Sunday, March 17, 2013

Top Ten: British Comedies

When I was younger I used to live in the UK, more precisely Aberdeen, Scotland. I guess this is what really sparked my love affair with British TV.I've been a big Doctor Who fan since the early 1980s, and was enthralled by Blake's 7, and even got into some more obscure shows like Educating Marmalade, and such. But Britain has a ton of great comedies, so many classics that American audiences may have given a few of these a miss.  So I Decided I should make a list of my absolute favorites, my cream of the crop of British comedy.

10- Little Britian
This sketch comedy show is a great start to this list. Two guys, dozens of reoccuring characters, and tons of off color jokes make this show a riot to watch. It does have a few "miss" sketches but it has twice as much unforgettable lines. Uhm Yeah, but no, but yeah, but SHUT UP! 

9- the Young ones
A sitcom about 4 university students in a university housing, this show was a breeding ground for tallent. many of the guys on this show went on to a lot of things. This show is bizarre, surreal, and pretty damn funny. Also pointless piece of trivia, Rick Mayall, who played the much loathed sociology student of the same name was cast as peeves the poltergeist in Harry Potter, but his scenes lay on the cutting room floor, he was also a pitchman for Nintendo in the UK. 

8-  Father Ted

A show about a small group of Catholic priests, on a small island in Ireland, sounds like the kind of show your grandmother would love right? well it's a bit more subversive than that. these priests are stuck on the island due to their own fantastic shortcomings Ted is a pathological schemer, who may or may not have embezzled money from the church (It was just resting in his account, Honest!) Father Jack Hacket is an alcoholic, and pervert, and a clear fire and brimstone priest with no sense of reality, and speaking of no sense of reality leads us to Father Dougal, who is well, I guess special is the nicest word.  Though it is in the guise of religious humor, it is far more subversive than that and is just a ton of fun. 

7- Peep Show
It's a fresh take on a classic sit com trope, the roomies who are in effect the Odd Couple, one might even assume they had ripped off the Neil Simon play and t.v. show. But it is far more brilliant than that instead of just doing a modern nerdy anal guy living with a free spirited slob, might work but add internal monologues and P.O.V. shots to show what is going on in their heads makes this show 100 times better. I think the repressed grins and peek into the character's psyches make the show both more subtle and far more riotous!

6- the I.T. Crowd
From the guys who brought us Father Ted, comes a show about the I.T. department in a local corporation. As someone who works in tech myself I have been there brothers and sisters. an excellent show with lots of computer/geek references, and the Dungeons and Dragons Episode (Season 4 episode 1) is enough to make this hit the list. 

5-That Mitchell Webb Look

A Sketch comedy show from the guys from Peep Show, this is more about exploring their comic experiences, with some very cool characters such as Sir Digby Chicken Caesar, or the Helivets. Some incredible sketches and just damn fine bits above is the World War 2 sketch one of my all time favorites. well that and Sir Digby, cheezoid, Numberwang, etc.

4- The Goodies

A Show that can boast a man dying from laughter, the goodies stars 3 comedians who worked with many of the same people who would go on to be Monty Python. This long running sit com has all the wackiness of python, in a more structured, and family friendly environment. I am really surprised that this one isn't seen more often here in the states. Hell we have BBC America for a reason, but instead they show us X-files, and Star Trek TNG re-runs. The premise is 3 men who run a business doing anything any time. It is a classic of comedy in every sense of the word. above is the scene that supposedly killed a man via laughter, watch at your own peril. 

3- Black Adder
Rowan Atkinson, is best known world wide as Mr. Bean the slapstick chaplinesque character who fumbles his way through life but Atkinson really shines in his role as the sarcastic, vile and devious Edmond Blackadder a historical comedy that also stars Hugh Laurie (T.V.'s House) as a braying moron. It always makes me laugh when someone compares themselves to Dr. House, because this is what I see every time I see him. A true classic comedy I cannot recommend this one enough. 

2- Red Dwarf
It is quite probably the best science fiction comedy made (aside from Futurama) Red Dwarf is the story of the survivors of a ship lost 3,000,000 years from earth. and just as Star trek will take some new scientific theory and look to build a dramatic episode around it, Red Dwarf takes the comedic route from future echoes, to Backwards so many classic humor based on scientific theories. add the chemistry of the cast and riffs on so many sci fi tropes Dwarf is a great sci fi and a great comedy, well worth the number two position. 

1- Monty Python's flying Circus:
Is there doubt that this one takes the number 1 spot, they are the Beatles of comedy man. An incredible cast of comedians and writers. surreal sketches that defined comedy for so many. from the Gumbys to Spam, to the Lumberjack song so many classics, that stand the test of time. what else is there to say man? 

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