5. Cougar Town (2009 – Present) – ABC Wednesdays 9:30
I’m really going out on a limb here, being that only three episodes of this show have aired, but thus far, it is legitimately laugh-out-loud funny. I definitely sing the praises of Courtney Cox. I think she has some serious comedy chops but, it’s not just her, Christa Miller and Busy Phillips are hilarious too. And even though I think the humor in the term “cougar” is lost on me, the show is really funny. Recently divorced Jules (Cox) was married for 20+ years to an 80’s teenager, Bobby–think Wooderson from Dazed & Confused but more funny, less creepy. Her best friend and next door neighbor Ellie (Miller) hates her own baby Stan (who is not so fond of her either) and didn’t smile at him for the fist couple months because she didn’t want smile lines. She bosses Jules around and since they’ve been friends forever, sitting in, sipping wine and playing Scrabble, among other lame activities, she’s upset at Jules’ burgeoning friendship with Laurie (Phillips) who is her young coworker but, more importantly, drunken club trash. Definitely the best comedy of the Fall 2009 line-up.
4. The Sarah Silverman Program (2007 – Present) – Currently on Hiatus – Comedy Central
I love any show that is described by the guide as “an irreverent comedy” and it doesn’t hurt that it stars the hilarious Sarah Silverman as a more selfish and delusional version of herself, her sister Laura, and stand-up comedians Steve Agee and Brian Posehn as gay lovers/stoners/TaB enthusiasts. This show is reminiscent of my all-time favorite comedy Strangers with Candy in that the lead character (Sarah) gets involved in a hot button issue but no matter how well-meaning she is, she fucks it all up (but in a funny way, of course). From poking fun at abortion, to vigilante terrorist hunting, to homelessness and black face, there isn’t a subject too racy for Silverman and her cohorts to mock. Silverman was even nominated for an Oustanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal of, well, her bizarro self. Check it out. You might be offended but you’ll laugh.
3. Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000 – Present) HBO Sundays 9:00
Larry David is probably the funniest man you’d never want to meet. As the creator of Seinfeld, he gives the illusion that his offbeat sense of humor is the best in TV Land. However, in his HBO series, a mockumentary style, fake reality show based on his real life, “offbeat sense of humor” could really be replaced with “off-putting sense of humor.” That said, this show is pee-your-pants kind of funny. There is something wrong with David. To say he lacks social graces is an understatement. He’s hilarious and super witty, but more often than not is so socially inept that much of my laughter is of the nervous variety. “Real” celebrities appear in his show on the regular (as themselves but not necessarily true versions of themselves) and even though they’re his friends, they find his antics to be generally pretty offensive. In every episode, though, when he just barely crosses the line, you can’t help but feel for the guy and then squirm and laugh for the remainder of the program while he awkwardly cleans up his social gaffe. Bonus: The cast of Seinfeld appears in multiple episodes this season (don’t call it a reunion!).
2. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005 – Present) FX Thursdays 10:00
This is the show that turned network television on its ass. A show that could never exist within the strict confines of “appropriate” found a home on FX in the summer of 2005 and I could not be happier. Touted initially as “Seinfeld on crack” I found myself annoyed at the comparison to the funniest TV foursome of all time. However, these fools are quickly on their way to becoming my favorite four interacting characters on television, ever. This dim-witted gang, made up of siblings Dennis and Dee, idiot Mac and mildly retarded Charlie come up with the greatest half-brained schemes I’ve ever seen. Throw in Danny Devito as the more-than-fucked up father figure and I spend a solid 30 minutes laughing my balls off. Totally original plot lines blended with a lot of ridiculously wonderful ad-libbing and a lack of morals or concern for human life make this the second funniest show on television.
1. 30 Rock (2006 – Present) NBC – Premiers October 15 – 9:30
It should come as no surprise that this is the funniest show currently on television. After all, it DID just win an Emmy for it, as well as dozens more in the past three years for its overwhelming hilarity. Last year, Tina Fey entered the hearts and minds of millions of Americans for the first time with her DEAD ON impersonation of idiot VP candidate Sarah Palin, but here at NTO, we’ve been loving her for the past three years as Liz Lemon, producer of TGS on 30 Rock (and for years prior as head writer/Weekend Update regular on SNL). Seriously, TGFTF (Thank God for Tina Fey). Not only did she create and write the funniest show on television, but she got Alec Baldwin to star in it. Now, say what you want about this guy’s personal life or acting career, but you can’t deny that he was BORN to play the role of Jack Donaghy, funniest man on television. This show seriously has more one liners and catch phrases than any show since Seinfeld (yes, I am aware that I’ve no mentioned Seinfeld three times, but it’s the gold standard by which all other comedies are judged). And Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan), holy shit! He did nothing for me on SNL and I think he’s mostly playing himself, but I’m okay with that because he’s a riot, a first class idiot for me to laugh with. I wish that something I could say or write would do this show justice, but it won’t, so just trust me and watch it already.