Bring the funny.

I was reading a popular blog the other day and the topic was TV shows that the writer rated as most consistently funny. I was surprised at the ones I completely agreed with, as well as the couple that just didn't do it for me. So I wondered what my list would look like. Here, in no particular order, are the four shows that most often bring me to the bust-a-gut, can't-breathe-for-laughing state.

1. Friends

Thursdays have never been the same since the friends moved on. Who can forget:
  • "PIVOTTTTT!!"
  • Smelly Cat
  • Chick and Duck
  • "Nipular area"
  • "That's not even a WORD!"
  • "Damn the jellyfish!"
  • Janice
  • "We were on a break!"
  • Joey and the turkey
  • Ross and the leather pants
  • The Holiday Armadillo
  • "How YOU doin'?"
And the guest stars: George Clooney, Noah Wiley, Tom Selleck, Jill Goodacre, Jon Lovitz, Charlie Sheen, Teri Garr, Bruce Willis, Kathleen Turner, Reese Witherspoon, Christina Applegate, and on and on. [I always wondered if those guys paid to be on the show.]

I had nothing in common with these characters. I was already married for several years, had kids in the house, a mortgage, and had never even been to New York. The lifestyle was completely foreign and didn't bear any resemblance to my life. But the quick repartee and character development was exceptional and I will watch reruns forever.

2. Frasier

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTdD_dVyteA -- just go watch it. One of the most hilarious scenes ever shown on TV. Virtually no dialog, one character (two if you count the dog), and perfect timing.

Pompous, overbearing, know-it-all -- nope, had nothing in common with this show either. The supporting cast completely made this one work. David Hyde Pierce as Niles stole nearly every scene he was in, whether obsessing about Daphne, or talking about his never-seen wife, Maris, or being the "real" psychiatrist. Martin, with his hideously ugly chair and dog Eddy, was perfectly cast as the father who did NOT understand how these two were his sons, but decided to make the best of it. Daphne and Roz provided the female viewpoint, skewed though it was. I've never had a dinner party like the ones Frasier planned (even though they never turned out quite like he intended), but I think it got me started working on it.

3. The Carol Burnett Show
Oh, this show! I have my own favorite moments, but the main one isn't the show at all -- it's remembering my father sitting in his recliner, slapping his knee while he tries to catch his breath from laughing at Harvey Korman and Tim Conway. Saturday nights in the 70s were reserved for this show [and Bob Newhart and Mary Tyler Moore!], and Sunday morning your stomach and cheeks would hurt from laughing.
  • Mr. Tudbull and Mrs. Wiggins -- I had a (male) friend who could walk exactly like Mrs. Wiggins. "Uh, Misses-uh Whhhhiggins, could-ah you come in here puh-lease?" and you'd just wait -- for her to put down the nail polish or the nail file and find her pad and pencil or the button on the intercom. Then the walk. The same every time, and hilarious every time.
  • Went with the Wind -"I saw it in the window and I just couldn't resist it." And Vicki Lawrence is priceless -- "I'm fine, and you?"
  • The Queen  -- Tim Conway plays the palace guard who swallowed a grenade and is now hollow. The queen offers him anything he wants as a reward for his service; however, [say it with a British accent} "They got chocolate, they got vanilla, they even got coconut-papaya, but there is no such thing as a buffalo-flavored popsicle, you hollowed-out little twit!"
  • Any scene with Korman and Conway where one and then both of them loses it. I didn't know at the time that even though the show was taped, they did not do more than one retake as a general rule, except for musical numbers. If the 2nd take was broken up for some reason, they went with it anyway. That's how those of us at home had the privilege of seeing in real time what would be sent to a bloopers reel these days.
I think I've just convinced myself to get the DVD set for us.


4. The Cosby Show
This show started the year I went away to college. Back in the dark ages, we didn't have TVs in our dorm rooms, so Thursday night would find a huge percentage of the girls in Nelson Dorm huddled around the console TV in the common room. I don't know if it was being away from home or just the spectacularly real depiction of a family that meant so much. I think the first seasons were the best, when the kids were at home driving Cliff and Claire nuts. Not every show was non-stop laughs, nor was it intended to be, but I don't remember a single show that didn't make me laugh at something. The relationship between Cliff and Claire is one I think I strive for to this day.
  • "I brought you into this world, and I'll take you out!"
  • The various birthday and anniversary celebrations [lip-synching and all!]
  • Young Rudy - and that smile
  • Cliff trying to dance
  • Bud and Kenny
  • Cliff stealing/sneaking/hiding food

So that's MY list. What's on YOUR list?

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