My Favourite Joke. Copyright: Open Mike Productions.

My Favourite Joke

BBC One documentary. 6 episodes (1 series) in 2011. Features Jonathan Ross, Jack Dee, Jo Brand, Joan Rivers, Alan Carr, Lenny Henry, Rich Hall and others.

Press Clippings

Watching this series's parade of classic comedy clips, chosen by comedians of today, confirms the theory that some people just have funny bones. It wouldn't matter if Tommy Cooper were clipping his toenails or performing the elaborately shambolic glass bottle trick from 1974 that is replayed here tonight: the fez-wearing comedian induces guffaws just because of who he is. Similarly, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore go wildly off-script in their "Pete and Dud" sketch in the art gallery and start giggling, but they're naturally funny together, as Phill Jupitus and Rhod Gilbert attest here. Funny comes in many packages, and while the American stand-up Joan Rivers, chosen by Graham Norton and Jo Brand as a favourite, is well-known for her shock tactics, her outrageous quips about growing old on The Graham Norton Show appeared to take even Norton aback at the time. Other treats featured are the University Challenge scene from The Young Ones in 1984, co-starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, and the bit in the Monty Python film Life of Brian in which Graham Chapman's Brian Cohen exhorts his followers to think for themselves. It may be a clip show and most of the clips are more than familiar, but it surely contains more laughs per minute than any of the newer comedies on television tonight.

Vicki Power, The Telegraph, 4th August 2011

BBC One's My Favourite Joke features various comics talking about their favourite comedy moments. It's like a Channel 4 poll but without the public interfering. It is the sort of show you would expect Stewart Lee to make a satirical routine about, and if Del falling through the bar in Only Fools and Horses is picked as one of those moments, no doubt he will.

In the latest episode, the moments chosen were Lee Evans' Bohemian Rhapsody mime; the scene in Rising Damp in which Rigsby uses burning wood to charm Miss Jones; the American comic Sam Kinison ranting against his ex-wife; Lucille Ball on roller skates, and Andre Previn's performance with Morecambe and Wise.

The thing is with these shows is that is tempting to say that they are a waste of airtime, and that it would be better to make an actual show that wasn't just full of clips. People say this all the time, but let's be honest, if they did make a show for that slot the chances are it probably won't be anything decent. It would just probably just be tat.

It's rather like people complaining about there being too many repeats on the BBC. Rubbish! In my view, there's not enough. There is a simple way to tell if there is, namely by looking at the entire schedule and pointing out all the awful TV shows that are out there. Scrap them, try to make some decent new shows in some slots and put some repeats of shows that you know are decent in the others. Look at the recent repeat run of Only Fools[/x] on daytime BBC One. It's been getting big ratings. Rather than put on some programme about property development on, just put on Dad's Army. No-one in their right mind would object to that.

Getting back to the show in hand, I suppose the main merit of these shows is that there will be quite a few comedy clips on My Favourite Joke that people in Britain many not have seen before. I've never seen The Lucy Show for example, and the roller skating routine is a very good piece of slapstick. So these shows do sometimes introduce to new experiences, which can only be a good thing.

Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats, 2nd August 2011

Yes, it's yet another talking heads/clips show but it does give us an opportunity to relive some cracking stand-up routines - last week's gave us Eddie Izzard covered in make-up and looking dazzling as he delivered his super skit about school-level French from his 1990s Dress To Kill show. This time, Bill Hicks rightly gets a look-in, as does Lee Evans's ingeniously physical Bohemian Rhapsody routine. Jonathan Ross, Micky Flanagan and Rich Hall are among those sharing their reverence.

Sharon Lougher, Metro, 29th July 2011

TV review: My Favourite Joke

Splicing a joke with a load of talking heads is like kicking it to death. By the time they get to the punchline, it's barely funny.

Zoe Williams, The Guardian, 23rd July 2011

My Favourite Joke review: explaining funny

"Oh wow, another programme where Z-list (actually, to call them Z-list would be unfair to Z-listers) 'celebrities' talk over some archive footage.." Only this time they aren't Z-listers at all, they're well-known comedians narrating famous sketches.

Harry Hamburg, On The Box, 22nd July 2011

What can be better than hearing some of our best-loved comedians describe their favourite jokes? What could be better than hearing Rhod Gilbert eulogising about Eddie Izzard learning French? That'd be much better than actually watching the routine itself, wouldn't it? Oh, yes. Miles better. Actually, how about if part of the routine was shown and then cut up for more talking head action? That doesn't sound irritating at ALL. What about setting up a Billy Connolly joke on Parkinson by revealing the punchline FIRST?

Sometimes the internet does things better than television. There's this site called YouTube where you can watch most of the routines. And then you can go on discussion forums like Cookd and Bombd and point out other jokes so funny they make you feel faint. That's a much better thing to do when home from the pub.

TV Bite, 22nd July 2011

My Favourite Joke: ten great one-liners

BBC One's new series My Favourite Joke explores what makes comedians laugh. Here are ten of the most perfectly polished jokes.

The Telegraph, 22nd July 2011

My Favourite Joke: What makes a joke funny?

From shaggy dog stories to punchlines, comedy writer David Quantick explains the nuts and bolts of how to make people laugh.

David Quantick, The Telegraph, 22nd July 2011

It's Friday night, the pubs have closed and you need some diversion. Nothing too taxing, mind, just a familiar treat, like a bunch of old comedy clips. And here's a cunning way to recycle classic routines and sketches: you intersperse the clips with modern comedians explaining how good they were. So Jack Dee tells us how Billy Connolly's debut on the Parkinson show in 1975 was an inspiration, not least for the tasteless joke Connolly told. The programme slightly ruins the joke by revealing the punchline at the start; and you wish it wouldn't keep cutting into Eddie Izzard's inspired 'learning French' routine so that Rhod Gilbert can enthuse. Yes, we know it's good! So let us watch it!

David Butcher, Radio Times, 22nd July 2011

A welcome new addition to the Friday night schedules - some real comedy in among the chat shows masquerading as such. Pitched at the post-pub crowd it's an archive show in which some of today's comics celebrate the great TV moments that inspired them to pursue a career in stand-up, or simply left them doubled over helpless with laughter and admiration.

Jack Dee is up first, recalling the impact that Billy Connolly's debut appearance on Parkinson - when the Big Yin told the infamous bum joke that turned him into a comedy superstar overnight - had on his teenage self back in 1975. Among those piling in to concur, and recall what an enormous influence Connolly was, are Jon Culshaw, Dara O'Briain, Alan Carr and Jo Brand. Then, before it all gets too indulgent, Brand recalls her own favourite - a groundbreaking 1988 sketch from French and Saunders in which the duo play dirty old men watching a beauty pageant. Again, there's praise from the likes of Alan Carr, Joan Rivers, Andi Osho and - a touch bizarrely - Paddy McGuinness, before moving on to the next (Rhod Gilbert on Eddie Izzard's surreal "learning French" routine), and finishing with hymns to Max Miller and Les Dawson. In truth, the old doesn't always mix with the new, and the insights aren't always scintillating, but it's a chance to enjoy again some hilarious moments, and to discover some past flights of genius that may have passed you by.

Gerald O'Donovan, The Telegraph, 21st July 2011