Confessions of a sitcom-aholic: Can comedy save your mortal soul?

Cutting Room Floor

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Hi, my name is Alex, and I’m addicted to situational comedy.

I grew up on my dad’s on- and off-color sense of humor, always enthralled with the way that he could make light of any situation. His jokes pulled me through the dark times in my life, and they continue to be a source of inspiration even though he’s six hours away in my native San Bernardino.

It’s a no-brainer that I have a lifelong and endless debt to my dad. From being an all-around great dad to catering to my many whims, here are just two of the many things he has gifted me: my passion for pop culture and my love for comedy.

To understand why turning to shows such as “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Community” is my go-to strategy to combat any misfortune that befalls me, it must be understood that my dad has endless pop culture knowledge. It’s who he is, and as a result, it’s who I’ve become.

He has always passed down his zest for pop culture to my sister and me. Anything prompts him — something that a stranger says, something we see on the freeway or in a grocery store. I know about Motown and obscure Beatles facts because of him. I know which actors went to which universities and which directors worked on which films.

But, most notably, I know about sitcoms.

My sitcom connoisseur training wheels were Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. I watched juvenile sitcoms with my sister and friends, but I also watched them with my dad.  

That’s the thing about my dad. He takes humor seriously. These kid-friendly shows inspire eye rolls in many adults, yet he sat down to watch them with my sister and me. Furthermore — he enjoyed them! We shared many laughs over “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and “Good Luck Charlie,” incorporating one-liners from these shows into our inside jokes.

The glimpse into a more mature world of comedy came with “The King of Queens.” At night, after my sister and I went to bed, my dad would sit down and watch Kevin James crack jokes. I wasn’t allowed to watch it, but, perpetually plagued by insomnia, I secretly strained to hear humor I couldn’t understand.

When I got older, we exchanged “That’s So Raven” and “Hannah Montana” for shows such as “The Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family.” I also branched out and found my own niche in black comedy. He still doesn’t like that I enjoy the off-color jokes of “It’s Always Sunny” and “The Mick” so much.

It seems idyllic, but “steady sailing” doesn’t describe the landscape of my youth. After my parents divorced, I watched fewer and fewer shows with my dad. He traveled for work, so I lived full-time with my mom. We don’t watch entire series together anymore, but we’ve never stopped discussing our ever evolving taste in television. Since we share a Netflix and Hulu account, our viewing histories are no secret to each other.

Now that I live in Berkeley, I can’t participate in binge-watching nights (and, admittedly, days) with my sister, either. To compromise, we sometimes pick a show and watch it at the same time. Our most recent watch was “Community.” This means we have to constantly ask one another to get off the Hulu account because only one of us can watch at a time, but we make it work.

We all love to laugh, but I don’t think anyone loves to laugh more than my family’s renowned patriarch.

My dad has given me many interests, characteristics and quirks. He gave me my arched eyebrows, helped me apply for college and, in cahoots with my mom, inspired me to pursue journalism. I can’t decide on which is the most influential gift in my life (and there are many others), but a love for comedy is one of the top contenders.

When I’m in my feelings, I turn to sitcoms. Like my dad’s humor, they always cheer me up. Without him, comedy wouldn’t be nearly as meaningful to me.

So, for this addiction, I don’t need a support group. I’ll keep wrapping myself up in old cardigans and watching the “It’s Always Sunny” gang’s antics on my MacBook screen, laughing enough to prompt my roommate into asking what’s so funny.

And when I call my dad (something my scatterbrained self isn’t good at remembering to do), I’ll tell him about a scene I liked, my barista job and what grade I got on my latest comparative literature essay all in the same breath. We’ll always love comedy, and we’ll always get a kick out of a good one-liner.

“Cutting Room Floor” columns are one-off, arts-oriented pieces written by Daily Cal staff members.

Contact Alex Jiménez at [email protected].