My Top Five League of Gentlemen Characters

The League of Gentlemen is a British comedy troupe that combine the macabre with the gutbusting. Four writers and three actors all combine to create a cast nearly as expansive as that of The Simpsons. These guys first arrived on the screen more than a decade ago yet their TV programme still feels fresher than anything currently airing on American television…with the exception of The Simpson or, from a strictly visual standpoint, the late, lamented Pushing Daisies. Trying to come up with your top five League of Gentlemen characters is about as tough as coming up with your top five characters from Springfield and chances are tomorrow I might trade out one of these characters for another. But as of today, these are my top five League of Gentlemen characters.

5. Pauline Campbell-Jones (Steve Pemberton)
Bureaucracy is inherently evil…we all recognize that. Pauline works in the British unemployment system that prepares those without jobs to head out to the world of gainful employment. Much like Patty and Selma on The Simpsons, Pauline is representative of the power that comes with petty offices. She is obsessed with pens and humiliating those on the dole. Comeuppance comes her way and, much like Geoff, she is capable of producing genuine sympathy despite being an unlikable human being. One of the last times we see Pauline is in a genuinely disturbing sex scene with her nemesis, Ross.

4. Mick McNamara (Mark Gatiss)
Not one of the Gents’ most popular characters since he only makes one appearance. But what a memorable appearance! Mick is the tour cave guide whom you instantly recognize as having been forced to repeat a rote script so often that it’s lost all meaning. And then, slowly, Mick begins to reveal that a dark secret is at the bottom of his seeming inability to express emotion. If you thought Daniel Radcliffe was funny when he expressed absolutely no emotional engagement when finally coming face to face with Voldemort, wait until you hear Mick vacantly reveal the darkness that penetrates his psyche.

3. Herr Lipp (Steve Pemberton)
A German tourist visiting Royston Vasey who is seemingly unaware that so much of what comes out of his mouth is warped English that contains homosexual undertones. Then again, there are some times when Herr Lipp seems to perfectly understand the secondary meaning of a statement. Alles klar? Herr Lipp could have been an achingly stereotypical one-note character, but the genius of Pemberton’s performance and the writing of the Gents endows him with an almost tragic dimension, especially when you learn more about him in the Christmas Special.

2. Geoff Tibbs (Reece Shearsmith)
Every great TV show features a sad sack. Go to a certain tavern in Sprinfield and the owner is this character on The Simpsons. Bill Dauterive performs the same role on King of the Hill. Imagine Seinfeld’s George Constanza with a psychotic temper and you may begin to get an idea of what makes Geoff Tibbs such a great character. Geoff Tibbs is the resident sad sack of the town of Royston Vasey, but he won’t let a little thing psychosis fueled by clinical depression get him down. You may well categorize Geoff as a bit of a paranoid personality and when that is combined with a short temper, you’ve got trouble But Geoff also has a strangely hilarious sense of humor and you can’t help but feel sorry for him in a way that you could never feel for George Constanza.

1. Papa Lazarou (Reece Shearsmith)
It has been famously observed that Papa Lazarou will creep you the hell out. “Hello, Dave!” is this circus ringmaster’s tagline and if you think those words cannot be combined to instill fear and dread, then you haven’t seen Papa Lazarou. He’s got a blackface painted on, calls everybody Dave and collects wives. Tell them the circus is coming to town and get the hell out of his way.

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