This week’s Thursday Thirteen kick-starts what will become a semi-regular series looking at an often overlooked form of therapy; laughter therapy. Everybody – not just those who suffer from mental health issues – could benefit from a good laugh each and every day.
So today, I countdown my thirteen favourite television comedies of all time…each and every one of them pretty much guaranteed to get your muscles twitching and stress-busting endorphins kicking! :p
13. My Two Dads
Although it has been over fifteen years since I last saw this show, I still remember it as being one of my favourite comedies when I was an early-teenager. Perhaps it was because I fancied the actress who portrayed the daughter, perhaps it was because Greg Evigan’s beard was magnificent, perhaps it was because I had very little taste when I was younger or perhaps it was because this show was – and is – comedy gold!
The fourth series was – let’s be brutally honest – a bit crap, but the first three seasons of this uber-meta series is some of the funniest in modern comedy. A magnificent ensemble cast, multiple examples of boundary-pushing television and the greatest cat gag since Victor Meldrew froze one in his freezer. Unmissable!
11. The IT Crowd
This series, revolving around the misadventures of three IT workers, was recommended to me by Samantha’s sister in 2009. From the moment Richard Ayoade’s Moss shouted “four…five…fire!” I knew I was going to be a fan for life.
I’ll be honest, my preference is Blackadder the Second because I have a massive crush on Miranda Richardson’s Queen Elizabeth, but all four seasons (and related specials) of Blackadder are top-notch comedy that should be quintessential viewing for any comedy aficionado.
9. 30 Rock
To place this ninth was a really tough decision. Smartly written, pitch perfect performances, an under-rated Katrina Bowden and the genius that is Tina Fey should be enough for this to be in the top five; but there is just something about it that I can’t put my finger on which is keeping it lower in the list. Not that anyone should take that as a criticism of its worth, for this show is one of the best contemporary comedies around.
8. Dad’s Army
There is something altogether comforting and familiar with this comedy series. Maybe it’s because the show has been around since before I was born, maybe it’s because the writing is as sharp today as it was forty years ago or maybe it’s because the characters are so brilliantly portrayed they feel like your friends. Even though I’ve seen some episodes countless times, this is a comedy I will never tire of.
7. Fawlty Towers
Is there a human being in the Western world who has never seen an episode of this show? Because if there is, that person needs to stop whatever they’re doing and watch an episode…now! I suggest Communication Problems or Basil the Rat.
6. How I Met Your Mother
Granted, it’s gone on at least one or two seasons too long, but this series has been one of my greatest supports since my breakdown and subsequent mental health issues. I am now firmly attached to each of the characters and am eagerly awaiting the ninth – and final – season to see how it all ends.
Simon Pegg, Jessica Hynes and Edgar Wright are responsible for one of the funniest, hippest and most intelligent situational comedies that has ever been made. Absolute fried comedy gold!
4. One Foot in the Grave
The show that inspired Bill Cosby’s Cosby contains some of the most inspired ‘reveals’ in comedy history. Who could forget the infamous ‘street lamp through the window’, ‘plant potted in the downstairs toilet’ or ‘pick up the small dog instead of the phone’ gags. But beyond these visual gems, the writing and acting in this show is top notch with a marvelous (almost macabre) balance between comedy and tragedy.
My primary reason for placing this second is not so much the superb (and intelligent) writing or the brilliant ensemble cast, it is because David Hyde Pierce (Niles) is a comedic genius! Frasier is the one psychiatrist I have no issues with visiting and this show has become one of my primary comforts in times of great (or marginal) distress.
2. Parks and Recreation
There is very little I can write about this show without exhausting synonyms for ‘superb’, ‘magnificent’ or ‘hilarious’. So I shall simply say it’s as close to perfect as any television show should legally be allowed to be.
1. Only Fools and Horses
It’s no surprise to me that this show is consistently voted by both public and critical polls as being one of the greatest series of all time, let alone comedy series. The exploits of the Trotter clan from the humble beginnings to millionaire status and back again has entertained and inspired me since I was a wee bairn.
So how about you? What are your favourite television comedy series?