ALTHOUGH perhaps not automatically thought of as the county of comedy, over the years Essex has produced some of the country's best-loved joke-tellers. 

Since initially cutting their teeth in dingy pubs and clubs, they have shot to stardom and can now often be spotted gracing our television screens or selling out huge venues.

But who are they?

Here are some of Essex's most well-known comedic exports: 

Russell Brand
Halstead Gazette:

Russell Brand is perhaps best known for what his trademark eccentric and over-the-top personality - something which made him a popular figure on the likes of MTV and Big Brother's Big Mouth.

In recent years, however, the Grays-born comedian, who has also starred in Hollywood film, has turned activist and campaigner who is passionate about mental health and drug rehabilitation.

Alan Davies
Born in Loughton, Alan Davies is a stand-up comedian, writer and presenter who these days is a permanent panellist on QI, alongside Stephen Fry.

Despite his penchant for side-splitting laughter, Alan is perhaps most recognised for his role as the title character of mystery drama series Jonathan Creek.

Ellie Taylor 
Halstead Gazette:

Since appearing on Show Me The Funny ten years ago, Brentwood's Ellie Taylor has become a staple on the comedy circuit - not least on TV.

She has graced our screens in everything from 8 Out of 10 Cats, Fake Reaction and Mock the Week to The Lodge, Stand-Up Central, The Mash Report, and Plebs.

She even recently featured in a campaign video designed to show people an alternative side of Essex.

Lee Evans
Halstead Gazette:

He might have been born in Bristol, but Lee Evans is really Billericay boy - after all, it is where he spent most of childhood and teen years.

After moving to the area in 1975, the face-pulling comedian attended The Billericay School and spent two years at Thurrock Art College.

He has since gone onto become one of the country's biggest stand-ups, selling millions of pounds worth of tickets, conquering huge arena shows, and even starring in movies and theatre productions.

Rik Mayall 

Halstead Gazette: Comedian and actor Rik Mayall has died

The late, great Rik Mayall died aged 56 in 2014, but his comedic legacy will forever live on.

Born in Harlow, Rik was a pioneer of alternative comedy in the 1980s.

He truly made his name cracking jokes in cult classic sitcoms like the Young Ones, Blackadder, and Bottom.

Rik, whose style was described as energetic post-punk, even won a Primetime Emmy Award for his voice-over work in The Willows in Winter.