The Comedian: Make-up-and-heels-wearing stand-up comedian who’s known for his rambling (but hilarious) stream-of-consciousness monologues and penchant for pantomime.
The Actor: Izzard graduated from the stage to films with The Secret Agent and The Cat’s Meow before going on to acclaim in Shadow Of The Vampire , Ocean’s Twelve and Valkyrie .
Dramatic Chops? He’s definitely got them, shrugging off his image as a comedian for some decent dramatic roles.
The Comedian: Super-intelligent funnyman, Fry was part of the Cambridge Footlights where he met Hugh Laurie and formed the Fry And Laurie double act.
The Actor: Fry’s a busy man – having just filmed Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows , he’s now jumping straight into The Hobbit as the Master of Laketown. Prior to that, he impressed with roles in Gosford Park and Wilde . Sadly, he was also in Spice World…
Dramatic Chops? Fry never fails to bring a distinctive nobility to his roles, not least when he put in a career-defining turn as Oscar Wilde – a part he was born to play.
The Comedian: Both funny and canny, Eric Marlon Bishop changed his name to the gender-bending Jamie Foxx when he discovered that, on open mic nights, women generally perform first.
The Actor: Foxx impressed as an everyman taxi driver up against Tom Cruise’s assassin in Collateral before going on to win an Oscar for his turn in Ray .
Dramatic Chops? Oh yes – as Ray Charles, he’s nothing short of a revelation.
The Comedian: Affectionately known as ‘monkey boy’, Evans became famous in the ‘90s for his besuited, manic stage performances, which paired slapstick with keen observational humour.
The Actor: There have been highs and lows. Highs include a funny appearance in There’s Something About Mary , lows include the critically mauled Ladies Man .
Dramatic Chops? Evans had a go at a dramatic role with 2004 thriller Freeze Frame , which pretty much went straight into video shop bargain buckets. Shame, it was an edgy attempt.
The Comedian: An Oscar favourite (he’s hosted the ceremonies eight times, though they’ve never given him an award), Crystal was a regular at the Catch A Rising Star and The Improv comedy clubs.
The Actor: The early days saw Crystal team up with director Rob Reiner numerous times, with This Is Spinal Tap , The Princess Bride and When Harry Met Sally… Soon he’ll be providing the voice of Mike in Monsters University , and reportedly has a cameo in The Muppets.
Dramatic Chops? Like the best actors, Crystal can combine comedy and drama without even trying.
The Comedian: Shaggy-haired mischief maker. Davies’ comedy career began with stand-up jobs at the Whitstable Labour Club in 1988, leading to Time Out declaring him Best Young Comic in 1991.
The Actor: Davies made the air waves with BBC’s Jonathan Creek murder mystery show, though prior to that he’d made an appearance in the brilliantly-titled Golden Ninja Invasion in 1987. Other notable appearances include Angus, Thongs And Perfect Snogging.
Dramatic Chops? Davies combined comedy with drama on Creek, and had fun playing the bumbling dad role in Angus .
The Comedian: Part of the Cambridge Footlight troupe of funnybone-ticklers, with members including Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry and Tony Slattery.
The Actor: Multiple-Oscar-winning actress/writer, who bagged a baldie for her fantastic turn in Howard’s End before grabbing another one for penning Sense And Sensibility.
Dramatic Chops? Not half - Thompson’s now considered a national treasure and was just about the best thing in fluff like Love Actually and The Boat That Rocked .
The Comedian: Living in the Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan, David subsidised his stand-up career by working as a limousine driver, a clerk and a TV repairman.
The Actor: Success writing TV sitcom Seinfeld led to David appearing in his own successful show, Curb Your Enthusiasm . He most recently played the lead role in Woody Allen’s Whatever Works .
Dramatic Chops? David’s dry as the Sahara, so it’s mostly difficult to tell if he’s being dramatic and serious, or just intentionally funny...
The Comedian: After studying improvisation with the Upright Citizens Brigade troupe, Helms worked with New York comedy bands as both a writer and performer, before finding fame on The Daily Show.
The Actor: Thanks to The Hangove r , Helms is on his way to becoming a coveted on-screen funny fellas. He’s also enlivened Cedar Rapids this year, and has made appearances in films like Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Night At The Museum 2 .
Dramatic Chops? He’s stuck mostly to comedy, which is just how he likes it.
The Comedian: Scottish comedian with hair as wild as the Highlands. Loves making jokes about being drunk (and has a great selection of drunk walks).
The Actor: BAFTA-nominated for his turn in Mrs Brown , Connolly’s cropped up in numerous big screen events – some more successful than others. Those include Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Timeline, The Boondock Saints and The X-Files: I Want To Believe.
Dramatic Chops? If Mrs Brown showed anything, it’s that Connolly can hold his own against the greats (here, Judi Dench).
The Comedian: After working for a children’s theatre company, Carell went on to join Chicago troupe Second City in 1991.
The Actor: Carell landed in Hollywood with a resounding crash in The 40-Year-Old Virgin , which made him a star. He’s gone on to Anchorman, Bewitched, Evan Almighty and Get Smart.
Dramatic Chops? Little Miss Sunshine showed Carell could reign it in as he played a gay man who’s just attempted to commit suicide.
The Comedian: A stint as a member of the Second City comedy troupe got Candy noticed, and led to his graduation to cast member of NBC’s variety show Second City Television .
The Actor: Candy’s movie CV is filled with modern classics, the loveable oaf wisecracking in The Blues Brothers, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Splash, Uncle Buck, Home Alone and JFK .
Dramatic Chops? Candy could blend ticklers with tragedy like nobody else, brilliantly spinning in-yer-face comedy into unexpectedly poignant drama (see Trains, Planes & Automobiles et al).
The Comedian: Trained by acting coach Roy London, Azaria became a popular performer at LA comedy clubs before he landed a gig voicing numerous characters on The Simpsons .
The Actor: Azaria often crops up in supporting movie roles, most recently in Love And Other Drugs . He showed off a surprisingly sculpted figure in Along Came Polly , and fought a giant reptile in Godzilla .
Dramatic Chops? Hank doesn’t often play it straight, though he proved he could when he did Heat . Untapped dramatic potential there, perhaps.
The Comedian: Bespectacled funny gal Fey took classes with the Second City comedy troupe after ditching DePaul University, and became integral to NBC sketch show Saturday Night Live ’s continued success when she joined in 1997.
The Actor: She is best known for 30 Rock , the show that she both stars in and writes, and which lampoons the behind the scenes shenanigans of a TV sitcom. But Fey has also lent her writing talents to the hilarious Mean Girls , and the slightly-less-successful Baby Mama.
Dramatic Chops? Fey’s definitely a comedy lass, choosing laughs over length monologues.
The Comedian: Before he made it with Little Britain , Lucas settled for bit-parts in comedy sketch show The Smell Of Reeves And Mortime r. He followed the eponymous pair to their game show Shooting Stars.
The Actor: Lucas graduated to blockbusters with Alice In Wonderland last year, in which he played Tweedledee and Tweedledum. This year he had a small role in Bridemaids and will voice a character in Aardman’s upcoming Arthur Christmas .
Dramatic Chops? Lucas still seems to be favouring comedy over drama, but watch this space.
The Comedian: Arnold started his career with Tom Arnold And The Goldfish Review , a comedy show that pivoted around the use of props. Later, he went on to write for sitcom Roseanne .
The Actor: Arnold hit the big time with 1994 Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle True Lies . Since then his big screen presence has been minimal, with a role in the first Austin Powers the only notable standout.
Dramatic Chops? Arnold excels at playing the straight man, which surely must take some doing in the drama stakes?
The Comedian: Allen first got up on stage as a dare, only to find he had a talent for the quick laugh. After moving to LA, he became a member of The Comedy Store and did stand-up on late-night talk shows.
The Actor: Home Improvement made sure Allen was in everybody’s homes throughout the ’90s, while voicing Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story and playing Santa in Santa Clause ensured he found an audience with the nippers.
Dramatic Chops? Not so much – Allen’s most comfortable being the butt of everybody’s jokes.
The Comedian: A veteran of stand-up, Bailey started out touring the country before forming a double act in 1984 with Toby Longworth. He’s since become one of Britain’s most loved comedians.
The Actor: After a lead role in sitcom Black Books , Bailey has tried his hand at numerous movie projects, appearing in Hot Fuzz , Burke And Hare and Nanny McPhee And The Big Bang. This year he had a lead role in Chalet Girl.
Dramatic Chops? Surprisingly, yes, especially in Chalet Girl as an exploitative father.
The Comedian: A good all-rounder, Ullman’s dipped her toe in numerous pools – she was a popstar in the early ‘80s after a stint on the West End, and then ended up in BBC sketch comedies A Kick Up The Eighties and Three Of A Kind .
The Actor: Ullman made her film debut with black comedy I Love You To Death , and has appeared in Small Time Crooks , A Dirty Shame , Flushed Away and I Could Never Be Your Woman . She also had a recurring role as a therapist in TV’s Ally McBeal.
Dramatic Chops? Ullman knows what we love her for, and it ain’t drama. Her career has duly respected that.
The Comedian: Before he was a part of the Python troupe, Cleese worked as a scriptwriter and actor in the 1963 Footlights Revue A Clump Of Plinths. It was while performing in musical Half A Sixpence that he met Terry Gilliam and Connie Booth. The rest, as they say, is history.
The Actor: Though best known for his Monty Python movies, Cleese has weathered the decades with appearances in numerous big hitters, including Bond (as gadget-making Q) and A Fish Called Wanda , though his role in the first two Harry Potter films was mostly cut.
Dramatic Chops? Cleese’s unique brand of haughty, stressy over-acting means he’s mostly stuck to comedic roles. As well he should.
The Comedian: Brooks started out doing movie star impressions as a stand-up at the Catskill Mountains before retreating behind the scenes to write for TV.
The Actor: Though Brooks has favoured directing over acting, he’s made appearances in many of his own films ( Blazing Saddles , Robin Hood: Men In Tights ) over the years.
Dramatic Chops? Brooks set up his own company, Brooksfilms, in order to escape the baggage of being a comedian, and has used it to produce numerous ‘straight’ films – like The Fly, The Elephant Man and 84 Charing Cross Road .
The Comedian: Eccentric, mad-haired wordsmith who finished fourth at the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year final in 2000. In turn he appeared in Edinburgh before going on to nationwide stand-up tours.
The Actor: Brand cropped up in St Trinian ’s and pig fairytale Penelope before rocking the world as rocker Aldous Snow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall . He picked up the character again for Get Him To The Greek.
Dramatic Chops? Er, no. Let’s leave it at that, shall we?
The Comedian: Ellen’s influences were Woody Allen and Steve Martin during her time as a stand-up – and clearly those influences worked, as the young funny girl soon became emcee at Clyde’s Comedy Club in New Orleans. By 1982, she was named Showtime's Funniest Person in America.
The Actor: Ellen’s mostly stuck to TV (with her self-titled sitcom, which outed her as a lesbian), though Finding Nemo would be nothing without her (she voiced Dory), and she’s cropped up in everything from EDtv and Dr Dolittle to Coneheads .
Dramatic Chops? Ellen just can’t not be funny, and that’s reflected in her movie choices.
The Comedian: Funny guy Wilson is best known as the real star of the US version of The Office , playing an eccentric intern at a funeral home.
The Actor: Wilson’s role in The Office got him noticed, though he’s also made numerous cinematic appearances as well – Almost Famous , Galaxy Quest , House Of 1,000 Corpses , The Rocker . His latest comes in the form of wannabe-superhero comedy Super .
Dramatic Chops? Wilson can do funny and serious, but generally he’s better at the former.
The Comedian: Like many of the best American comedians, Aykroyd got his break with Saturday Night Live , for which he wrote and acted over four years.
The Actor: Big screen gigs have slowed of late, with Aykroyd having his heyday in the ‘80s with The Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters and Trading Places.
Dramatic Chops? Well, he’s won numerous Razzies, but we still love him.
The Comedian: As part of French And Saunders (along with mate Dawn French), Saunders got her first break in the early ‘80s when the duo answered an ad in The Stage for comedy troupe The Comic Strip – and became regular contributors. Their own sketch show first aired on the BBC in 1987.
The Actor: Her acting credits are few, though Saunders memorably went villainous as the voice of the evil Fairy Godmother in Shrek 2 (later also providing the vocals for a character in Coraline ). She also appeared in Spice World (oof), and Muppet Treasure Island.
Dramatic Chops? Not so much; Saunders loves comedy. Full stop.
The Comedian: Rubber-faced Atkinson started out by not using his face at all, with 1978 radio sketch show The Atkinson People .
A few years later he landed Not The Nine O’Clock News , which became a massive success.
The Actor: Off the back of Nine O’Clock News , Atkinson made medieval sitcom Black Adder and confirmed his standing as a British comedy great. In the movie world, he’s made film versions of Mr Bean , as well as Bond spoof Johnny English.
Dramatic Chops? We’d love to see him try serious, but it just probably wouldn’t work.
The Comedian: Big-mouthed Utah native, Barr put her motormouth to good use as a stand-up comedian from 1980 to 1986.
After landing her own HBO one-off, ABC commissioned her most famous showcase – sitcom Roseanne .
The Actor: She’s stuck mostly to TV, but Barr put in a memorable, uglified turn in 1989’s She-Devil before lending her voice to a baby in Look Who’s Talking Too .
She even had a role as ‘Childless Woman’ in the sixth Nightmare On Elm Street movie. Ooh-la-la.
Dramatic Chops? Barr’s commendably straight-faced in She-Devil , though with a face made up to look like that, who could blame her?
The Comedian: Martin won an Emmy (aged just 23) along with the other writers of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour .
He became a successful stand-up comedian The Tonight Show and The Gong Show.
The Actor: Martin’s earlier film work was edgy affair, with films like The Jerk and The Man With Two Brains tailored to an adult audience.
It was in the ‘90s that he found an audience in the family market ( Father Of The Bride ), where he’s stayed pretty much ever since.
Dramatic Chops? Even when he’s being funny, Martin’s as dramatic as they come.
The Comedian: Working as a mimic and a comic in Ipswich, Coogan went on to become a contributor to Radio comedy show On The Hour , where he came up with the character of Alan Partridge. He’s not looked back since.
The Actor: Coogan’s screen career has flourished in recent years, not least with the likes of A Cock And Bull Story , as well as roles in Tropic Thunder , In The Loop and The Other Guys. He was also memorably slimy as Hades in Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief.
Dramatic Chops? 24 Hour Party People showed Coogan was more than just a man in a Pringle jumper.