A funny type of work
With less than 30 minutes left of the day, I don’t know what to write about. I want to write about sitcoms, but should really save that enthusiasm for tomorrow. Watching Father Ted Night, and following the Twitter discussion, I am actually excited get back to writing the thesis.
I’ve been asked with some regularity whether the thesis focus take the enjoyment out of the sitcoms I’m writing about. Does spending so much time with the texts/shows take away from the comedy?
Sometimes, yes. But the better sitcoms, those are always funny. I’m currently watching — and laughing at — the amazing Father Ted episode, ‘Kicking Bishop Brennan Up the Arse’. I can watch it as a critic and comment on the use of settings, the visual comedy, the small text notes that pull it together. But I can also watch it as a normal viewer.
The best sitcoms offer themselves in both ways. When done right, sitcom can be examined and still be funny. Very few sitcoms achieve this, though. I suppose it’s also down to taste. I think Seinfeld stands up in the same way, but I’ve come to realise that it’s a very cultural thing.
What makes one sitcom work when others fail? What comedy stands the test of time, and how quickly can something be deemed a classic?
I do love my thesis topic. I get to sit in my office and watch sitcoms all day, and then write about it. A rough day on the thesis is forcing myself to watch a sitcom I don’t like. (There are many I don’t like, and one of my biggest struggles is to be objective about the influence and importance of programmes. There are some very seminal sitcoms that I just don’t enjoy. That’s when it becomes work.)
I define much of my life by sitcoms. I have many memories of watching them, how old I was when I watched them, what I thought at the time, what I think of them now. It’s a genre that is more part of my life than any other. I don’t remember watching dramas, but sitcoms… they’re always there in the backgrounds of my memories. They’re what made me who I am.