Monday, October 26, 2015


I am always amazed at how often someone will say how funny something is and I will not find it very funny at all. Happened most recently with the TV show "You're the Worst." It has also happened with stand-up comedians, movies, novels, etc. Also happened yesterday when we saw a play that promised side-splitting humor. Not!

So I have come to the conclusion that what you think is funny depends on a lot of things, but probably, most importantly, your age.

I have never found Mel Brooks funny. Nor most of the comics of the 1950s TV shows (Benny, Burns and Allen, Gobel, Phil Silver.). On the other hand, I find FRIENDS very funny. SEINFELD, was a riot to me at age 42, I wonder if it would be funny now. And ALL IN THE FAMILY and MARY TYLER MOORE. SNL in its heyday.

Too blue, I don't enjoy it. Too mean, same thing. Too vulgar, nah.

Now some people are not all that turned on by comedy . My mother never watched comedy other than political humor: Stephen Colbert, Letterman, THE DAILY SHOW, Mort Sahl. 

What do you think is the most universally admired TV comedy? The one that most people found funny then and find funny now. I am going with the first three years of MASH. What would you add?


Jeff Meyerson said...

I know a lot of people find it dated but if you can still watch a show and laugh (granted, only at some of the episodes) it has to have something going for it. I LOVE LUCY is still a classic. The last show I remember watching regularly and findhing laugh out loud funny was THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN.

I don't necessarily thinks it is age as much as taste. I've always liked comedy and comics. I'd list Bob Newhart, Robert Klein, Rodney Dangerfield, Robin Williams, Robert Schimmel off the top of my head, as people who can make me laugh.

Mel Brooks is uneven. I like BLAZING SADDLES and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN but thought most of his other movies were lame, with A HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART I one of the worst, Least funny things I've ever seen. SILENT MOVIE was totally laugh-free for me.

As for sitcoms, we simply stopped watching them, other than BLACKISH. I never found a single thing on FRIENDS that was funny. SEINFELD was uneven, but at its best it is endlessly re-watchable.

Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

BLACKISH is the first socially relevant sitcom that is funny since ALL IN THE FAMILY, I think. It is also uneven but some episodes have been first rate.

Jerry House said...

"Chuckles the Clown Is Dead" A Classic!

Jeff Meyerson said...

"A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants."

"The Pen" and "The Contest" episodes of SEINFELD rank right up there for me.

Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

CHUCKLES may be the single best episode of any sitcom I've seen. Although as Jeff points out THE CONTEST is right up there. Also the Bob Newhart episode where they get drunk and try to order Chinese food. Or the ALL IN THE FAMILY one where Archie thinks the guy fixing his furnace is God.

Deb said...

British humor (or should I say humour?) always does it for me. Everything from Benny Hill (I know, I know...but he represents my childhood) to French & Saunders (precursor to Absolutely Fabulous) to Monty Python to The Young Ones to my favorite, Blackadder. I also like those smutty Carry On movies, but if they were American movies in a similar vein is detest them. Again, I was raised with them and thus watching them is like going back to my 1960s East End childhood.

Of more recent vintage, I like Friends, Seinfeld, and Frasier. Comedian Jim Gaffigan will have me busting a gut laughing with his stand-up, but I watched his show a few times and was unimpressed.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I cannot believe I forgot FRASIER! Yes, I was disappointed in GAFFIGAN too. Liked ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE and of course, the John Cleeves show about the inn.

Jeff Meyerson said...

"More Moo Goo!" Yes, the Newhart series with Suzanne Pleshette was great.

Jeff M.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Fawlty Towers
The Good Life (called Good Neighbors when it was shown here)
Black Adder
Yes, Minister
One Foot in the Grave
Dinnerladies (love Victoria Wood)
Gavin & Stacey
Men Behaving Badly

And of course:
Jeeves & Wooster

Jeff M.

PS - Love Gaffigan, loved his book DAD IS FAT, but the show sucked.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm a pretty hard sell for funny. I don't find a lot of things funny that others do.

Mathew Paust said...

I'm probly too easily amused. Possibly because I'm more id than ego. Plus I grew up neurotically insecure (is that redundant?) so anything that could intervene even for an instant and block my worrying nature would induce laffter, even if I had no idea why I was laffing. Guys like Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams may have saved my life--just knowing people like that existed. At the other end of they psyche, even if I get the more cognitive humor--puns, wisecracks, clever wordplay--it doesn't work for me the way plain old slapstick and impressions can. Stuff like this Robin Williams on Golf can push me to the edge of needing 911.

Mathew Paust said...

Oh, and this: Substitute Teacher

Dan_Luft said...

Never liked Friends though the Briyish ripoff Coupling was very funny. Also, I could watch Barney Miller reruns for the rest of my life. It's the best show that's never mentioned when people talk about best shows.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Robin Williams' brain moved faster than the speed of light.
People on Facebook are always declaring BARNEY MILLER the best TV cop show ever for authenticity. Always get a kick when I see one of them show up elsewhere.

pattinase (abbott) said...


Cap'n Bob said...

As I said when you asked this on Facebook, The Honeymooners. You could make the argument that all sitcoms grew from that format. But it's all relative. I despised All in the Family and rarely liked Robin Williams. I'm with Jeff on Mel Brooks. Love Seinfeld, never watched Friends (but might like it if I did). I'm also a huge fan of Leave It to Beaver.

George said...

SEINFELD is the Gold Standard for me. I can watch those episodes time after time and still laugh. The early BIG BANK seasons were funny but the current season is dull, dull, dull. I've stopped watching it.

Rick Robinson said...

I thought, still think, Jack Benny funny. Also George Gobel. Steve Allen, Shelly Berman, Bob Cummings. Roseanne, Married With Children, MASH which is perhaps the very best. I never watched Sienfeld, Friends, most of those, though I did like Cheers. I also liked Are You Being Served?

I don't think I've ever read a supposedly funny mystery that I found humorous.

Todd Mason said...

SEINFELD is about nasty adult children, or at least it was by the weak end. YOU'RE THE WORST is about would-be nasty adult children realizing that they can't be as selfish and uncaring as they want to be (a la the cast of SEINFELD) without feeling guilt or regret...hence, it's usually the superior series, so far. (SEINFELD in its earlier seasons was vastly superior to what it became about the time of Susan's death, and the utter nonchalance with which this was dealt with by the primary cast of characters.)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, in the first five years their narcissism was tempered-at least in the case of Elaine and Jerry. But it is funny. I don't need to like characters to laugh at them, I guess. Certainly I would not want any of these people to live next door. But maybe down the block.

Todd Mason said...

Yes, but the series ceased to be funny so much as just rote about the time Larry David stepped away. I'd say the Elaine's dancing segment is the most famous of the utterly inane later episodes. I certainly don't need likable characters, nor exclusively likable ones...or else early M*A*S*H nor the Dabney Coleman sitcoms wouldn't rank so high for me, among many others. The JFK film parody and Marine Biologist episodes were pretty brilliant. The first season, where the characters were also more recognizably human, were also much better than the last several seasons. The finale, where David demonstrated his contempt for what the series had become, was very much on target.

Todd Mason said...

If there are two things I dislike in sitcom and related work, it's either the supposition that You should laugh at this cast of idiots whom you can hold in utter contempt, or that You should laugh at this cast of idiots whom are Just Regular Guys Like You and All of Us.