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  1. 1. TELEVISION HUMOR: Sit Coms & Late Night TV by Don L. F. Nilsen and Alleen Pace Nilsen 54
  2. 2. Ten Top Sit Coms of All Time 54 1. Seinfeld 2. Friends 3. Scrubs 4. My Hero 5. The Vicar of Dibley 6. The Simpsons 7. Frasier 8. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air 9. The King of Queens 10. Everybody Loves Raymond (Thelen ENG 414 PowerPoint)
  3. 3. Drew Carey 54
  4. 4. Family Guy 54
  5. 5. Friends 54
  6. 6. Kelsey Grammer as Frasier 54
  7. 7. The Office 54
  8. 8. Ray Ramono 54
  9. 9. Scrubs 54
  10. 10. Jerry Seinfeld 54
  11. 11. The Simpsons 54
  12. 12. Southpark 54
  13. 13. Sit Coms: An Overview <ul><li>“ Take a few stereotyped characters whose views/interests/inclinations are discordant; place them in a context of interaction from which they cannot escape; set in motion a course of events which leads them to formulate interpretations which clash, but without serious consequences; vary the action from one episode to another, but maintain the setting and the underlying patterns of conduct; provide clear and repeated signals of humorous intent; and arrange each episode in the form of a prolonged joke sequence with an ‘unexpected’ semantic reversal at the end.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Mulkay 183-184). </li></ul><ul><li>(Morrison PowerPoint [2009]: 5) </li></ul>54
  14. 14. Types of Sit Coms <ul><li>Anne Spangler classes sit coms by </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Setting: workplace, home… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Main Characters: single, women, black… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tone: “warmedy,” “dramedy,” “surreal”… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Leo Charney classes sit coms as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Family Sitcoms: The Goldbergs , Everybody Loves Raymond , Roseanne … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Friends-as-Family Sitcoms: Seinfeld , Friends , Three’s Company , Cheers , Golden Girls … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Workplace Sitcoms: Cheers , M*A*S*H , Mary Tyler Moore Show , The Office … </li></ul></ul><ul><li>(Morrison PowerPoint [2009]: 10) </li></ul>54
  15. 15. Rick Mitz’s Categories <ul><li>“ Careercoms” Cheers , Dick Van Dyke Show </li></ul><ul><li>“ Corncoms” The Beverly Hillbillies , Andy Griffith </li></ul><ul><li>“ Couplecoms” I Love Lucy </li></ul><ul><li>“ Domcoms”: Father Knows Best </li></ul><ul><li>“ Ethnicoms” The Goldbergs , Sanford and Son </li></ul><ul><li>“ Kidcoms”: Leave lt To Beaver </li></ul><ul><li>“ Scificoms” Alf , Morc </li></ul><ul><li>“ Servicecoms”: M*A*S*H , N.C.I.S. </li></ul><ul><li>(Morrison PowerPoint [2009]: 11) </li></ul>54
  16. 16. Static vs. Dynamic Sit Coms <ul><li>“ Seinfeld and Friends demonstrate the two poles of the sitcom’s development: the show on which no one changes versus the show on which everyone changes.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Charney 599-600) </li></ul><ul><li>(Morrison PowerPoint [2009]: 7) </li></ul>54
  17. 17. Static Sit Coms <ul><li>The static sitcom, sticks to its expected characters and themes. </li></ul><ul><li>On Seinfeld , Jerry, Elaine, George, Kramer, and above all, Jerry’s nemesis Newman have a great deal in common with such never-changing cartoon icons as Bugs Bunny and Road Runner, constantly bringing the same traits to the same situations. </li></ul><ul><li>(Charney 599-600) </li></ul><ul><li>(Morrison PowerPoint [2009]: 7) </li></ul>54
  18. 18. Dynamic Sitcoms <ul><li>Friends , Sex and the City , and Mad About You are dynamic sitcoms, “with their long arcs of character evolution and carefully worked-out resolutions.” </li></ul><ul><li>They are a hybrid between the sitcom and the soap opera. The characters age, change, and grow as they would in real life. </li></ul><ul><li>(Charney 599-600) </li></ul><ul><li>(Morrison PowerPoint [2009]: 7) </li></ul>54
  19. 19. Sitcoms: Some Analogies <ul><li>There are military sitcoms, school based sitcoms, comedies that feature aliens from abroad as far as Mars and Ork, ethnic shows, urban and rural shows, and work-place comedies. </li></ul><ul><li>“ All the familiar character types of American humor from the wise fools of the colonial and early national literature to the ‘little men’ of comic strips, silent film, and journalism, to con men and tricksters are featured in sitcoms.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Mintz in Raskin [2008] 295) </li></ul>54
  20. 20. Pre-TV: Radio Sit Coms <ul><li>Amos ’n Andy first aired in 1928, and was adapted for TV in 1951. </li></ul><ul><li>Amos ’n Andy came out of the minstrelsy tradition, and came to television as “blackface comedy.” </li></ul><ul><li>It was cancelled after two seasons. </li></ul><ul><li>(Morrison PowerPoint [2009]: 9) </li></ul>54
  21. 21. Amos ‘n Andy (1930s Radio) (1951-1952 TV) 54
  22. 22. 54
  23. 23. Molly Goldberg <ul><li>Molly Goldberg first aired on radio in 1929 and was adapted for TV in 1949. </li></ul><ul><li>After five years on TV, it was cancelled. </li></ul><ul><li>It represented a middle-class Jewish family living in an apartment in the Bronx. </li></ul><ul><li>(Morrison PowerPoint [2009]: 9) </li></ul>54
  24. 24. The Goldbergs (1930s Radio) (1949-1953 TV) 54
  25. 25. 54
  26. 26. Sit Com Zeitgeists <ul><li>1950s: Traditional Families </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Nuclear family </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>White, Suburban, Patriarchal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conventional Stereotypes: businessman dad, stay-at-home mom, good-hearted and law-abiding children </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Examples: Father Knows Best , Leave it to Beaver </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Morrison PowerPoint [2009]: 12) </li></ul></ul>54
  27. 27. Mayberry RFD (1950s TV) 54
  28. 28. The Addams Family: Lurch (1950s TV) 54
  29. 29. 1960s: Beginnings of Diversity <ul><li>Nuclear Families ( Dick Van Dyke Show) </li></ul><ul><li>Fantastic Families: The Munsters , Bewitched , I Dream of Jeannie </li></ul><ul><li>Single Parents: My Three Sons , The Andy Griffith Show </li></ul><ul><li>Single Working Women: That Girl , Julia , Hazel </li></ul><ul><li>(Morrison PowerPoint [2009]: 12) </li></ul>54
  30. 30. <ul><li>The Munsters (1960s TV) </li></ul>54
  31. 31. Beverly Hillbillies (1960s TV) 54
  32. 32. 1970s: Controversial with Social Awareness <ul><li>Wholesome Families: Happy Days , The Waltons , Little House on the Prairie </li></ul><ul><li>Crass, Bigoted, Racist Families: All in the Family , Maude , The Jeffersons </li></ul><ul><li>Feminist Sit Coms: Mary Tyler Moore Show </li></ul><ul><li>Sex-Liberation: Three’s Company </li></ul><ul><li>Blended Families: Brady Bunch , Diff’rent Strokes </li></ul><ul><li>Taboo subjects like abortion, rape, interfaith marriage, poverty, antiwar sentiment are treated (Brooks 87) </li></ul><ul><li>(Morrison PowerPoint [2009]: 13) </li></ul>54
  33. 33. Alf (1970s TV) 54
  34. 34. All in the Family (1970s TV) 54
  35. 35. The Brady Bunch (1970s TV) 54
  36. 36. 1980s: Realism & Variation <ul><li>Wholesome Sitcoms, some with Dual Career Marriages: The Cosby Show </li></ul><ul><li>Animated Sitcoms: The Simpsons </li></ul><ul><li>Rude, Crass, & Blue-Collar Sitcoms: Married…with Children , Roseanne </li></ul><ul><li>Children tend to be independent; there are different types of families in terms of fathers, mothers, race, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>(Morrison PowerPoint [2009]: 14) </li></ul>54
  37. 37. The Cosby Show (1980s TV) 54
  38. 38. The Simpsons (1980s TV) 54
  39. 39. 54
  40. 40. Golden Girls (1980s TV) 54
  41. 41. Roseanne (1980s TV) 54
  42. 42. 1990s & 2000s: Few Taboos & Total Diversity <ul><li>Family: Home Improvement </li></ul><ul><li>Animated: Beavis & Butt-head , Southpark , King of the Hill </li></ul><ul><li>Teen Audience: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer , Dawson’s Creek , Malcolm in the Middle </li></ul><ul><li>Single, Working Women: Will & Grace, Sex and the City </li></ul><ul><li>Character Development & Growth: Seinfeld </li></ul><ul><li>Sixty-Minute Format: Ally McBeal </li></ul><ul><li>(Morrison PowerPoint [2009]: 16) </li></ul>54
  43. 43. Family Guy (1990s TV) 54
  44. 44. Friends (2000s TV) 54
  45. 45. Home Improvement (1990s TV) 54
  46. 46. Seinfeld (1990s TV) 54
  47. 47. 54
  48. 48. Ally McBeal (2000s TV) 54
  49. 49. SITCOM WEB SITES <ul><li>30 ROCK: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>AMERICAN DAD: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>BETTER OFF TED: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>THE BIG BANG THEORY: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>54
  50. 50. <ul><li>CHEERS: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>COMMUNITY: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>THE COSBY SHOW: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>54
  51. 51. <ul><li>THE FAIRLY ODD PARENTS: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>FAMILY GUY: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>FRASIER: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>FRIENDS: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>FULL HOUSE: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>54
  52. 52. <ul><li>FUTURAMA: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>THE GOLDEN GIRLS: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>GROWING PAINS: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>HOME IMPROVEMENT: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>THE JEFFERSONS: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>54
  53. 53. <ul><li>THE KING OF QUEENS: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>MARRIED WITH CHILDREN: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>MAUDE: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>MY HERO: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>MY NAME IS EARL: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>54
  54. 54. <ul><li>THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>THE ODD COUPLE: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>THE OFFICE: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>SCRUBS: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>SEINFELD: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>SEX AND THE CITY: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>54
  55. 55. <ul><li>THE SIMPSONS: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>SISTER, SISTER: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>SOUTH PARK: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>SPIN CITY: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>STEVE HARVEY: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>54
  56. 56. <ul><li>STILL STANDING: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>THAT 70S SHOW: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>TWO AND A HALF MEN: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>TYLER PERRY’S HOUSE OF PAYNE: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>THE VICAR OF DIBLEY: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>WAR AT HOME: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>THE WINNER: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>54
  57. 57. !!Late Night Television Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert 54
  58. 58. !!!TALK SHOW WEB SITES <ul><li>ADAM CAROLLA: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>STEPHEN COLBERT: “THE COLBERT REPORT”: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>JIMMY FALLON: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>CRAIG FERGUSON: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>54
  59. 59. <ul><li>CHELSEA LATELY (CHELSEA HANDLER): </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>DAVID LETTERMAN: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>JIMMY KIMMELL: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>JAY LENO: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>54
  60. 60. <ul><li>DEMETRI MARTIN: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>CONAN O’BRIEN: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>JON STEWART: “THE DAILY SHOW”: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>54
  61. 61. <ul><li>References: </li></ul><ul><li>Apter, Michael J. “Fawlty Towers: A Reversal Theory Analysis of a Popular Televison Comedy Series.” Journal of Popular Culture 15.3 (1982): 128-138. </li></ul><ul><li>Balirano, Giuseppe, and Marcella Corduas. “Detecting Semiotically-Expressed Humor in Diasporic TV Productions.” HUMOR 21.3 (2008): 227-252. </li></ul><ul><li>Brooks, Marla. The American Family on Television: A Chronologyo of 121 Shows, 1948-2004 . Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005. </li></ul><ul><li>Cantor, Paul A. “The Silmpsons: Atomistic Politics and the Nuclear Family.” Political Theory 27.6 (1999): 734-749. </li></ul><ul><li>Carter, Bill. The Late Shift: Letterman, Leno, and the Network Battle for the Night . New York, NY: Hyperion, 1994. </li></ul><ul><li>Charney, Leo. “Television Sitcoms.” Comedy: A Geographic and Historical Guide: 2 Volumes . Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005. </li></ul><ul><li>Dalton, Mary M., and Laura R. Linder, eds. The Sitcom Reader: America Viewed and Skewed . Albany, NY: State Univ of New York Press, 2005. </li></ul>54
  62. 62. <ul><li>Davis, Dinah. “Illusions and Ambiguities in the Telemedia Environment: An Exploration of the Transformation of Social Roles.” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 39 (1995): 297-335. </li></ul><ul><li>Dobson, Hugo. “Mister Sparkle Meets the Yakuza: The Depictions of Japan in The Simpsons .” Journal of Popular Culture 39.1 (2006): 44-68. </li></ul><ul><li>Eisner, Joel, and David Krinsky, eds. Television Comedy Series: An Episode Guide to 153 TV Sitcoms in Syndication . Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co., 1984. </li></ul><ul><li>Goldberg, Andrew. Family Guy: Brian Griffin’s Guide to Booze, Borads, and the Lost Art of Being a Man . New York, NY: Harper, 2006. </li></ul><ul><li>Gray, Jonathan. Watching with the Simpsons: Television, Parody, and Intertextuality . London, England: Routledge, 2006. </li></ul><ul><li>Groening, Matt. The Simpsons: One Step Beyond Forever . New York, NY: Matt Groening Productions, 2005. </li></ul>54
  63. 63. <ul><li>Jones, Gerard. Honey, I’m Home! Sitcoms: Selling the American Dream . New York, NY: Grove/Weidenfield, 1992. </li></ul><ul><li>Leamer, Laurence. King of The Night: The Life of Johnny Carson . New York, NY: Morrow, 1989. </li></ul><ul><li>Leno, Jay, and Bill Zehme. Leading with My Chin . New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1996. </li></ul><ul><li>Mankoff, Bob. The New Yorker: Book of Literary Cartoons . New York, NY: Pocket Books, 2000. </li></ul><ul><li>Marc, David. Comic Visions: Television Comedy and American Culture . New York, NY: Blackwell, 1997. </li></ul><ul><li>Marc, David. Demographic Vistas . Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania, 1984. </li></ul>54
  64. 64. <ul><li>Marc, David. “Origins of the Genre: In Search of the Radio Sitcom.” in Dalton and Linder [2005]: 15-23. </li></ul><ul><li>Mills, Brett. Television Sitcom . Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005. </li></ul><ul><li>Mitz, Rick. The Great TV Sitcom Book . New York, NY: Perigee Books, 1983. </li></ul><ul><li>Morris, J. “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Audience Attitude Change During the 2004 Party Conventions.” Political Behavior (2007): 79-102. </li></ul><ul><li>Morrison, Krystina. “The Radio and Television Sit Com.” Unpublished ENG 414 PowerPoint, Tempe, AZ: ASU, April, 2009. </li></ul><ul><li>Mulkay, Michael. On Humour: Its Nature and Place in Modern Society . Oxford, England: Polity Press, 1988. </li></ul>54
  65. 65. <ul><li>Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. Encyclopedia of 20 th Century Ameridcan Humor . Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000. </li></ul><ul><li>Nilsen, Don L. F. Humor Scholarship: A Research Bibliography . </li></ul><ul><li>Putterman, Barry. On Television and Comedy: Essays on Style, Theme, Performer and Writer . New York, NY: MacFarland, 1995. </li></ul><ul><li>Scodari, Christine. “Sex and the Sitcom: Gender and Genre in Millenial Television.” in Dalton & Linder [2005]: 242ff. </li></ul><ul><li>Smoodin, Eric. Animating Culture . New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1993. </li></ul>54
  66. 66. <ul><li>Spangler, Lynn C. Television Women from Lucy to Friends: Fifty Years of Sitcoms and Feminism . Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003. </li></ul><ul><li>Seinkiewicz, Matt, and Nick Marx. “Beyond a Cutout World: Ethnic Humor and Discursive Integration in South Park .” Communication and Mass Media Complete (2009): 5-18. </li></ul><ul><li>Thelen, Jenna. “Humor in Sit Coms.” Unpublished ENG 414 PowerPoint, Tempe, AZ: ASU, 2009. </li></ul><ul><li>Thomas, Ellen Mazur. The Origins of Graphic Design in America . New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997. </li></ul><ul><li>Trueth, Michael V. Laughter in the Living Room: Television Comedy and the American Home Audience . New York, NY: Peter Lang, 2005. </li></ul><ul><li>Watterson, Bill. Calvin and Hobbes . New York, NY: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1987. </li></ul><ul><li>Wertheim, Arthur Frank. Radio Comedy . New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1992. </li></ul>54