2019 Retrospective – top TV comedy

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In this post I waffle quickly about some of the best TV comedy shows I’ve seen in 2019. Every show featured here is highly recommended, and available on Amazon, Netflix, Sky or Britbox. My top five comedy shows are:

  1. What We Do In The Shadows
  2. This Time with Alan Partridge
  3. Parks and Recreation
  4. After Life
  5. Staph Lets Flats

What We Do in the Shadows is a hilarious vampire sitcom which has been adapted as a TV show from the film which starred Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), Taiki Waititi (director of Thor: Ragnarok) and Jonny Brugh as vampires living in the modern day. There’s been some change in line up for the TV show with Kayvan Novak (Fonejacker), Matt Berry (Toast of LondonThe IT Crowd) and Natasia Demetriou (Staph Lets Flats) taking the lead roles.

The location also changed from New Zealand to the US. I didn’t find the movie that funny but I think the central premise transferred very well to the episodic TV show format and it is really very very funny. Natasia Demetriou is the best of the new trio, but they all work well together in this very different sitcom.

This Time with Alan Partridge was by far the best helping of Steve Coogan’s character in years, but the subtlety of some of the comedy seems to have been lost on some reviewers, perhaps because it is balanced with some rather unsubtle gags along the way.

It’s a difficult balancing act but Steve Coogan and Susannah Fielding do a great job at expressing the difficult chemistry that must exist sometimes between on-screen presenting duos – especially when there’s such an age gap and difference of attitudes. Partridge tries desperately to be hip to modern times but usually comes across as a man out of his depth and trying too hard to be PC. Hilarious.

Parks and Recreation is ‘better late than never’ go-to watching for Siggy and I on Amazon. We didn’t see any of the show in real time and we are currently only up to the last few episodes of Season 4. It’s a total no-brainer for this list as it never fails to make us laugh. We were big fans of the American version of The Office and this seems very much in the same style with its omnipresent fly-on-the-wall view.

Nick Offerman’s character Ron Swanson is by far my favourite – the essence of a man intent on bringing down local government from within the system. Amy Poehler has been in numerous chick-flicks I have had to endure over the past few years so I can get Siggy to watch sci-fi films with me and she seems to always play the same kind of neurotic but super-organised characters as Leslie Knope. There’s a lot of milage in the interplay between with just these two characters, but then add another six or so and it’s no surprise it ran for so long and that the actors are popping up all over the place (not just Marvel films!).

After Life was billed as Ricky Gervais’s ‘new comedy’ but like his last sitcom Derek it was a multi-layered show tackling some difficult subjects (with an obvious main focus of the nature of grief and a battle to move on after losing a partner). Thought-provoking, sometimes laugh out loud funny and other times tear-jerking, this seemed like a comedy show for serious people who still liked a chuckle.

Stath Lets Flats could not be further from the depth of emotion contained within After Life.  The sitcom is co-written by and stars character comedian Jamie Demetriou (Fleabag) as a simple but well-meaning Greek-Cypriot letting agent. We follow him from one incompetent viewing to another in London. The award winning show is like some kind of mash-up of Some Mothers Do Have Em and a Leonard Rossiter workplace comedy for the modern age.

Co-writer Robert Popper has written two of my all time favourite Channel 4 comedies (Peep Show and Friday Night Dinner) and Staph Lets Flats also stars Jamie’s sister Natasia Demetriou as Staph’s equally imbecilic sister. Both of them are excellent and so too are the supporting cast.

Honourable mentions go to This Way Up, Year of the Rabbit, and Comic Book Men. Like After Life I’m not sure how much comedy there actually is in This Way Up. It was a Channel Four show created by and starring another panel show regular in the form of Aisling Bea, and is the story of a young woman putting her life back together after a nervous breakdown.

Year of the Rabbit stars Matt Berry as Rabbit, a tough talking and heavy drinking Victorian police detective, solving crimes in London with his two partners; a brilliant black policewoman no one ever listens to (Susan Wokoma) and Wilbur a wet behind the ears recruit from the posher side of town (Freddie Fox). Some of the jokes fall a little flat at times and there’s a whiff of Ben Elton at others, but on the whole it was jolly good.

I binge watched the 74 episodes of Comic Book Men on Amazon and found the series very entertaining, funny and often heart-warming. Also if it wasn’t for this show I wouldn’t have known about Yoga Hosers or Tusk – Kevin Smith films that had somehow slipped under my radar.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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