This past summer, we ran a piece on the greatest writers’ rooms ever, taking a look at some of the most influential groups of comedy writers in TV history. The staffs of classics like Your Show of Shows, Mary Tyler Moore, and SCTV, as well as the writers responsible for The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live’s golden eras, made our original list. In putting the piece together, though, we were reminded of the sheer number of amazing TV comedies that have made it to air since the medium’s inception, each one boasting its own eclectic roster of comedic geniuses. TV history is littered with enough murderers’ rows of comedy writers to fill 10 lists, so why not make just one more?
Take the original writing staff behind Late Night with David Letterman, for example. On Late Night, they reinvented the comedy talk show by creating a program that still has many imitators today; but once these writers went off in separate directions, they created TV shows as different as Get a Life and Monk, took Broadway by storm, and played major parts in three of the most admired TV comedies of the decade that followed: The Simpsons, Saturday Night Live, and Seinfeld. That’s just one of the extraordinary gangs of humorists on this list. Here are some other incredible comedy writing staffs: READ MORE
It’s tough enough for TV writers to make viewers laugh for 22 minutes — to extend an episode’s length to 44 minutes, even spread over two weeks, that’s just downright crazy. But every so often, a sitcom plot will be spread over two episodes (with the occasional “To Be Continued” thrown in for good measure), oftentimes with mixed results. Below we choose twelve of the best two-part episodes, some season-ending cliffhangers, some series finales, and some that work as a two-part story arc. And don't worry: some Simpsons, too. READ MORE
More so than drama or sci-fi pilots, which get a full hour (minus commercials) to establish a premise and introduce all their characters, sitcom pilots have an even more Herculean task to accomplish — they've got to do all of this while staying consistently funny with only 22 minutes to pull it off. That's why some of the greatest sitcoms of all time aren't yet fully developed by the time they hit the airwaves, spending a few weeks to find their groove, develop characters, and figure out what works. Take Seinfeld and The Simpsons, two of the most influential and beloved TV comedies of all time, as examples of series whose first episodes, while promising, are pretty unremarkable. Despite the many hurdles that a sitcom pilot must overcome, there have been a few shows that have burst out of the starting gates fully formed. Let's take a look at some of the best sitcom pilots of all time. READ MORE
WTF with Marc Maron has become one of the most popular comedy podcasts in existence and deservedly so. Maron's deep, probing interviews offer insight into the comedy world that can't be found elsewhere.
As his show continues to grow in popularity, it seems like Marc Maron's guest booking procedure is becoming a more public thing. Pauly Shore recently tweeted Maron to set up an appearance, and Maron is constantly bombarded via Twitter with requests for interview subjects from fans. Not that Maron has any trouble finding interesting guests for his show. He's done a fine job of recruiting comedic minds from all over the spectrum, from road comics to sitcom creators, novelists to comedic actors, beloved comedy legends to up-and-comers. Marc Maron has been building up a library of interviews that serve as the definitive statements on the private lives of some of the biggest players in comedy. Hopefully, he won't be too offended if this list of promising potential guests comes to his attention, as he's doing well without it. Are we good? Are we good, Marc? READ MORE
A sharp and clever writing staff is the key to a great comedy series, but some shows in television’s past have gone above and beyond, recruiting a murderer’s row of comedy minds to fill the writers’ room, with each member later creating an impressive body of work on their own. Either by design or by luck, some of the best comedy shows ever have featured an eclectic, unusual mix of personalities behind the scenes. This is a list of some of the most remarkable groups of writers in the history of TV comedy, not the best-written shows. Take The Dana Carvey Show, for example; it’s a cult hit but never lasted long enough to be considered a classic. Nevertheless, the combination of comedy writers on staff was the most noteworthy thing about it, with everyone from renowned stand-up Louis C.K. to quirky cinephile darling Charlie Kaufman to late night satirist Stephen Colbert typing up scripts.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of TV’s most extraordinary collections of comedy writers. We’ve left out most current series because it’s too soon to evaluate their staffs, as their impact and future endeavors remain to be seen. READ MORE
Now that the 2010-2011 TV season is over, we decided it was time to hand out some superlatives for the highest achievers in a field of great TV comedy. For the purposes of this post, the last season of TV means any episode that aired between September 2010-May 2011 and wasn’t included in December’s Year in TV Review (sorry, Louie and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). Below are 10 categories, including each of our favorite episodes, which give out “awards” for everything from Riskiest Move That Paid Off to Best New Series, that name check everyone from Alan Thicke to Jon Hamm (more than once!). If your favorite show isn’t listed, it’s not because we don’t love it (unless you love Mr. Sunshine, in which case: why?), it’s because, like giving every children a Little League trophy just for showing up to the games, it feel disingenuous to award every sitcom with a “trophy,” just because they’re on TV. In any case, on to the awards! READ MORE
All good comedies have a main cast of memorable characters, but the great ones expand their worlds to include all sorts of other characters, ones that stop by only once in a while. The Simpsons is most famous for this, with the city of Springfield populated by dozens of memorable ancillary characters, but it's far from alone. Below, we've compiled a list of what we feel are the 10 finest examples of recurring characters from today's sitcoms. And yes, we kept it to one per show just so this isn't a rundown of 10 Simpsons characters. READ MORE