Comedy, for a long time, has been stripped and whittled down to it's bare essentials. Simple character development, a straightforward story and a series of obvious, predictable observations and reactions. Fortunately for us those times are changing. With complex shows such as 'Extras' and 'Curb Your enthusiasm' our comedy tastes are being refined to a much fuller flavour. Of course shows such as 'The Simpsons', 'Seinfield', 'Cheers' and 'Friends' will always have a mark on the defining of the genre when it comes to TV, but they have and will, end and be reduced to re-run filler for low viewing times in the channel's schedule.
Amazingly it's shows like 'Scrubs', 'My Name Is Earl', 'Peep Show', 'Family Guy' and 'South Park' that are calling the shots. Low hitting but consistent, getting by on nothing but fine writing and excellent character development. Personally, 'South Park' has been the most surprising of the cartoon comedys. Simply getting by on toilet jokes, shock tactics and celebrity bashing for years the show has matured, and although carrying on the boyish tradition of those jokes, 'South Park' has developed into a clever, quick responsive satire.
Outside of television you have radio. Which is basically television before it becomes television. A forerunner for shows such as Chris Morris' 'Brasseye', Steve Coogan's 'Alan Partridge - Knowing Me, Knowing You' and the platform for comedian development. Gervais & Merchant, The Mary Whitehouse Experience, Morris and Noble. The addition of podcasting has opened the opportunities for finding great shows but has also clouded those shows with thousands of bad shows to hunt through.
After television and radio you have stand up. My favourites have got to be David Cross and Sarah Silverman. Although Cross has ruined his reputation with some awful sketches and bad cameos his stand up is untouchable. Silverman has little available, but a search on a P2P will deliver something and if it's anything with Silverman, it definitely is something. With her DVD 'Jesus Is Magic' on the verge of release and world domination, her appearance in 'The Aristocrats' getting around via word of mouth and her Conan O'Brien interview making headlines, Silverman is one to watch.
Unfortunately, apart from Gervais, British soils have been very comedy dry this past year. Morris and Brooker's 'Nathan Barley' had it's moments. If you're a fan of comedy you must own 'TVGOHOME', a tremendously funny Radio Times parody by Brooker. It's selling for insane amounts on the net. I found my copy in Oxfam for £4.00 so it's worth hunting for. Morris has also been seen in 'The I.T. Crowd'. A real over-hyped let down from the creators of 'Father Ted'. If you miss Father Ted I would steer clear from this show and buy 'Big Train', a funnier sketch based show with all your favourites from 'Jam' & 'Spaced'.
No links with this one as you'd be better off Googling them and searching your P2P for examples.
If you couldn't be assed you could always go and make a South Park Character of yourself.