by Herbie J Pilato
In a recent discussion with a friend about the state of contemporary television comedies, he said something quite brilliant:
“Sitcoms are not variety show skits.”
Or as Buster Keaton once relayed to Lucille Ball, “You have to play comedy, dead straight. You have to believe that your ‘nose is on fire’” (which was a reference to the classic I Love Lucy episode, titled, “L.A. at Last,” in which Ball’s famed alter-ego Lucy Ricardo accidentally set her snout a flame).
In other words, for a sitcom to be funny, it has to be based in reality.
As another example, The Wonder Years, ABC’s classic sitcom from the mid-1990s, was based on reality (of the 1960s and early 1970s), opposed to that same network’s more recent sitcoms like The Goldbergs, which (set in the 1980s) thinks it’s The Wonder Years. But it’s not. Far from it, actually…mostly because The Goldbergs, and other manically-performed shows like it, lack charm…which The Wonder Years so perfectly imbued.
Writer/producer Herbie J Pilato is the host of the TV talk show THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, now streaming on Amazon Prime and the author of several pop-culture/media tie-in books. He has been part of TVWriter™ for over 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Herbie J HERE