A sitcom (a shortening of situation comedy, or 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.
A sitcom 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 21st 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.
The terms "situation comedy" or "sitcom" were not commonly used until the 1950s.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. In the United States, director and producer William Asher has been credited with being the "man who invented the sitcom", having directed over two dozen of the leading sitcoms, including I Love Lucy , from the 1950s through the 1970s.
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.
In 1981, Daily at Dawn was the first Australian comedy series to feature a regular gay character (Terry Bader as journalist Leslie).
In 1987, Mother and Son was winner of the Television Drama Award presented by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
In 2007, Kath & Kim 's first episode of series four attracted an Australian audience of 2.521 million nationally, the highest rating ever for a first episode in the history of Australian television, until the series premiere of Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities in 2009 with 2.58 million viewers.
In 2013, Please Like Me received an invitation to screen at the Series Mania Television Festival in Paris,was praised by critics and has garnered numerous awards and nominations. Also in 2013, At Home With Julia was criticised by several social commentators as inappropriately disrespectful to the office of Prime Minister, the show nevertheless proved very popular both with television audiences — becoming the most watched Australian scripted comedy series of 2011 — and with television critics. Nominated to the 2012 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards for Best Television Comedy Series.
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.Canadian television has had much greater success with sketch comedy and dramedy series.
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.
The Trailer Park Boys movie of 1999 was followed up by a television series that ran from 2001 to 2018, airing in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.
Corner Gas , which ran for six seasons from 2004 to 2009, became an instant hit, averaging a million viewers per episode.It has been the recipient of six Gemini Awards, and has been nominated almost 70 times for various awards.
Other noteworthy recent sitcoms have included Call Me Fitz , Schitt's Creek ,Letterkenny and Kim's Convenience , all of which have been winners of the Canadian Screen Award for Best Comedy Series.
Sitcoms started appearing on Indian television in the 1980s, with serials like Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi (1984), Nukkad (1986) 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 2001–2007), 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). 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.
On Tiptoes and Shabhaye Barareh were among the first and most important sitcoms that led to the growth of this type of comedy in Iran, the idea of making On Tiptoes was borrowed from the series Friends.
El Chavo del Ocho , which ran from 1971 to 1980, was the most watched show on Mexican television and had a Latin American audience of 350 million viewers per episode at its peak of popularity during the mid-1970s.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. Since it ceased production in 1992, the show has earned an estimated billion in syndication fees alone for Televisa.
Gliding On , a popular sitcom 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.
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 adaptations before), and in 2010 TNT released "Interns" — the first sitcom, filmed as a comedy (unlike dominated "conveyor" sitcoms).
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).
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.
American sitcoms are generally written to run a total of 22 minutes in length, leaving eight minutes for advertisements in a 30 minute timeslot.
Some popular British shows have been successfully adapted for the US.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.
Father Ted is a sitcom created by Irish writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews and produced by British production company Hat Trick Productions for British television channel Channel 4. It aired over three series from 21 April 1995 until 1 May 1998, including a Christmas special, for a total of 25 episodes. It aired on Nine Network and ABC Television in Australia, and on TV2 in New Zealand.
A British sitcom or a Britcom is a situational comedy programme produced for British television.
M*A*S*H is an American war comedy drama television series that aired on CBS from September 17, 1972 to February 28, 1983. It was developed by Larry Gelbart as the first original spin-off series adapted from the 1970 feature film M*A*S*H, which, in turn, was based on Richard Hooker's 1968 novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. The series, which was produced with 20th Century Fox Television for CBS, follows a team of doctors and support staff stationed at the "4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital" in Uijeongbu, South Korea, during the Korean War (1950–53).
The Office is the title of a number of mockumentary sitcoms based on a British series originally created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant as The Office in 2001. The original series also starred Gervais as the boss and main character of the show. The two seasons were broadcast on BBC Two in 2001 and 2002, totalling 12 episodes, with two special episodes in 2003, and an extra short spectacular ten years later. Versions of the original were subsequently made in Germany, the United States, and many other countries.
A laugh track is an audio recording consisting of laughter usually used as a separate soundtrack for comedy productions. The laugh track may contain live audience reactions or artificial laughter made to be inserted into the show, or a combination of the two. The use of canned laughter to "sweeten" the laugh track was pioneered by American sound engineer Charles "Charley" Douglass.
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.
TV Land is an American pay television channel owned by Paramount Global through its networks division. Originally a spinoff of Nick at Nite consisting exclusively of classic television shows, the channel now airs a combination of recent and classic television series, original scripted series and limited theatrically released movies. The network is headquartered at One Astor Plaza in New York City.
Thank God You're Here is an Australian television improvised comedy program created by Working Dog Productions, which premiered on Network Ten on 5 April 2006, and aired all seasons except the fourth series on the Seven Network.
Ugly Betty is an American comedy-drama television series developed by Silvio Horta, which was originally broadcast on ABC. It premiered on September 28, 2006, and ended on April 14, 2010. The series is based on Fernando Gaitán's Colombian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la fea, which has had many other international adaptations. It revolves around the character Betty Suarez, who – despite her lack of style – lands a job at a prestigious fashion magazine. It was produced by Silent H, Ventanarosa, and Reveille Productions partnered with ABC Studios, with Salma Hayek, Horta, Ben Silverman, Jose Tamez, and Joel Fields serving as executive producers. The pilot was filmed in New York City; seasons one and two were filmed in Los Angeles and seasons three and four were filmed in New York City.
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.
Little Mosque on the Prairie is a Canadian television sitcom created by Zarqa Nawaz and produced by WestWind Pictures, originally broadcast from 2007 to 2012 on CBC. Filmed in Toronto, Ontario, and Indian Head, Saskatchewan, the series was showcased at the Dawn Breakers International Film Festival. After the series finale aired in April 2012, Hulu announced it would begin offering the series under the name Little Mosque that summer. The series made its U.S. premiere on Pivot in August 2013.
Would I Lie to You? is a British comedy game 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.
Outnumbered is a British sitcom about the Brockman family, starring Hugh Dennis as the father, Claire Skinner as the mother and their three children played by Tyger Drew-Honey, Daniel Roche and Ramona Marquez.
The Inbetweeners is a British coming-of-age television teen sitcom, which originally aired on E4 from 2008 to 2010 and was created and written by Damon Beesley and Iain Morris. The series follows the misadventures of suburban teenager William 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. Despite receiving an initially lukewarm reception, it has been described a classic amongst the most successful British sitcoms of the 21st century.
Miranda is a British television sitcom written by and starring comedian Miranda Hart. It originally aired on BBC Two from 9 November 2009, and later on BBC One. Developed from Hart's semi-autobiographical BBC Radio 2 comedy Miranda Hart's Joke Shop (2008), the situation comedy revolves around socially inept Miranda, who frequently finds herself in awkward situations. The show features actors Sarah Hadland, Tom Ellis, Patricia Hodge, Sally Phillips, James Holmes and Bo Poraj. It was taped in front of live audiences at the BBC Television Centre and The London Studios.
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.
Situation comedies, or sitcoms, have long been a popular genre of comedy in the US, initially on radio in the 1920s, and then on television beginning in the 1940s. A sitcom is defined as a television series featuring a recurring cast of characters in various successive comedic situations.