It’s been another strong year for comedy on the small screen, with wickedly incisive shows both old and new casting a withering glance over modern society, or else ushering us into the mad-cap worlds of various dysfunctional characters,
Following our countdown of 2015’s finest dramas last week, we take a look at the more light-hearted but no less essential TV offerings that have had us shaking with laughter on our sofas til it hurt.
Here are the 10 best TV comedies of 2015.
10. Master Of None
Semi-autobiographical sitcom Master of None was created by star Aziz Ansari, but is a world away from the TV show that made him famous, Parks and Recreation. Undeniably funny but unconventional in its structure and pace, it might take an episode or two of Master of None to reel you in, but from there you’ll almost certainly devour the whole first season as quickly as possible.
Ansari played small-time, 30-something actor Dev Shah, stumbling through life and questioning everything from his career choices to his relationship prospects. The ever-rotating supporting cast playing Dev’s friends and family were funny, if a little disjointed – something that arguably made this show much more realistic than those following the cookie cutter Friends or How I Met Your Mother format. Ansari came across well, his characters were likeable and his real parents starred as his in-show mum and dad – even if their acting skills aren’t top notch, they were both completely adorable. [AW]
9. House Of Fools
Half surreal slice of Vic and Bob powered mayhem, half hilarious lampooning of sitcom convention, House Of Fools has continued to entertain with its bizarre storylines, ludicrous slapstick and general, gleeful stupidity.
Where else could you see the world’s weirdest disco dance-off, or a bunch of maniacs cowering from a giant moth? We really dig Erik’s new girlfriend too. Cue mock vomiting noises. [MB]
Constantly hovering on the brink of cancellation since day one, Community made the shift from NBC to Yahoo!’s on demand service Yahoo! Screen for one last hoorah. Although fans have watched some of the show’s core cast move on over the last few seasons (Chevy Chase leaving in a blaze of controversy while Donald Glover, Yvette Nicole Brown and John Oliver went on to other projects) – the show was held together by creator Dan Harmon’s twisted sense of humour pouring through into every scene.
New faces gelled with ease (Elroy Patashnik’s addiction to ‘encouraging white people’ being a laugh-out-loud highlight), and die-hard fans got to see their smart sitcom child reach its six season goal – now it’s just the movie to go. [MDM]
7. Peep Show
Lock up your snakes people – the El Dude brothers have been back for one last hurrah. And, wonderfully, it’s proven to be strongest series in years.
From Tim Key’s pretentious weirdo to an amazing bit of unintentional sexual live-streaming, not to mention the inspired, surprising decision to bring back Mark’s lovable one-that-got-away April, the whole thing has been a riot of neatly-judged set-ups and pay-offs; piling on the usual agony but with a welcome dose of sweetness and affection (albeit a small dose, admittedly). We’ll miss the hapless pair and their assorted acquaintances when they’re gone, that’s for sure. [MB]
6. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Written by the hilarious Tina Fey – who penned both 30 Rock and Mean Girls – this sitcom had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, the debut season of this high energy tale of an upbeat (if slightly damaged) kidnapped cult survivor let loose in New York City was laugh out loud funny from beginning to end.
The adorable but wickedly sharp Ellie Kemper (who you may recognise from The Office US) starred as former ‘mole woman’ Kimmy Schmidt, with top notch support from talented comedy actors Tituss Burgess and Jane Krakowski. Having been trapped underground for most of her teenage years, Kimmy had a bizarre but refreshing view of the world and looked to her long-suffering flatmate Titus (Burgess) for guidance. As well as being brilliantly funny, the first season also tackled some controversial and heart-wrenching themes with an expert amount of satire. [AW]
5. South Park
Far funnier, original and more creative than any animated series in its nineteenth series has any right to be, the decision to utilise a continuous storyline in the latest season resulted in some terrific running gags, without the show losing its scathing satirical edge towards topical issues. Learning the Canadian alphabet was just the tip of the comedy iceberg.
Lampooning a typically diverse array of targets, with special delicious attention paid to ‘safe space’ culture, modern media coverage and urban gentrification, we got a plethora of great jokes, characters and speeches (poor Kyle!), with Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s equal opportunity offensiveness as refreshing and relevant as ever. Great songs too. [MB]
4. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
If you ever thought American sitcoms only ever play it safe with chummy, wholesome groups of friends and laughter by the can, you need to acquaint yourself with the ongoing shenanigans of Always Sunny, the blackest of black comedies. Unlike most other long-running shows, it’s only improving with age, largely thanks to the addition of Danny DeVito as the deplorably brilliant Frank Reynolds from season two.
Its tenth (yes, tenth) season premiered earlier this year on US cable – and Netflix, luckily for us Brits – and it was a relief to know that Dennis was sleazier than ever, Charlie more hopeless than ever, Mac more deluded than ever and Dee more outraged than ever – and DeVito continued to play the ludicrous misfit card to hilarious effect. Unless you’ve watched it from the start there will be countless running jokes that go way over your head, so now’s your chance to binge on Philadelphia’s most lovable losers over the holidays. [NM]
3. Toast Of London
We’re three series into Arthur Mathews’ and Matt Berry’s Toast of London, with thesp Steven Toast (Berry) still searching for the perfect acting role. Thankfully for viewers, it seems Berry himself has found a character whose exploits are unlikely to get old anytime soon.
While Toast’s world hasn’t altered drastically from series to series – Robert Bathurst, Doon Mackichan and Shazad Latif are still present and correct as Ed, Jane and Clem Fandango – the cameo stakes have been raised, with appearances from the likes of Jon Hamm, Brian Blessed, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimore. The plot has remained suitably bizarre, including Toast having to claim his father’s fortune while falling for the charisma of Jon Hamm, or crashing Stanley Kubrick’s secret filming of the moon landings, and it’s still been a joy to witness Berry stumble from disaster to disaster. You’ll find us upstairs at the Colonial Club waiting for series four… [JM]
2. Silicon Valley
Despite the sad loss of the late Christopher Evan Welch from the cast, Mike Judge’s sublime satire of the internet and tech industry built upon the glorious debut season to produce ten more episodes of essential TV.
Remember the bit where the Pied Piper team set out to outrageously insult potential investors as a business strategy? Yeah. So do we. That alone would merit the sitcom a place here, but throw in one of the greatest new comedy characters going in lovably obnoxious billionaire Russ Hanneman, a whole load of buttock-clenchingly awkward encounters and a genuinely edge-of-the-seat finale, and this ends up right at the business end of the countdown. [MB]
Not quite up top, though. That honour belongs to this brilliant creation.
Catastrophe is the kind of programme that might make you feel a bit uncomfortable if you’re watching it with a new partner. One that you won’t fart in front of yet. Its uncompromising honesty, unflinching humour and unfalteringly dirty dialogue proved brilliant once more, and at times shockingly accurate. Whether you want to admit it or not.
The second series threw us straight in at the deep end with Rob (Rob Delaney), Sharon (Sharon Horgan) and their married, messy life. Hilarious with a heart, the series successfully tackled real life issues, including post-natal depression, dementia and affairs, all the while never taking itself too seriously. Not even for a second. [SS]