TV Comedy Gold

As any writer, actor or TV producer knows, TV comedy is one of the hardest genres to crack successfully. There are so many elements that can go wrong and it can date easily, and that’s why we thought we would put together a list celebrating some of the best TV comedies ever produced.

10) Everybody Loves Raymond

This Emmy award winning show revolves around Raymond Barone and his dysfunctional, eccentric family; so far so cliché, but what sets this comedy apart from other family comedies is that it turns out to be actually very funny.

Actor Ray Romano and producer Phil Rosenthal draw on their own family experiences to generate sharp situational comedy which often comes out of left field for the viewer.

It’s a testament to the quality of the writing that despite most of the characters generally whining and being dislikeable as they go about their daily lives (with the exception of Ray’s older brother Robert) we still empathise with them.


9) Scrubs

Medical students simply adore this show about interns at Sacred Heart Hospital. Several forums refer to this as the most realistic medical show on TV – although that sounds a bit worrying to us considering how frequently the doctors break out in to farcical surrealism..

Each episode is divided into two significant parts, the first half sets up the story and is generally more light-hearted whereas the mood takes on a more serious tone in the second half when more often than not a moral is learnt.

One of the stand out elements of the show is the portrayal of the relationship between JD and Turk, best friends since college they exemplify all that is good in male friendship.


8) The Thick of It

This show about the political scramblings that goes on behind the scenes in Government started off not even on BBC Three but on BBC Four! But its sheer genius meant that it didn’t go unnoticed for long and soon generated enough of a following and critical praise to make it one of the most exciting things to come to comedy.

However when scandal hit Chris Langham - the shows lead character- many thought it spelt the end of the comedy that was on track to becoming a classic. Luckily replacements were bought in, the focus re-shifted onto other characters and the programme survived and even went onto spawn the film In the Loop.


7) Only Fools and Horses

One of the most well loved comedies to come from the British Isles, it is up there with the likes of Fawlty Towers and Monty Python.

The show focuses on two brothers, Derek and Rodney Trotter and their attempts at getting rich, or rather Derek’s attempts at getting rich and Rodney’s attempts at keeping his more flamboyant older brother in check.

The show has created some of the most memorable sketches of all time, just youtube ‘’only fools and horses batman and robin’’ and you’ll see what we mean.


6) Desmonds

The most low profile of all the shows on this list is Desmonds which perhaps makes it the most rewarding to watch when you discover it. Broadcast on channel 4 in the late 80s and early 90s Desmond’s revolve around a group of characters who assemble at Ambrose Desmond’s barber shop.

The cast was predominantly black but much like The Cosby Show it was not niche programming meant only for minorities, the entire nation took to the Desmonds and relished the opportunity to catch a glimpse of what it was like for foreigners integrating and making a life for themselves in Britain.


5) Friends

Was there ever a world without Joey and Rachel, Phoebe and Ross, Monica and Chandler?

FRIENDS was a sensation; its popularity spread across the globe like wildfire and made huge stars of the ensemble cast. It is the most famous TV comedy show of all time, and what is most surprising is that it was all good clean fun. Swearing was kept to a minimum, the jokes were never vulgar or cheap and most parents would happily let their kids watch it.

The only criticism is that toward the end the storylines dried up resulting in the Joey and Rachel romance which was both unpopular and ‘huh?’ and sometimes the jokes felt a little lazy. But then again the sitcom did run for 10 years which is a feat in itself and more often than not it was superb.


4) South Park

The total opposite of the inoffensive FRIENDS is South Park, ostensibly a cartoon it has gone on to offend all of its viewers at one point or another.

Its frequent attack and ridicule of all religions, its excessive swearing and general vulgarity has lead to it becoming one of the most controversial shows around, but 14 years on it is still here, why? Parker and Stone the creators attribute the shows continuing popularity and acceptance to the fact that they subject their withering scorn on everything, they are ‘’equal opportunities offenders,’’ and like all great comedies their methods highlight bigotry and hypocrisy in all areas of society.


3) Da Ali G Show

Although Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ali G character spawned many a spin off it is this original series that most exemplifies what the comic can do. At this point no one had any clue who Ali G was and we watch as politicians, police men and other authority figures accept him as the voice of ‘yoof’ and tell him it’s not cos he’s black.


2) The Office BBC/ The Office USA

We’re torn between both the BBC and USA versions but as they are cousins we put them simultaneously at number two.

The Office perfects the art of satire and when it first launched on UK screens it broke the mould. At first audiences were puzzled as to what it was, but they quickly caught up and it became a cultural phenomenon. Only running for two seasons we can’t help but feel that there was some life in it still and Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the creators, called time on it too soon. But at least we have the US version which perhaps not as nuanced still does an admirable job.


1) Frasier

And now we come to our favourite comedy of all time; Frasier. A spin-off from Cheers and dare we say it, even better than Cheers.

Frasier is packed full of intelligent humour, witty one-liners and endearing characters. Frasier and Niles Crane are unquestionably two of the best comedy characters ever conceived, Frasier with his pomposity and wild ideas and Niles with his own pomposity, phobias and idiosyncrasies.

Frasier was one of the most successful comedies ever made winning a record number of Emmys; its place in comedy history is assured.

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