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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Matt proposes that comedy is better on television, using Roseanne, The
Simpsons, Seinfeld, etc. to illustrate his point.
 
What you are talking about, Matt, is a sub-genre of comedy which Hollywood
script readers refer to (a bit snobbishly) as "LCD" (lowest common
denominator).   Whether an LCD is succesful in film is a function of so
many different factors it's very difficult to make broad generalizations as
to why they often fail.  For example, I read a script by Larry David
(Seinfeld) when I was working out there which was quite funny but (in the
early drafts I saw at least) a bit episodic.  Maybe that will change in
rewrites but that depends not just on Larry David's abilities, but how he
is able to work with the demands of development executives and the studio.
I also worked on a comedy which bombed horribly AND was in fact a bad film
which I would say failed because no strong vision ("producorial,"
directorial, etc.) drove the project.   The point is that in developing an
LCD comedy for features you basically have one shot to create a good team
of creative people -- writer, director, producer-development -- over a
longer period of time than with television in which you get a few chances
over a shorter period of time.  Not my cup of tea, but I would be
hard-pressed to say that the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams did such a
bad job with Airplane! and the Naked Gun series.