Best Sitcom Performance of All Time

Hi Everybody,
This goes back to a tweet from a couple of years ago from Kevin Biegel (writer/producer for Scrubs, Cougar Town, Enlisted) where he declared that Steve Carell's performance on The Office is the greatest sitcom performance of all time. My wife and I have been trying to think of a better one and we both feel pretty good about him being right, but are curious for other contenders (because as much as we love sitcoms and have hosts of favorite characters and what not, we're having trouble thinking of anyone who makes it even close). 

Here's the case: It's about the overall performance and what an accomplishment it is. Honestly, no sitcom has ever asked someone to do what Carrell did on The Office. That character is ridiculously layered and dimensional, and the whole show doesn't work if he doesn't find this impossible balance between being a completely terrible ignorant monster and a lovable guy who you root for. Generally, a great sitcom character can get by on just being charismatic and having great timing with a good cast to bounce off of. I love Parks and Rec for instance and while I think it had amazing performances, no one was ever asked to do even remotely what Carrell did. To my memory, no one has and if they have had more asked it wasn't nearly to the same extent or success.

Are we missing anybody? Any contenders we're overlooking?
cdrive

Comments

  • MichelleMichelle California
    Jason Alexander as George Costanza.  Hands down the runner up, if not the fav.



    I would have said Michael Richards as Kramer, but eesh (I know we've all moved on but still).  He was incredible though.

    Also, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Sean Hayes as Jack McFarland, and Ray Romano.
    ChinaskiNoelTravisJoshuaHeterJimDoubleA_RonDeecdriveDummy
  • ChinaskiChinaski Santa Cruz, CA
    gotta throw Julia Louis-Dreyfus on there. Elaine is one of my all time fav sitcom characters!
    MichelleNoelTravisJimcdrive
  • MichelleMichelle California
    Chinaski said:
    gotta throw Julia Louis-Dreyfus on there. Elaine is one of my all time fav sitcom characters!
    Yes!  For some reason I was thinking male actors/characters but this is an awesome pick!
    Elaine's my spirit animal. :)


    ChinaskiNoelTravis
  • MichelleMichelle California
    edited July 1
    Adding Megan Mullally as Karen Walker to this list. :)



    Travis
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    edited July 1
    Definitely George Constanza. I rewatch Seinfeld regularly and he is always hilarious and endearing, even though he’s a terrible person (and he was right about the big salad, damn it!). 

    And honestly, if The Office is in play, as much I dislike Ricky Gervais, David Brent is leagues above Michael Scott. His veering between cringingly awful and desperately pitiable was far more subtle than the broad comedy of Michael (who I do also like as a character). 
    JoshuaHeter
  • CretanBullCretanBull Toronto
    Alan Alda on MASH?
    Traviscdrive
  • Alan Alda on MASH?
    Oh man. It's been a spell since I've watched MASH. Might have to rectify that. Good call. I do remember Alda being really great.

    I may have to go further down the Seinfeld well and give it another shot. I'm not a Seinfeld guy (Curb either, I think maybe me and Larry David are just on different wavelengths), but with Costanza and Elaine getting this much love maybe I should try again. I also have only seen 1 episode of the Gervais Office. My wife has watched more and I kind of took her word for it, but maybe I'll have to form my own opinion. Karen on Will and Grace was quite the hoot as well. 

    Either way, this is great. Thanks for chiming in everybody. Looking forward to see if any more pop up.
    MichelleChinaski
  • MurderbearMurderbear Cold Spring, Ky
    The first one that popped in my head is Bryan Cranston on Malcom in the Middle.

    Honorable mentions to Don Knotts and also all of The Golden Girls.
    Travis
  • ChinaskiChinaski Santa Cruz, CA
    Honorable mentions to Don Knotts
    i background watched like a 3 hour block of Three's Company the other day while I was working. big shout out to Mr. Furley! :D
    Travis
  • amyja89amyja89 Oxford, England
    Bea Arthur in The Golden Girls was perfection. More recently, Catherine O’Hara in Schitt’s Creek and June Diane Raphael in Grace & Frankie.
    Travis
  • Speaking of people acting hilariously, apparently Vanilla Ice is putting on a concert in Texas and when asked about the Coronavirus of it all said: There was no Coronavirus in the 1990s. Sounds about right. (shrug)
  • CretanBullCretanBull Toronto
    Travis said:
    Speaking of people acting hilariously, apparently Vanilla Ice is putting on a concert in Texas and when asked about the Coronavirus of it all said: There was no Coronavirus in the 1990s. Sounds about right. (shrug)
    "The concert is selling 2,500 tickets, which is roughly half of the venue's potential capacity. Tickets range from $25 for general admission to $300 for VIP seating (the latter is sold out)."

    In the middle of a pandemic, people have $300 to spend on Vanilla Ice   :/  
  • CretanBullCretanBull Toronto
    Carroll O'Connor on All in The Family should be considered as well.
    MichelleTravisDummy
  • fidozfidoz Houston
    Chinaski said:
    gotta throw Julia Louis-Dreyfus on there. Elaine is one of my all time fav sitcom characters!
    JLD is a very interesting one but I think Selina Meyer is a better comparison to Michael Scott. She also had to walk the line between being a terrible person and someone you rooted for. And she did it excellently with way more venom than Carrell. 
    ChinaskiTravisJSDCA
  • MichelleMichelle California
    I have a few more.  Henry Winkler as The Fonz, Ed O'Neill as Al Bundy, Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute, Lucille f'ing Ball as Lucy Ricardo, Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie. :)
    TravisCretanBullJSDCA
  • HatorianHatorian Dagobah
    It’s definitely Michael in the office but here’s my list

    1. Steve Carrel - Michael scott from Office 
    2. Ed O’Neill - Al Bundy in Married with Children
    3. Nick offerman - Ron From Parks and Rec 
    4. George Alexander - George Constanta Seinfeld
    5. Jerry Stiller - both dads from Seinfeld and King of Queens

    Honorable mentions: Rainn Wilson Dwight Schrute. Kevin James Doug Hefferman

    Travis
  • TravisTravis CA
    edited July 2
    fidoz said:
    Chinaski said:
    gotta throw Julia Louis-Dreyfus on there. Elaine is one of my all time fav sitcom characters!
    JLD is a very interesting one but I think Selina Meyer is a better comparison to Michael Scott. She also had to walk the line between being a terrible person and someone you rooted for. And she did it excellently with way more venom than Carrell. 
    Selina Meyer did cross my mind, but (and this may have nothing to do with the performance, just the character construction), I very rarely rooted for Selina. I was certainly entertained by her, but she was so awful that it kind of lacked redemption. That said, she played THE SHIT out of that character. I typically am turned off by characters that are just that awful (in my opinion as bad as Michael Scott is, she is SO much worse), but I loved Veep and "hanging out" with that character. That's certainly a testament to how well she brought that character to life. It really was an amazing performance. Great pick.

    fidoz
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    Yeah, same. I usually was happier when Selena fell on her face. I can't think of many decisions she made that were altruistic and not self-centered in some fashion. In all fairness, awful people is what that show was drenched in. Its similar to Curb Your Enthusiasm to a degree. The difference is that Larry David would have a point or be in the right on occasion. Selena was always a jerk to every single person in her circle. 
    Travis
  • amyja89amyja89 Oxford, England
    Also, Joanna Lumley in Absolutely Fabulous.
    DeeCretanBullMichelle
  • MichelleMichelle California
    amyja89 said:
    Also, Joanna Lumley in Absolutely Fabulous.
    Excellent call on this one!

    Speaking of British sitcoms, taking it back a bit, there's John Inman and Mollie Sugden in Are You Being Served?, Patricia Routledge in Keeping Up Appearances, John Cleese in Fawlty Towers, Dawn French in The Vicar of Dibley, Rowan Atkinson in Mr. Bean, and Bill Owen in Last of the Summer Wine. :) 
  • Huge fan of both Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but Danny DeVito as Frank Reynolds in Always Sunny is incredible. He seemingly has no shame when it comes to the role.
    DeeHatorian
  • jluzaniajluzania Denver
    This may be more "favorite" than "best", but I'm going to throw in a shout out for John C. McGinley as Dr. Cox on Scrubs. 
    DummyTravis
  • HatorianHatorian Dagobah
    Jim said:
    Huge fan of both Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but Danny DeVito as Frank Reynolds in Always Sunny is incredible. He seemingly has no shame when it comes to the role.
    Definitely came to mind and not sure why I left him out. 

    The coming out of a chair and hand sanditizer episodes are just classic. He’s definitely on the top of celebs I’d like to sit down and have lunch with. 
  • jluzania said:
    This may be more "favorite" than "best", but I'm going to throw in a shout out for John C. McGinley as Dr. Cox on Scrubs. 
    I couldn't agree more. I was putting together a Top 5 after digging that @Hatorian had (got stuck on number 5 because there are just too many great ones to consider for the last slot), but Dr. Cox was one of the 4 I had. I actually think it's an amazing performance for being incredibly well rounded. They used his full range sparingly, but in those handful of moments when they really wanted to land something in him he was just perfect. Most of my favorite shows are sitcoms, so I'm certainly not one to diminish the craft. How many high profile actors and actresses have looked completely lost in sticoms (just look through guest spots on Friends and if memory serves me right Christina Applegate was the only one who made it feel like anything more than a novelty (not to pick on Brad Pitt who I think is awesome, but that shit was a trainwreck)), but when you can live seamlessly in a sitcom and stand out brilliantly in that capacity, but also give moments like McGinley did. Real vulnerability that is believable and pulls you into the moment... McGinley was next level on Scrubs.
    HatorianjluzaniaDummy
  • TravisTravis CA
    edited July 7
    wrong thread.
    bizmarkiefader
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