'It isn't *just* eight-year-olds swearing...' | Tom Rosenthal chooses his comedy favourites

'It isn't *just* eight-year-olds swearing...'

Tom Rosenthal chooses his comedy favourites

I am sorry for the utter obviousness of all of these. They are in order of discovery.

The Simpsons

I mean, what can be said? Every day after school at 6 and 6.30, it’s no exaggeration to say it’s the reason I love comedy. Perfect characters, hilarious voice acting, lovable warmth, and jokes, not only in dialogue, but crammed into every conceivable object, area and business. I know some people say it’s got worse, but please don’t say that to me – it wounds my nostalgia, like saying my grandma’s ugly. It has grown-up, it has evolved and thankfully, it’s still here. 

I must also commend the Simpsons for giving me all the cultural references that I understand but haven’t seen the original of (see video), which happens enough to people of my generation to deserve a verb.

Ali G

The first show I had to watch, and, on review, am surprised I was allowed to, as it was seemingly presented in utero. For a dickhead teenager it was utter foolery, but as a big boy it’s clearly a brand of comedy that only the highest level of writer-performer and production team can pull off.

The level of skill involved in not only hiding jokes as questions (so well as to avoid detection from earnest interviewees), as well as in maintaining depth in such a dense (in multiple senses) character, is surely matched by the people behind the scenes coaxing the right people in the right way so as to achieve memorable dialogues.

People have told me of his spider-diagram approach to interviews, planning a response for a response and a response for any potential responses to that response, which a) makes sense of the seemingly impossible high level of content and b) proves that being that good is as much about work and preparation as anything.

South Park

The best thing about South Park is that it’s taken ten years of me watching it for mum to accept the joke isn’t just eight-year-olds saying swear words. Even though that is obviously one of the jokes.

At its best, it’s as good as satire gets. At it’s worst, it is, admittedly, eight-year-olds saying swear words (still solid if one’s fat and angry). Like most of these things, there are too many good points to really mention, but how lovely that this tune was part of a chilling, thoughtful and hilarious analysis of the War on Terror.


It’s not that I hadn’t seen British sitcom that I liked (Only Fools and Horses, Fawlty Towers etc.), but this was the first British sitcom that felt like it was written for me. By which I mean, characters in it played PlayStation.

A show not just made for television but seemingly made to look cool on it; stuff with the camera was actually happening and then when it stopped Simon Pegg was playing Tomb Raider.

Obviously, in retrospect, it has some of the finest comic performers of their generation in quirky, vignette driven plot, but it only really got me hooked because of Lara Croft. Another show I marvel at now having mindlessly chortled over it in pube-growth.

The Office


Brass Eye

Brass Eye taught me that my favourite comedy is always going to be precise execution of the ridiculous. Creating such an astute and accurate portrayal of the late 90s hyperbolic news-broadcast (which ironically is itself made a mockery of by modern day Fox / Sky News), and filling it head-to-toe with nonsense, is obviously fucking great.

I didn’t watch it when it first went out and only really discovered it through Jam, Chris Morris’ weirder sketch show. (Mr Lizard is my favourite sketch of all time), but it consistently inspires me to be very serious about the stupid and ridiculous about the potentially offensive.

Favourite moments are the same as everyone else’s: Good Aids v Bad Aids, Cake and clarky-cat, but the one I can never not laugh at is at 2.29 on the chosen clip (well, start at 2.17)

Stewart Lee

Common consensus is that stand-ups should stop watching others who they love for fear of being influenced too heavily, hence I’ve had to guess from the title of this video that it will do. 

I’ve weaned myself down to an annual dip into his brilliance for fear of being swept away in a tide of deadpan audience baiting and repetition, just as he has made a point of avoiding my mid-level wordplay and derivative story-telling since he first saw it in 2007. I’ve only put you last because of my chronological system Stew, if you want to put me first on yours then that’s cool.

Tom Rosenthal: Благодаря is on at the Pleasance Courtyard at 20:15

Published: 10 Aug 2013

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