Sitcom

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A sitcom, clipping for situational comedy, is a genre of comedy centered on a fixed set of characters who mostly carry over from episode to episode. Sitcoms can be contrasted with sketch comedy, where a troupe may use new characters in each sketch, and stand-up comedy, where a comedian tells jokes and stories to an audience. Sitcoms originated in radio, but today are found mostly on television as one of its dominant narrative forms.

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A situational comedy television program may be recorded in front of a studio audience, depending on the program's production format. The effect of a live studio audience can be imitated or enhanced by the use of a laugh track.

Critics disagree over the utility of the term "sitcom" in classifying shows that have come into existence since the turn of the century. Many contemporary American sitcoms use the single-camera setup and do not feature a laugh track, thus often resembling the dramedy shows of the 1980s and 1990s rather than the traditional sitcom. [1]

History

The terms "situational comedy" or "sitcom" were not commonly used until the 1950s. [2] There were prior examples on radio, but the first television sitcom is said to be Pinwright's Progress , ten episodes being broadcast on the BBC in the United Kingdom between 1946 and 1947. [3] [4] In the United States, director and producer William Asher has been credited with being the "man who invented the sitcom", [5] having directed over two dozen of the leading sitcoms, including I Love Lucy, from the 1950s through the 1970s.

By country

Australia

There have been few long-running Australian-made sitcoms, but many US and UK sitcoms have been successful there. Sitcoms are a staple of government broadcaster Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC); in the 1970s and 1980s many UK sitcoms also screened on the Seven Network. By 1986, UK comedies Bless This House and Are You Being Served? had been repeated by ABC Television several times, and were then acquired and screened by the Seven Network, in prime time. [6]

In 1981, Daily at Dawn was the first Australian comedy series to feature a regular gay character (Terry Bader as journalist Leslie). [7]

In 1987, Mother and Son was winner of the Television Drama Award presented by the Australian Human Rights Commission. [8] [9]

In 2007, Kath & Kim's first episode of series four attracted an Australian audience of 2.521 million nationally, [10] the highest rating ever for a first episode in the history of Australian television, [10] until the series premiere of Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities in 2009 with 2.58 million viewers. [11]

In 2013, Please Like Me received an invitation to screen at the Series Mania Television Festival in Paris, [12] was praised by critics [13] and has garnered numerous awards and nominations. [14] Also in 2013, At Home With Julia was criticised by several social commentators as inappropriately disrespectful to the office of Prime Minister, [15] the show nevertheless proved very popular both with television audiences — becoming the most watched Australian scripted comedy series of 2011 [16] — and with television critics. [17] Nominated to the 2012 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards for Best Television Comedy Series. [18]

Canada

Although there have been a number of notable exceptions, Canadian television networks have generally fared poorly with their sitcom offerings, with relatively few Canadian sitcoms attaining notable success in Canada or internationally. [19] Canadian television has had much greater success with sketch comedy and dramedy series. [19]

The popular show King of Kensington aired from 1975 to 1980, drawing an average of 1.5 to 1.8 million viewers weekly at its peak. [20]

Corner Gas, which ran for six seasons from 2004 to 2009, became an instant hit, averaging a million viewers per episode. [21] It has been the recipient of six Gemini Awards, and has been nominated almost 70 times for various awards. [22]

Other noteworthy recent sitcoms have included Call Me Fitz , Schitt's Creek , [23] Letterkenny and Kim's Convenience , [24] all of which have been winners of the Canadian Screen Award for Best Comedy Series.

India

Sitcoms started appearing on Indian television in the 1980s, with serials like Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi (1984) and Wagle Ki Duniya (1988) on the state-run Doordarshan channel. Gradually, as private channels were allowed, many more sitcoms followed in the 1990s, such as Dekh Bhai Dekh (1993), Zabaan Sambhalke (1993), Shrimaan Shrimati (1995), Office Office (2001), Ramani Vs Ramani (2001), Amrutham (Telugu - 2001), Khichdi (2002), Sarabhai vs Sarabhai (2005) to F.I.R. (2006–2015), Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, (2008–present), Uppum Mulakum (Malayalam 2015–present) , and "Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain" (2015–present). [25] SAB TV is one of the leading channels of India dedicated entirely to Sitcoms.

Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah is the longest running sitcom of Indian television and is known as the flagship show of SAB TV. [26]

Mexico

El Chavo del Ocho , which ran from 1971 to 1980, was the most watched show in the Mexican television and had a Latin American audience of 350 million viewers per episode at its peak of popularity during the mid-1970s. [27] The show continues to be popular in Hispanic America as well as in Brazil, Spain, the United States, and other countries, with syndicated episodes averaging 91 million daily viewers in all of the markets where it is distributed in the Americas. [28] [29] Since it ceased production in 1992, the show has earned an estimated billion in syndication fees alone for Televisa. [29]

New Zealand

Gliding On , a popular sit-com in New Zealand in the early 1980s, won multiple awards over the course of its run, including Best Comedy, Best Drama and Best Direction at the Feltex Awards. [30]

Russia

The first Russian sitcom series was "Strawberry" (resembled "Duty Pharmacy" in Spanish format), which was aired in 1996–1997 on the RTR channel. However, the "boom" of Russian sitcoms began only in the 2000s — when in 2004, the STS started very successful sitcom "My Fair Nanny" (an adaptation of the American sitcom "The Nanny"). Since that time sitcoms in Russia were produced by the two largest entertainment channels of the country — STS and TNT. In 2007 the STS released the first original domestic sitcom — "Daddy's Daughters" (there were only adaptation before), and in 2010 TNT released "Interns (sitcom)" — the first sitcom, filmed as a comedy (unlike dominated "conveyor" sitcoms).

United Kingdom

Although styles of sitcom have changed over the years they tend to be based on a family, workplace or other institution, where the same group of contrasting characters is brought together in each episode. British sitcoms are typically produced in one or more series of six episodes. Most such series are conceived and developed by one or two writers. The majority of British sitcoms are 30 minutes long and are recorded on studio sets in a multiple-camera setup. A subset of British comedy consciously avoids traditional situation comedy themes and storylines to branch out into more unusual topics or narrative methods. Blackadder (1983–1989) and Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister (1980–1988, 2013) moved what is often a domestic or workplace genre into the corridors of power. A later development was the mockumentary in such series as The Office (2001–2003, 2013). Also coming of age in such series as The Inbetweeners (2008-2010).

United States

The sitcom format was born in January 1926 with the initial broadcast of Sam 'n' Henry on WGN radio in Chicago, Illinois. The 15-minute daily program was revamped in 1928, moved to another station, renamed Amos 'n' Andy , and became one of the most successful sitcoms of the period. It was also one of the earliest examples of radio syndication. In 1947, the first American television sitcom, Mary Kay and Johnny , debuted. Since that time, many of the most watched shows in the US have been sitcoms.

Most American sitcoms are generally written to run a total of 22 minutes in length, leaving eight minutes for advertisements in a 30 minute timeslot. [31]

Some popular British shows have been successfully adapted for the US. [32] Some of the most successful American sitcoms of the 1970s, including All in the Family , Three's Company , and Sanford and Son , were adapted from British productions.

See also

Related Research Articles

A British sitcom or a Britcom is a situational comedy programme produced for British television. Although styles of sitcom have changed over the years, they tend to be based on a family, workplace or other institution, where the same group of contrasting characters is brought together in each episode. British sitcoms are typically produced in one or more series of six episodes. Most such series are conceived and developed by one or two writers.

Throughout film, television, and radio, British comedy has become known for its consistently peculiar characters, plots, and settings, and has produced some of the most renowned comedians and characters in the world.

A laugh track is a separate soundtrack for a recorded comedy show containing the sound of audience laughter. In some productions, the laughter is a live audience response instead; in the United States, where it is most commonly used, the term usually implies artificial laughter made to be inserted into the show. This was invented by American sound engineer Charles "Charley" Douglass.

<i>Kath & Kim</i> Australian comedy television series

Kath & Kim is an Australian sitcom created by Jane Turner and Gina Riley, who portray the title characters of Kath Day-Knight, a cheery, middle-aged suburban mother, and Kim, her self-indulgent daughter. The cast also includes Glenn Robbins, Peter Rowsthorn and Magda Szubanski as, respectively, Kath's metrosexual boyfriend Kel Knight, Kim's henpecked husband Brett Craig, and her lonely "second-best friend" Sharon Strzelecki. The series is set in Fountain Lakes, a fictional suburb of Melbourne, Victoria. Footage inside and in the street of Kath's house was primarily filmed in Patterson Lakes. Other footage was filmed around Cheltenham and Moorabbin; scenes set at Fountain Gate were actually filmed at Westfield Southland.

The Trouble with Tracy is a Canadian television series produced by CTV for the 1970–1971 television season, with intended distribution by the U.S.-based National General Pictures. It is considered by some to be one of the worst situation comedies ever produced.

An American in Canada is a Canadian television sitcom that aired on CBC Television in 2003 and 2004.

Harold Snoad British television producer, writer and director

Harold Edward Snoad is a British television producer, writer and director. He is best known for the television sitcom Keeping Up Appearances, starring Patricia Routledge and Clive Swift. He is also well known for having directed and produced Ever Decreasing Circles starring Richard Briers and Don't Wait Up starring Tony Britton.

Pinwright's Progress is a British television sitcom that aired on the BBC Television Service from 1946 to 1947 and was the world's first regular half-hour televised sitcom. The ten episodes, which aired fortnightly in alternation with Kaleidoscope, were broadcast live from the BBC studios at Alexandra Palace. Still photographs are all that remain of the show's transmitted form.

<i>The IT Crowd</i> British television sitcom

The IT Crowd is a British sitcom originally broadcast by Channel 4, written by Graham Linehan, produced by Ash Atalla and starring Chris O'Dowd, Richard Ayoade, Katherine Parkinson, and Matt Berry. Set in the offices of the fictional Reynholm Industries in London, revolves around the three staff members of its IT department: computer programmer Maurice Moss, work-shy Roy Trenneman, and Jen Barber, the department head/relationship manager who knows nothing about IT. The show also focuses on the bosses of Reynholm Industries: Denholm Reynholm and later, his son Douglas. Goth IT technician Richmond Avenal, who resides in the dark server room, also appears in a number of episodes.

Audience Network was an American pay television channel that was owned by AT&T. It featured a mix of original and acquired series, specials, and feature films. The network operated as a commercial-free service and broadcast its programming without editing for content. It was originally exclusive to DirecTV, though it was also added to AT&T U-verse after AT&T's 2015 acquisition of DirecTV. It was also made available on later AT&T streaming efforts, including AT&T TV and AT&T Watch TV, a lower-cost option available to AT&T Mobility customers. As of 2019, the channel had a subscription base of 26 million. The channel ceased operations on May 22, 2020.

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Would I Lie to You? is a British comedy panel show aired on BBC One, made by Zeppotron for the BBC. It was first broadcast on 16 June 2007, starring David Mitchell and Lee Mack as team captains. The show was originally presented by Angus Deayton, and since 2009 has been hosted by Rob Brydon.

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The Inbetweeners is a British coming-of-age television teen sitcom, which originally aired on E4 from 2008 until 2010 and was created and written by Damon Beesley and Iain Morris. The series follows the misadventures of suburban teenager Will McKenzie and his friends Simon Cooper, Neil Sutherland and Jay Cartwright at the fictional Rudge Park Comprehensive. The programme involves situations of school life, uncaring school staff, friendship, male bonding, lad culture and adolescent sexuality.

<i>El Chavo del Ocho</i> Mexican television series

El Chavo is a Mexican television sitcom created by Roberto Gómez Bolaños, produced by Televisa. It aired as an independent series on February 26, 1973 and finalized January 7, 1980. The series gained enormous popularity in Hispanic America, Brazil, Spain and other countries. The series theme song is a rendition of Ludwig van Beethoven's Turkish March, rearranged by Jean-Jacques Perrey & retitled “The Elephant Never Forgets”.

Television show Segment of audiovisual content intended for broadcast on television

A television show – or simply TV show – is any content produced for viewing on a television set which can be broadcast via over-the-air, satellite, or cable, excluding breaking news, advertisements, or trailers that are typically placed between shows. Television shows are most often scheduled for broadcast well ahead of time and appear on electronic guides or other TV listings, but streaming services often make them available for viewing anytime. The content in a television show can be produced with different methodologies such as taped variety shows emanating from a television studio stage, animation or a variety of film productions ranging from movies to series. Shows not produced on a television studio stage are usually contracted or licensed to be made by appropriate production companies.

Mandar Chandwadkar Indian television actor

Mandar Chandwadkar is an Indian actor. He is best known for playing the role of Aatmaram Tukaram Bhide in the Hindi sitcom Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah.

Sonalika Joshi Indian actress (born 1976)

Sonalika Joshi is an Indian television actress. She is better known for her character of 'Madhavi Bhide' in India's longest running Sitcom TV serial Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah.

Television comedy is a category of broadcasting that has been present since the early days of entertainment media. While there are several genres of comedy, some of the first ones aired were variety shows. One of the first United States television programs was the comedy-variety show Texaco Star Theater, which was most prominent in the years that it featured Milton Berle - from 1948 to 1956. The range of television comedy has become broader, with the addition of sitcoms, improvisational comedy, and stand-up comedy, while also adding comedic aspects into other television genres, including drama and news. Television comedy provides opportunities for viewers to relate the content in these shows to society. Some audience members may have similar views about certain comedic aspects of shows, while others will take different perspectives. This also relates to developing new social norms, sometimes acting as the medium that introduces these transitions.

References

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Further reading