With lots of people thinking about what to do after college, or just looking for a laugh between exams and coursework, we’re highlighting workplace comedies. Pretty much every one of these is a great example of what not to do when you enter the workplace! But, then again, most of the workplaces are pretty challenging as well. Either way, these are some of the best British comedies ever put on screen.
Graham Linehan’s classic comedy of three misfits working in an independent bookshop is a deliciously snarky treat. Black Books, owned by the surly Bernard Black (Dylan Moran), is the haunt of the kindly but easily-manipulated sales assistant Manny (Bill Bailey) and Bernard’s highly-strung neighbour Fran (Tamsin Grieg). Filled with absurd humour, these three misanthropes have bizarre adventures, and somehow keep Black Books running despite some pretty appalling business practices.
The world lost a great comedian recently when Victoria Wood died at the age of 62. Her acerbic wit was perfectly showcased in Dinnerladies, in which Brenda Furlong (Wood) manages the canteen staff at a factory. Dinnerladies captured its audience with the ridiculousness of everyday life, with a strong dramatic thread as well as great observational humour. It’ll make you laugh, and it might make you cry.
One of the greatest comedies of all time, Fawlty Towers was the creation of Monty Python star John Cleese and actress Connie Booth. It follows the misadventures of hapless hotel manager Basil Fawlty (Cleese), his long-suffering wife Sybil (Prunella Scales), Spanish waiter Manuel (Andrew Sachs) and sensible Polly (Booth), the hotel waitress. Fawlty Towers is a masterpiece of comedy, with slapstick and quick-fire dialogue, all inevitably leading up to Basil Fawlty shouting in exasperation. The best thing about Fawlty Towers is the way that everything bad that happens to Basil comes from his own snobbishness and attempts to deceive his wife. Basil Fawlty is the worst hotel manager ever, and he’s utterly perfect because of it.
Set in a hospital, Green Wing is a take on the weird world of medical professionals. Green Wing is filled with eccentric characters at all levels of the hospital, from medical consultants to the admin staff and human resources departments, all with bizarre interweaving stories filled with romantic twists and cruel pranks. Tamsin Grieg plays Caroline Todd, an awkward surgical registrar starting at the hospital, romantically pursuing surgeon Mac (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and pursued in return by sleazy anaesthetist Guy (Stephen Mangan). Hopefully working in a hospital isn’t this weird in real life!
The IT Crowd
Created by Black Books’ Graham Linehan (also known for Father Ted), The IT Crowd has jokes ranging from the bizarre (an underground Countdown club, a German cannibal) to the disturbingly familiar (who hasn’t been asked “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”). Computer novice Jen (Katherine Parkinson) lies her way into a job as the “relationship manager” of Renham Industries’ I.T. department. While there is initially some friction with her co-workers, Roy (Chris O’Dowd) and Moss (Richard Ayoade), over the course of the series they become friends. The IT Crowd is a great portrayal of how co-workers adapt to each others’ unique foibles and support each other, even though they spend plenty of time playing practical jokes as well. It’s also filled with jokes designed to delight nerds everywhere (spot the picture of the Flying Spaghetti Monster on the wall, and the DVD menu for the first series is an isometric computer game!) and draws on plenty of in-jokes about computers and the Internet that show it’s written by someone who knows their stuff.
The Office made history when it first appeared on the scene, and is one of the few cases where the American remake was well-regarded. The trials and tribulations of narcissistic office manager David Brent (Ricky Gervais) were in contrast to the genuinely sweet relationship between kindly sales representative Tim Canterbury (Martin Freeman) and receptionist Dawn Tinsley (Lucy Davis). One of the early-2000s wave of ‘mockumentaries’ that focused on a fly-on-the-wall style of filming rather than a live studio audience, The Office is a sharply-observed commentary on office work, from the manager who is oblivious to how much his colleagues dislike him to the person who’s just in it for a paycheck, it made people laugh and wince with its accuracy.
So, whether you’re looking for a laugh or thinking about careers, find these smart comedies in the DVD Lobby at 791.453617.
If you want to learn more about your options for careers, have a look at our careers section in the Information Store or visit the City College careers advice service in the Advice Shop and the Startup Lounge. Keep an eye out for careers events running throughout the year at City College, with sessions on how to get into specific careers and talks from alumni who have found success in their chosen field.
Flazingo Photos (2014) Career-Mind-map-Chalk. [photograph] Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/124247024@N07/13903383227 (Accessed on 10/05/16)
geralt (2015) Building neon sign communication. [photograph] Available at: https://pixabay.com/en/building-neon-sign-communication-804526/ (Accessed on 10/05/16)