Look, when a challenge is thrown down my way, I have to accept it. Those are just the rules.
So after I tweeted tonight that I’d seen one of the five funniest things on television this year tonight, “Cougar Town” creator Bill Lawrence demanded to see the full list. And far be it for me to not grant it. For our purposes here, I define “this year” as the television season which started in the Fall of 2011 and will end in a few short weeks. This isn’t a 12-month year. I’m not merely describing this calendar year to do. So if you’re going to get mad, at least get mad about the correct time frame. We good? Good.
Without further ado…
The Show: True Justice
The Episode: Deadly Crossing, Part 2
The Moment: Look, this Steven Seagal import currently airing on Reelz isn’t technically a comedy. But Seagal’s speech in the second hour about the horrors of the world might have been the most unintentionally funny moment in the last decade of television. If you have the means, and the stomach, and most importantly, the booze, find this episode and watch it.
The Show: Happy Endings
The Episode: Big White Lies
The Moment: Having watching every hour of “24,” I can honestly say that I didn’t see “Eliza Cuthbert, Comedy Genius” coming. At all. (Seriously, someone needs to pair her with “Community”‘s Gillian Jacobs and create my new favorite show of all time.) But in a season where she constantly brought the funny, her “Ellen” dance during this episode might have been the highlight of both that character and this show.
The Show: 30 Rock
The Episode: Queen of Jordan 2: The Mystery of The Phantom Pooper
The Moment: This show might have started off its season on a fairly rocky level, but has since soared. In fact, it might eventually go down as the series’ strongest year overall. But nothing made me laugh harder than seeing “Lisa Lampanelli?” as the description under Liz’s first appearance on this reality-show-within-a-fake-sketch-show-within-a-real comedy. While the show has finally found a balance between its absurdist nature and its more emotional moments, this was an instance in which it reminded us how it is and always has been one of our great media satires.
The Show: Archer
The Episode: The Limited
The Moment: The show’s second season might have been top-to-bottom stronger than this year’s third installment. But by God, I’m not sure I’ve had more pure fun that Sterling Archer attempting to live out his fantasy of fighting on top of a moving train. “The Limited” was my favorite episode of this show this season, and it’s a bit unfair to single out one moment from it. After all, it gets its power from the cumulative effect of the ever-increasing craziness. But by the time the “piss cat” Babou joined the fray atop the speeding train, I was pretty much helpless with laughter. This show isn’t for everyone, but for those tuned into its peculiar frequency, there’s little better on TV right now.
The Show: Cougar Town
The Episode: A One Story Town
The Moment: Sure, it might seem like a homer decision to put one of Lawrence’s shows on this list. But watching Jules and Ellie attempt “Tom Cruise running” is still my favorite physical gag all year. To top it off, it actually factored into the final act of the show, becoming a necessary element in order to unite Bobby and Angie in the crowded plaza. It’s a throwaway gag, but one that the actors commit to so fully that it’s never ceased to make me laugh. (And since I’ve since “One Story Town” more times than any single episode this year, that’s saying something.)
The Show: Suburgatory
The Episode: The Barbeque
The Moment: It happened so early in the year that it seems almost impossible that it was never topped. But three simple words stand above all else in the comedy landscape this year: “Scarlett Johansson. Dead.” Ryan Shay says in this response to Tessa asking him which celebrity (alive or dead) he’d want to have dinner with, and the combination of wordplay and unexpected pause between the second and third word produce the type of unexpected jolt that all comedy attempts to achieve. “Suburgatory” has been an uneven but solid show all season, but this one line is probably the reason above all else that I’m still watching. Nothing has made me laugh harder all year, and I keep hoping the show can top itself.
OK, your turn! What have been your favorite comedic moments of the 2011-2012 season? Leave them below!