Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

Hilarity Ensues

Whenever I watch a sitcom, I can't help but imagine the written summary when the idea for the episode was first pitched. Each one invariably follows the same exact formula. First, main character participates in perfectly normal activity (job search, audition, date, vacation, etc...). Second, unlikely twist occurs to complicate the seemingly simple activity (misunderstanding, innuendo, return of a former relationship, the need to retrieve an object in an untoward manner, etc...). And finally, each and every one ends with two simple words: Hilarity ensues.

No show makes better use of this formula than Frasier. Last week's episode in which the Crane family needs to interview a nanny, stripper, and physical therapist all in one evening is a perfect example, even after 10 years.

1. Frasier and Niles setup an appointment to interview bachelor party entertainment for their father, while at the same time, Daphne is set to interview a nanny and Martin has an interview scheduled with a new physical therapist.

2. The 3 interviewees, who just happen to be scheduled for the same time and location, are mistaken for one another, producing a great deal of misunderstanding and innnuendo.

3. Hilarity ensues.

As successful as this can be, I always appreciate the work of writers who are able to create humor out of conversations, relationships, and human behavior, rather than staged, contrived, and unrealistic situations. I think of Sports Night, Seinfeld, and Mad About You as some of the absolute best at this. Of course, every sitcom falls back on the time-tested formula at some point, the difference is the frequency.