*This is another installment in the series So Funny it Doesnt Hurt: posts regarding the healing nature of comedy.
Did you know September is National Pain Awareness Month? National Pain Awareness Month was founded in 2001. Its mission is, to facilitate peer support and education for individuals with chronic pain and their families, and to raise awareness among the healthcare community, policy makers, and the public at large about issues of living with chronic pain.”
But as medical professionals gather at conferences, and advocates are out…advocating, maybe you’re not feeling so well today. Well, instead of focusing on your pain, why not try distracting yourself with some good old binge-watching TV. Something funny, yes?
I talked about the healing nature of comedy previously. So today, rather than talk about it, let’s just do it. Need some recommendations? Here are some classic sitcoms worth watching. Their all groundbreaking. And very funny.
Sitcom Binge-Watching Recommendations
- Car 54 Where Are You? (1961): Familiar with this Black and White gem? It’s about “the misadventures of two of New York’s finest (a Mutt and Jeff pair) in the mythical 53rd precinct in the Bronx.” When in high school, I watched this classic every night and laughed my head off. Check it out for Fred Gwynnes faces and Toody’s “Oo! Oo!”. Serious: it’s good.
- All in the Family (1971): A lot of folks consider this the best sitcom of all time. It was groundbreaking for bringing serious issues from a socially-charged time into comedy. Archie Bunker is a working-class white man from Queens. Hes racist, misogynist, and thinks hes the king of the world. But Archie is also really funny. We see how ridiculous he is in his racism and hypocrisy. There’s also Meathead, too: a lefty hippie who acts as our own conscience. And of course, the brilliant Jean Stapleton who plays Archie’s wife Edith. Her character, too, acts as political commentary and the changing roles of women in society. Political and social commentary in comedy is really hard to pull off. This show does. Brilliantly.
- The Golden Girls (1985): Would you believe me when I say I was watching The Golden Girls last night? You should: it’s true. You thought it was only funny to older women? Nope. Its an amazing display of ensemble comedy and comedic timing. The dimwitted Rose, The deadpan look of exasperation from Dorothy (I love Bea Arthur), the sex-crazed Blanche, and of course, the quick talking elderly..ist(?) stateman Sophia (additionally hilarious because the actor who plays Sophia – Estelle Getty – was actually the youngest of all of them!), “The Golden Girls” works because of the actors’ generosity towards each other. We, the audience, delight in seeing great comedians working together well, and they do (well, uh, excuse the ’80s laugh-track).
- The Larry Sanders Show (1992): The Larry Sanders show was one of the first TV sitcoms to film the show so it looks like a behind the scenes documentary of a late-night variety show (think The Office). Larry Sanders, played by Gary Shandling, is a late-night talk show host. He’s funny on the air, and a pompous, neurotic, insecure mess off the air. Things don’t often turn out well for Larry, but his follies are nothing compared to Hank Kingsley’s: Larry’s sidekick on the show. Jeffrey Tambor plays Hank, and he steals the show. All those traits I described Larry having? Hank has them all: times 10. His ego is constantly bruised, playing second fiddle to Larry. Thing is, he’s SO full of himself, he constantly makes a mess of things, and sinks even further down the status-pole. Oh, Hank and Larry: such pompous idiots. And so funny.
- Seinfeld (1989): Ok, I went out of chronological order here, but: need I say more? My mother, btw, does not like Seinfeld. “Why, Mom?” Everyone is so selfish on the show! Well…exactly! That’s what hilarious (notice this theme of selfishness in comedy?). Perhaps the best example of how funny and ridiculously selfish the characters are on the show is George. George is one of the most obsessed characters in sitcom history (Frasier being up there, though). He gets so bent out of shape over ANYTHING he feels he doesn’t get credit for (have you seen the “big salad” episode?). He’s a sad sack, self-absorbed, and let’s be honest: we all can relate to that, can’t we? I love watching Jerry Seinfeld on the verge of cracking up out of character on the show. He acts as both performer and observer. Jerry watches his fellow comedians and can’t help but admire how funny they all are. Almost like he’s having the time of his life. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Ok, so these recs do tend to be slanted towards New York City, where I live, but hey? Maybe you’re reading this in a condo in Florida, having just retired from Queens. Or maybe you’re in Texas, in pain, trying to find out some way you can feel better, and stumble upon this wacky blog post. Maybe you used to love these shows but after your condition forgot about them. And laughing. I understand. Well, listen, maybe it’ll help, if perhaps you turn on the TV and watch your favorite sitcom again. It just might be the tonic that will get you through. I hope so.
Enjoy and, for goodness’ sake, laugh out LOUD!
- September Is Pain Awareness Month. August 25, 2016. Accessed August 30, 2016. https://theacpa.org/September-is-Pain-Awareness-Month.
- Car 54, Where Are You?. Directed by Nat Hiken. n.p., n.d. TV Show. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054528/?ref_=nv_sr_1
- Lane, Norman. All In the Family. n.p., n.d. TV Show. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066626/?ref_=nv_sr_1
- Morrow, Chris and Susan Harris. The Golden Girls. n.p., n.d. TV Show. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088526/?ref_=nv_sr_1
- Klein, Dennis and Larry Sanders. The Larry Sanders Show. n.p., n.d. TV Show. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103466/?ref_=nv_sr_1
- David, Larry. Seinfeld. Directed by various. n.p., n.d. TV Show. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098904/?ref_=nv_sr_1