Charlie Sheen has never been funnier. Of course, following nine seasons of being extremely well paid for a situation comedy with such poor comedic timing even the laughter track can’t find it, this comes a little late. Only now, in his greatest role (as himself), can he deliver such lines as “riding the media tsunami on a mercury surfboard”, while waving his “fire-breathing fists”.

The demise of “Australia’s favourite comedy” could not have arrived at a better time (although nine years ago would have been good too). You see, while the major networks were busy figuring out how much canned laughter they could import from the US without us getting wise, some Australians were busy working hard at being funny.

Unfortunately, these smaller, but significantly funnier Australian shows were lost in the shadows of Sheen. There is no long-lasting international acclaim like that for Arrested Development, 30 Rock, or Curb Your Enthusiasm, and from the British ranks of The Office, Extras, Alan Partridge, Spaced, or Fawlty Towers, to name a few.

Instead we have similarly great shows such as 30 Seconds, written by local advertising guys who knew a good line when they saw it, which incorporated a talented cast, brilliantly navigated the first season, then quickly disappeared. And quirky Australian gems such as The Librarians and Stupid, Stupid, Man are either slipping under the radar on free-to-air or have been snapped up by pay TV.

Step forward Marieke Hardy and Kirsty Fisher.

Their new series, Laid, is currently working wonders on ABC and is actually getting the attention it deserves. A black comedy about a girl who discovers Death is knocking off her ex-boyfriends one by one — it’s that unique brand of fresh plot, wrapped up in well-written, subtly layered and ever-so wry humour, with the odd d-ck gag thrown in for good measure. Sprinkle in some great turns by the deliciously bewildered Alison Bell and her pragmatic roommate Celia Pacquola and you have half an hour of some truly great Australian comedy.

We may be four episodes in, but don’t let that deter you from jumping in half-way through tonight. All the best shows are funny for newcomers and regulars alike, and this is one of them.

So make sure you clear some time this Wednesday evening for a spot of comedy that’s actually funny. And to those commercial network CEOs still hard at work looking for the next big thing, feel free to sweep your desk clean of that Charlie Sheen nodding-head doll and get busy. Even the great man himself would admit there’s nothing better than getting Laid.

The details: Laid airs at 9.30 tonight on ABC1. Previous episodes are available on iView.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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