significant recognition.

O’Hanlon has also starred in the British comedy-drama “Death in Paradise” and has penned several novels.

With his distinct blend of whimsical and observational humor, he continues to be a prominent figure in comedy.

18. Lisa McGee

Lisa McGee is a talented Irish playwright and screenwriter, best known for creating the BAFTA-nominated sitcom “Derry Girls”.

The series, which humorously portrays the lives of teenage girls during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, has won critical acclaim for its sharp wit and poignant storytelling.

McGee’s writing, often based on her own experiences growing up in Derry, has a distinct voice that resonates with audiences.

While not a comedian herself, her contributions to comedy through her writing have been significant.

19. Graham Norton

Graham Norton

Graham Norton is an Irish television and radio presenter, comedian, and author, renowned for his distinctive comedic style.

He is most famous for hosting the multi-award-winning talk show “The Graham Norton Show” on the BBC, where his charismatic interviewing and sharp humour have endeared him to audiences worldwide.

Norton has also provided commentary for the Eurovision Song Contest and hosts a popular radio show on BBC Radio 2.

His successful forays into fiction writing further highlight his versatile talent.

20. Maeve Higgins

Maeve Higgins is an Irish comedian, author, and podcaster known for her unique blend of observational and self-deprecating humor.

She first gained attention in Ireland through TV and radio appearances before moving to New York, where she co-hosts the climate change podcast “Mothers of Invention”.

Higgins has also penned several books, intertwining humor with memoir-style storytelling. As an actress, she has featured in the film “Extra Ordinary”, further showcasing her talent.

Her distinct comedic voice has resonated with international audiences.

21. Eleanor Tiernan

Eleanor Tiernan

Eleanor Tiernan is an Irish comedian known for her insightful, often satirical humor. She first gained attention in the comedy scene after becoming a finalist in the “So You Think You’re Funny” competition at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Tiernan’s stand-up often explores societal norms and personal experiences with a distinctive deadpan delivery.

She has made numerous appearances on Irish and UK TV and radio programs and has toured with other Irish comedians, including her cousin, Tommy Tiernan.

22. Tara Flynn

Tara Flynn is an Irish actress, comedian, and writer, celebrated for her wit and talent in both comedic and dramatic roles.

She’s made notable contributions to sketch comedy on television and radio, and her live performances often incorporate a mix of satire, music, and storytelling.

As a writer, Flynn uses humor to address serious social issues, notably in her books “You’re Grand” and “Giving Out Yards”.

What great Irish stand up comedians have we missed?

I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant Irish comics from the guide above.

If you have any Irish stand up comedians that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!

FAQs about famous Irish comedians

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What are some good old Irish comedians?’ to ‘What’s a good Irish comedy show?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Who is the most successful Irish comedian?

You could argue that the most successful Irish stand up comedians are Tommy Tiernan and Dara O’Brian. Both have also had success with TV shows, too.

Who are the three Irish comedians?

This question comes in a lot and, from what we can tell, it refers to the Irish comics Foil, Arms and Hog who tend to go viral only frequently.

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