Sam Wollaston: Him & Her
I so nearly chose Angry Boys which had the funniest moments of the year, but was too patchy. Him & Her works so well not just because of brilliant natural performances from Russell Tovey and Sarah Solemani (plus Joe Wilkinson as weird neighbour Dan), but also because they were so totally believable – recognisable even.
Heidi Stephens: The Trip
It’s not often two of your favourite comic actors are served up side-by-side, and it’s hard to imagine who but Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon could have made it work – The Trip was a joy. But my biggest belly laugh of the year came from Tess Daly’s Strictly Come Dancing wardrobe – the comedy gift that kept on giving.
Phelim O’Neill: Psychoville
It arrived with little fanfare, but then how do you promote a show full of clown funerals, reanimated Nazi heads, silent singers, blackmail, kidnapping and zorbing? The second series was stuffed full of bizarre characters, with Mrs Ladybird Face a last-minute show-stealer, and a Tina Turner impression that is the stuff of hilarious nightmares.
Ben Dowell: Rev
The second run of James Wood’s series about inner-city vicar Adam Smallbone proved even more wise, heart-warming, tender, witty and brilliantly acted than the first. Paired on Thursday nights with my comedy turkey of 2011 – Ricky Gervais’s mean-spirited and off-the-mark Life’s Too Short – the contrast could not have been more stark. Tom Hollander also proved that a clever, thoughtful actor can be much funnier than a show-offy comedian.
Daniel Bettridge: Community
Those people who could lay their hands on a copy would no doubt agree that Community has proved to be one of the most entertaining comedies for years. Imaginative, inventive and crammed full of pop-culture gags, the only shame is that more people aren’t watching it.
Johnny Dee: Friday Night Dinner
At first, I didn’t get it. But by the end of the second episode I felt as if I was squirming with embarrassment watching my own family. I loved the in-jokes (the salt in the drink, the “females” and the non existent girlfriend) but most of all I loved Jim – the neighbour terrified of his own dog but excited at the prospect of flirting with Jackie.
Flic Everett: Outnumbered
Horribly realistic scripts mixed with improvisation still make this show unmissable. The moment when nine-year-old Ben is shown hoovering his own face through boredom particularly stands out, but Karen’s desperate attempts to make friends with 10-year-old bully Tania and Jake’s utter embarrassment at being a teenager with parents were equally well drawn.
Viv Groskop: Downton Abbey
Nothing is funnier. Especially the man with the bandaged face. But my second favourite comedy this year has come from Cardinal Burns, a double act who have a series coming out on E4 in early 2012. Their shorts for the BBC’s online comedy channel are original, demented and hilarious. They do a brilliant sketch as two ridiculously virile, deluded but well-meaning Turkish cab drivers which makes me sob with laughter.