Television comedy

Television comedy had a presence from the earliest days of broadcasting. Among the earliest BBC television programmes in the 1930s was Starlight, which offered a series of guests from the music hall era, which often included singers and comedians. Similarly, many early United States television programs were variety shows including the Texaco Star Theater featuring Milton Berle; comedy acts often taken from vaudeville were staples of such shows.

The range of television comedy is extremely broad to the extent that anything under the heading comedy can be put before an audience through the medium of television. However, it is true to say that certain genres of comedy transfer to the small screen more successfully than others.


The situation comedy, or sitcom, has been the most common, successful and culturally significant type of television comedy. As the name suggests, these programs feature recurring characters placed in humorous situations. The first television sitcom was Pinwright's Progress, ten episodes being broadcast on the BBC between 1946 - 1947.[1][2][3] Since the early 1950s with Hancock's Half Hour in the UK, (derived from a radio show) and I Love Lucy and spin-offs The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy in the United States, sitcoms have always had a special place in the hearts of viewers and gathered highly devoted followers, as the familiar characters often become beloved. Often performed before a live audience (or, in some cases, a simulated live audience in the form of a laugh track), usually filmed or taped with a multiple-camera setup, and almost always a half-hour in length, sitcoms are seldom presented as realistic depictions of life but often generate honest humor through the relationships between and ongoing development of characters. Since the debut of I Love Lucy television has never been without sitcoms and they have often been the most popular and lucrative of all program types. Even in the early 2000s, the cast of the NBC sitcom Friends were among television's highest paid performers.


A comedy-drama, is a program that combines humor with more serious dramatic elements, aiming for a considerably more realistic tone than conventional sitcoms. These programs are shot with a single-camera setup and presented without a laugh track, and typically run an hour in length. This can refer to a genre of television or radio drama series. There are several notable comedy-dramas, varying in different subgenres. This includes comedy-dramas like Desperate Housewives, Parenthood and Ugly Betty, medical comedy-dramas like M*A*S*H and Grey's Anatomy, legal comedy-dramas like Ally McBeal and Boston Legal, and - probably the first musical comedy-drama Glee.

Sketch comedy

Sketch comedy programs differ from sitcoms in that they do not basically feature recurring characters (though some characters and scenarios may be repeated) and often draw upon current events and emphasize satire over character development. Sketch comedy was pioneered by Sid Caesar, whose Your Show of Shows debuted in 1950 and established many conventions of the genre. American sketch comedy reached a later peak in the mid-1970s with the debut han Saturday Night Live, originally a variety program but soon devoted mostly to sketches. In the UK, two of the more successful examples are Monty Python's Flying Circus and Little Britain.

Stand-up comedy

Stand-up comedy has been fairly well represented on television. Stand-up comedians have long been a staple of variety and late-night talk shows; indeed, talk-variety shows such as The Tonight Show traditionally open with a comedy monologue performed by the program host. Television stand-up reached a peak of popularity on British schedules with the immensely popular ITV programme The Comedians. Their style of comedy was swept away almost entirely in the Britain of the early 1980s when a new generation of stand-ups challenged what they saw as racist and sexist humour and revolutionised the form under the banner alternative comedy. In the US, stand-up comedy programs became popular on many cable television channels beginning in the mid-1980s, as such "brick wall" shows (nicknamed for the stereotypical use of a fake brick wall as a backdrop) were cheap to produce and air. Stand-up humour later had mixed fortunes on the small screen, often shunted away to the small hours or as part of a larger entertainment extravaganza.

Improvisational comedy

Improvisational comedy has recently been popular with television audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, most notably with both British and American versions of the program Whose Line is it Anyway?.

Gameshow comedy

There are many UK comedies in which the format is that of a gameshow, and may give the guests a chance to perform stand up comedy to win a round. Examples of this genre include Have I Got News For You, 8 Out of 10 Cats, Mock the Week, and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. In the USA this is a less common genre, Oblivious being one of the few examples. In Japan and South Korea, these comedy gameshows, often with subtitles and word bubbles, are extremely popular.

News comedy

News comedy often involving news parody and satirical editorials has been a component of programs such as Saturday Night Live (weekend update) and This hour has 22 minutes, however it became a genre in its own right with Jon Stewart and the Daily Show.

Animated cartoon

Animated cartoons have long been a source of comedy on television. Early children's programming often recycled theatrical cartoons; later, low-budget animation produced especially for television dominated Saturday-morning network programming in the US. A few prime-time animated comedies, notably The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Top Cat, successfully mixed attributes of traditional cartoons and sitcoms.

In addition to broad comedy program types, comedy often appears on television in much more subtle forms. Comedy is often a necessary part of other programming, particularly drama. Attempts at mixing comedy and drama with action and adventure in various combinations have been attempted over time.

See also


  1. ^ Guide, British Comedy. "Pinwright's Progress - BBC1 Sitcom - British Comedy Guide". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  2. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (2003). "Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy". BBC Worldwide Ltd.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-27. Retrieved 2008-05-21.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

Further reading

  • Rannow, Jerry (2000). Writing Television Comedy.

External links

AACTA Award for Best Performance in a Television Comedy

The AACTA Award for Best Performance in a Television Comedy is an accolade given by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA), a non-profit organisation whose aim is to "identify, award, promote and celebrate Australia's greatest achievements in film and television." The award is handed out at the annual AACTA Awards, which rewards achievements in Australian feature film, television, documentaries and short films. From 1986–2010, the category was presented by the Australian Film Institute (AFI), the Academy's parent organisation, at the annual Australian Film Institute Awards (known as the AFI Awards). When the AFI launched the Academy in 2011, it changed the annual ceremony to the AACTA Awards, with the current prize being a continuum of the AFI Award for Best Performance in a Television Comedy.From 2003-2005, the award was given as a joint award with drama performances under the category Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Television Drama or Comedy. However, comedy performances was separated from the drama categories in 2006, when the award for Best Performance in a Television Comedy was created. Chris Lilley and Phil Lloyd have won the award the most times with two wins each.

AACTA Award for Best Television Comedy Series

The AACTA Award for Best Television Comedy Series is an accolade given by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA), a non-profit organisation whose aim is to "identify, award, promote and celebrate Australia's greatest achievements in film and television." The award is handed out at the annual AACTA Awards, which rewards achievements in Australian feature film, television, documentaries and short films. From 2003–2010, the category was presented by the Australian Film Institute (AFI), the Academy's parent organisation, at the annual Australian Film Institute Awards (known as the AFI Awards). When the AFI launched the Academy in 2011, it changed the annual ceremony to the AACTA Awards, with the current prize being a continuum of the AFI Award for Best Television Comedy Series.The award was first handed out in 2003 it was called Best Comedy Series – Sitcom or Sketch until 2005, when it was renamed Best Television Comedy Series. In 2013, the Academy announced that because of a lack of funds, due to the loss of Samsung as a naming rights sponsor for the AACTA Awards, some categories were either merged or removed from the 2014 Awards. This included the award for Best Television Comedy Series which was merged with the Best Light Entertainment Television Series prize, under the name Best Television Comedy or Light Entertainment Series. However, AACTA announced that it will split the category, and Best Television Comedy Series will be given as a stand-alone award once again for the 2015 presentation.The AACTA Award for Best Television Comedy Series is given to the producer of the winning production. To be eligible for nomination, the program must be a situation comedy or sketch series, with no less than four substantially scripted episodes, no more than one hour in length. Each episode must contain either a "continuing story with an ongoing plot and characters" or "a series of unrelated sketches."Review with Myles Barlow has earned two awards, more than any other program. Selin Yaman and John Safran are the most awarded producers with two wins, and Nicole Minchin, Adam Zwar, Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope have received the most nominations with four each.

Broaden Your Mind

Broaden Your Mind (1968–1969) was a British television comedy series starring Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden, joined by Bill Oddie for the second series. Guest cast members included Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Jo Kendall, Roland MacLeod and Nicholas McArdle. It was one of BBC2's earliest programmes to be completely broadcast in colour, which had been introduced by the network a year earlier.

Directed by Jim Franklin, the series was a precursor to the television comedy series The Goodies (of which early titles under consideration included "Narrow Your Mind").

Writers for the series included Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Roland MacLeod, Marty Feldman, Barry Cryer, Barry Took, Jim Franklin, Simon Brett and Chris Stuart-Clark.

Broaden Your Mind was subtitled 'an encyclopaedia of the air' and consisted largely of short sketches. All of the programmes were wiped by the BBC after their first broadcast in 1968, and only a handful of brief filmed sequences survive, including the Peelers sketch, Turgonitis, and "Ordinary Royal Family". These are all from the 5th episode of the 2nd series, and were included, digitally restored, on Network DVDs 2003 release, The Goodies At Last. All of the programmes, however, survive as off-air audio recordings made by a fan at the time of original transmission.

Drunk History

Drunk History is an American educational television comedy series produced by Comedy Central, based on the Funny or Die web series created by Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner in 2007. In each episode, an inebriated narrator, who is played by a comedian joined by host Waters, struggles to recount an event from history, while actors enact the narrator's anecdotes and also lip sync the dialogue. In addition to creator Derek Waters and celebrity guest stars, the show's additional characters are played by regulars such as Bennie Arthur, Tim Baltz, Mort Burke, Sarah Burns, Maria Blasucci, Craig Cackowski, Michael Cassady, Michael Coleman, Tymberlee Hill, Adam Nee, Jeremy J. Tutson, Greg Tuculescu, J.T. Palmer and Aasha Davis. Will Ferrell and Adam McKay are among the show's executive producers.

The series premiered on Comedy Central on July 9, 2013. On February 22, 2018, Comedy Central renewed the show for a sixth season which premiered on January 15, 2019.

Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy

The Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy is an award presented annually by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). It is given in honor of an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance in a leading role on a musical or comedy television series for the calendar year.

It was first awarded at the 19th Golden Globe Awards on March 5, 1962 under the title Best TV Star – Male to John Charles Daly and Bob Newhart. The nominees for the award announced annually starting in 1963. The award initially honored actors in both comedy and drama genres until 1969, when the award was split into categories that honored comedic and dramatic performances separately. It was presented under the new title Best TV Actor – Musical or Comedy and in 1980 under its current title.

Since its inception, the award has been given to 45 actors. Michael Douglas is the current recipient of the award for his role as Sandy Kominsky on The Kominsky Method. Alan Alda has won the most awards in this category with six wins and received the most nominations at 11.

Hogan's Heroes

Hogan's Heroes is an American television sitcom set in a German prisoner of war (POW) camp during World War II. It ran for 168 episodes from September 17, 1965, to April 4, 1971, on the CBS network. Bob Crane starred as Colonel Robert E. Hogan, coordinating an international crew of Allied prisoners running a special operations group from the camp. Werner Klemperer played Colonel Wilhelm Klink, the incompetent commandant of the camp, and John Banner played the bungling sergeant-of-the-guard, Sergeant Hans Schultz.

Holy Flying Circus

Holy Flying Circus (2011) is a 90-minute BBC television comedy film first broadcast in 2011, written by Tony Roche and directed by Owen Harris.

The film is a "Pythonesque" dramatisation of events following the completion of Monty Python's Life of Brian, culminating in the televised debate about the film broadcast in 1979.

La La Land (TV series)

La La Land is an American television comedy series broadcast on Showtime in the United States, BBC Three in the United Kingdom, and SBS One in Australia. It features character comedian Marc Wootton playing three different characters: Shirley Ghostman, a fake psychic; Gary Garner, a wannabe actor; and Brendan Allen, a documentary film-maker.

Lauren Tewes

Lauren Tewes (; born Cynthia Lauren Tewes; October 26, 1953) is an American actress. She is known for her role on the television comedy anthology series The Love Boat, which originally aired on ABC from 1977–86.

Monty Python

Monty Python (also collectively known as the Pythons) were a British surreal comedy group who created their sketch comedy show Monty Python's Flying Circus, which first aired on the BBC in 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four series. The Python phenomenon developed from the television series into something larger in scope and impact, including touring stage shows, films, numerous albums, several books, and musicals. The Pythons' influence on comedy has been compared to the Beatles' influence on music. Their sketch show has been referred to as "not only one of the more enduring icons of 1970s British popular culture, but also an important moment in the evolution of television comedy".Broadcast by the BBC between 1969 and 1974, Monty Python's Flying Circus was conceived, written, and performed by its members Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Loosely structured as a sketch show, but with an innovative stream-of-consciousness approach, aided by Gilliam's animation, it pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable in style and content. A self-contained comedy team responsible for both writing and performing their work, the Pythons had creative control which allowed them to experiment with form and content, discarding rules of television comedy. Following their television work, they began making films, which include Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Life of Brian (1979) and The Meaning of Life (1983). Their influence on British comedy has been apparent for years, while in North America, it has coloured the work of cult performers from the early editions of Saturday Night Live through to more recent absurdist trends in television comedy. "Pythonesque" has entered the English lexicon as a result.

In a 2005 poll of over 300 comics, comedy writers, producers and directors throughout the English-speaking world to find "The Comedian's Comedian", three of the six Pythons members were voted to be among the top 50 greatest comedians ever: Cleese at No. 2, Idle at No. 21, and Palin at No. 30.

The Frost Report

The Frost Report was a satirical television show hosted by David Frost. It ran for 28 episodes on the BBC from 10 March 1966 to 26 December 1967. It introduced John Cleese, Ronnie Barker, and Ronnie Corbett to television, and launched the careers of other writers and performers.

The Goodies

The Goodies are a trio of British comedians: Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, and Bill Oddie. They wrote for and performed in their eponymous television comedy show during the 1970s and early 1980s, combining sketches and situation comedy.

The Goodies (TV series)

The Goodies is a British television comedy series shown in the 1970s and early 1980s. The series, which combines surreal sketches and situation comedy, was broadcast by BBC 2 from 1970 to 1980. One seven-episode series was made for ITV company LWT and shown in 1981-82.

The show was co-written by and starred Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie (together known as "The Goodies"). Bill Oddie also wrote the music and songs for the series, while "The Goodies Theme" was co-written by Oddie and Michael Gibbs. Directors/producers of the series were John Howard Davies, Jim Franklin and Bob Spiers.

An early title which was considered for the series was Narrow Your Mind (following on from Broaden Your Mind) and prior to that the working title was Super Chaps Three.

The Graham Norton Show

The Graham Norton Show (or simply Graham Norton) is a British comedy chat show presented by Graham Norton. It was initially broadcast on BBC Two, from 22 February 2007, before moving to BBC One in October 2009. It currently airs on Friday evenings, and is usually repeated a few nights later.

The World of Wodehouse

The World of Wodehouse was a comedy television series, based on the Blandings Castle and Ukridge comedy stories by P. G. Wodehouse.

The series, which followed The World of Wooster, was shown on BBC Television during 1967 (Blandings Castle, 6 episodes) and 1968 (Ukridge, 7 episodes). Apart from one or more extracts from a solitary episode of Blandings Castle ("Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend") broadcast in February 1967 all episodes of both series are lost. (See Wiping.)

The World of Wooster

The World of Wooster is a comedy television series, based on the Jeeves comedy stories by English humorist P. G. Wodehouse.

The series aired on BBC Television from 1965 until 1967 in three series. Most episodes are lost.


Timothy may refer to:

Timothy (given name), a common male given name

First Epistle to Timothy, an epistle of the Bible attributed to Paul

Second Epistle to Timothy, an epistle of the Bible attributed to Paul

Timothy-grass, a type of a grass

Timothy (tortoise), famous tortoise of the UK

"Timothy" (song), early 1970s song by The Buoys

Timothy Goes to School, a children's animated series produced by Nelvana

Timothy (TV film), a 2014 Australian television comedy

Twice a Fortnight

Twice a Fortnight is a 1967 British sketch comedy television series with Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie, Jonathan Lynn and Tony Buffery.

Graeme Garden suggested to the director, Tony Palmer, that Michael Palin and Terry Jones be included in the cast and writers of the show.

Wodehouse Playhouse

Wodehouse Playhouse is a British television comedy series based on the short stories of P. G. Wodehouse. From 1974 to 1978, a pilot and three series were made, with 21 half-hour episodes altogether in the entire series.


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