For every 'Seinfeld,' there are 100 like 'Emily's Reasons Why Not.' Why do most shows go so wrong, and a select few become iconic? TMZ has the secret to five great comedy TV shows, courtesy of two truly iconic funny people: 'Saturday Night Live' legend Cheri Oteri, and writer Alan Zweibel ('SNL,' 'The Garry Shandling Show,' 'Curb Your Enthusiasm').
Homer: The Committed Imbecile When the animated series about a yellow family with funny hair premiered on FOX in 1989, no one expected it to live through the millennium. Seventeen seasons later, it's clear there's something quite genius about 'The Simpsons.'
The secret here is that the characters, although animated, are completely relatable. "It's fun to watch Homer speak directly from the empty place in his mind," Oteri says. "Everyone wants to say their stupid thoughts, but stops themselves." To Zweibel, the people of Springfield makes no apologies for the bigoted beings that they are, and because it's a cartoon, laughing at the screen doesn't seem so dirty.
We Interrupt This Program to Annoy You 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' first aired on the BBC in 1969 and in America in 1974, and the beat goes on: A new PBS series, 'Monty Python's Personal Best,' is set to air next month.
Oteri says the secret is that Python takes a polite look at the absurd: "It's like the Queen asking someone to pull her finger." Zweibel says when you look at Python over the years, it's clear the writers had an uncanny ability to tap into issues of the moment and make them hysterically silly -- creating what he calls "controlled anarchy."
Not That There's Anything Wrong With That Regifting, man hands, close talkers, a puffy shirt and the Soup Nazi riveted legions of 'Seinfeld' fans for nine years, and it's as strong as ever in syndication.
Oteri says there is a brilliant core to the comedy. "We always hear, 'don't sweat the small stuff.' But they blew the small stuff out of proportion and gave credibility to things that irritate everyone," she says.
Zwiebel, who has worked closely with 'Seinfeld' creator Larry David, agrees: "They took very relatable situations, minutia that we all observe, but made a whole meal out of it."
Lucy, I'm Home! The most enduring, ground-breaking show ever on television -- if 'I Love Lucy' were a person, it would almost be eligible for social security.
To Oteri, the secret is that the characters are supremely relatable and give the show comedic cred. "Lucy always looked great, always fullfilled her wifely duties, which made it so much more hilarious to see her get in trouble." Zweibel believes 'Lucy' is safe hijinks. "It's fun to see Lucy fall in the water or get covered in JELL-O because you knew she would always be OK," he adds.
Your 'Daily' Fix It's incredible that Jon Stewart, who holds down the fort on a fake news show ('The Daily Show With Jon Stewart'), is consistently voted as one of the most trusted anchors in America.
In trying times, laughter makes the medicine go down. "Watching someone pull the pedestal out from authority and watching authority fall eases our minds," says Oteri. "Jon Stewart brings to the forefront stupid things from supposedly superior minds." Zweibel, whose 'Weekend Update' on 'SNL' was a precursor to what 'Daily' does now, thinks this is one of the smartest shows on TV today. "It's not manufactured funny, they let the people hang themselves. It's a tried and true effect."