Russell Howard has enjoyed a rise to fame that some would say was nothing short of meteoric. A native Bristolian, Russell first came to the attention of the comedy world when he got to the final of the prestigious new stand up event So You Think Your Funny? at the Edinburgh Festival. Not bad considering he was at the time only 19. Even more impressive given it was only his fifth ever gig.
Since then he's been winning over both audiences and critics with his massive grin and seemingly effortless freewheeling style. Often given to improvisation, Russell shows an ability to branch off at tangents (often sparked by the audience) that you'd expect from a comic with far greater age and experience. Whether he's telling stories about his epileptic brother, laughing at his uselessness with women or bantering with hecklers in the audience, it's guaranteed to be classic material.
Russell was a complete sell out at Edinburgh from 2004 to 2006, and in 2007 he sold every ticket of his Festival run before it had even started. That year, his first nationwide solo tour of if.comedy and Barry Award nominated show Wandering was also a complete sell out success, while the follow up tour Adventures sold out London's Bloomsbury Theatre in a day.
The key to Russell's success is that he manages to walk the line between credibility and boyish charm. The world of comedy is a dark, neurotic place and comics are often seen to be equally neurotic: twisted souls who use a microphone as therapy for their ever-growing list of annoyances, grievances, fears and paranoia.
Russell, on the other hand, comes across as someone who is genuinely thrilled to be there, visibly taking as much pleasure in making us laugh as we do laughing. Yet at the same time he never crosses over into sugary mainstream entertainment, he's not as happy as Michael McIntyre, but he's definitely not like miserable Jack Dee.
Since November 2006, Russell has been hosting his own Sunday morning radio show on BBC 6 Music with fellow comedian Jon Richardson. The slot was originally hosted by Russell Brand but this Russell couldn't be more removed from Brand's Edwardian dandy posturing. With Russell Howard what you see is what you get: a bloody nice bloke and a bloody funny one at that.
Now he's the star of his own hit BBC3 programme, Russell Howard's Good News. Forget the cynical news shows such like Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You, Russell's show is funny, light hearted and nice. It makes us all warm inside, so no wonder it's the highest rated entertainment show on the channel. Of course just because he's such a nice chap, it doesn't mean he's completely free from controversy. The English Defence League threatened to start picketing Russell's gigs after he took the mickey out of them in one of his routines.
With a sell-out arena tour, Right Here, Right Now, behind him there's no doubt about it, Russell Howard is here to stay.