Will Smith (comedian)

William James Smith (born 8 June 1971) is an English stand-up comedian, screenwriter, novelist, actor and producer.

Will Smith
William James Smith

(1971-06-08) 8 June 1971[1]
OccupationActor, screenwriter, stand-up comedian, novelist, producer
Years active1996–present
Known forTV, film and radio comedy

As co-writer and co-producer of the HBO sitcom Veep, he was among the recipients of two Emmys and two Writers Guild of America Awards, and has received nominations for the Golden Globe Award and the Producers Guild of America Award for Best Episodic Comedy.[2][3][4][5]

Early life and education

Though born in Winchester, Hampshire,[6] Smith grew up in Jersey and was educated there at Victoria College. His brother is the TV presenter and wine critic Olly Smith.[7]

Stand up comedy

Smith started his career in stand-up comedy, winning awards including Chortle Best Headliner 2005 and Time Out Comedy 2004.[8] One critic called him 'the Hugh Grant of comedy',[9] and he appeared in The 11 O'Clock Show with Sacha Baron Cohen and Ricky Gervais as the character 'Posh Boy'.[10] He took solo shows to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival every year from 2003 to 2006: "Will Smith Is Much Obliged", "Misplaced Childhood" (inspired by his love of the rock band Marillion and their 1985 album of the same name),[11] "Ten Arguments I Should Have Won",[12] and "How To Be Cool".[13] Smith supported Gervais on his record-breaking sell-out 2007 "Fame" tour, and supported Ardal O'Hanlon and Johnny Vegas on national tours.


With Armando Iannucci and Roger Drew he devised BBC future comedy Time Trumpet, six episodes that screened in 2006.[14]

Smith is involved with both British and American political satire. He is a writer and one of the executive producers on HBO's Emmy-winning sitcom Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus.[15] He wrote or co-wrote the Veep episodes: Chung (Season 1); Midterms, Running (Season 2); Some New Beginnings, Fishing (Season 3); Storms and Pancakes, Testimony (Season 4); Thanksgiving, C**tgate (Season 5). Smith also wrote on the BAFTA-winning BBC political comedy The Thick of It. He was the only writer on the programme who acted in it – as MP Peter Mannion's inept adviser, Lord of the Rings-obsessive Phil Smith. He also has a cameo role in the closing credits of In the Loop, the Anglo-American film spin-off.

He is also a writer on the sitcom Damned and contributed additional material to Back, both airing on Channel 4. In 2018 he was reported to be working on co-writing a television series of Scarfolk.[16]


Comedy books by Smith include How To Be Cool[17] (Harry Enfield said of it 'Will Smith is the coolest guy in the world (if uncool is the new cool) – he's also terrifically funny'), and The Joy of No Sex, published by Penguin,[18] a parody of The Joy of Sex.

Smith writes for various publications, including the magazine Intelligent Life, in which he learns something new for each issue. Articles have included banjo-playing, ice-sculpting, circus skills and making a soufflé.[19]

In 2015 Smith published his first novel, Mainlander (4th Estate, a division of HarperCollins),[20] a thriller about a schoolboy who goes missing on Jersey. The Independent described it as 'John le Carré meets Middlemarch',[9] and ShortList called it a 'knockout'.[21] The Daily Mail also gave it a positive review, hailing it as 'a proper work of fiction... A carefully worked plot, seen through the viewpoints of a clutch of cast members, builds nicely to a satisfying climax.'[22]

Smith reflects on the difference between writing for television and writing a novel in The Guardian. "The chain from author to reader is short and simple – agent, editor, proofreader, shop/website. In TV, the script will have to be signed off by producers, executive producers, genre commissioners and channel commissioners, and that’s still only a starting point". He cites as his influences John Cleese and Stephen Fry, as well as Charlotte Bronte and George Eliot.[15]


Smith appears on BBC Radio 4, both as a guest in comedy panel shows, as well as in his own shows.


Year Title Role Notes
1997 The 11 O'Clock Show
2000 Time Gentlemen Please
2003 Gash
2004 A Wife For William
2005 The Comic Side of 7 Days
2005 Back in the Day
2006 The Charlotte Church Show
2006 Never Mind the Buzzcocks
2006–2012 The Thick of It Phil Smith 2006, one-hour special in 2007, 2009, 2012
2007 The C Word The euphemism for "cunt", not "cancer"
2007 The Late Edition
2008 For One Night Only
2009 Argumental 2 guest appearances
2011 Comedy Lab Tony Season 12, Episode 5
2012 Have I Got News for You
2012 Dead Boss Governor Gorey Season 1, Episode 6


  1. "Smith, Will, 1971– – LC Linked Data Service | Library of Congress". Id.loc.gov. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  2. "Nominees/Winners | Television Academy". emmys.com. Retrieved 9 September 2016. "Nominees/Winners | Television Academy". emmys.com. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  3. "Veep | Golden Globes". goldenglobes.com. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  4. "2016 Writers Guild Awards Nominees". awards.wga.org. Archived from the original on 18 October 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  5. "2016 PGA Nominations (Complete List) | Hollywood Reporter". hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved 9 September 2016. "2017 PGA Nominations (Complete List) | Hollywood Reporter". hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  6. Archived 11 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  7. "Twitter / jollyolly: @tvpeanuts Yes I am related". Twitter.com. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  8. "Will Smith on : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". Chortle. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  9. "Will Smith's New Book: John Le Carre Meets Middlemarch". Independent. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  10. "The 11 O'Clock Show (1998–2000) : Full Cast & Crew". IMDb.com. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  11. Ritchie, Jason. "Interview: Will Smith". Get Ready to Rock. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  12. "Will Smith: 10 Arguments I Should Have Won' review : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". Chortle. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  13. "Will Smith: How To Be Cool' review : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". Chortle. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  14. "Credits". Time Trumpet. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  15. Will Smith (21 February 2015). "A screenwriter turns novelist, looking for less interference and fewer turkeys | Books". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  16. "Gaffe as civil service magazine prints poster telling parents to shoot rabid children". Sky News. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  17. How to Be Cool: Make Social Blunders a Thing of the Past!: Amazon.co.uk: Will Smith: Books. ASIN 0719524903.
  18. Smith, Will; Drew, Roger (2005). The Joy of No Sex: A Guide to Life Without Lovemaking: Amazon.co.uk: Will Smith, Roger Drew. ISBN 9780718148379.
  19. http://www.moreintelligentlife.com/content/will-smith-learns-do-something-new-this-issue-the-banjo. Retrieved 8 October 2008. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. Will Smith. Mainlander. ISBN 9780007594269.
  21. "The ShortRead: Will Smith | ShortList Magazine". Shortlist.com. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  22. Ritchie, Harry (19 February 2015). "LITERARY FICTION | Daily Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  23. "BBC – Programmes – Categorised as will smith". Retrieved 18 April 2009.
  24. Will Smith. Will Smith Presents: The Tao of Bergerac (BBC Audio). ISBN 9781405677424.
  25. "BBC Radio 4 – Mr and Mrs Smith". Bbc.co.uk. 21 February 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
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