Let’s be honest with ourselves…What made Seinfeld so funny was George Costanza’s reactions to being the constant victim of the Larry David Effect. David continues this streak of bad luck in Curb, a show about the antics of the man who got rich off creating the show about nothing. The supporting cast and guest stars, ranging from the cast of Seinfeld to Mel Brooks and Wanda Sykes, superbly set up hilarious scenarios in which Larry’s character (a fictionalized version of himself) can get into awkward social situations.
Best Episode: S04E10 “Opening Night” –
After spending the entire 4th season in a series of mishaps, Larry finally opens The Producers on Broadway, but forgets his lines during the performance. Somehow his
no-holds-barred ranting saves the day, much to the chagrin of producer Mel Brooks, who only hired Larry in hopes of a bomb.
Upon first tuning in to The Big Bang Theory, it can be difficult to understand what’s happening. You’ll be bombarded with talk of nebulae and Higgs-Boson particles that’s easy to get lost in. Once you’re accustomed to the many quirks of Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Parsons), however, you’re rewarded with a whole new dimension of fun. TBBT delivers a different kind of intelligent humor, and Cooper is easily the most interesting and lovable character on television.
Best Episode: S02E07 “The Panty Piñata Polarization” Sheldon bans Penny (Cuoco) from the apartment, leading to Penny declaring it “Junior Rodeo on” and launching an all-out prank war between beauty and the geek. Meanwhile, Howard (Simon Helberg) and Raj (Nayyar) use their combined resources to take over NORAD satellites and track down the America’s Next Top Model house. 18 – In Living Color (Fox 1990-1994) Keenen Ivory Wayans, Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey The Wayans brothers are comedy icons, and In Living Color is one of the main reasons, launching the careers of legends Carrey, Foxx, David Alan Grier, Rosie Perez, Jennifer Lopez, and more. Featuring memorable characters (Homey D Clown, Firemarshall Bill), excellent music performances (2Pac, Mary J Blige), and the occasional social commentary of important societal issues, In Living Color proved content is more important than star power in the entertainment world.
Best Episode: S02E15 “10 February 1991” Jim Carrey shines in a parody of Vanilla Ice performing “White White Baby” while a Fruit of the Loom boxers commercial showcases the character impersonation skills of the cast. The Benita Butrell (Kim Wayans) skit is a classic as well, but I ain’t one to gossip, so you didn’t hear that from me.
17 – Married…With Children (Fox 1987-1997) Ed O’Neill, Katey Segal, Christina Applegate
Married…with Children is the story of women’s shoe salesman Al Bundy (O’Neill), a perennial loser whose proudest accomplishment is scoring four touchdowns in a single high school football game. As the first primetime sitcom for upstart TV station Fox, the Bundy family stood in stark contrast to the refined characters found on most TV shows of the time. Al may not have been the most moral man in America, but deep down, his heart of gold had us rooting for him to catch a break.
Best Episode: S05E21 & S05E22 “You Better Shop Around (Part
1 & 2)” After blacking out the neighborhood during a heatwave, Al moves the family into the freezer section of the grocery store to stay cool. Facing eviction from the store by the manager, Al cuts in front of Marcy (Amanda Bearse) to make a purchase, winning a shopping spree. Their argument leads to competition between the two couples, with Al winning the food for his family, but being unable to enjoy it.
16 – Archer (FX 2009- ) Jon Benjamin, Aisha Taylor, Jessica Walter Sterling Archer (Benjamin) is not only one of the world’s most dangerous assassins; he’s
also a wise cracking alcoholic with mommy issues. The animation and soundtrack sets the tone for a stylized James Bond-esque spy agency, while the humor and characters are as out there as cable television will allow. Whether dodging KGB assassins, hunting an eco-terrorist, or fighting a cyborg, Archer brilliantly straddles the fine line between cartoons and realism.
Best Episode: S03E04 “The Man from Jupiter” Archer meets his hero Burt Reynolds
at a bar, only to find out he’s dating his mother. After a failed attempt to split the two, Archer and Reynolds end up in a White Lightning-style high speed chase, evading Russian hit-men.
The comedy of Sarah Silverman is greatly underrated. She mocks uncomfortable issues of
race, gender, sexuality, and income inequality with the bright eyes of a child. Her show is at once a sitcom, variety show, and drug propaganda. There are few subjects left untouched by this Comedy Central gem, which features some of the best wise-cracking comedians in the game.
Best Episode: S01E05 “Muffin’ Man” Inspired by Tig (Tig Notaro), Sarah (Silverman) decides to explore lesbianism, while Steve (Agee) and Brian (Posehn) have an escalating argument over Tab that leads them both to sarcastically quit their jobs and sell everything they own to provide their undying support to the soda.
14 – The Daily Show (Comedy Central 1996- ) Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell
What started off as a generic Weekend Update ripoff quickly evolved into one of cable television’s most informative and entertaining source of political commentary. Jon Stewart’s deadpan humor, mixed with a staff of comedic “journalists” manages to compete with the comedy of late night talk shows and the integrity of investigative journalism of news channels. Stewart’s unabashed approach to the news has made him a pop cultural
media icon, able to compete with the likes of Howard Stern, Kurt Loder, and Bill O’Reilly.
Best Episode: Indecision 2000 “Wednesday, November 7, 2000”
Jon Stewart had barely taken over the reigns of The Daily Show when the 2000 election coverage turned into a fan favorite that has been repeated every election since. The night after the election, Stewart proclaimed Indecision was supposed to be a joke, not to be taken seriously, as a comment on the now infamous Florida “Hanging Chad” debacle that marked the start of the Bush years and propelled The Daily Show to new heights of relevancy.
13 – Scrubs (NBC/ABC 2001-2010) Zach Braff, David Faison, Sarah Chalk
I often hear M*A*S*H cited as the best TV sitcom about hospitals, but Scrubs is infinitely better. Scrubs is one of those rare sitcoms that will make you laugh, cry, sing, and scream. Filled with some of the zaniest characters, it’s like a Wayans spoof of Grey’s Anatomy.
With every episode of this ensemble comedy featuring more storylines than a daytime soap, everyone has their favorite character, but The Janitor (Neil Flynn) and Dr. Perry Cox (John C McGinley) bring warm fuzzies to my Sacred Heart.
Best Episode: S04E17 “My Life in FourCameras” The discovery that his latest patient is a comedy writer tips J.D. (Braff) into a sitcom fantasy, complete with the dreaded laugh track. Turk (Faison) and Carla (Judy Reyes) worry that the romance has left their marriage. Cox volunteers to trim $26,000 from the hospital budget to avoid Kelso (Ken Jenkins) firing a cafeteria worker.
12 – Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (NBC 1990-1996) Will Smith, Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana Ali
There have been a lot of servants on TV, but Geoffrey (Joseph Marcell) the wisecracking butler at the Banks’ household always added that perfect spice to a scene. Will Smith transitioned from rapper to actor during the course of these show, and by the time it ended, he had become a full-fledged Hollywood A-list movie star, heading such blockbusters as Independence Day, Bad Boys, and Men in Black.
Best Episode: S04E26 “The Philadelphia Story” Originally intended to be the series finale, this is the episode Will goes back to West Philadelphia, where he born and raised, to see the playground where he spent most of his days. When Will finds visits the local sandwich shop and finds out there’s a sandwich named after him, he decides to prove he’s no “Chicken Will” by confronting “dude who spins me over his head in the opening credits…”
Television back in the day was a lot more racist, sexist, and suggestive than it is today,
no matter what anyone tells you. For proof, watch a few of the Dean Martin Roasts. You’ll see performances from legends like Orson Welles, Milton Berle, Ronald Reagan, Redd Foxx, and so many more. A lot of the humor hasn’t aged well, but there are some universally classic gems in there from people you’d never expect (John Wayne).
Best Episode: 02/07/1978 “Man of the Hour Frank Sinatra” For coolness factor alone, Ol Blue Eyes dominates the roast. In addition to everyone mentioned above, Gene Kelly, George Burns, Flip Wilson, Jimmy Stewart, and more show up to roast the chairman of the board. After watching this, you’ll look at Comedy Central’s Roasts like Full House.
10 – Reno 911! (Comedy Central 2003-2009) Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Kerri Kenney
Cops spent so long on TV that it was only a matter of time before it got parodied. The cast of MTV’s infamous sketch show The State runs loose in this mockumentary about the most incompetent police force this side of Police Squad and the LAPD. Just when you think you’ve seen these cops hit as low as they can possibly go, they’re daring a kid to jump a bicycle over the gap between 2 buildings. This is the show that inspired me to come to work one day dressed up as a Reno 911! version of our building’s security guards, complete with mustache, Aviators, chewing gum, and Daisy Dukes.
Best Episode: S02E07 “Fire Fighters are Jerks” The Annual Policemen’s Ball is threatened when the local firemen schedule their Pancake Dinner for the same night. Flames don’t shoot bullets at you, and after you put out a fire, it doesn’t sue you. Have you ever heard of a drive-by fire? There is no law against a man not wearing pants. Ain’t no law against drugs. This show is the reason half of you have jokes.
9 – I Love Lucy (CBS 1951-1957) Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance
If you’re not into black and white, there’s nothing I can say that will change your mind. However, if you ever decide to give black and white a shot, I Love Lucy is a great place to start. Lucille Ball is a master of physical comedy. Lucy is the bar by which all future sitcom wives are judged.
Best Episode: S02E10 “Lucy Is Enceinte” When Lucy learns she’s pregnant, she struggles to tell Ricky (Arnaz), finally doing it while he’s singing at the club. All of her worry ends up being in her silly female head, as Ricky is not only happy, he proudly and lovingly sings “We’re Having a Baby” to his gingerbroad wife.
8 – The Simpsons (Fox 1989- ) Dan Castellaneta, Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria
Unless you spent the last 24 years living under a rock in a cave on Mars facing backward with your hands over your ears, your eyes closed, and humming, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of The Simpsons. It’s the longest running sitcom in history, inspiring a barrage of media, music, games, merchandise, and imitators. Homer (Castellaneta) is TV’s most relatable character. The theme song is iconic. The show may not be what it once was, but there are few shows that have touched as many people as The Simpsons.
Best Episode: S04E17 “Last Exit to Springfield” The best Simpsons seasons are 3-9, and this is the single greatest episode of any TV show in history. Filled with pop culture references galore, this is the quintessential story of labor unions, worker’s rights, and corporate corruption as Homer ignites a labor strike against the nuclear (pronounced nu-cu-ler) power plant in order to provide his daughter Lisa (Yeardley Smith) with an adequate dental plan, while she plays the guitar and soulfully sings, “They have the plant…but we have the power.”
7 – Chappelle’s Show (Comedy Central 2003-2006) Dave Chappelle, Charlie Murphy, Guillermo Diaz
Although the success of this show drove Dave Chappelle to go nearly as insane as his “Oprah’s Baby’s Daddy” skit, it’s one of the most brilliant television shows in history.
From Rick James to Charlie Murphy, Chappelle is filled from front to back with meme’s, quotables, and legendary skits. 2Pac is alive. The black KKK leader. Wayne Brady’s cameo. Cocaine is a helluva drug, but weed is A-ok, thanks in part to the Half Baked contributions of Dave Chappelle.
Best Episode: S02E12 “The Wayne Brady Show” Wayne Brady mocked all the
stereotypes about him not being a “real” black guy by wondering if he’s gon’ have to “choke a bitch” in one of the most hilarious skits ever shown on TV. Not to be outdone, Chappelle follows up with iconic crackhead Tyrone Biggums as one of the best Fear Factor contestants ever.
6 – Taxi (ABC/NBC 1978-1983) Danny DeVito, Andy Kaufman, Tony Danza
Danny DeVito and Andy Kaufman are two of the funniest comedians ever. Taxi showcases both of their talents beautifully. This ensemble comedy about the staff of a New York City taxicab company is the model for work-based TV shows from Wings to The Office. The show eventually fell apart, as Kaufman started getting more eccentric, and the careers of Danza and Christopher Lloyd started to take off.
Best Episode: S03E20 “Latka The Playboy” Sick of being the cute little foreign guy, Latka Gravas (Kaufman, setting the groundwork for future sitcom foreigners Balki Bartokomous & Rajesh Koothrappali) studies how to be a real American man by reading Playboy,
turning into Vic Ferrari, a smooth talking fan of Elvis Costello. This episode originates the recurring story arc of Latka’s multiple personalities, which gave Andy Kaufman his greatest moments to shine.
5 – Louie (FX 2010- ) Louis C.K. Hadley Delany, Ursula Parker
Louis CK has a career most comedians only dream about. That’s because not only is Louis
hilarious, but he has one of the best contracts in TV history. FX gave the gingerbeard man full creative control over his show, allowing Louie to be Louis. The result is the show Seinfeld only wishes it was. Louis explains death to his daughters, gets bullied by a teenager, makes a move on Joan Rivers, and endures embarrassment after embarrassment in simultaneously the funniest and saddest moments on TV.
Best Episode: S01E05 “Travel Day/South” Everyone pictures the life of an
entertainer as some glamorous affair where you’re spending your time at awards shows and Lakers games. Louie gives us a peak at the reality of life on the road with one of the best airport comedy scenes ever put on film followed by a comedy show in the backwoods of the southern US.
4 – Arrested Development (Netflix 2003- ) Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett
The Bluth family was a bit too intelligent for audiences during its initial run. After a few years of topping DVD sales and Netflix charts worldwide, the show was brought back for a fourth season, becoming the second ever Netflix original show (after House of Cards). Arrested is packed with witty banter, inside jokes, family drama, and some of the most hilarious situational humor. Grab a banana and some candy beans, pull up a hand chair,
and prepare your own chicken dance, because as Michael (Bateman) always says, the most important thing is breakfast…or family…or whatever…
Best Episode: S02E02 “The One Where They Build a House” Tasked with developing a business model, GOB (Arnett) hires a beautiful woman he met at a boat show while
haggling over a new yacht, “The Sea Word.” Michael and GOB fight back and forth in a rock/paper/scissors battle until the opening of the fake house, which inevitably goes wrong.
3 – Saturday Night Live (NBC 1975-) Will Ferrell, Chris Farley, Chevy Chase
SNL, Lorne Michael’s groundbreaking skit and variety show, is a mainstay in American pop culture. Featuring decades’ worth of legendary performances, both musical and comedic, this is simply the coolest show on the planet. Spawning legendary comedians from Adam Sandler to Bill Murray to Kristen Wiig, Live is more than a show; it’s a legacy. Too many movies have come from this to count. We all have a favorite season and cast. Everyone has a little piece of them that hopes to one day appear on SNL.
Best Episode: S21E01 “Mariel Hemingway” Season 20 was the end of a disappointing run of SNL. It desperately needed a reboot, so Lorne Michaels scouted the country and found a handful of new comedians to add to the roster: Jim Breuer, Darrell Hammond, and Cheri Oteri are among the featured players who make their debut in this episode, but the real standout is an unknown named Will Ferrell, whose “Get Off the Shed” and “Excuses To Get Off The Phone” skits are among the funniest in the history of the show.
2 – The Honeymooners (CBS 1955-1956) Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows, Art Carney
Another black and white classic, The Honeymooners is one of those shows that manages to transcend time. It’s one of the first TV sitcoms to portray a struggling American family (a reality that’s relatable to 80% of the population). Ralph Kramden (Gleason) set the bar by which all leading men on television would be measured to the moon. The show has been
spoofed, parodied, and imitated countless times. Honeymooners is the Citizen Kane of television comedy.
Best Episode: S01E10 “The $99,000 Answer” Ralph isn’t the brightest guy in the world. He’s a hardworking blue collared type. When he becomes a contestant on a hit television quiz show, he’s determined to prove to Alice (Meadows) that he has what it takes to be a winner. He has one week to study up on all the music he can. Unfortunately Ed Norton (Carney) gets “Swanee River” stuck in his head. Ralph loses the money, but not before turning in one of the best comedic performances in sitcom history.
1 – South Park (Comedy Central 1997- ) Tre Parker, Matt Stone, Isaac Hayes
Everyone knows who Tre Parker and Matt Stone are now. South Park is the reason why. In fact, it’s the reason Comedy Central still exists. This show about four Colorado kids weaves back and forth between satire and cartoony mayhem. There’s no issue these guys won’t touch. No celebrity is safe. No belief is sacred. These guys have roasted every institution known to man. The show fell off for a few years, but the last 4 seasons have been pure gold. Cartman is hands-down the best character in television history.
Best Episode: S11E10-12 “Imagination Land (Parts I-III)” After making a bet about the
existence of leprechauns, the kids go off in search of one. Cartman (Parker) finds one, but Kyle (Stone) refuses to concede defeat and lick his balls. They soon find themselves transported to Imaginationland, which is taken over by Islamic extremists. The boys race to stop the government from nuking our imaginations while Cartman pursues an epic quest to wet his parched ballsack.