Kiwi comedians

Here's our list of the 11 most famous Kiwi comedians of all time. New Zealand has produced some outstanding comedians, some of whom have taken Kiwi comedy to far flung places on the planet. Generally, the Kiwi sense of humour is regarded as laconic, self effacing and requires mastery of understatement - well, sort of.

Leading Kiwi comedians include:

Billy T. James

Born William James Taitoko, he is usually regarded as New Zealand's favourite Kiwi comedian of all time (voted as such in a Listener magazine poll in 2009). After starting his showbiz career as a singer/guitarist in the Maori Volcanics Showband in the 1970s, Billy T became the star of his own television shows and featured in the movie Came A Hot Friday. He was NZ Entertainer of the Year 1981 and Entertainer of the Decade in 1985. After a heart transplant in 1988, he made a comeback but died from a heart attack in 1991. New Zealand's annual comedy awards are named in honour of this well-loved Kiwi comedian,

John Clarke (alias Fred Dagg)

Satirist John Clarke became a national star and top Kiwi comedian when he launched the character Fred Dagg on television in 1975. Dagg was the stereeotypical farmer and Kiwi bloke, clad in black singlet, shorts and gumboots. Hailing from Taihape, Dagg was always in the company of similarly-clad blokes all with the name Trev. In 1979, Clarke moved to Australia where he has become a leading script writer.

Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement (alias Flight of the Conchords)

The most famous modern day Kiwi comedians. The duo are a Grammy Award-winning music comedy act who bill themselves as 'formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo'. They rose to international fame through a Radio 2 show in the UK followed by their successful series on MTV in the United States. They starried in the 2009 horror comedy Diagnosis: Death.

Rhys Darby

This Kiwi comedian is best known as Murray, the fictional manager of the Flight of the Conchords, Darby is a stand-up comedian and actor. A DVD of his live performance Imagine That! went platinum in New Zealand. A former soldier, Darby has appeared in international movies such as The Boat That Rocked and Jim Carrey's Yes Man.

Mike King

A former school principal, King has been the host of his own television chat shows and a regular on many other New Zealand television programmes including Comedy Central, Game of Two Halves, Pulp Comedy and Guess Who's Coming To Dinner. After being the public face for New Zealand Pork, King famously dumped his role as industry spokesman, claiming pigs were subject to 'callous and evil treatment'.

David McPhail and Jon Gadsby

Working together and individually, the pair were leading comedy writers and actors in the 1970s and 1980s, appearing in television shows such as McPhail and Gadsby and A Week Of It. McPhail was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2008 for his services to television and theatre. Gadsby is the author of more than 20 books.

Naked Samoans

This group of Polynesian entertainers formed in 1998 for a stage production Naked Samoans Talk About Their Knives (a parody of a New Zealand film Topless Women Talk About Their Lives). They have since achieved success with a popular animated television show called bro'Town and one of New Zealand's highest-grossing movies, Sione's Wedding.

Pamela Stephenson

A former star in the UK television series Not The Nine O'Clock News, Stephenson was born in New Zealand, growing up in Takapuna, Auckland. She occasionally visits New Zealand with comedian husband Billy Connolly.

Alan Brough

A Kiwi stand up comedian who has achieved popularity in Australia as a writer and team captain on the long-running show Spicks and Specks. He also features in the Australian radio show Tough Love With Mick Malloy.

Cal Wilson

A winner of the prestigious Billy T Award, she is a regular guest and presenter on Australian television shows such as Thank God You're Here.