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For the satirical film by François Ozon, see Sitcom (film).

A situation comedy, often shortened to the portmanteau sitcom, is a genre of comedy that features characters sharing the same common environment, such as a home or workplace, with often humorous dialogue. Such programs originated in radio, but today, sitcoms are found mostly on television as one of its dominant narrative forms. This form also includes mockumentaries such as The Office and Parks and Recreation.

A situation comedy television program may be recorded in front of a studio audience, depending on the program's production format. The effect of a live studio audience can be imitated by the use of a laugh track.



Some of the characters, pratfalls, routines and situations as preserved in eyewitness accounts and in the texts of the plays themselves, are remarkably similar to those in earlier modern sitcoms such as I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners. The first television sitcom is said to be Pinwright's Progress, ten episodes being broadcast on the BBC in the United Kingdom between 1946 and 1947.[1][2] In the United States, director and producer William Asher has been credited with being the "man who invented the sitcom,"[3] having directed over two dozen of the leading sitcoms, including I Love Lucy, from the 1950s through the 1970s.

By country[edit]


There have been few long-running Australian-made sitcoms, but many U.S. and UK sitcoms have been successful there. UK sitcoms are a staple of government broadcaster Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC); in the 1970s and 1980s many UK sitcoms also screened on the Seven Network. By 1986, UK comedies Bless This House and Are You Being Served? had been repeated by ABC Television several times, and were then acquired and screened by the Seven Network, in prime time.[4]

In 1981, Daily at Dawn was the first Australian comedy series to feature a regular gay character (Terry Bader as journalist Leslie).[5]

In 1987, Mother and Son was winner of the Television Drama Award presented by the Australian Human Rights Commission.[6][7]

In 2004, Are You Being Served? was ranked 20th in the countdown of Britain's Best Sitcom.[8]

In 2007, Kath & Kim The first episode of series four attracted an Australian audience of 2.521 million nationally,[9] the highest rating ever for a first episode in the history of Australian television,[9] until the series premiere of Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities in 2009 with 2.58m viewers.[10]


See also: Canadian humour

The popular show King of Kensington, aired from 1975 to 1980, prior to the start of the fourth season drew 1.5 to 1.8 million viewers weekly.[11]

Corner Gas, which ran for six seasons from 2004 to 2009, became an instant hit, averaging a million viewers per episode.[12] 1.5 million viewers in its first episode on January 22, 2004. And has been the recipient of six Gemini Awards, and has been nominated almost 70 times for various awards.[13]

Between 2007 and 2012, the Little Mosque on the Prairie premiere drew an audience of 2.1 million,[14] but declined in its fourth season drawing 420,000 viewers a week, or twenty percent of its original audience.[15]


Czech Republic[edit]




Sitcoms started appearing on Indian television in the 1980s, with serials like Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi (1984) and Wagle Ki Duniya (1988) on the state-run Doordarshan channel. Gradually, as private channels were allowed, many more sitcoms followed in the 1990s, such as Zabaan Sambhalke (1993), Shrimaan Shrimati (1995), Office Office (2001), Khichdi (2002), Sarabhai vs Sarabhai (2005) to F.I.R. (2006- 2015) & Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah (2008–present).[16][17]

New Zealand[edit]

Gliding On, a popular sit-com in New Zealand in the early 1980s, won multiple awards over the course of its run, including Best Comedy, Best Drama and Best Direction at the Feltex Awards.[18]





United Kingdom[edit]

Main article: British sitcom

United States[edit]

Most American sitcoms generally include episodes of 20 to 30 minutes in length, where the story is written to run a total of 22 minutes in length, leaving eight minutes for commercials.[19]

Some popular British shows have been successfully adapted for the U.S.[20]

Sitcoms on U.S. radio[edit]

The sitcom format was born on January 1926 with the initial broadcast of Sam 'n' Henry on WGN radio in Chicago, Illinois.[21] The 15-minute daily program was revamped in 1928, moved to another station, renamed Amos 'n' Andy, and became one of the most successful sitcoms of the period. It was also one of the earliest examples of radio syndication. Like many radio programs of the time, the two programs continued the American entertainment traditions of vaudeville and the minstrel show.

Sitcoms on U.S. television[edit]

2000s and 2010s[edit]

Definition of Sitcom in the 21st century[edit]

Modern critics have disagreed over the utility of the term "sitcom" in classifying shows that have come into existence since the turn of the century.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pinwright's Progress". 
  2. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (2003). "Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy". BBC Worldwide Ltd. 
  3. ^ "William Asher - The Man Who Invented the Sitcom", Palm Springs Life Dec. 1999
  4. ^ Collier, Shayne. Again and again and again. The Sydney Morning Herald - The Guide: 2 June 1986, p.1, 6. [1]
  5. ^ Howes, Keith. (1998, February). "Gays of Our Lives". Outrage, Number 177, 38-49.
  6. ^ "1987 Television Drama Award". Human Rights Medal and Awards. Australian Human Rights Commission. 1987. Retrieved 2007-08-11. 
  7. ^ Tynan, Jacinta (2008-09-13). "Weird how my rello won his fame". Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  8. ^ "Britain's Best Sitcom – Top 11 to 100". BBC. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Seven Network (20 August 2007). "Seven – Daily Ratings Report". Retrieved 20 August 2007. 
  10. ^ "2.58m: Underbelly sets new record". TV Tonight. 
  11. ^ "King to be bachelor". Ottawa Citizen. 1978-01-25. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  12. ^ "Strong numbers mean replay of Corner Gas debut" (Press release). CTV Inc. 2004-01-23. Retrieved 2007-01-08. 
  13. ^ "'Corner Gas' gives thanks with premiere on Monday, Oct. 13". CTV Globemedia. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  14. ^ "A whopping two million viewers tune into 'Little Mosque'". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. 2007-01-10. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  15. ^ Brioux, Bill " "Being Erica Means Being on the Bubble", 2009-12-10. Retrieved on 2009-12-15.
  16. ^ "The Sitcom diaries". New Indian Evpress. 5 May 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  17. ^ Patel, Nidhin (2011-10-13). "'Taarak Mehta' completes 700 episodes". Times of India. 
  18. ^ "Roger Hall Piece about Gliding On". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  19. ^ How Sitcoms Work, page 3.
  20. ^ When British TV flies across the pond., April 6, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  21. ^ Jim Cox (2007). The Great Radio Sitcoms. McFarlane. ISBN 9780786431465. 
  22. ^ "The Sitcom Reader: America Viewed and Skewed". 

Further reading[edit]

  • Lewisohn, Mark (2003) Radio Times' Guide to TV Comedy. 2nd Ed. Revised - BBC Consumer Publishing. ISBN 0-563-48755-0, Provides details of every comedy show ever seen on British television, including imports.
  • Padva, Gilad (2005) Desired Bodies and Queer Masculinities in Three Popular TV Sitcoms. In Lorek-Jezinska, Edyta and Wieckowska, Katarzyna (Eds.), Corporeal Inscriptions: Representations of the Body in Cultural and Homosexual Literature (pp. 127–138). Torun, Poland: Nicholas Copernicus University Press. ISBN 83-231-1812-4
  • Asplin, Richard (2004) Gagged - A Thriller With Jokes - Arrow books. ISBN 0-09-941685-9 is a contemporary comic thriller set in London and Los Angeles that covers the financing, production, creation, ratings and marketing of a modern American network half-hour situation comedy

External links[edit]