'The greatest sitcom ever written'

Paul Sinha's comedy favourites

1. Only Fools And Horses

I think that it's probably considered unfashionably mainstream to revere this sitcom in the way that I do. But I stand by the opinion that the late John Sullivan's output in the mid to late Eighties was just superb. OFAH at its best was the perfect ensemble sitcom, with the support characters drawn just as lovingly as the main ones. There is no doubt that the quality dipped over the years as it spluttered over the finish line. But I still fondly remember watching this episode on Christmas Day 1989 and wiping away tears of laughter throughout.

2. Tony Law

Right now I don't think any current stand up comic makes me laugh quite as much as Tony Law. Whimsical surreal buffoonery is hard to pull off, and he is currently doing it better than anyone. I had the pleasure of recording the same episode as him for the forthcoming TV show Alternative Comedy Experience, and ‘memorably funny’doesn't really do it justice.

3. Groundhog Day

When those "funniest film" polls take place, I mentally prepare myself for the inevitability that my own choice will not win. My love for this film has not diminished over the years. A mildly amusing conceit grows into a treatise on life and all that it has to offer. And all the while it explores every variation of Bill Murray's predicament in brilliantly funny way. I don't really have a favourite scene, but the trailer says it all.


4. See My Vest (The Simpsons)

The world's greatest ever television show has a decent hit rate with musical parody. Every so often the writers upgrade from funny to quite incredible; Planet of the Apes: The Musical, the Kwik-E-Mart Song, and of course, Monorail. See My Vest just shades it as my favourite with its peerless writing. ‘See my loafers, former gophers, it was that or skin my chauffeurs.’ To rehash the old cliche, I hope whoever wrote that line took the rest of the week off.


5. Rich Hall

In November 1998 I nabbed myself an open spot at a long forgotten Brixton comedy club on a Thursday night. When I realised I would be sharing the bill with Rich Hall I nearly wet myself with excitement and made sure that as many friends as possible came along. He was magnificent, and the routine that stuck in everyone's mind was the one below. Beautifully written, not one word out of place. And as you will see, brilliantly delivered.

6. Blackadder The Third

Again, I say this with a hint of resignation in that I have utterly failed to convince anyone that the third series of Blackadder beats 2 and 4. But it does. It just does. Never have the scripts been tighter, never has the cast been more at the top of their game. Though oddly I have picked a scene of pure slapstick. I do think Hugh Laurie is truly one of the most gifted comic actors who has ever lived, and the look of bewilderment on his face as his beatings grow ever more severe is priceless.

7. The Day Today: Rok TV

Much as I loved The Day Today, it often felt like a bit of a mixed bag. But when it was on target, it was ferociously brilliant. This four minutes is simply a pitch perfect spoof of so much of early 90's music television. It is both hilarious and in terrible taste.

8. Cheers

Sadly I don't think I have the skills to write a sitcom. I am much better at writing in my own voice than in that of others. There is no doubt that my favourite sitcoms are character driven rather than joke driven.

My teenage years were spent obsessing over Cheers which I still think may be the greatest sitcom ever written. It's superb scripts are flawlessly delivered, each character so utterly crucial. It is often said that British sitcoms celebrate heroic failure, and that US sitcoms celebrate success. Cheers is a notable exception and perhaps that is exactly why I am drawn to it more than any other US show.

I love the horrible flaws of each of the beautifully fleshed out characters. The following clip is, in my humble opinion, sitcom perfection.


Published: 31 Jan 2013

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