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Ten great comedy TV shows
147 11
Laughter is the best medicine and it's as good as exercise, so here are ten TV shows to really make you laugh

by Chris Barnardo

  Article No. 19
Date posted September 12, 2008  

A duck walks into a drugstore
and asks for a tube of ChapStick.
The cashier says to the duck,
"That'll be one pound fifty"
The duck replies,
"Put it on my bill"
Studies into the beneficial effects of laughter have found that laughing not only increases blood flow and reduces your risk of developing heart disease but also can help fight infections, relieve hay fever, ease pain and help control diabetes. A study carried out in 2005 found that for just about everyone, laughing increases blood flow by over 20 percent and that the effects, which are similar to those resulting from doing aerobic exercise, last for about 30 to 40 minutes after laughing. This is great news for all us determined couch potatoes who want to get more exercise but like to feel that weíve burnt off enough calories by running to put the kettle on in between shows in the advert break.
... The study found that stressful film sequences had the opposite effect, and were actually bad for you, raising stress levels and reducing blood flow in about 70 percent of people.
... Somewhat refreshingly in these days of scare stories and long lists of things you canít do if you want to stay healthy, on a positive note, doctors advise that 15 minutes of laughter each day will reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and help you live longer. So now all you need is something to make you laugh. Itís no good waiting for Aunt Mable to trip up and catch her left breast in the mangle, what we need is some rip roaring, health giving laughter to order.
... Over the years, Britain has produced some great television comedy, but finding the best amongst the huge amount of programmes now available on DVD is a rather hit and miss affair. So to make it easier for you, I have complied my top ten list of the best of British Comedy.
... Top ten lists of things like this are always hard to write. For a start TV can quickly become dated, then there is the vast amount of material to choose from, and finally any list will be very personal. You donít do much better if you throw the question open to a public vote, because the then the list tends to be dominated by only the most recent programmes and those hoary old favourites that everyone always votes for, but youíve seen a hundred times on reruns.
... Iím sure I will have missed off some favourites, but given a rainy afternoon, or an autumn evening, I would be happy to spend a few hours watching an episode or two of any of these television milestones. If you havenít seen them, then you have no idea what fun you are missing. I could wax lyrical about each one, but I wonít, because there are plenty of reviews on the web to confirm my choices if you don't trust me. What I will do though, is throw in just one quote from each show. As a passing note, while researching this piece I had to look up quotes from all the shows and over a couple hours I laughed at least a weekís worth of health giving laughter, so what more lies in wait when you snuggle up on the sofa and discover some really funny TV.

And the top ten TV shows that will get you laughing are... in no particular order:

1. Blackadder
Series 2 (but 3 and 4 are also fabulous)

Every show in the series is an absolute gem capable of being watched many times.

Percy: Only this morning in the courtyard I saw a horse with two heads and two bodies.
Blackadder: Two horses standing next to each other?

2. League of Gentlemen
First series and the Christmas Special are the best

Very dark humour but very, very funny and a huge cult hit, but avoid the film.

Herr Lip (in a German accent): Lotte will finger your hymn on the organ but I wish to conduct you myself.

3. The IT Crowd
Both series are as near to perfect as you can get

A pure joy to watch, very funny, great characters, quirky and perfectly cast.

(Moss is working on a stress measuring machine. Suddenly, he looks up to see Roy eating a muffin)
Moss: What are you eating?
Roy: (with his mouth full) Muffin .
Moss: A muffin? How can you be hungry? You ate a whole chicken at the stress buffet.
Roy: (points to Moss' stress machine) What's that?
Moss: I've made a stress machine to try out on myself like the one in that class. Watch this. I'm going to ask myself a very personal question. (The needle goes to the end of the scale, drops, then goes back) Don't worry, I'm not really going to ask myself any questions. (The needle goes back to zero).

4. The Mighty Boosh
Series 1 and 2, but start with the Ballad of Milky Joe (Series 2)

Pure genius, takes multiple watchings, blows all your preconceptions about comedy away.

(Howard and Vince have a meeting with a record executive)
Vince Noir: You better start getting the magic potions out, Mowgli, or we're gonna hurt you.
Naboo: All right, hang on.
(he hands them each a glass of yellow liquid)
Naboo: This is Liquid Music.
Howard Moon: What's in it?
Naboo: The tears of Mozart.
(They both drink it down)
Naboo: ...mixed with the urine of Mark Knopfler.
(Howard and Vince make a face)
Howard Moon: How long does it last?
Naboo: Three hours. Quick, you better hurry!
(They leave fast)
Bollo: Truly, Master, you are a wise man. Do you think they will succeed?
Naboo: Don't think so - that was Lucozade.

5. The fast Show
Series 3, but you will want to come back for more and the other seriesí are great too

Spawned more catch phrases than any other TV comedy sketch show, tons of characters, superbly acted and brilliantly observed.

Rowley Birkin: Truly She was half woman, half fish. Terrible in the kitchen, but a bloody good swimmer.

6. Black Books
All three seriesí are just brilliant.

Sullen Irish bookshop owner and dysfunctional friends are so cutting and dry, itís making me laugh just thinking about it.

Customer: Look, there's no other way to say this, but I didn't come in here to be insulted.
Bernard Black: Well, I didn't ask for the job of insulting you. In another life, we could have been brothers. Running a small, quirky taveria in Sicily. Maybe we would have married the local twins instead of wasting each other's time here in this dump. But it was not to be. So hop it.

7. Fawlty Towers
Any episode, there are only a few to choose from and they are all solid gold.

Each episode took weeks to write and is finely crafted humour at its best, definitely one of the absolute classics, unmissable.

Basil Fawlty: Ah, Manuel? There is too much butter on those trays.
Manuel: Que?
Basil Fawlty: (speaking slowly and pointing to each item in turn) There is too much butter - on - those - trays.
Manuel: Ah, no senor. No "on those trays"... (counting the trays) ... uno, dos, tres.

8. Green Wing
The first series (the second series is disappointing).

Cutting, witty, great characters, with themes develop over the series like all good comedies, totally brilliant, but not one to watch with the kids.

(Guy is attempting to talk like a cockney... note: Guy is a posh anaesthetist, Hackney Stadium is Londonís East End dog racing circuit and a monkey is cockney slang for £500)
Guy: I was only down the old Hackney Stadium last night... blew a monkey on a dog.
Mac: Really? You'll have the RSPCA after you.

9. Extras
Get the box set of both series, trust me, you will not be disappointed.

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant (from the Office) lampoon numerous A-list movie and TV stars (who came on the show and acted as themselves) in this top notch comedy series about making TV drama.

Ben Stiller: Who are you?
Andy: Nobody.
Ben Stiller: Thatís right, and who am I?
Andy: It's either Starsky or Hutch, I can never remember?
Ben Stiller: Was that supposed to be funny?
Andy: You tell me, you were in it.

10. The Office
UK version

If youíve only seen the US version, the original British series is well worth a look, pity they only made two series, gotta watch Ďem all...

David Brent: Eagles may soar high, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.


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Ten great comedy TV shows
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