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10 British Comedians You Should Know About

Ricky Gervais is now one of Britain’s top comedians, but there was a time when he was trying to make it big like hundreds of others. Here are some of our favorite up-and-coming headliners, and tune in to watch “The Ricky Gervais Show” Tonight at 9pm, Only on HBO.

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1. Jack Whitehall

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Jack Whitehall is just 23 years old, but he's already been nominated for a British Comedy Award, set a world record when he did a bit on a British Airways flight, and caught the attention of Ellen DeGeneres. The only thing he hasn't done yet is get over how Robert Pattinson always got all the best roles in the school plays.

2. Simon Amstell

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Simon Amstell writes and stars in a BBC2 show called Grandma's House, and is a two-time British Comedy Award winner. He's about to start touring in the UK this May, if it turns out he doesn't have feline AIDS.

3. Sarah Millican

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Sarah Millican premiered her comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2008 and won the if.comedy award for Best Newcomer. In March, she started filming her stand-up show for BBC2, and here she is setting the record straight that getting stuck in your bra ain't no big thang.

4. David Baker

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David Baker is one of five British comedians to be on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (the others are Ricky Gervais, Russell Brand, Eddie Izzard, and Jimmy Carr). He's also done stand-up with Chris Rock, Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle and Aziz Ansari, which means the days of touching him without asking are over.

5. Matt Kirshen

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Kirshen first got attention when Punchline Magazine named his album one of the 10 best comedy albums of 2009. He's now building his persona by doing stand-up on late night talk shows, like Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. But Kirshen's real goal is finding a better way to cure people of their lazy eyes.

6. Josie Long

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Josie Long is famous for her energetic performances, and for getting into stand-up when she was 14. In 1999, she won the BBC New Comedy Awards, has toured multiple times in the UK, and is very interested in getting the Special K diet recognized as a torture device.

7. Jon Richardson

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Jon got into comedy after he dropped out of Bristol University, where he was in a Hispanic Studies program. But given how well he impersonates a car horn, his future remains incredibly bright.

8. Sean Lock

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Sean Lock won the British Comedy Award in 2000 for Best Live Comic, and has been pretty successful ever since. And we're very lucky his career as a sheep herder in France didn't take off because without him, there'd be no one to defend our right to lose our minds in airports.

9. Jo Brand

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Jo Brand became an icon in 1993 when she had a series on Channel 4 called Jo Brand Through The Cakehole. In addition to stand-up, Jo also writes and stars in a show called Getting On... but we mustn't forget about the short-lived Jo Brand's Big Splash, where she would visit people in the UK who had a "passionate" (a.k.a. "creepy") love of water.

10. Ricky Gervais

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Gervais started doing stand-up in the early '90s, but wasn't recognized until he performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2001. He's become incredibly successful since then (from The Office and his incredibly popular podcast,) but a quick YouTube search can remind us of his journey to the top.