Unless you invented whichever device it is you’re reading this on, chances are you spend a large part of your life at work.
For most of us it’s just a fact of life that we’ll notch up more hours at our jobs than we will asleep and more time with the people we spend those work hours with than our own families.
One of a kind: David Brent, Ricky Gervais’ main character in The Office.
And for most of the time at least, it’s pretty serious stuff. Which might explain why the workplace is one of the most common settings for TV comedy.
From factories to offices, restaurants to airlines and much (much) more, comedians have found the absurd side of workplace and shown us that no matter how much we might find our own jobs tough, it could always be worse.
You could, for example, find yourself working for the undoubted world champion bad boss, The Office’s David Brent…
Here’s six workplaces – some you’d love to clock into, some you’re glad you never have to visit – that find the laughs in the day grind.
The Office (UK)
Originally released in Britain in 2001 starring (also created, written and directed by) Ricky Gervais, this mockumentary gave us arguably the most annoying boss ever – David Brent. Manager of a regional branch of the Wernham Hogg Paper Company, Brent is utterly convinced he is respected, admired and dare he say it, even loved by the staff he has. He couldn’t be more hilariously wrong.
The Office (USA)
One of the rare American remakes of a British comedy that manages to live up to the original, the action here is transplanted to Dunder Mifflin Paper, run by hapless manager Michael Scott (Steve Carrell).
Successful remake: Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim (John Krasinski) in the American version of The Office.
Although less manic than Gervais’ Brent, he’s every bit as eluded when it comes to the respect he has from his peers. Watching them work around him to get their jobs done is priceless.
If you’ve ever suspected that the people who man the phones of those telemarketing firms who call at the most awkward times have to be doing it on purpose, just to annoy you, this will confirm your fears. Blake, Adam and Anders (Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine and Anders Holm) share a cubicle at TelAmeriCorp and a plan to improve their lives at the cost of pretty much anyone who stands in their way.
Hardly working: l-r: Adam Devine, Blake Anderson, Anders Holm in Workaholics.
In the aisles and back rooms of Valco supermarket, the staff stock the shelves, watch the monitors and ponder the lives they and their customers have. It’s an intricate world where romance can blossom, rivalries flare and strangeky, where a family has grown without any of them actually realising it. And best of all, it’s genuinely funny. You’ll never look at a supermarket the same way again.
Parks and Recreation
A mockumentary in the vein of The Office, Parks and Rec (as it’s known to fans) follows Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) and the staff at the Pawnee Indiana branch of America’s Parks and Recreation department.
Model employee: Leslie Knope, played by Amy Poehler, in Parks and Recreation.
Instantly familiar to anyone who has ever worked in a government office, this is a mess and mass of red tape and bureaucracy as the team try to somehow make a difference.
The I.T. Crowd
Ever had the feeling that the techsperts who answer your call when something goes wrong with the office equipment might be less than enthused with your “urgent” call? Then drop by the thoroughly dysfunctional I.T. department of Reynholm Industries to have your worst fears confirmed. Buried in a dingy basement, these three might know how to fix a computer, but have all the people skills of a houseplant. Great fun starring Chris O’Dowd (also in Get Shorty right now).
The Job Lot
Take a look inside a job centre, where the crew work all day to find work for others, for a rare and brilliant glimpse into a world few ever see. Set in England’s midlands area this is somehow universal as the staff try to place the long-term unemployed, those whose dreams far outstrip their abilities and others who’d really rather just be on their couch watching TV. How’s that for relatable?
Can't get enough of watching others at work? Catch The Office, The I.T. Crowd, Parks and Recreation and more on Stan now. Check them out here: https://www.stan.com.au/watch/tv-shows
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