Comedians Scratching Their Heads

Why do so many comedians scratch their heads in publicity shots?

It’s a good pose for some comics. It says “No, I don’t know what it’s all about either; this crazy, mixed-up topsy-turvy world of ours. All I can do is help you see its absurdities and we can both have a good laugh in the process”.

It doesn’t work for every comedian. Some have personas that suggest they know enough about what’s going on in the world to take the piss out of it without any of that head-scratching preamble. Frankie Boyle, Dara Ó Briain and Rory Bremner, to take a few examples whose surnames begin with B. It would look plain wrong for someone like Stephen Fry to be pictured scratching his head, his screwed-up face conveying the thought “Life, eh?!! Kyuh! I don’t know, I really don’t!” And, strangely, I don’t remember seeing any female comics being pictured in this pose either.

But for others, it generally suits their stage/screen/book jacket personalities very well. Not so sure about Iannucci, mind you. A full head of hair does seem to be an advantage.

Ardal O’Hanlon scratches his head

Lee Evans also scratches his head. OK, so it’s not strictly a publicity shot.

Dylan Moran, scratching his head live on stage at the Apollo Theatre until 5 December

Alan Davies mishears the photographer

Armando has a go but his heart’s not in it

Jack Dee is such a master of the craft that he makes it look as if he’s merely resting his head. But he’s scratching it, believe me. Oh yes.

Andy Hamilton goes for the opposite-inverted head scratch. I think he pulls it off, don’t you? Not his head, obv.

“I’ve got the scratchiest head…in the world.”

“OK guys, where’s the bloody microphone?” Jason Manford scratches his head.

Am I a comedian or a presenter or both? Adrian Chiles ponders.

Another famous head-scratcher who wasn’t strictly speaking a comedian:

“Er, just one more thing, m’am..”

And a special mention for the guy who started it all. The consummate head-scratching professional. The head-scratcher’s head-scratcher. The head head-scratcher, etc etc.

Stan Laurel

These just in

It’s Mr Moran again! This time, the other side of his head needs a scratch.

It’s Simon Amstell, in perhaps one of the worst-cropped publicity shots ever. And he’s not even properly scratching his head!

Head, Simon, HEAD! That’s your neck. Oh well, it’ll have to do for now.

This is someone called Jarred Christmas. He shouldn’t really be here. His head scratching shows promise, but his stage name certainly doesn’t.

The lovely Alex Zane prepares to pull his head all the way off. Don’t do it, Alex.

The simple instruction to scratch his head leads to an existential crisis for Julian Clary.

That’s hardly scratching, Hardy.

Tiff Stevenson (from Metro, 8/10/14)

Tiff Stevenson

Tiff again, this time inexplicably flipped. Ironically, these are JPEGs of TIFF.

phil wang

Phil Wang isn’t so much scratching his head as making sure it’s balanced on his neck properly.

Chris doesn’t know where it’ll all end, he really doesn’t, what with one thing and another.





Filed under Stuff

8 responses to “Comedians Scratching Their Heads

  1. Adrian

    Is Columbo actually scratching his head or attempting to hold an errant eye brow in place?

  2. There is no mention of the grand-father of head-scratching comedians Stan Laurel.

    Ruined the whole blog for me.

  3. Splendid!

    Although I’m not sure that Dara O Briain’s surname – strictly speaking – begins with a ‘B’. Unless you’re suggesting that his first names are ‘Dara O’ in the same way that Michael C Hall’s first names are clearly ‘Michael C’. If this is indeed what you are suggesting, I think one look at Mr O Briain’s book will convince you that you are a very silly man.

    What a world, eh? Eh?


  4. I prefer to speak strictly. It gives me a feeling of fake authority which feeds into my bogus sense of power.

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