I know it’s not exactly an unusual topic for a comedy blog to turn to, but I thought it would be better than a long and tedious post about Cunnilingus. I assumed you’d want a long and tedious post about comedy instead.
Rather than goofing around, I thought I’d use this opportunity to talk about some of my favourite comedies and the kind of things that have influenced me over the years. I have watched comedy shows on TV for as long as I can remember, and in terms of mature content, I probably watched a lot of programmes way before I should have. Despite being born in 1986, and partly thanks to the BBC’s policy in the 90’s of repeating shows ad nauseum, some of my earliest memories involve watching comedies from this era and even earlier. The likes of Blackadder and Faulty Towers were behemoths of comedy back then, but I think it has to be The Young Ones that had the biggest effect on me.
For the uninitiated, The Young Ones was an anarchic comedy from the early 80’s which mainly featured four university students fighting. By fighting, I’m not referring to bickering and snide comments (which there was also an abundance of), but more along the lines of cricket bats to the head, setting people on fire, and blowing each other up with cannons. Essentially it is slapstick comedy, but rather than laughing at people accidentally falling over or having a can of paint dropped on them, you’re laughing at people purposely trying to kill each other with petrol bombs. Back then, such a show had not been seen on British TV and the way it rocked the establishment showed that comedy could be a powerful force. The scripts were brilliantly juvenile yet political, flicking between jokes about mucus and jokes about government institutions effortlessly. The show often featured offbeat sketches in the middle of the narrative which often came out of nowhere. Another fascinating aspect of the show was the way they used to splice in half a second frames of unrelated images as though they were subliminal messages. These were usually nothing more than pictures of a frog leaping or the end sequence to some old western, but it all adds up to create a show which was distinctly different from anything that had bas been created before or since.
The 90’s was where I really started to get into comedy shows. The Fast Show was one of my major joys during my pre and early teenage years. As annoying as catchphrases can be, The Fast Show somehow manages to defy convention by spouting very little other than catch phrases. When the first show aired, several critics were rubbed up the wrong way due to this fact, but over time, subtle narratives began to emerge. This was remarkable when you consider that the average character was only on screen for about 30 seconds per episode. Favourites include Rowley Birkin, the old guy who rambles incoherently, and Ted and Ralph, an epic love saga between an estate owner and his humble groundsman.
Another show I love from this period would be Father Ted, which I enjoyed when it was at its peak, but I love it even more after repeated viewings. It still remains hilarious no matter how many times you watch it. This clip includes one of my favourite moments:
And how can we have a piece about comedy without Alan Partridge? The undoubted king of hilarious one liners, Alan is possibly my favourite comedy character. Although he was created on shows like The Day Today, and had a spin off called Knowing Me Knowing You, I really got into him after seeing I’m Alan Partridge, the series which catalogues his declining career and introduced the wonderful idea of Monkey Tennis to us.
The turn of the century saw comedy become a little more surreal. Both Chris Morris and Armando Iannucci (both responsible for shows such as Brass Eye) went off on a bizarre tangents and created some funny, yet interesting work. Chris Morris created Jam, which was sound tracked by Aphex Twin and as much a sensory experience as it was anything else. Then there’s The Armando Iannucci Shows, which delivered thought provoking and witty monologues which pointed out the absurdity of day to day life. Both shows never had second series, but they were nigh on perfect and complete as it was.
The mid noughties saw sitcoms turn a little more Rock and Roll with the advent of The Mighty Boosh. Although it is a wonderfully imaginative show, my favourite aspect is that it united Matt Berry and Rich Fulcher and that they went on to create Snuff Box together. This excellent example of surreal narrative interspersed with comical sketches is exemplified in this clip:
There are so many more comedy shows which I adore and to list them all would require a new blog in itself. I’d like to name them all, but I’m afraid that I’ll end up missing some awesome shows out. But before I sign off, I’d like to reveal my all time favourite comedy show:
It is of course Red Dwarf. Red Dwarf takes a standard sitcom, mixes in witticisms that wouldn’t seem out of place in Blackadder, and sets it all in a sci fi universe. Although it is coming back for a new series next year (which I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to), it is an absolute classic full of wonder, excitement and ... wonder: