Saturday, 18 February 2012

A healthy dose of British comedy

 Let me be the first to admit I am not a Monty Python fan. I can’t help it….it really just isn’t my kind of humour and for whatever reason, I just can’t get into it even if I try.

Now that doesn’t mean that I can’t spot a ubiquitous Python quote a mile off but it does mean that I always seem to be on a subconscious mission to persuade non-Brit friends to watch some shows which I would consider to be absolute comedy classics, but which have never achieved much renown outside of the U.K.

I have a surprisingly large number of friends from a lot of other countries who are pretty into British comedy and who seem to be looking for new things to watch sometimes. So I guess this one is for you guys – a list of slightly more internationally obscure but just as awesome stuff I laugh over.

Blackadder – especially the fourth series, set during the First World War, which manages to be poignant, hilarious and very dark, all at once. Whenever I watch Blackadder, I find myself feeling that it hasn't yet aged in the way that so many other comedies seem to have, maybe because I still associate it with growing up and in my mind it has taken on some kind of totally timeless status.
The Good Life - is a little more dated now but is, nevertheless, a really gentle, "nice" sitcom about a couple who give up their jobs and a lot of their worldly commitments to try and become completely self-sufficient (way ahead of its time, this series started in 1975). They live next door to a far more conventional, rather upper middle class couple whose outlook on life couldn't be more different. It is the quite toughing friendship between the two couples and the marvellous character acting of all four actors - Richard Briers, Felicity Kendal, Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington - that really bring this simple premise alive. It probably helps that I had a massive girl-crush on 1970s Felicity Kendal as I was growing up!!
'Allo 'allo - Ahh, the old, classic British comedy era when so much mileage could come out of national stereotypes and ridiculous French/German accents. But, somehow, 'Allo 'allo is very much still worth watching

Green Wing - probably only good for those with a true absurdist (and sometimes a little vile) sense of humour. But super, super funny and certainly not "The U.K.'s Scrubs" - far sillier, far less poignant and significantly more slapstick.
Coupling - widely acknowledged to be better than the American version of the same show (hehe), it's funny, the episodes are short and light and it's generally just a bit of a giggle.
The I.T. Crowd - similar to above, kind of a light, airy comedy which is pretty good as silly late night/background viewing.
The Vicar of Dibley - especially for those who have never seen Dawn French in anything before because she is hilarious and this show is awesome sauce. Small village, female vicar, insane parishioners, random stuff doing down, and Alice the verger, questionably one of the best comic performances ever. Oh, and it's written by Richard Curtis.
Outnumbered - especially the first season. This show was kind of a revelation to me, mainly because it is is partly (and actually, so start with, was almost entirely) improvised. Including all the hilarious stuff the kids in it come out with. Proper comedy.
Black Books - the only comedy I have ever seen which is set in a second hand book shop. Also, I used to walk past the book shop where the shot all the exteriors every day on my way to school in London. I mean, this show is great, too, but that helps to keep it way up on my list as well.
Gavin and Stacey - is sooooo good!! And, if you're not from the U.K., you can just sit back and enjoy the most Welsh accents in one TV show for a long time. Superb characterisation, fresh-feeling humour and general outrageousness.
Miranda - probably the most quoted TV show ever in my house. And certainly my favorite recent comedy series. Miranda Hart, the main actress and writer of the show is just so funny and even though there can be moments watching this where it is impossible to avoid cringing, you really are rooting for her character every second to not screw up....again. Every single character and reference is just done so superbly, I always want to watch just one more once I start.....

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