Top Twelve Comedic TV Shows of All Time

*UPDATE* – Thanks to being featured on Freshly Pressed,
this post has gone viral. Thanks for visiting everyone; I love reading all of your comments and suggestions. Be sure also to check out the rest of the site, I’ve got a number of other lists, including the Top Ten Dramatic Shows of all time. This is a blog that focuses on pop, youth & underground culture with an emphasis on tv, film and music.

1. The Simpsons – Where to begin? It’s the longest running series for plenty of reasons. The characters, the writing, of course it’s difficult to maintain the same relevance and chutzpah over the years, but the classic episodes are timeless, and the series is a great mirror into the many flaws of North America.  Here are the main actors being interviewed by James Lipton for Inside the Actors Studio.

2. South Park. Created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone.  If you look past the primitive quality animation, and listen to the dialogue and writing, you’ll be blown away at the subversive nature of the series. It does what comedy should do – push boundaries and examine many uncomfortable issues in contemporary society.

3. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Once marketed as “Seinfeld on Crack”, the description couldn’t be more accurate. Dark, insane and angry characters always trying to undermine one another, and Danny Devito make this a must see series. Interview with crew here with the backstory on how they got their series made.

4. Family Guy. Family Guy takes off where the Simpsons left. It is much cruder and takes more risks, which is what comedy is really all about. Sometimes it offends, but the genius lies in its creator Seth MacFarlane who plays at least 3 of the main characters.  Check out the classic fight scene between Peter and his Arch-Nemesis here.

5. SCTV – So many incredibly funny characters from this show that I was introduced to when I was a teenager helped define the very twisted individual I am today. Whether it’s Dr. Tongue, Bob and Doug, Count Dracula, Ed Grimly, Edith Prickly… the list goes on and on. An amazing Canadian legacy that launched so many stellar careers, including John Candy, R.I.P.

6. 30 Rock – Tina Fey from SNL should be given credit as it’s creator, but really it’s Alec Baldwin that owns the show here. Great supporting cast as well, Tracy Morgan is as crazy and unpredictable as ever and Jane Krakowski is a vanity obsessed cringe inducing joy to watch. Plus it’s funny. Here’s a great clip where Jack and Tracy role play for a therapy session. Hilarious.

7. Gilligan’s Island – A comedy about a bunch of people stranded on a desert island. The characters are great.  It was a really stupid predictable show, but strangely comforting.   Like Kraft Dinner. You know it’s probably bad for you, but it’s kind of yummy sometimes. It also works well as a personality test. Would you go for the movie star or the other one? See the original intro and step back into time.

8. Seinfeld – A cultural phenomena that spawned tons of terms that everyone who lived in the 90s will never forget. A group of neurotic self-interested New Yorkers where nothing happens.  On paper it doesn’t sound funny, but it is. How a show about nothing ever got made is a mystery, but thank God it happened.  Here are 100 memorable quotes from the series.

9.  Three’s Company- Not unlike Gilligan’s Island, this is  one of the dumbest predictable shows that still somehow remains a classic.  Regretfully I have nothing to add.  Except it has one of the greatest theme songs ever written by a Human. Come and knock on our door indeed.

10. Curb Your Enthusiasm – Seinfeld’s creator Larry David’s show that is supposed to be about himself, but which he will say is not really about himself is nevertheless exceedingly funny. He plays a grumpy self-interested person that is extremely neurotic and socially awkward to put it mildly. Also a great supporting cast. Here’s a classic clip of him trying to buy weed off the guy that plays Hurley in “Lost”.

11. Saturday Night Live – Like the Simpsons, a powerhouse that has influenced several generations.  Of course the length of the series means that the quality will vary wildly. Stick to the late 70s, then jump to the Will Ferrel days, then skip to the Lonely Island peeps and you’re good.

12. Kids In The Hall. Another favourite of mine in my teenage years. Classic sketches included “I’m crushing your head”, “Girl Drink Drunk”, “Chicken Lady”. A completely original sketch comedy series that encapsulate everything that is uniquely absurd, obscure Canadian humour.

Honorable Mentions: WKRP, Arrested Development, Whitest Kids U’ Know, Parks & Recreation.
Reader Suggestions (among many): Golden Girls, I Love Lucy, MASH, Red Dwarf, Monty Python, The Office, Friends, Cheers, Frasier, Mystery Science Theater, Cosby Show, The Two Ronnies, Taxi, Community.

Thanks for stopping by. Remember to comment, like & subscribe!

As with all my lists, these represent my personal top choices. The list is subjective. I’m happy to hear all of your suggestions. Humour is a very personal sentiment. Not everyone will agree with each other, and I haven’t included every single show I find funny. Keep the comments coming – I will try my best to add each one to the Reader’s suggestion list.

You may also want to check out:
Top Ten Dramatic Shows of all time
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307 thoughts on “Top Twelve Comedic TV Shows of All Time

    1. Agreed, many people haven’t even watched these shows. You didn’t include all-time favs such as FRIENDS, 3rd rock from the sun along with HIMYM. Poorly crafted list, I would say.

  1. I agree with most of your list – however I feel that a few key shows were missing (Granted this would make your list longer than 10). Frasier is still, to me, one of the most brilliant sitcoms ever created, so that’s that. Another show, that’s not quite an institution, was The Bernie Mac show, which got me through a bad bout of bronchitis and makes me laugh so hard (RIP). Finally, a more recent show, but no less brilliant, Modern Family. I feel this actually captures the dynamic of a family and is so freaking funny I can’t help but LOL in my living room while watching. Congrats on FP!

    1. Friends was a good show, had its funny moments and all but if we go by the title on “of All Time” friends should not be at the top twelve. It ran for a long time and I’ve watched it but there are funnier shows out there

  2. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!! Your post is excellent and enjoyable, Colm!

    Ok, your list covered a wide spectrum of TV comedy show, however……. My list would never be complete unless it included: The Dick Van Dyke Show (a little before my time but reruns are a wonderful inventions!), The Mary Tyler Moore Show (loved and lived this show), As Time Goes By, and Frasier; currently loving The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family.

    As said in previous posts, all of our personal lists would be different!

    Patricia

    1. Agree. I also lost interest in Saturday Night Live back in the late 80s – it turned into one nonstop fart joke.

  3. I was getting nervous that you weren’t going to include ‘Kids in the Hall’, the genius-ness of which is often over-looked. But at least you snuck it in at the end. Rightly identified as completely original – and uniquely Canadian in its hilarity.

    The clip for ’30 Rock’ is one of the most outrageously comedic things I have seen on any TV show ever. Just like lots of other stuff from that show.

  4. Here’s the thing: On this list there are several shows that have had undoubtedly funny seasons. You could probably make a list of “top twelve comedic TV seasons of all time.” and most of those showcased here would be on that list, in some form or another. But, to tell me that Season 17 of the Simpsons, or Season 6 of Seinfeld is funny TV? I’m not buying it.

    Also, there are a number of BBC series on here that would make shows like 30 Rock and SNL (especially its later seasons) look downright tame. Yes, Minister and Blackadder come to mind.

    1. i LOVE Lucy (and Golden Girls, and Fraiser). also i don’t understand why It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is even on the list. that show is. not. funny. 😦

  5. I read this and was going to disagree, but then realized there’s a reason my favorite comedies get cancelled quite soon. Strangers With Candy, Get a Life, Mr. Show with Bob and David, the State, Stella, hell anything with a member of the State after it was off the air (Reno…, Viva Variety, etc.), TV Funhouse.

    With the exception of the State, all shows that perhaps pushed the envelope too far. The State having had launched too many careers to be considered in that light.

  6. I find it funny you didn’t put “I Love Lucy” and “The Honeymooners” at the top of the list. I’m pretty sure most critics agree that those go on the top ten list every time, and in light of Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday and the celebrations of her films and “I Love Lucy”, which revolutionized t.v. sitcoms, I’m aghast you didn’t list this show. I suspect you’re too young to appreciate “I Love Lucy” and “The Honeymooners”, but they will always be the tops comedic shows of all time no matter how many silly young people come up with their own lists that don’t include them. Not to mention MASH, Taxi, WKRP, Frasier, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Bob Newhart, All in the Family . . . I’m sure the list could go on and on.

    Gilligan’s Island doesn’t belong on this list. As a nostalgia show it’s cute and has its place, but certainly not as one of the top 12 funniest sitcoms of all time. And “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”? You are tripping. I’ve tried and tried to watch this show and it’s assinine. Just a bunch of young men and older men trying to act like young men, doing things most adolescents couldn’t get away with in real life. I don’t understand why movies and t.v. depend on this scenario. It’s been done to death, it’s OLD, and the situations are just not funny. And 3 cartoons? Really? No. Maybe The Simpsons. Maybe South Park in the top 20, but surely not Family Guy in the top 12. No way, Jose.

    I just think you need quite a few more years of viewing a much broader variety of shows before you write your “best of” lists. I don’t think it reflects a very broad or deep understanding of what is and has been truly funny, the type of comedy that stands the test of time. You need a bit of seasoning, still, before you trot out such opinions. Otherwise I think you come across as not very well informed.

  7. I find it funny you didn’t put “I Love Lucy” and “The Honeymooners” at the top of the list. I’m pretty sure most critics agree that those go on the top ten list every time, and in light of Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday and the celebrations of her films and “I Love Lucy”, which revolutionized t.v. sitcoms, I’m aghast you didn’t list this show. I suspect you’re too young to appreciate “I Love Lucy” and “The Honeymooners”, but they will always be the tops comedic shows of all time no matter how many silly young people come up with their own lists that don’t include them. Not to mention MASH, Taxi, WKRP, Frasier, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Bob Newhart, All in the Family . . . I’m sure the list could go on and on.

    Gilligan’s Island doesn’t belong on this list. As a nostalgia show it’s cute and has its place, but certainly not as one of the top 12 funniest sitcoms of all time. And “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”? You are tripping. I’ve tried and tried to watch this show and it’s assinine. Just a bunch of young men and older men trying to act like young men, doing things most adolescents couldn’t get away with in real life. I don’t understand why movies and t.v. depend on this scenario. It’s been done to death, it’s OLD, and the situations are just not funny. And 3 cartoons? Really? No. Maybe The Simpsons. Maybe South Park in the top 20, but surely not Family Guy in the top 12. No way, Jose.

    I just think you need quite a few more years of viewing a much broader variety of shows before you write your “best of” lists. I don’t think it reflects a very broad or deep understanding of what is and has been truly funny, the type of comedy that stands the test of time. You need a bit of seasoning, still, before you trot out such opinions. Otherwise I think you come across as not very well informed.

  8. I love this list but Friends and Scrubs will always be number one and currently modern family rocks my boat, i love two and a half men i.e. before Ashton Kutcher…BTW Congratulations on being freshly pressed.

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  12. You have got to be kidding. This is a leftie’s list and does not begin to cover the all time best comedies. The Honeymooners was great as was Lucille Ball in her various comedies. These are cult classics and still in reruns. How about Home Improvement or The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
    If you want to say the funniest shows in the last 10 years then this list would have more credibility.

    You insult your readers by claiming that this list is the 12 funniest shows of all time.
    John Wilder

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