Jack & Dean (531,016 subs)
This comedy duo, based in London, specialise in short, snappy sketches that combine everyday situations with a touch of the surreal. Their comedy style is characterised by simple, often very silly concepts (a talking tree, everyone in the world turning into balloons) coupled with understated comic acting. Although some of their best sketches involve several characters, what Jack and Dean do particularly well is quick-fire yet deadpan dialogue as a pair. Their strength as a double act has also translated into a series of live shows, as well as their series for Fullscreen, Jack and Dean of All Trades, for which they are currently filming a second series. JADOAT involves the pair attempting to find jobs, with a different career in each episode. It even stars Jessica Hynes as their employment officer, Marv, and was nominated for three Streamy awards. Coupled with their growing success elsewhere, Jack and Dean continue to make YouTube sketches for their channel.
Try watching: ‘Ghosts Aren’t Red’
Grace Helbig (3,028,828 subs)
This American comedian has also had success outside YouTube, with two books and several live shows. However her main focus is her YouTube channel, which she uploads to three times a week. Helbig is both self-deprecating and silly, and can manage to go from being sarcastic to enthusiastic during the course of one video. She makes a range of content, from chatty ‘stream of consciousness’ videos to challenges and the occasional beauty tutorial, all with her characteristic sense of irony. She often collaborates with other YouTubers, most often with fellow comedians Mamrie Hart and Hannah Hart (no relation). Known as the ‘holy trinity’ of YouTube, when these three make a video together it is guaranteed to involve both hilarity and a lot of alcohol. Helbig’s sense of humour might take a few videos to get used to, but she is undoubtedly a star of YouTube comedy. She also has a dog called Goose, which ought to be reason enough to look her up.
Try watching: ‘Mannequin Challenge with My Dog’
Mamrie Hart (1,191,689 subs)
Mamrie Hart’s show ‘You Deserve a Drink’ has gained her over a million subscribers and, perhaps unsurprisingly, a successful book deal. The show basically consists of Hart teaching her audience how to make a different kind of drink in each episode, occasionally with the help of a guest. The main feature of YDAD though is the rapid-fire puns, each one dirtier than the last. Her guests are often left reeling, from both the alcohol and the jokes, while the host cackles delightfully in the background. Hart makes her show with the help of Grace Helbig, and the pair also sporadically perform a live show together: ‘This Might Get Weird Y’all’. They recently brought this madcap show to the UK and Ireland, with performances in London and Dublin that ended with a lot of paint going everywhere. Hart also has a second YouTube channel, ‘Mametown’, where she makes short vlogs and collaborates with other YouTubers. As a comedian she is raucous, mischievous, quick-witted and a lot of fun.
Try watching: ‘Montreal that!’
Tomska (4,249,252 subs)
If you’ve heard of anyone on this list before, it’s likely to be Tomska and his ‘asdf movies’. With a channel that’s been around almost as long as the platform itself, he is by now a seasoned YouTuber. As well as the hugely popular asdf movies, (a series of very short, simply animated quick-fire jokes), Tomska produces comic sketches and cartoons. His sense of humour is dry, yet all his videos have a touch of the ridiculous about them. Whether it’s a sketch about French aliens taking over the world, or a song called ‘shoot all your problems away’ (yes, really) Tomska will give you a good laugh. And only make you question yourself briefly for laughing.
Try watching: ‘The Wish’
Humza Productions (319,866 subs)
Although his subscriber count isn’t as high as some of the other YouTubers on this list, Humza Arshad definitely deserves your attention. He’s an actor and comedian who makes videos about his life, often with hilarious observations about the differences between his London home and his Pakistani heritage. His most popular videos are his ‘Diary of a Badman’ series, which tell the life story of a fictional version of Arshad himself, combining drama with daft comic moments. As well as making comedy, Arshad has worked with the police and gone into schools to raise awareness of the dangers of extremism. He is a proud Muslim, and works hard to separate the ideas of religious extremism and terrorism from Islamic values. Arshad is a likeable and funny personality, and he succeeds in combining serious messages like these with silly comedy.
Try watching: ‘Asian people vs white people going on holiday’
Hazel Hayes (227,378 subs)
(Yes, I know this is meant to be a top five, not a top six. Think of this one as a bonus; number 5.5 on the list. Not because she isn’t as good as the others, but because her channel isn’t exclusively comedy.)
Hazel Hayes is a filmmaking YouTuber, originally from Ireland, who produces short horror films and vlogs about cinema in general. She also does a series called Tipsy Talk, which is as funny as the title is self-explanatory. The reason she has made this list, though, is for her comedy writing. She occasionally makes comic sketches, including ‘Not the John Lewis Christmas Advert’, which is both brilliant and seasonally appropriate. And she has recently released an excerpt from her sitcom, ‘Hot Mess’, which she is hoping to get commissioned. ‘Hot Mess’ tells the story of two friends in their late twenties, muddling through life together. The performances, by Hayes and Andrea Valls, are real and heartfelt, and both display genius comic timing. Hopefully someone will pick it up and make it, because it deserves the recognition.
Try watching: ‘Hot Mess’