God that’s a long title. I probably should have used something wittier, especially as this is a post about British comedy. We have produced, in my opinion, some of the wittiest comedians out there, and some amazing comic actors and writers whose deliverance of lines have created some of the finest moments in comedy.
There have been some treasured comedy shows throughout the years, some still adored by many like Only Fools and Horses, and others perhaps left more for reminiscing or telling the younger generations how funny the shows were back in the day.
But this post is about modern comedy shows, the ones from this century. British humour has evolved over the years since TVs were first brought into the family home, and here are a few example that in my opinion capture the modern day Brit’s sense of humour, identity and soul.
A British comedy show, but created and staring an Irish woman and American man. Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney play a couple who after a week of endless shagging end up expecting and Rob relocates from Boston to London to be a part of this new family. It’s a refreshing show, as my sister stated when I introduced her to it: “I like it because it’s real”. Exactly. The couple fight, have sex, or vice versa. And even though it was an unplanned situation, they are such a likeable couple because they are clearly a team facing the bizarre world of friends, family, jobs and parenthood. With amazing lines such as Rob comparing Sharon, the overly doting mother, to Gollum.
Gavin and Stacey
A TV show adored by nearly every Brit in existence. I came late to the party, and only started watching it when the series had ended. But it is one of those shows you can watch again and again and again, even though there aren’t many episodes (which perhaps is the secret to its success – it didn’t drag itself out). Gavin is a Essex boy, and Stacey is a Welsh lass, they fall in love by speaking over the phone through work, and the series follows the growth of their relationship and how two very different families become one. The characters are memorable and hilarious, the stories are heart warming and realistic. Warmth and laughter – it’s what makes a comedy show great.
This is an entirely different form of comedy: utterly bizarre and surreal. It is a thriller that follows a set of very different people who are being blackmailed for something that happened when they were all institutionalised. Oh yes, very different from family focused comedies. However it’s sense of humour is one of my favourites: dark, imaginative, and exciting! I’m sad it only had two series, as it felt like it could have continued further into the bizarre, alternate reality of Britain that the title Psychoville suits very well. Its two creators and stars have achieved comic success previously with The League of Gentlemen, but it is a show that also boasts other great British actors such as Dawn French and Imelda Staunton.
Peter Kay’s Car Share
Peter Kay is an amazing British comedian who has captured our oddities, our quirks and our culture both in stand up and on television. He was the first comedian I came to love, and has popped up with some British comedy classics. His most recent venture is a show that focuses on two people participating in their company’s car share scheme, and the setting is largely the car. If you think that would severely limit the story lines and entertainment value you would be wrong – it is credit to Peter Kay’s talent as a writer and to all the actors that this show was immediately adored by critics and the public, and a second series is on its way – yay!
Twenty Twelve was a mockumentary that focused on the team who were responsible for the London 2012 Olympics. If this was real, you’d be shocked we managed to host the Olympics at all. The characters, all with impressive jobs, seem largely clueless at what they were supposed to be doing. The actors delivered amazing one liners with completely dead pan expressions that would leave the audience almost in tears. W1A follows the main character who was head of the team (Hugh Bonneville of Downton Abbey fame), who has been given a new position at the BBC – he is the Head of Values. Whatever that means, he, his colleagues and the press seem unsure of. I Liked W1A as it seemed the BBC was largely laughing at itself – another quality of British comedy. Again, everything seems to be so utterly ridiculous and unorganised it’s a wonder there is even a BBC at all.
The IT Crowd
In my opinion, a better, more funny representation of geeks than The Big Bang Theory. This follows a trio of employees who work for the IT department in a huge company (I never learnt what the company actually does). They are social outcasts, who sometimes attempt to integrate themselves into normal society, usually with disastrous consequences (cannibals, bombs, accidentally end up working in a theatre). It was bloody hilarious, and came up with the wonderful line for helping those who are incompetent with technology: “Have you tried turning it on and off again?” Which actually, is great advice for when the computer is acting up.
Of course there are so many more TV shows that should be on this list. Thank god for television, thank god for comedians. They make life better with laughter.