Faced with an extended period of lockdown, the perfect cure for your mounting boredom can be found in these comedy boxsets which prove that laughter really is the best medicine.
This Way Up – Full series available on All4
Comedian Aisling Bea writes and stars in this touching comedy about a woman recovering from a ‘teeny little nervous breakdown’. Bea plays Aine, a witty English-as-a-foreign-language teacher trying to get her life on track in London with the help of her sister Shona, played by Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe).
This Way Up tackles some tough topics with humour and heart. The series stars Tobias Menzies (The Crown) and Kadiff Kirwan (Chewing Gum), as well as showcasing a host of new comedic talent to boot.
The six-part series has some hilarious comedic set-pieces and bizarre fringe characters, but it’s the relationship between the sisters that makes This Way Up such a delight to watch. The whip-smart chemistry between Bea and Horgan drives both the comedy and the show’s more melancholic moments. Look out for the sisters’ karaoke rendition of ‘Zombie’ by The Cranberries, which manages to perfectly encapsulate the forever child-like relationship between siblings.
The Thick of It – BBC iPlayer
The show about incompetent, potty-mouthed politicians at the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship (DoSAC) triumphs in generating multiple laughs a minute despite a seemingly dry subject matter.
Created by Armando Ianucci (I’m Alan Partridge), The Thick of It spawned one of British TV’s most iconic comic creations, Malcolm Tucker. The sweary Scotsman, played by Peter Capaldi, is the ‘king of spin’, acting as a political advisor / puppet master to the ever-invisible prime minister and his government.
The character’s indisputable power managed to infiltrate life beyond the fictional show, with Tucker’s trademark term “omnishambles” being crowned ‘2012’s Word of the Year’ by the Oxford Dictionary, prevailing in a year that saw the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Britain host the Olympics.
The Thick of It won the Scripted Comedy award in 2006 and 2010 at the RTS Programme Awards, with judges stating that “the faultless ensemble acting, meticulous writing and intricately contrived comedy climaxes combined to make this a series we didn’t want to end.”
Parks and Recreation – Amazon Prime Video
If you’d prefer to stray away from the fictional foibles of British politics, then the joyfully silly antics of the Parks and Recreation department of Pawnee might be more your cup of tea.
Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live) fronts the cast as the world’s most loyal civil servant, Leslie Knope. Surrounded by a stellar ensemble cast of hilarious characters, from the government-hating libertarian Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) to the shamelessly sycophantic Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), Leslie tries to inject life into a jaded community in smalltown America.
Parks and Recreation is guaranteed joyful viewing, as the show switches cynicism for an infectious warmth that is sure to cheer you up in the challenging times we find ourselves in.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Netflix
A series about a woman who’s been trapped in an apocalyptic underground bunker for fifteen years might not sound like the uplifting, escapist material for these trying times, but bear with us…
Having been cut-off from society since she was in middle school, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt follows thirty-year-old Kimmy, played my Ellie Kemper (The Office US), as she attempts to readjust to modern life in cynical and sinister New York City.
Despite her traumatic past, Kimmy manages to pass as relatively normal in comparison to the eccentric personalities around her, namely her filthy rich employer Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) and her flamboyant flatmate Titus Andromedon (Titus Burgess), who steal the show.
Coming from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the genius minds behind 30 Rock, it’s no surprise that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has a seemingly infinite gag count. Plus, the series has arguably the catchiest theme song in television history.
Brassic – NowTV / Sky Go
Co-created by Joe Gilgun (This is England) and Danny Brocklehurst (Clocking Off), Brassic follows a group of Lancashire lads up to no good.
Brassic, a term use to describe someone as ‘broke or penniless’, begins with a madcap stolen car chase across the Northern countryside. What follows is a series of comedic and criminal capers, led by Vinnie (Gilgun) and his best mate Dylan, played by Damian Molony (Crashing).
From stealing Shetland ponies to robbing a safe to fund a stripper called Big Sandy’s funeral, the group seem to be involved in a never-ending stream of misadventures.
The series garnered Danny Brocklehurst a nomination at this year’s RTS Programme Awards for Writer – Comedy.
Based on Gilgun’s own life experiences, the show explores Vinnie’s experiences with bi-polar disorder, and has been praised for its varied depiction of working class voices.
With a second series on the way, it’s the perfect time to catch up on one of the funniest shows of last year.