We all love a good laugh, but January is always a right slog. It’s the month of godawful hangovers from those great nights in December. January is the worst! But wait, I’m here to make your January blues disappear. What better way to do this than have a great bloody laugh, but finding funny shows on the telly box can often be a hit and miss affair.
If you’re not careful you’re just as likely to stumble upon a Mrs. Browns Boys rather than Inbetweeners. Actually if you read that last sentence and thought to yourself “I love Mrs Browns Boys, it’s hilarious”, then please get your coat and leave. Go on, I’m serious. Go. You’re a lost cause. Mrs Browns Boys epitomises everything that is wrong with comedy and sit-coms. It’s lazy, crass, mass-market nonsense; the fact that it’s so popular saddens me to the core of my being.
But wait, this is a comedy blog, let’s cheer up all is not lost. Fortunately there are some brilliant, hilarious and original comedy that’s very easy to find. So for this list I’m sticking to my top 10 comedy sit-coms or shows currently to be found on TV.
I’m definitely one for some classic old BBC comedy, and for me I don’t think I have laughed as much as when Del Boy fell over in the pub, or when Trigger won an award for his broom or Basil’s Car Thrashing. This list can’t contain every show I’ve ever laughed and loved, I have to have some cut offs so there’s no room for Cheers, Fawlty Towers, Only Fools, The Young Ones, Seinfeld or The Simpsons. The main reason being that comedy is constantly evolving and adapting and it is hard to find truly timeless comedy that stands the test of time, some just haven’t aged well for various reasons (e.g. The Cosby Show, anything with Alf Garnett!). There are some classics in here but it’s a good mix of new and old to keep everyone laughing away those January blues.
Comedy is very subjective, but I’m sure there’s something on this list for everyone. So without further ado, here you go:
- Curb Your Enthusiasm (Currently on Sky Atlantic) Larry David is a genius, and Curb is my favourite comedy of all time. Every episode has made me laugh, cringe and sometimes snart (that’s a snigger fart if you’re wondering). Larry plays a more annoying version of himself, but the brilliance of this show is that it’s unscripted and the characters are given a subject and given free reign from them on. The results are simply wonderful, and we all have a bit of Larry in all of us.
- Peep Show (Netflix) This should be join 1st. Peep Show is wonderful and wonderfully British. Mitchell and Webb have such great screen chemistry, this is the backbone that keeps the show hit rate so strong. The script is faultless (Men with Ven) and supporting characters are often scene-stealers. Also, unlike many US shows it ended just at the right time and it is just consistently brilliant.
- Father Ted (Channel4 On Demand) A show about Catholic priests in Ireland shouldn’t be funny. Particularly to a middle-aged Jew in North London. But Father Ted is what you call a timeless classic. I’m sure in 50 years time people will still be watching and laughing at Father Ted. Every scene is beautifully set up, every character immaculately imagined and every episode has the right mix of irreverent nonsense and classic one liners. Thank you for the Fecks too. With a supporting cast so strong as Mrs Doyle, Dougal and Father Jack make sure you sit down with a nice cup of tea and watch it, go on, go on, go on.
- The Office (UK, US) Yes I know I’m cheating as really this is two shows, but many of you might have watched the beloved UK version but missed the equally awesome US version. Ricky Gervais isn’t funny without Stephen Merchant: this is now a fact. The Office UK show also shows that really it wasn’t about David Brent. We watched it because of Tim & Dawn. Two seasons including the Christmas special and it was a great show. But for me the US one surpasses it. As long as you can get through the first couple of episodes where it tries to copy the UK version then you’re in for a treat. Steve Carrell plays the David Brent equivalent, and he brings so much more to the role. There are nine seasons and there are some extremely hilarious moments. There are over 200 episodes to wade through, so this will definitely keep you going well into 2018!
- Master of None (Netflix) It is rare to discover a new comedy that has such a high hit rate for excellence, but Master of None succeeds on many levels. It’s not always a laugh out loud laughfest, but the humour is less about beating you with a stick and more about developing the characters and situations. Aziz Ansari will feature again in this list, but this is all his work and it’s magical. It’s also rare to discover a show where the 2nd season is better than the 1st.
- The I.T Crowd (Netflix) Graham Linehan is a comedy god. This is his 2nd entrant in the top 10 and another absolute classic show that introduced us to Moss & Roy the archetypical stereotypes of what we all think happens in every IT department. Often slightly irreverent but always damn funny. Two standout episodes include Jen being introduced to the Internet and Roy being leg disabled, I’m sure you’ll discover your own gems too.
- Modern Family (Amazon to Buy) A few years ago Modern Family would be much higher on this list, but as with many US shows (see TBBT later in this list) it keeps going and going and going. The good news is that you still get lots of fun and laughter, mainly because the characters are so strong and watchable, but it’s definitely lost some of its magic. I still watch it and often laugh, and some of the earlier episodes are truly wonderful. So if you haven’t watched any, then you are in for a treat and enjoy the Dunphy family trials and tribulations.
- Parks & Recreation (Amazon) I’ve only recently discovered this wonderful slice of Americana and I love Pawnee and everyone who works at the City Hall. It’s a show which post 2016 shines a positive light onto the US public service and it’s much needed. There are some standout performances, including Chris Pratt before his Hollywood stardom playing Andy a golden retriever puppy in human form. But for me this show brought us Ron Swanson the man who loves meat, woodworking and quiet. We all need a Lesley Knope and Ron Swanson in our lives.
- Catastrophe (Amazon) A sit-com about family and life that is actually hilarious and realistic, this is not an easy feat in the world of TV comedy (My Family shows the complete opposite). The set-up is pretty simple; man meats women for quick fling, women falls pregnant. What happens next is what makes Catastrophe so endearing, funny and swearily brilliant. It encapsulates being an adult whilst still wanting to not be one, the problem we all face. The chemistry between Rob and Sharon the two leads is sensational. This is also worth watching to see Carrie Fishers’ last role, where she plays a brilliantly cantankerous irritating mother.
- The Big Bang Theory (Netflix) This is a perfect example of how the US don’t know when to stop a successful show and keep it going far longer than they should. I loved Big Bang, now I watch it and hope for a laugh. It’s a shame as the premise is wonderful and encapsulates our current time, highlighting that geeks can be cool and also very uncool. It’s hard to say much more positive stuff about it as it really should have ended a good few seasons ago and it’s now very tired and really not very funny, but it’s on this list because the early seasons really made me laugh many times.