David Baddiel

David Baddiel's not just one of the most influential alternative comedians in the country. Oh, no. He's a novelist, a critic, a thinker, and a beard-wearer. Good thing he's also a huge fan of Genesis or we'd think he was far too cool for his own good.

David Baddiel Profile

Who was it who said "comedy is the new rock 'n' roll"? It was probably Janet Street-Porter, which is a shame because it means we now have to think about Janet Street-Porter. But the sentiment did make a lot of sense in the early 90s, when a new generation of comics strutted onto the stage and reminded everyone that comedy can indeed be edgier and sexier than Russ Abbot bouncing around in a fat suit (although that was admittedly extremely sexy).

A leader of this new wave was one David Lionel Baddiel. Yes, that really is his middle name. With his double First from Cambridge, angsty insomniac eyes and gags about Napoleon and linguistics, he had absolutely no business becoming a massive celebrity.

But thanks to The Mary Whitehouse Experience – which, if you're too pre-pubescent to remember, was a comedy show filmed in what looked like a disused set from Blade Runner – that's precisely what happened.

In fact, Mary Whitehouse became such a cult hit that Baddiel and his comedy partner Rob Newman put on a now-legendary Wembley Arena concert that basically ushered in today's era of superstar stand-ups. Which we're pretty sure would never have happened if they'd gone with the alternative title of The William Rees-Mogg Experience instead.

All of this made Baddiel huge. But he became even huger thanks to his team-up with Frank Skinner on Fantasy Football League – the funniest football-orientated TV programme ever made, if you don't count any post-match analysis featuring Jimmy Hill.

The show even made Baddiel into a pop star thanks to spin-off single Three Lions, although since those heady days as a "new lad" icon, David's returned to his brainier roots, publishing acclaimed novels and sporting the scruffy facial hair of a man who knows considerably more about Victorian literature than you do. It shouldn't affect his official standing as the world's Sixth Sexiest Jew, though. Alan Sugar came fifth. True fact.

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