British comedies tend to be much funnier than anything coming out of America lately. You’re bound to be rolling on the floor laughing before too long, putting to shame anything else you see on TV. We’ve compiled a short list of some of the shows we think are the most hilarious out there.
Check out the list below and let us know what you think!
Green Wing can be called Britain’s answer to Scrubs, in the same way that the Range Rover might be called Britain’s answer to the Jeep. They both perform the same essential function, comedy situated in a hospital, but the similarities end there. Scrubs was the worst kind of formulaic, drawn out relationship comedy, a proud stereotype of the artless commodification that has so long hindered the TV medium in America. Green Wing, on the other hand, is a parade of wry, subtle wit, charmingly manic surrealism, and darker humor than anything produced in America, ever.
Plus the entire series (because we don’t understand the strange American correlation between broadcast schedules and the seasons of the earth) is available on YouTube, in high enough quality. We’ve posted the first episode below:
Continuing on the theme of dark comedy, Nighty Night is a 2002 production so excruciatingly morbid the British could only take 2 series of it. The protagonist is Jill, a narcissistic hairdresser in her late 30s, who dresses 20 years younger, and has established a pleasant enough life including a brow-beaten impotent husband and a grunting sub-normal assistant/lackey. But her life changes following her husband’s diagnosis with metastasized cancer.
While the cancer itself provides Jill a convenient excuse to garner sympathy form the community while her husband remains locked in a room in diapers, the real game-changer is her new infatuating neighbor, a bearded doctor whose wife, formerly a dancer, suffers from MS. The series is a parade of escalating moral trespass without consequence. Jill remorselessly exploits all of those around her, and gets her way no matter what the price. And it’s absolutely hilarious.
Are you a fan of Shaun of the Dead? Or any other film with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost – better known as Those British Guys: Pale and Fatty, respectively? Well this unstoppable duo made their name originally with Spaced. Actually, they were in something before that, but they didn’t write it and it’s apocryphally bad. Spaced begins with two people pretending to be married to get a cheap flat. Which is as hackneyed a premise as anything, but it’s just a vehicle to introduce the half-dozen people the show is actually about: A house full of people who are just to the point in life where they have to take life seriously, but are not prepared to abandon their idealistic creative aspirations. There’s an illustrator, a writer, and an artist at the core, all of whom face their own struggle between expression and surrendering to the menial.
It’s a must-see, and every episode of the whole 2 seasons are on YouTube – check out the entire series starting with episode 1 in the YouTube playlist below:
Some American viewers may be familiar with Veep, a TV show about a politician played by the woman from Seinfeld. I’ve not seen it myself, but the show is a foreign rendition of the best of Britain’s many attempts at political humor, The Thick of It.
Veep is probably funny enough; it was written by Armando Iannucci, the creator of The Thick of It and the mastermind behind some of the best comedy of the past 2 decades. But THIS is the real thing. A fly-on-the-wall comedy about the wearied functionaries of an ambiguous ministry, the show is fixed around the wild violent vulgarity of the Prime Minister’s Enforcer, Malcolm Tucker. The show is a realistic commentary on the fine line between actual governmental work and the obligations of publicity and veiled private interest. And it’s immensely hilarious. The level of profanity alone is enough to sell — a few gems including: “Allow me to pop a jaunty little bonnet on your purview and ram it up your sh*tter with a lubricated horse c*ck,” or “If some c*nt can f*ck something up, that c*nt will pick the worst possible time to f*cking f*ck it up cause that c*nt’s a c*nt.”
All of The Thick of It is available on Netflix, as well as the movie In the Loop which featured the Late James Gandolfini, and Topanga from Boy Meets World.
The magnum opus of Britain’s premier comedy duo, David Mitchell and Robert Webb, is Peep Show; the show is about 2 varieties of losers in their late 20s, and their stumbling attempts to live their lives and get money and sex. The characters are brought to life with the narration of their thoughts, providing glib insights on their motivations. The characters are infinitely relatable, uncertain in a world seemingly stocked with nothing but the satisfied, wealthy and sexually fulfilled. It’s one of the longer running British sitcoms (of substance) and may still be going. I’m a season behind I think, but season 8 was as imminently watchable as the first. Nerds, musicians, geeks, raver bike messengers; the show has it all.
Watch the entire first season in the YouTube playlist below: