So some of you out there, don’t like American comedy? You say things like this
“IT STOOPID AND RUBSICH!”
Well you are wrong! Well kind of. People really do have this stand point on American humour, and their argument normally goes ‘Well British humour is all about the characters, where Americans just joke for the sake of it.’ I get your point, but I will bring your attention to the amount of British comedy that is characterless and pointless, case in point BBC Three’s Coming of Age, its load, crude and rude. It’s devoid of humour, yet the little chavs lap it up. Also the bloody despair that is LEE NELSON! (You got me started now!) Character comedy only works if the character is likable and that ‘thing’ is not in any way. I will also point out the hit Channel Four show The Inbetweeners, and don’t get me wrong I really do like this show. It’s a lovely charming series that perfectly sum up how British teenage life works, but do you think the writers sat down and had a big discussion about the metaphysical reasoning behind Neil punching a fish to death. NO they just thought it was a funny idea, and there is nothing wrong with a joke for the sake of a joke, as long as it is funny.
So let’s move on to the yanks. Allot of American humour is bad, poor or shit. But there are some real gems out there. Here are my Top Five American TV comedies.
5. The Office
So Ricky ‘I won a golden globe’ Gervais, did a good job with The Office, breaking the wall of the sitcom down and reinventing the wheel. Then he turned into a bit of twat. But one of the better things he did was to let the Americans have a stab at his show. The first season starts of wobbly, so I suggest you kick it off with season 2. The show plays less on the embarrassment factor that the British one did and more on jokes, real jokes and heart. I will admit after watching 67 hours and 55 minutes (163 x 25 minute episodes) of the workers at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, I have been moved to tears, the weddings, the announcements and the people leaving. This is one advantage that Americans shows have over British ones, they traditionally run for 25 episodes a season, where our series run for only 6, this gives the writers more time to develop their characters and situations, often using half a season to play on one event. I felt genuine joy when Jim finally proposed to Pam, and real sadness when no one turned up to Pam’s art show, or when Michael had to leave the office without saying a proper good-bye.
The Simpsons is all right I guess, but it pales into insignificance when you watch Futurama. I will just leave this Matt Groening quote here
‘Were trying to honour sci-fi and at the same time poke fun at its absurdities whilst trying not to insult your intelligence, too much. But among all the laughs were trying to squeeze in some actual human emotion just to balance things out.’
Just so you know they achieved it.
This show has only just been brought to my attentions and already its up there with the best, currently half way into season 3 and on the brink of cancellation, it needs to be saved as it’s a grower. It WILL grow on you. Trust me. The fact that it grows is its joy, for example.
Please note that these three scenes come from different seasons. Meaning someone uttered the word “Beetlejuice” once per season on Community. And if you still aren’t sure why this is awesome, please look at the window behind Annie/Alison Brie when she says the third “Beetlejuice.” As Community creator Dan Harmon tweeted,
‘The Easter egg that took three years to hide. Our show is TOTALLY ACCESSIBLE.’
2. 30 Rock
Tina Fey is King! (Well Queen I Guess?). 30 Rock is the story of Liz Lemon who is the lead writer of a sketch show. It’s witty and silly, Clever and absurd and its full of characters, need proof about whether Americans can act characters in sitcoms, watch Kenneth the page, or Tracy Jordon or Jack Donaghy as perfect forms of fully formed and funny characters. 30 Rock doesn’t have complex themes or a deep message, but that stuff would get in the way of its goal: having the most consistently funny show on TV.
1. Arrested Development
Mitch Hurwitz’ sitcom about a “wealthy family who lost everything and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together” debuted six weeks after Two and a Half Men, but never gathered the audience to keep the show alive. Still, Hurwitz packed a whole lot of awesome into three short seasons. How much awesome? Well, there was the chicken dance, for starters. And Franklin’s “It’s Not Easy Being White.” There was Ron Howard’s spot-on narration, and Tobias Funke’s Blue Man ambitions. There was Mrs. Featherbottom and Charlize Theron as Rita, Michael Bluth’s mentally challenged love interest. Not since has a comic storyline been so perfectly constructed, with every loose thread tying so perfectly into the next act: The Oedipal Buster angering his mother Lucille by dating her friend Lucille, and eventually losing his hand to a hungry loose seal; George Michael Jr. crushing on his cousin only to have the house cave in when they finally kiss; the “Save Our Bluths” campaign trying to simultaneously rescue the family and rescue the show from cancellation. Arrested Development took self-referencing postmodernism to the extreme, jumping shark after shark, but that was the point. They even brought on the original shark-jumper—Henry Winkler—as the family lawyer. And when he was jumped, by Bugsy Malone actor Scott Baio. Each of the Bluth family members were among the best characters on television, and Jason Bateman played a brilliant straight man to them all. The show was canned 5 years ago. Meanwhile, Two and a Half Men is still trotting out new episodes. What the hell is wrong with American comedy?
I guess the point I really want to make, is that there is both excellent and poor comedy in both American and the U.K. you just need to be looking in the right places.