British ‘panel shows’ showcase brilliant wit of UK comedians

David Mitchell, Rob Brydon and Lee Mack in Would I Lie to You. Photo: BBC

After spending the last week in the UK, I had the great good fortune to be reminded on a nightly basis of the extent to which British comedy is far superior to American comedy. That point was driven home by having the opportunity to watch endless latenight broadcasts of panel shows on Dave (the home of witty-banter in the UK) such as QI, Mock the Week, Would I Lie to You and Have I Got News For You.

Each week, viewers are treated to the comedic talents and brilliant wit of UK comedians in improv settings such as Stephen Fry, Alan Davies, David Mitchell, Rob Brydon, Hugh Dennis, Michael McIntyre, Jack Dee, Lee Mack, Bob Mortimer, Sandi Toksvig, Jo Brand and Miranda Hart to mention just a few.

This amazing consolidation of talent on the British side would be like having U.S. comedians such as Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Chris Rock, Kevin Hart, Jason Sudeikis, Tiffany Haddish, Tina Fey, Wanda Sykes, Amy Poehler, Kate McKinnon, Sarah Silverman, etc. showcase their improv ability on this side of the pond each week.

There’s no doubt that series such as Modern Family, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, The Bear, Ted Lasso and Community have raised the bar over time of quality American sitcoms. Ask any British telly viewer and they will be quick to also mention Seinfeld, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Frasier and Big Bang Theory as being quality situation comedy that live up to the standards of their British cousins.

I know we’ve probably both discussed and over-discussed the differences between British and American situation comedy over the course of the last 15 years but, just my opinion, the British just flat out do it better and panel shows prove my point.


In: Comedy