Wednesday, November 26

Definitive Guide to TV Comedy

A lot of people don't know this, but I used to write for the funniest Website on the entire Internet. So I'm kind of a big deal. It's with these impeccable credentials that I offer this companion to our earlier Definitive Guide to TV Drama...

spanky's 10 Favorite TV Comedies (Winter '08)

  1. 30 Rock - Tina Fey is a brilliant writer, actress, and businesswoman ("I don't think that's a word"); Alec Baldwin is the most glorious ham TV has seen since David Hyde Pierce. The writing is great, too (and OMG, Cerie). 30 Rock is the best television comedy since the dear departed Arrested Development.
  2. Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! - Inspired, otherwordly lunacy. It's only 15 minutes long—12 without commercials—but with sketch comedy this is a feature rather than a bug. Even history's greatest sketch shows had some clunkers in there to pad out their half hour.
  3. The Office - I yield to few in fanboy devotion to Ricky Gervais and the BBC original, but the American version is the real deal. Last year (season 4) felt like a bit of a valley, but this year (s5) is back to being as hi-larious as ever.
  4. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - Still a very funny show, despite a small drop-off in quality after its first few outrageous seasons (last year, this show would have ranked a notch higher).
  5. How I Met Your Mother - Proof that the traditional multi-camera sitcom format can still thrive, so long as the writing is great. If you thought Neil Patrick Harris was a hoot in Harold & Kumar, you'll enjoy his womanizing pick-up artist Barney Stinson.
  6. The Daily Show / The Colbert Report - These two modern-day court jesters have given us arguably the best comedy on TV during the last six months. History tells us to expect a regression now that the election's over, but Colbert in particular is clearly hitting his stride as a member of the "opposition." Comedy Central now offers entire episodes of both, in high quality, for free.
  1. South Park - Though I don't catch every episode, I'm rarely disappointed when I remember to watch South Park. The "topical" focus of the show sometimes misfires, but generally keeps the show fresh—last year's "Guitar Queer-o" being a hilarious case in point. And all episodes are available for free online, too.
  2. The Simpsons - Yes, yes, I know: it's a mere shadow of its former glorious self. I gave up on it for many years, too. But it's still good for at least a few chuckles per episode, which by any fair standard makes it one of the better comedies on TV. It's not the appointment TV of its Best-Show-Ever heyday, but it's still worth catching from time to time.
  3. Comedy Central Presents - The quality of these half-hour stand-up comedy showcases can vary wildly. For every Mitch Hedberg, Doug Stanhope, or Zach Galifianakis there's going to be an unfunny hack or two, but the good news is that it's easy to tell the difference well before the first commercial break. Great DVR-bait.

I've heard good things about The Sarah Silverman Show, but haven't had a chance to watch it yet. Ditto The Big Bang Theory. And I'm not a big fan of Family Guy, for various personal reasons, but I can understand its appeal. Any others I may have missed?

5 comments [add yours!]:

Anonymous said...

Robot Chicken

American Dad (not great, but still better than the Simpsons on a week to week average)

spanky said...

Tell me more about this Robot Chicken! I think I've heard about it from Crispin—who, incidentally, first turned me on to Tim & Eric. It's on Cartoon Network, right? What kind of humor is it?

Ezra said...

I agree about Robot Chicken. With spots about Optimus Prime getting prostate cancer, or Darth Vader breaking the news to the Emperor regarding the destruction of Death Star, there is some serious comedy going on. Be warned, though, that like SNL, there will be some skits that are just not funny.

If Spanky doesn't like Family Guy (inexplicable as it is), odds are American Dad won't be appreciated.

Crispin said...

And spanky you really can't go wrong with Robot Chicken since it's aimed squarely at the ADD set. Shows are the usual Cartoon Network Adult Swim length of about 10 minutes and the "skits" are rarely longer than 30 seconds. Some are simply a visual joke before quickly cutting to something else. Even when it's not funny, it's rarely boring.

spanky said...

I'm sold! Will acquire ASAP. Thanks guys.

I did accidentally leave off one other TV comedy that I really enjoy, which is Dateline NBC's "To Catch A Predator." It doesn't get much funnier than that shit. I heard that Jeff Foxworthy is going to be hosting a cross-over spin-off series: "Are You Horny For A Fifth Grader?"

(And if you thought that was going to be a redneck joke... you might be a redneck.)