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The Emmy Award Winning Sitcom 1993-2003

The younger generation will probably disagree, but then I don’t have a very good opinion about many, not all, but many of  the “younger generation”‘s values or lack of them nowadays.  Perhaps my parents felt the same way about my generation.  Perhaps every generation’s parents felt the same, as well.

What is it the younger generation will not agree with me about?  The quality of sitcoms and stand-up comedians on television presently.  You see, most sitcoms on TV today do not have a studio audience.  The laughter is “canned” from a recording, and the idiots who produce the neanderthal sitcoms today think if I hear canned laughter it will inspire in me an uncontrollable urge to join the—canned laughter.

I have tried watching “How I Met Your Mother”, “The Big Bang Theory”, and “The Office” and many other sitcoms and my conclusion is—they are quite stupid and not at all funny.  “The Big Bang Theory” is particularly stupid and vulgar.  I’ve watched maybe six episodes since it began and I have not yet moved a muscle in my face.  Not even a twitch that could be misconstrued as the miniscule beginnings of a smile.  The sitcom is quite imbecilic.

This makes me have deeply worrisome thoughts about the intelligence of the entertainment industry in whole (and the intelligence [or lack thereof] of people who watch those sitcoms), which includes the writers who, with the aid of some sort of magical spell, actually convince TV producers to put these sorry excuses for situation comedies on television.  Yet, I suppose the producers have done surveys and studies and have arrived at the same conclusion I have: stupidity and pathetically unfunny lines somehow attract young viewers.

Sitcoms used to be really funny.  Some of the best sitcoms I’ve ever watched have been Frasier, Taxi, Cheers, Friends, (not in any particular order) and that is not a complete list.  I am sure I have failed to list the favorites of many readers, but my intent is not to create a complete list; just some representative examples of really good writing.

I just finished watching episodes 1-16 of Frasier’s first season, and I have heartily laughed at every episode, but number 16, well I have to tell you, the title of this post is exactly what I did.  I laughed until I cried.  Even minutes after it ended, I was still laughing uncontrollably.

In episode 16, Lilith travels to Seattle to see Frasier, because she found a letter behind a piece of furniture that she thought Frasier had left recently when he visited to see his son.  It was a very, very romantic letter.  However, it turns out Frasier left that letter a year earlier as their marriage was ending.

If any of you readers know anything about Lilith you can imagine the potential for hilarious dialogue.  You won’t be disappointed.  One of my favorite lines was what Daphne (Jane Leeves) said after she shook Lilith’s hand:

“When I shook hands with that woman me whole arm went numb.”

Jane Leeves on the red carpet at the Emmys 9/11/94

Jane Leeves

Before Lilith even arrived at the apartment, Daphne said she had a throbbing headache, but didn’t know why.  Daphne was holding an ice pack to her head when Lilith arrived at Frasier’s apartment.  She then understood why she had such a throbbing headache after meeting Lilith.  Lilith said she would be staying in Seattle the entire weekend. Then, after shaking Lilith’s hand, Daphne turned around, walked away and said in her thick Manchester accent:

“I’ll be dead by Sunday morning.”

I am always laughing when I watch Friends.  Cliff Claven always makes me laugh in “Cheers”, as does Carla, played by Rhea Perlman, wife of Danny Devito.  Danny also played the funny little dispatcher in “Taxi.”

Today’s sitcoms—forgive me if I offend, but—they suck.

Even Saturday Night Live does not entice me to chuckle, sometimes not even smile.  But when “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” Bill Murray, Jane Curtain, Gilda Radner, Eddie Murphy, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and others were entertaining us, that was good comedy, my friends.  Today SNL—sucks.  Just my humble, but accurate, opinion.

If you’ve never spent any time watching the “oldies but goodies”, do yourself a world of good.  Watch them.  Laughter is the best medicine, it is said, and I heartily agree.

I guarantee you, you’ll feel a whole lot better when you start wiping the tears from your eyes from laughing uncontrollably.

As for stand-up comedians, many are the times when I have watched with frozen face the stand-up comedians of today.  If a comedian has to be vulgar to be funny, he/she is not a comedian; not really funny at all.

The comedians of yesteryear, Bill Cosby, Don Rickles, Jerry Lewis, Foster Brooks, Jonathon Winters, Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin, and many, many others were hilarious and were so without four letter words or disgusting innuendos.

I seriously doubt Richard Pryor would have been nearly as funny had he deleted all his disgusting language from his acts.  This is probably true of most comedians who resort to cuss words to get a laugh.

I ask myself while watching today’s sitcoms and stand-up comedians: “What is so funny?  Why the canned laughter?  Are producers afraid if they used a real studio audience I would not be the only one who doesn’t laugh?”

The ‘golden age’ of comedy has come and gone.  Perhaps the comedy writers have completely run out of ideas—or they lack a gift for creating genuine comedy, but have not yet reached the bottom of the “stupid” barrel.