Richard Ayoade was born in 1977 to a Nigerian father and Norwegian mother and was educated at St. Catharine's College, Cambridge. Other than being an English comedian and actor, he has also tried a hand in music-related film directing. While at Cambridge, he became president of the prestigious Footlights.
In 2000, he appeared on Garth Marenghi's Fright Knight, a show he co-wrote with Matthew Holness. The show was nominated for a Perrier Award and a year later its sequel which he also co-wrote, won the Perrier Comedy Award. He and Holness took the Marenghi character to Channel 4 later on, and this spawned the spoof horror comedy series Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.
His stage appearances include those in The Mighty Boosh where he played the dangerous villain Dixon Bainbridge. In 2005, he appeared in Nathan Barley as Ned Smanks. He later gained even more recognition in Britain, when he played Maurice Moss on Channel 4's The IT Crowd. He later reprised the role in the American version, produced by the NBC network. Ayoade's role is that of a computer geek who happens to be friends with another computer nerd.
Together they make up the IT function of a small company which banishes them to the basement of their building. Their lives pretty much revolve around technology until they meet Jen, an attractive woman who knows how to make people listen to what she has to say. Little by little she teaches them how to live their lives to the fullest and make the best out of things which are not confined to the basement where they dwell.
However, he co-wrote the stage show Garth Marenghi's Fright Knight with Matthew Holness, appearing in the show at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2000 where it was nominated for a Perrier Award. In 2001 he won the Perrier Comedy Award for co-writing and performing in the sequel to Fright Knight, Garth Marenghi's Netherhead.
In 2004 Ayoade and Holness took the Marenghi character to Channel 4, creating the spoof horror comedy series Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. He directed and also appeared as Dean Learner, Garth's publisher, who plays Thornton Reed, a hospital administrator who bears a trademark shotgun and answers to hospital boss "Won Ton".
Ayoade's Darkplace character, Dean Learner, was resurrected in 2006 to host a comedy chat show, Man to Man with Dean Learner, on Channel 4. The different guests were played each week by Holness.
Ayoade is now a recognisable face in Britain owing to his role as the technically brilliant but socially awkward Maurice Moss in Channel 4's The IT Crowd. In 2008 he won the award for an outstanding actor in a television comedy series at Monte-Carlo Television Festival for his performance.
Also in 2008, Ayoade co-starred with Joel McHale in an unaired Americanisation of The IT Crowd pilot, reprising his character without any changes to his appearance or character.
Since then, Richard Ayoade has appeared on a number of other productions. He was seen on Man to Man with Dean Learner and Snuffbox, before he signed on for a role in Bunny and the Bull.