The Top 11 'Intelligent Humor' Shows (To Date)
Television should be used sparingly, but it's one of the best places for a good laugh . . . if you know where to look. And don't think that just because it's called 'the boob tube' or 'the idiot box' that comedies can't help make you a little smarter or more intelligent, because they can (provided you do some research and pay attention as well, of course)! So here are the top 11 shows that contain not only the means to help you better yourself culturally and knowledge wise, but also have a great laugh while doing it! No, 'Frasier' is not making it on to this list mostly because it is a spin-off and not an original show, but also because the 'intelligent' humor was forced instead of natural. The shows you're about to see are not only well-written for smooth intellectual references, but give you that boost of culture that not only makes you think, it makes you laugh hysterically!
The Big Bang Theory
Countless critics already rave that this is the best new comedy on television with its in-depth look into geek and nerd culture as well as silly references to both of those meant to be taken seriously by the scientifically minded or simply adorable characters. The balance of brains to common sense among the characters also makes for great social intelligence questions for the audiene and while it isn't nice to make fun of nerds, geeks, or brainiacs in real life, it is hilarious to watch this crew make a mockery of themselves!
Blackadder (all series)
Ranging in eras from medieval England to World War I, this show takes a look at the self-aggrandizing and well-spoken 'Blackadder' as he tries desperately to silence the simple-minded Baldrick and serve as the middle man for whatever dunce happens to be in authority over him. With cameos from great British actors and storylines that are as historically informative as they are amusing, Blackadder remains a treasure for all fans of intelligent comedy!
The most impressionable crowd in front of a television are the younger people . . . children. This show not only managed to entertain and get loads of laughs from children during its run time (rivaling the winner of the slot time, Animaniacs), but it also gave lessons in world, American, and ancient history that many still quote to this day! The hilariously presented 'talk show' segments with historical figures still gets kids and adults rolling in their seats.
While everyone agrees that there is a great deal of low-brow humor on this show starring the boorish Peter Griffin, how can you call a show cultureless when it references Benjamin Disraeli, My Fair Lady, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Music Man, and Ontological Impiricism? Contrasted by the body-humor and crass sexual jokes, the rest of the show produces pop and past cultural references with twists as well as adding information about historical events and figures!
A Bit of Fry and Laurie
In humor absurdity trumps all, and absurdity along with plenty of double entendres and arguing with the audience takes 'A Bit of Fry and Laurie' to a level that Monty Python only briefly reached. The show's actual jokes have references to government, law, and culture, but the smooth transitions of absurdity can only be enjoyed by an especially keen audience ready for a rollicking good time! Oh, Mr. Dalliard! I've spoken about the show again and now I've gone a bit peculiar!
Whether you realized it or not as a kid while watching these timeless classics, you got to see mockery of famous acts from the past including Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, Lon Chaney, and even Jimmy Stewart. Not to mention if you took any music classes during your childhood you could point out which pieces of classical music were played in the background of almost every cartoon made! This of course includes the famous tragic opera episode that made us laugh til we cried . . . and then laugh again!
The Muppet Show
When you have guests that have shaped music or film on a show that helped revolutionize practical effects in film, you have nothing but the best in intellectual entertainment; in other words: The Muppets!
My Name is Earl
Wbo would think that any good could come out of a show featuring trailer parks and 2 episodes that parodied the show 'Cops'? Well, the show not only culturally enriches each viewer with religious-free philosophies, it also gives both complex and simple-minded reasons for doing the right thing and adds references from 'some famous guy' every step of the way (not to mention the vocabulary of the Crab Man is extensive and wonderfully written)!
The Big Fat Quiz of the Year
Want to know or be reminded of what's happened this past year? Last year? Last decade? Look no further than the informative and zany 'Big Fat Quiz' series! Hosted by the hilarious Jimmy Carr, this trivia-like game features all sorts of means of asking questions about the past year or years for accuracy along with side-splitting one-liners, photo manipulations, and surprise guests!
The Adventures of Brisco County Junior
This little-known Bruce Campbell classic was cancelled only because of budgeting, but took viewers on adventures in the American West, the French Revolution, and so much more with gadgets and scientific experiments that informed the viewer and the rough 'n tumble Brisco as well!
Jeeves and Wooster
A television show adapted from a radio show adapted from audiobooks adapted from award-winning novels . . . and it is worth every moment. While the humor in this British comedy seems a little dry, there are cultural tid bits and wide vocabularies (as well as a look at America from the British point of view during the Roaring 20s) that keep the audience well entertained and even more entertained when a plan from the arrogant Wooster (even when warned by Valet Jeeves) blows up in his face in a very physically comedic way!
With its references in humor from literature, film, science, social behaviors, and even other television shows, The Big Bang Theory takes the cake in this list of comedic smarts. Now, if only we could find a way to harness the comedy from the show, attach it to the algorithms in modern school curriculum, and create a cross-section of fun and learning to the xth power, then we'd have the funniest, smartest group of students on earth!