Well, the time has come again. The time I receive scorn and derision from all my friends. The time I worry if a secret alternative comedy cabal are going to descend on my house to confiscate my comedy badge and gun. These spells last a few weeks before everything returns to normal, but they can be scary. This is the third time it’s happened, and if anything the hostility from those around me has got slightly worse. I’m beginning to fear for my life, or worse, my credibility.
Miranda’s on again.
What I don’t understand is how Miranda could have been the most-watched sitcom over Christmas, and named best sitcom by a poll on comedy.co.uk but the vast majority of the people I know think I’m a dick for liking it. I can honestly say that very few sitcoms make me laugh out loud when I’m watching them on my own, but I find this happening several times in every episode of Miranda.
Before I start my defence of this programme, a lot of criticism of it will include something about women being funny, for example “more evidence that women aren’t funny”, or “makes it hard to argue women are funny”. If that’s part of your argument, then stop reading this. I have no interest in engaging with a debate that shouldn’t still exist. If you’re still reading this bit, then I presume like most people you’re fully aware that women are just as funny as men and as sick as me of anyone trying to argue otherwise. Good, we can talk like grown-ups now.
I know why people criticise Miranda. It is cheesy, it’s not pushing any boundaries, and it does rely on slapstick. The thing is, the reasons that people criticise it are the same reasons I love it. It’s nice to watch something that’s warm, funny and silly, that doesn’t have to be overly controversial or filthy. Don’t get me wrong, I love controversy and filth as much as the next man, even if the next man is Max Moseley, but I don’t think either are a necessity for something to be funny or enjoyable.
The other point I feel I should make about physical comedy is that it’s brilliant when it’s done well, and Miranda does it incredibly well. Both Miranda Hart and Sarah Hadland are fantastic at falling over, a much underappreciated skill. Slapstick is the first thing that any of us laugh at, and if you don’t laugh at people falling over, you’re either a Terminator or you need to get in touch with your inner child. There will be no jokes about that phrase because I’m writing about Miranda and not Tramadol Nights.
Steve Bennett recently wrote an article on Chortle about sitcoms in which he stated that “Comedy has always been about class, of course. But there’s a crucial difference between the current crop and those classic sitcoms which have stood the test of time. These days everyone is happy within their place in the world, whereas in the past much of the humour came from people trying to ‘better themselves’, but failing dismally because of their inner faults.”
I disagree. I just think that class is no longer an issue that comedy mirrors. People in sitcoms are still trying to ‘better themselves’, but this is no longer down to the class divide. Miranda is focused around a chronically childish person trying to be respected and cope in the adult world, but failing because of her inner faults. I think that’s something that a lot of people can identify with, and that’s why the show’s so popular. Of course Miranda Hart is unashamedly upper-middle class, but that’s not a valid reason to dislike something. Her character is constantly warring with her mother, who represents all the snobbery and bigotry that is stereotypical of upper-middle class families.
So that’s why I like Miranda. Because it’s fun and silly. It seems ridiculous to have to say this, but comedy doesn’t have to be serious.