What is comedy? What makes people laugh? Comedy, especially in television, is an extremely hard concept to master. Everybody has a different sense of humor so finding an audience can be very difficult. The show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a special sort of comedy. Being one of the top rated shows on the cable network FX, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (or “It’s always Sunny” for short) branches out to all different types of audiences with it’s offensive, narcissistic sense of humor. By taking on controversial subjects like abortion and gay marriage throughout the series along with just straight-up twisted plot lines, the show finds its unique and bizarre style and takes it to new lengths that satisfy all audience members.
The show is about five characters: Mac, Dennis, Charlie, Sweet Dee, and Frank who all own a subpar bar in Philadelphia. The show consists of these characters trying to one-up each other, take advantage of each other, and screw each other over in any way they find suitable to benefit themselves. Watching these delusional characters work off of each other in the cruelest of ways adds to the laughs - but it’s only half of the fun. Then they bring in serious topics to focus on. For example, the episode shown in class demonstrations how these characters pretend to be handicapped to get girls (or in Sweet Dee’s case, to get guys). This is where the other half of the laughs comes from. All of the characters are so over-the-top offensive that nobody can believe that they exist, which is why they can get away with bringing up edgy topics like disabled people. But the dialogue is so natural and conventional (due to the half-improvisation/half-scripted style of the show) that the viewers can believe that these characters actually do exist. This contradiction explains why the show is so popular today. People are able to relate to the real life emotions that these characters portray but when people watch these characters act upon these emotions in the most illogical and offensive ways possible, it creates the rambunctious fun that the show is known for.
The story telling and characters are great in the show, but not many people notice the brilliantly simple camera shots and stage lighting that the show offers. As you watch It’s Always Sunny, you can clearly see how there are no use of special camera angles and no use of special lighting. The directors and producers do this purposely. They want the viewers to feel as if they are hanging out with the gang at the bar and going on an absurd adventure with them. This personal aesthetic adds to the comedy to the show and here’s why: Let’s say I told you a story that I thought was hilarious. But after you’ve heard my story, you don’t share the same enthusiasm that I do. My response would probably be, “Oh, you just had to be there to think it was funny.” The producers use this technique in It’s Always Sunny with the personal and natural camera shots and lighting, where it seems as if you’re in the show experiencing everything that these characters are experiencing.
There are many elements to this show that make it a successful comedy. But the reason why I like this show so much is the fact that the actors just have fun with it. The actors on the show, who also write and produce the show, are all friends behind the scenes and share a similar sense of humor. When they are on screen, the viewers can obviously tell that the actors are having fun and not taking their characters too seriously. This authentic atmosphere that the actors create on the show is unlike any other television show and if they continue to bring forth this energy, they will continue to be successful.