By no means is this the definitive list. But these are some shows I love and I’m not apologizing for that.
10. Sanford and Son
I’m not sure what it is that I love about Sanford and Son. But I’ve been watching it since I was a teenager and still watch it today. I’m not sure why I relate to the story of an elderly junk-selling black man and his neurotic son, but damn does it speak to me. Also, it has one of the greatest theme songs of all time.
Seinfeld is really a property of its time. The show reeks of the nineties in every way. However, unlike shows like Friends that don’t stand up past the fad, Seinfeld is still hilarious after all these years. It’s a show that almost everyone can quote a line from or argue over what episode is their favorite. It is a show that features such great characters that stay true to their character all the time. And when you look at them they are all terrible people. It’s really paved the way for the unlikable protagonist that is currently featured in shows such as its Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
8. The Kids in the Hall
Kids in the Hall were brought to life by Lorne Michaels who founded Saturday Night Live. It is a sketch comedy show that embraced weirdness and absurdity. It is definitely not a show for everyone. I think all it would take would be to watch one episode to figure out if you would like it or not. A show that really pushed the boundaries of what was being done on television at the time and feels like nothing else.
7. Upright Citizens Brigade
UCB is now known more for its live stage show than it is for the short lived television series on Comedy Central. I think had they been able to keep going they really could have done some great stuff. But what is there is amazing. All I can say is watch the clip below:
6. Get a Life
Another show that was cancelled too soon, but only because it was too ahead of its time. Starring one of my favorite comedians, Chris Elliott, Get a Life followed the most unlikeable person ever as he messed up everyone’s lives. He died multiple times on the show, killed and ate an alien, and built a working submarine in a bathtub (and got attacked by a giant octopus while in it). Unfortunately the series still hasn’t had a good release on DVD yet.
5. American Dad
I’m not a huge fan of Family Guy. I liked it when it first came out, but it is way too hit and miss for me. I get tired of the constant cutaways. American Dad is not only one of my favorite comedy shows but I think it’s also one of the funniest shows on television right now. It took about a season to really find its legs, but once it did it has been consistently hilarious in every season and almost every episode. Each character is developed and each one is funny. So many times I’ve been watching it and something has caught me so off guard that I can’t stop laughing. A great show.
4. Mr. Show
HBO was the perfect forum for Mr. Show. They could say and do what they wanted and what they did was crack me up constantly. It’s perverse, offensive, crazy, but ultimately hilarious. This is sketch comedy done right and also a spring board for many comedians.
3. Monty Python’s Flying Circus
There really is nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said about Monty Python. They were the godfather’s of surreal humor. Completely breaking conventions of TV (like rolling the credits halfway through the show, extreme violence, and utter nonsense) Python has deserved its acclaim among the greats of comedy.
2. Mystery Science Theater 3000
This is a show built around two robots and a man making fun of old B Movies. That’s practically the whole show, but this show was so influential in my sense of humor. I started watching it when it first started on Comedy Central (then a fledgling network) and I was young. The way that they would just bring so much life into such bad films just filled me with joy. I’m glad to know that they are still doing it with Rifftrax but nothing makes me more nostalgic than the ending theme of MST3K.
1. The Simpsons
I would be lying to myself if I put anything other than The Simpsons at number 1. I know people are still complaining that it’s not what it used to be. Of course it isn’t, writers change and the show evolved. Do I think it’s better than it was? No. But it is still good. But when it was in the highlight of its years, it is the best comedy that was ever on television. Seasons 3-8 have so many classic moments and are just as funny today as they were when they aired. The Simpsons will always hold a special place in my heart and the day it ends I’m sure I’ll still shed a tear. The Simpsons are almost like a part of my family.