Top 10 All Time TV Comedies

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This one was really tough. So many great and funny ones to choose from.

Here's my list.

1. The Honeymooners
2. All In The Family
3. MASH
4. Soap
5. Night Court
6. Big Bang Theory
7. Mary Tyler Moore
8. Barney Miller
9. The Odd Couple
10. Seinfeld

A few notes.

As few episodes as there were of the classic Honeymooners series (39)
you could watch them over and over and still laugh your tail off at the
jokes. "Hello Ball", "There ain't no other side", "Just go for the gold...you've
already got the pot" and so many others. The timing of Gleason, Carney
and Meadows was truly one of a kind. There has never been anything
as good on TV since.

All In The Family was groundbreaking, saying things on TV that you just
didn't ever hear before. But it wasn't just shock value. The delivery of
Carol O' Connor was priceless and Archie Bunker, love him or hate him, will
be one of the most identifiable characters of all time. And then there was
Edith, who in my opinion, was the heart and soul of that show and turned
a great show into a classic.

MASH did things that were also never done before, such as the real time
episode and the POV episode. Plus, never had a show undergone so many
cast changes and actually got better as it went along. By the time the
show went off, it turned from a comedy into a very serious show that
had us crying as much as it had us laughing. You can thank Alan Alda for
the direction the show took as he refused to make light of war and
insisted that the ugly side be shown.

What can you say about Soap? It was probably the most unusual show
on TV ever. The way it went off was horrible (all those cliff hangers) but
it left a legacy (Chuck and Bob, Billy Crystal's ground breaking character,
a non celibite priest, and so much more) that will forever be ingrained in
our hearts and minds. The cast was flawless. The stories were off the wall.
There wasn't a week that went by that we didn't wait for the next episode.

That to me is the definition of a great comedy.

Night Court was just flat out off the wall. John Larroquette, who won
several Emmies for his role as Dan Fielding, probably made the show what
it was. His character was one of the best supporting character roles in
TV history. Many times, Harry Anderson took a back seat to him because
the creators knew what a great character they had in Fielding. I have
probably laughed harder at this show than any other I've ever watched
because of him.

It remains to be seen if Big Bang Theory will stand the test of time, but
right now, it is the funniest thing on TV with the funniest character I
have ever seen in my life. Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon Cooper is your
stereotypical genius nerd, but he plays the part so well and the writing is
so good that you can't help but laugh at him...especially if you're a nerd
yourself. I have yet to see one of the 40 episodes aired so far that I didn't
get at least one or two incredible laughs out of. That's not easy to pull off
week after week. As I said, it still remains to be seen if this show stands
the test of time, but my money says it will.

Mary Tyler Moore had 3 characters that made this show what it was...Lou
Grant, Mary and Ted Baxter. Mary wasn't the funny one, but she played
off the others so well. The final episode, there wasn't a dry eye in my
house. That's a great show.

Barney Miller. With the exception of just a few early episodes, this show
took place on one set. It tackled just about every social problem you
could think of. It also had some of the funniest people on TV including
the late Jack Soo who's dead pan delivery was just to die for. I'm waiting
for them to finally come out with season 4 on DVD. I hope they do it
before I'm food for the fishes.

The Odd Couple. As great as the movie was, Tony Randall and Jack
Klugman, IMO, topped it. These two great actors played off each other
perfectly. Another show that I never missed an episode and could watch
over and over in reruns.

Seinfeld. What can you say? The show about nothing was pure genius
because it truly was about something. That something was about how
our lives could be so meaningless and filled with trivial nonsense if we let it
and the consequence of that, their jail sentence, a fitting conclusion.

They were the most despicable characters on TV and yet we loved them.

At the very least, we laughed with (at?) them.

"The Bet" and "Soup Nazi" were probably two of the most hysterical
episodes in the history of TV and we got so much added language (yada
yada yada, etc.) from this show. That's the mark of a great one.

Okay, why don't I have "I Love Lucy" on this list?

Honestly, I never thought that Lucille Ball was all that funny. Desi, I
thought was a scream, but she just never did it for me. Plus, the plots (I
realize it was 50 something years ago) just didn't interest me. Where The
Honeymooners sometimes went to the absurd (Chef Of The Future, Man
From Space, etc.) Lucy show plots were pretty ordinary. I just never got
into that show, though my wife loves it.

I know I've left out some classics or at the very least some very funny
shows. So please feel free to add your favorites and tell why you liked
them so much.
  • Profile picture of the author Killer Joe
    Steven,

    I'm surprised Taxi isn't on your list. That show had a lot of great actors/charactors.

    Seinfeld is my all time favorite. Could you please move that show to #1?

    If you've never seen Cheers, I'll forgive you for not putting it on the list...

    KJ
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    • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
      Originally Posted by Killer Joe View Post

      Steven,

      I'm surprised Taxi isn't on your list. That show had a lot of great actors/charactors.

      Seinfeld is my all time favorite. Could you please move that show to #1?

      If you've never seen Cheers, I'll forgive you for not putting it on the list...

      KJ
      Taxi was a great show and would be in my top 20. Jim Ignatowski was a
      scream and the episode where he went for his driving test was one of the
      funniest episodes I'd ever seen in my life. I was in tears after watching it.
      Yes, it is certainly up there.

      Cheers was funny for a while but then turned into a freaking soap with
      Sam and Diane. It just wasn't funny anymore and when she left a lot of
      the magic disappeared too.

      I actually liked Ted Danson on Becker a lot more. That character cracked
      me up with the way he looked at life and called it like he saw it. Becker
      would also be in my top 20.
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      • Profile picture of the author Killer Joe
        Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

        I actually liked Ted Danson on Becker a lot more. That character cracked me up with the way he looked at life and called it like he saw it. Becker would also be in my top 20.
        I actually never saw Becker until it was in rerun. But once I got into the charactors it was a first class hoot. I'm glad to hear you say you also enjoyed it.

        I hated that skank Diane

        KJ
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    • Profile picture of the author Emma Ngin
      Originally Posted by Killer Joe View Post

      Steven,

      I'm surprised Taxi isn't on your list. That show had a lot of great actors/charactors.

      Seinfeld is my all time favorite. Could you please move that show to #1?

      If you've never seen Cheers, I'll forgive you for not putting it on the list...

      KJ
      That is my fave too.. and yes... can you please up it a bit? LOL! Okay will make my own list then.. lol

      1. Seinfeld
      end of list C",)
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  • Profile picture of the author Liquification
    Cosby Show
    Cheers
    The Simpsons
    Family Guy
    Friends
    Happy Days
    Bewitched
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  • Profile picture of the author BurgerBoy
    What about - I Love Lucy?
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    • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
      Originally Posted by BurgerBoy View Post

      What about - I Love Lucy?
      I explained why "I Love Lucy" wasn't on my list if you read the whole post.

      I just didn't think Lucille Ball was all that funny.
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  • Profile picture of the author Patrician
    In Living Color
    Mad TV
    Saturday Night Live
    Friends
    Honeymooners
    I Love Lucy


    Most 'comedies' are not funny. That is why they have to have 'canned laughter' which is even more obnoxious than 'jokes' that are not funny.
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  • Profile picture of the author BigVin
    Everybody loves Raymond

    That had the same run time and cult following as the other ones. Went down in history.
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    • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
      Originally Posted by BigVin View Post

      Everybody loves Raymond

      That had the same run time and cult following as the other ones. Went down in history.
      Yes, Raymond was very funny. Frank was a scream and one of my all time
      favorite characters. That show would also be in my top 20.
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      • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
        Other than Fawlty Towers, IMO the best TV Comedies in recent years have all come from the US.

        My pick would be:

        Larry Sanders - Absolute genius. Subtle, yet barbed humour and Hank Kingsley is one of the greatest comedy characters ever created.

        Cheers - Yes, it dipped a bit after Diane left, but the script stayed razor-sharp throughout. An all-time classic.

        Frasier - Clever in the way it mixed wordplay with farce. And very well played, especially by David Hyde Pierce (Niles)

        Seinfeld - Consistently brilliant. Again, well-drawn characters and George almost pips Hank from LS for his title (but not quite)

        MASH - Took the basic premise of the movie and gave it a life of its own. At times a bit pantomime, but generally top class.

        Curb Your Enthusiasm - Comedy to be watched from between your fingers as Larry David's social gaffs kept reaching new heights of cringeworthiness.

        Phil Silvers Show - I used to love this. Sgt Bilko even inspired a cartoon series (Top Cat - which was called Boss Cat in the UK to avoid confusion with a catfood brand) and the original show still gets a regular airing on UK TV

        Police Squad - Just thinking of poker-faced Frank Drebin is enough to crack me up.




        Frank

        PS "All in the Family" was actually a (largely inferior) copy of the UK series "Til Death Us Do Part"
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  • Profile picture of the author garyv
    Welcome Back, Kotter
    The Office
    Newhart
    Get Smart
    Laverne and Shirley
    Married... With Children
    Mork and Mindy
    Malcolm in the Middle
    3rd Rock from the Sun

    But can't forget my favorite - SCTV
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    Somewhat in order:

    Tonight Show with Johnny Carson...Not a sitcom, but I laughed more times watching that show than any other
    Seinfeld
    Cheers
    Soap
    Mchale's Navy - Capt Binghampton and Ensign Parker, I laugh just thinking about them.
    All in the Family
    Sanford and Son
    Get Smart
    Police Squad - Was a tv show, was cancelled after 6 episodes. No one would watch it for free, but when it became a move, it became very popular. Was hilarious.
    Laugh In
    Taxi - Love Louie


    Honorable mention: A few of the old school shows, like Sgt Bilko, Dick Van Dyke, Car 54 Where are You, The Addams Family, Gilliagan's Island

    Can't believe only Steven haa Soap on his list...Two classic scenes from Soap:

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    • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
      Originally Posted by Kurt View Post

      Somewhat in order:
      Mchale's Navy - Capt Binghampton and Ensign Parker, I laugh just thinking about them.
      Tim Conway was a comedic genius. He was the reason why I watched
      that show, though Joe Flynn was no slouch either. The two of them
      cracked me up.

      Get Smart
      Don Adams is the only person who could have done that role justice. Never
      missed a week of it.

      Police Squad - Was a tv show, was cancelled after 6 episodes. No one would watch it for free, but when it became a move, it became very popular. Was hilarious.
      This was just a crime that this show didn't make it. I never laughed so
      hard in my life at some of the sight gags, not to mention all the puns
      and play on words. One of the most unique shows ever to come out. It
      was just ahead of its time, proven by the popularity of the movies.

      Laugh In
      Another show I never missed. Artie Johnson, Ruth Buzzi, Judy Carne,
      Gary Owen, Henry Gibson, Larry Hovis, Goldie Hawn and so many other
      incredibly funny people made this the most fun half hour on TV at the
      time. The show made absolutely no sense and we wouldn't have it any
      other way.

      Taxi - Love Louie
      Louie DePalma, Jim Ignatowski and Latka Gravis are probably three of the
      most hilarious characters ever created. And when Latka morphed into
      Vic, priceless.

      Another show I never missed.


      Honorable mention: A few of the old school shows, like Sgt Bilko, Dick Van Dyke, Car 54 Where are You, The Addams Family, Gilliagan's Island
      Watched them all as well. Adams Family and The Munsters were on
      around the same time and I never missed either one. John Astin was
      totally off the wall as Gomez and all Ted Cassidy had to do was open his
      mouth and you were laughing your ass off. And Cousin It? That voice!
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    Hey Steven,

    I'm also not a big fan of Lucy...Have a hard time with a show where the main plot is about a guy that doesn't recognize his own wife wearing a fake mustache.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Ellis
    No Top 10 TV comedy list would be complete without The Office in it. I don't know if it's number one, but it's sure top 5.
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    • Profile picture of the author Killer Joe
      I like Scrubs. Never watched it until a few months ago. Now I watch it regularly.

      I suppose when it came to Steven's list, Get Smart - "Missed it by that much."


      KJ
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    • Profile picture of the author ThomM
      Two I'd add are The Bob Newhart show and Newhart with Larry and his brother Darryl and his other brother Darryl. Plus Tom Poston as George Utley was incredible.
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      • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
        Originally Posted by ThomM View Post

        Two I'd add are The Bob Newhart show and Newhart with Larry and his brother Darryl and his other brother Darryl. Plus Tom Poston as George Utley was incredible.
        Larry, Daryl and Daryl did get a little old after a while, but the show was
        funny. The ending was probably the best sitcom ending of all time. Nobody
        saw that coming.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jagged
    Carol Burnett Show
    Married With Children
    Soap
    South Park
    Mad TV
    America's Funniest Videos
    Ren & Stimpy
    All in the Family
    Sanford and Son
    Seinfeld
    Honeymooners
    Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    How could I forget one of my absolute favorites, the original Gong Show.

    With "Chucky Baby", Gene Gene the Dancing Machine, The Unknown Comic...Hiarious stuff.

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  • Profile picture of the author Rick McCombs
    My number 1 pick would be The Carol Burnett Show. Tim Conway and Harvey Korman were two of the best.

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  • Profile picture of the author KimW
    I loved Soap too.
    If memory serves me,Soap, Mary Hartman Mary hartman and Fernwood2Night all came out about the same time.
    I loved the Martin Mull/Fred Williard night show host team.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kevin Flask
      I really enjoyed All in the Family while growing up, as well as:

      M*A*S*H
      The Carol Burnett Show - the pair of Harvey Korman and Tim Conway was one of the greatest I think.
      Night Court

      I really have to add "Are You Being Served?" I watched this faithfully
      on PBS here in the States. I laughed until it hurt and had a few neighbors
      yell at me for being too loud.
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeCollins
    The Honeymooners is #1 for me too. I have the Classic 39 on dvd and watch them with my kids. I've seen them so many times I can practically recite entire episodes but I STILL laugh out loud!
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  • Profile picture of the author PrettyJenny
    My top favourite shows are:
    The nanny
    Friends
    Married with children
    I watched all of them at least twice, haven't found any as good comedies lately.
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    • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
      Originally Posted by PrettyJenny View Post

      My top favourite shows are:
      The nanny
      Friends
      Married with children
      I watched all of them at least twice, haven't found any as good comedies lately.
      Married With Children was a scream. I got a little tired of it towards the
      end but in its prime, it was one of the funniest shows on TV and definitely
      in my top 20 list.
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  • Profile picture of the author TeddyP
    Fresh Prince of Bel Air
    The Simpsons
    Arrested Development
    Curb Your Enthusaism
    The Office (american)
    30 Rock
    Seinfeld
    Sanford and Son
    Freaks and Geeks
    Married With Children

    EDIT: How could I forget Canada's own -> Trailer Park Boys
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  • Profile picture of the author David Maschke
    I just know'd it, ya'll are yankees.

    There ain't one of ya mention heehaw, benny hill, dukes of hazard or beverly hillbillies.

    How can you have a hootin-and-hollerin good time without watch'n one of dem shows?
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  • Profile picture of the author LeeLee
    I can never do just 10. I like a lot of the ones mentioned. Especially agree with the genius and enduring humor of the Honeymooners and Soap was a scream. Soap is on late Sunday nights. And I am not a Lucy fan either. Don't hate her show, the supporting cast was wonderful but Lucy? Meh.

    Adding a few of my favs not yet mentioned:

    Roseanne
    Beavis and Butthead

    Andy Griffith show, who can forget Barney Fife/Don Knotts?
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  • The difference in Steve's list is that "The Honeymooners" was LIVE TV - not "live in front of a studio audience" like some of the other greats...they were skits - where some of the newer ones, even if done completely live with no set breaks, are shot as teleplays.

    The Gleason Cast, Sid Cesar and Imogene Coca, and others did those skits in one take - no cue cards...it was all or nothing...some even improvised on just an idea...

    Had the producers made Robin Williams stick to a script, Mork and Mindy would not gotten as far as it did...giving Williams freedom to go off on a tangent, and a cast who could keep up was the crux of the show, and made Robin a household name.

    His mentor of improv -Johnathan Winters, is one of the masters of this. Jack Parr could give him a prop on the spot, and Winters had to think of something funny to do with it - on live TV.

    Some of the funniest moments are the ones that happen...for instance, Tim Conway always used to hold back in the rehearsal on the Carol Burnett show, then would pull some crazy bit out to make Harvey Korman or Carol Burnett crack up on set. That made for some great sketch comedy...

    The story he pulls out about the "Siamese Elephants" is a classic example...(with guest Dick Van Dyke)

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  • Profile picture of the author Sunfyre7896
    I think there is a large schism between what is funny to younger people now and what was funny decades ago. Some of the shows were funny, but you have to also take into the account of what was acceptable to speak of on television and also the cultural-societal differences. The last one makes the most difference as comedy speaks to what people are feeling at the moment in society. There are some universals however that will always speak to humanity, but I still feel that certain comedies in the 60's and 70's are not as relevant as much these days. While not taking anything away from what they achieved, many people living today under the age of 40 are not going to appreciate shows that aired in the 70's and even the early 80's. That being said I'll list some that I find amusing and/or funny.

    No particular order to this list:

    Big Bang Theory
    Seinfeld
    Rules of Engagement
    Eureka
    That 70's Show
    The League
    Everybody Loves Raymond
    3rd Rock From the Sun

    Honorable mention goes to Outsourced. It won't make the list with one season but I thought it was great. Oh well, some comedy isn't for everybody.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    Burt's probably my favorite sitcom character of all time:

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  • Profile picture of the author hardraysnight
    the goodies, the funniest and most brilliant comedy series ever, still watch then often
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  • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
    Couldn't get it down to ten. Had enough trouble getting it down this far.

    Carol Burnett Show
    Dick Van Dyke
    Caroline in the City
    Red Skelton
    The Jackie Gleason Show
    Gilligan's Island
    Leave it to Beaver
    Andy Griffith
    Mr. Bean
    Monty Python
    Laugh In
    Smother Brothers Comedy Hour
    Candid Camera
    America's Funniest Home Videos

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    Just when you think you've got it all figured out, someone changes the rules.

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  • Profile picture of the author dagaul101
    Those are some great shows, I dare say will be looking to watch again if only for nostalgia's sake
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  • Profile picture of the author martyJames
    The best comedy is British comedy....but a couple of American ones make the top 10- here we go (not in order..)

    The Young Ones
    Porridge
    Benny Hill
    Black Adder
    The Likely Lads (showing my age now!)
    On The buses (ditto)
    Curb Your Enthusiasm
    Seinfeld (All down to the genius of Larry David)
    An Idiot Abroad (if you havent seen it -download it-brilliant!)
    Minder (not exactly a comedy but had some hilarious moments in it)

    cheers all

    Marty
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