Casyn over at The Slayer Library was recently praising British Comedy. Although she identified it as the best of what was on in a desert of limited choices, she selected out Coupling as deserving of comment. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with coarse sexual humour per se, but Coupling - for me at least - often seemed to miss its mark. Farce, the disappointments of life writ at a comedic scale, walks a fine line: too far and I over-identify with the mockery and suffering and disappointment of the characters... and I have to switch off or walk away. It just hurts too much. [Identification of another type - memory - is what stops me enjoying The Office and Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights: I NEVER want to go back, physically or otherwise, to my seven years of office hell or the local 'chicken-in-a-basket' circuit venue of has&never-been variety acts]
Bizarrely, I find darker comedy, and surreal comedy, much more appealing and less emotionally destructive. Taken at face value from descriptions of the lives of its central characters, Black Books would indeed feel depressing and tragic. But its tragedy is what makes it so compelling and so painfully funny to watch (it also has a healthy sense of the surreal which probably tempers some of its darker edge). Spaced and Green Wing, the erratic quality of Smack the Pony, and even Nighty Night and Big Train - neither of which I never managed to watch as often as I would have liked - share this dark edge. Of American TV, only Curb Your Enthusiasm has anything like this dark edge to it - though I do find this PAINFUL to watch and can only deal with one episode at a time. Any other 'dark' American comedies...?