Richard Ellef Ayoade ˈis an English comedian, film director, screenwriter, television presenter, actor, and author best known for his role as the socially awkward IT technician Maurice Moss in Channel 4 sitcom The IT Crowd (2006–2013), for which he won the 2014 BAFTA for Best Male Comedy Performance. He has often worked alongside Noel Fielding, Julian Barratt, Matt Berry, Matthew Holness, and Rich Fulcher.
Born in Hammersmith, Ayoade served as the president of Footlights at St Catharine's College, Cambridge (1998–1999). He and Matthew Holness debuted their respective characters Dean Learner and Garth Marenghi at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2000, bringing the characters to television with Garth Marenghi's Darkplace (2004) and Man to Man with Dean Learner (2006). Ayoade appeared in the comedy shows The Mighty Boosh (2004–2007) and Nathan Barley (2005), before gaining exposure and recognition for his role in The IT Crowd. After directing music videos for Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Kasabian, Ayoade wrote and directed the comedy-drama film Submarine in 2010, an adaptation of the 2008 novel by Joe Dunthorne. Ayoade co-starred in the American science fiction comedy film The Watch in 2012 and his second film, the black comedy The Double, premiered in 2013, drawing inspiration from Fyodor Dostoevsky's novella of the same title.
Ayoade has frequently appeared on panel shows, mostly prominently on The Big Fat Quiz of the Year and served as a team captain on Was It Something I Said? in 2013. He presented the factual shows Gadget Man (2013–2015), its spin-off Travel Man (2015–2019) and the 2017 revival of The Crystal Maze. He has provided his voice to a number of animated projects, including the films The Boxtrolls (2014), Early Man (2018), The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) and Soul (2020) and the television shows Strange Hill High (2013–14) and Apple & Onion (since 2018). Ayoade has written three comedic books centring on film: Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey (2014), The Grip of Film (2017), and Ayoade on Top (2019).