Best of British Comedy

bjj hero

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Anything with Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. So shooting stars or the smell of vic and bob.
 

09philj

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bjj hero said:
Anything with Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. So shooting stars or the smell of vic and bob.
House of Fools was good as well.
 

Baffle

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Brittas Empire, totally forgot about that.

There's Bread as well, which I don't remember that well. The humour in that might be fairly regional, though if you get Shameless, you'll get Bread (though Bread is much milder).
 

ArcadianDrew

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Another good Ronnie Barker one was Open All Hours with David Jason.

Jimmy Perry and David Croft were also prolific in the 70s and 80s. They wrote (amongst others) It Ain't Half Hot Mum (though this might be deemed offensive to some people nowadays) and Hi-de-Hi (set in a 50s British holiday camp).

If you also wanted old sketch shows there's the Two Ronnies or variety shows like Morcambe and Wise.

Goodness Gracious Me should get a shout out too, 90s sketch show done by British-Indian comedians.

Happy viewing.
 
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Baffle2 said:
Bottom, though that's 90s. You're missing out if you don't.
Seconded, thirded and fourthed! Bottom is utterly brilliant. Less surrealist than The Young One's, but just as manic. Also, as a stand-alone movie, Guest House Paradiso.

Also, I highly recommend People Like Us. It's like a mockumentary Louis Theroux style show. It's a bit obscure, but fantastic.
 

Squilookle

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Can I just say I'm so happy to see not a single one of you has mentioned The Office. Not just because it's the wrong era...

Speaking of wrong era- there's an old Peter Cook and Dudley Moore show called Not Only But Also that's well worth checking out- I think only a single DVD/video of it survives now but the chemistry between those two was monumentally influential on British comedy ever since.

As for the actual 80's, I'm be a bit different here and talk about the cartoons, specifically the Cosgrove Hall ones. In the 80's british toons were filled to the brim with innuendo and humor for the adults as well as the kids, and some of the more charming ones were Count Duckula (a vegetarian vampire), Danger Mouse, Superted, and especially Bananaman, who was an incredibly dim-witted superhero who solved pretty much everything by eating bananas. Think the lovechild of Roger Ramjet and Popeye and you'd be pretty close.


Also The Trap Door was a brilliant 5 minute wonder.


09philj said:
Red Dwarf (1988 to present) - Very long running sci-fi comedy that is better at being Star Trek than a lot of actual Star Trek.
As a fan of Red Dwarf and not of Star Trek, I struggle to explain to my trekkie fans why RD is so good- could you expand a bit on how it out Star-Trek's Star Trek?

Weresquirrel said:
I'll echo a few of the recommendations so far, like Yes Minister, Brass Eye, Red Dwarf, Black Books and Spaced. All top quality shows very worthy of attention.

I'll also throw in an extremely enthusiastic recommendation for the Goodies. It ran from the 70s through to the 80s. It's a very tricky show to describe, since it's very peculiar. The rough frame work is that 3 guys form a business called "The Goodies", whose motto is "We do anything, any time".

The actual show though goes into some really weird places. For example, their attempt to become vets results in a giant kitten attacking London in "Kitten Kong". Or when they become lighthouse keepers (They misread the ad, thinking it was for light housekeeping), one accidently eats their fog horn, one gets mumps and the other goes mad from everything being round and ends with them accidently launching it into space.
I was really young when the reruns of this were on TV, and it had me spellbound. Not so much for the comedy but how inventive and surreal it got. Like the episode where they get inspired by those pirate radio boats and decide to create a pirate british mail service, using balloons, a submarine that from above water just looks like a tiny rowboat, and shooting letters through people's windows with arrows. The creators went to college with the Monty Python guys and did a lot of the same comedy shows with them, and there's definitely a strain of MP in the Goodies as well.

I'd basically describe it as the sensibilities of Monty Python with the weirdness of The Mighty Boosh.
 

dscross

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As others have said, please don't limit yourself to pre 90s man. There are some brilliant shows from every era. As a Brit myself and growing up on this stuff, my top recommends are:

The League of Gentlemen (Horror Comedy - amazing, funny and dark)
Red Dwarf (Sci Fi Comedy - one of the most inventive comedies I know)
Peep Show (First Person, hearing thoughts comedy. I absolutely love this show)
Blackadder (historical comedy - it's a classic to a reason. Ben Elton at his best. Don't bother with the first series until you've watched the others.)
Father Ted (Irish religion comedy. I laugh so loud every time even though I know it so well)
I'm Alan Partridge (just Steve Coogan as his best character. You literally can't stop quoting this)
The IT Crowd (geek comedy. It's very silly humour - very good)
The Might Boosh (very silly, abstract comedy)
Inside No 9 (individual inventive horror stories - same people as league of gents)
Shooting Stars (bizarre quiz show, but not a normal one - very very funny)
Bottom / The Young Ones (old school 'base comedy' - very good but maybe an acquired taste)
Brasseye (News show skit. You will laugh so hard the first time you watch it)

These are some of my favourite shows of all time. But there are soooooooooo many more I could list that you would love. Wouldn't want to overwhelm you with them all.
 

Mr.Mattress

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I can't believe all of you guys have been listing British Comedies, and none of you guys even mentioned the Grand Daddy of Modern British Comedies, Monty Python's Flying Circus:

 

Addendum_Forthcoming

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Some mighty fine suggestions right there.

To clarify a few posts above, I have also seen;

Absolutely Fabulous (No show has ever encapsulated sympathetic utterly awful, broken people quite so well as this show. It's a good'un)

Red Dwarf (Can't go wrong with a bit of Dwarf action, barring perhaps the last two seasons.)

Monty Python (I've seen a bit of Python ... I mean when it's good it's great)

Yes (Prime) Minister (Ditto as for AF, this show makes some wonderfully awful people exceedingly funny)

Some Mothers do 'Ave Them (Was pretty popular here and reruns of it were still common enough when I was a kid, it always struck me as a more self-conscious Mr. Bean)

I also like the weirdness and satire of Garth Marenghi

and a lot more....

But to also clarify there seems to be a bit of support for Bottom, which I've never even heard of. Monkey Dust, the same. Also Brasseye.

Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I shall hunt down some episodes!
 

maninahat

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Comic Strip Presents:

It's a series of hour long comedy movies made by the guys who made The Young Ones and Bottom, and usually feature everyone else in comedy at that time. They've made something for every genre over the last few decades. Their most recent one was an Alfred Hitchcock parody called The Hunt for Tony Blair, however my favourite would be A Fist full of Traveller's Cheques:


Also, in a similar vein is the series Ripping Yarns. The best of these has to be The Testing of Eric Olthwaite, a story about the most boring man in Yorkshire (I think the whole thing is on youtube).
 

dscross

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I forgot to mention How Not To Live Your Life. The main character is FANTASTIC!
 

Wakey87

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Porridge
Highly recommend this if you havn't seen it, stars Ronnie Barker.

Open all Hours
Ronnie Barker and David Jason.

One Foot in the Grave
Maybe an obvious one so I'm suprised no one as mentioned it, totaly hilarious.
 

Silvanus

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The best of the best:

Peep Show
The Thick of It
Spaced
The Office (UK)

And anything by Graham Linehan (Father Ted, Black Books, The IT Crowd) or Christopher Morris (Brass Eye, On The Hour (which is a radio show)).

For the big screen, nothing beats Simon Pegg & Nick Frost's outings in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
 

Baffle

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Agreed, though I'm minorly peeved by Pegg's insistence on being the hero - it works well in Hot Fuzz and Shaun, but gets a bit much in World's End (aside: I grew up around Welwyn, and it's super weird seeing it on t'Telly).

Father Ted is charming and ace.
 

Darth Rosenberg

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Addendum_Forthcoming said:
As a kid who grew up in Australia you may be aware due to cultural and financial deficiencies we basically poached a lot of British tv.
The only podcast I listen to every week is the Weekly Planet Aussy duo of Nick Mason and James/Mr Sunday Movies, and yeah, part of their charm for me is the weird cultural overlap between Brits and Aussies of certain eras.

It's been mentioned before, but Porridge is absolutely worth checking out. A true classic, it had incredibly smart, quick witted dialogue, but it also had a socially critical context and a genuine character driven pathos. Like a lot of British comedy of those eras, there was a heavy dose of self-deprecating melancholy.

Culturally it's fascinating to watch now, as well, with the opening episode touching upon perceptions of sexuality, race, and religion. The non-straight is primarily used for the purposes of jokes, but there is no real mean spiritedness about it nor are they attacked, so it has a strangely liberal, equalising vibe to it.

Same with religion, with Barker's character suggesting the relatively innocent newbie should've said they were a Muslim or Jew simply for the sake of holidays and food exceptions, as opposed to C of E which gets you nothing...

It's about getting one up on the system, retaining a sense of self-identity, and so it's also quite existential as the characters mull over their mistakes and dreams set against the prison system and the society beyond. It also explores generational gaps, and plays up the disparate cultures and communities spread across the British isles, but also simply throughout England.

Whether it's funny or not to a given person is of course subjective, but it really was much more than just a comedy, and I personally find the best episodes still hit their mark in terms of pathos and social commentary several decades on, which is quite the feat.

On the other end of the scale (mostly), is The Fast Show, a very quickfire sketch show from the '90's. Given the format it's a scattergun approach, and I'd say most people will find a fair amount they don't particularly laugh at each ep, but the performances and characters are so good that, generally, it's always very watchable.

The 'black' painter---



And Dave Angel were two of my faves---


(I assume one or both might not work for some people depending region)

Like Porridge, it generally has an immense amount of humanising affection for the characters shot through it, though obviously it's a far more gag/catchphrase oriented series.