WHEN the laughter came it felt like the entire country joined in, jeering at Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson. The pair were pitching themselves to the British people in the first of the televised election debates. But the studio audience, like the people at home, saw through the absurd pantomime – the ridiculous claims, the foolish promises. Politics in 2019 is a joke, and so the audience and the people laughed at Johnson and Corbyn.

We’re laughing at politics now because we know there’s so little truth in it. It’s a black comedy. It’s hard to find anyone today who doesn’t see politics as absurd. We all know this election is important. Brexit and Scottish independence will decide our futures for generations to come. But the people fighting the election are buffoons – even the good ones. And so we laugh at them. What a waste of our laughter.

We need an antidote to all this. A respite from politics. Often, when the world’s absurd, the place to turn to is comedy.

Comedy is a safe haven. You can shelter in comedy – it protects you by mocking the awfulness of the outside world. And of course, comedy’s purpose is to make us laugh. Not just the sneering laughter that cuts politicians down to size, but good laughter that makes us feel better about the world and ourselves.

READ MORE: Guilt, BBC2, series one, episode four, review 

If you need an antidote to 2019, if you’re in want of some laughter to flush your brain clean of all the ridiculous nonsense we have to wade through every day, then find a show called The Good Place.

After four seasons, it ends tonight in America and tomorrow in the UK, but don’t worry, you can still watch it all as it’s on Netflix. The show isn’t getting the attention it deserves on this side of the Atlantic, which is something of a cultural crime as The Good Place is probably the best sitcom ever made.

The premise is this: a group of random human beings die and find themselves in the afterlife. There are some enormous plot twists, so to avoid spoilers I’ll just say that our bunch of dead human heroes set out to discover what the truth is when it comes to life after death.

Ted Danson presides as Michael, the architect of the spirit world. So you’re in safe comedy hands. He plays his god-like character as a slightly camp New York dandy. It’s a knowing nod to the character Danson played in his last sitcom role, the louche druggy magazine editor in Bored To Death.

The rest of the cast aren’t that well known to a British audience. Kristen Bell is the main character Eleanor Shellstrop, a woman who describes herself as an “Arizona trashbag”. She’s been sent to heaven by mistake and should really be in hell – “the Bad Place". In life, she was a disgusting, horrible and cruel mess. In death, she’s trying desperately to be a decent person. She’s us – the everyman and everywoman character.

William Jackson Harper plays Chidi, a dead philosophy professor. Manny Jacinto is Jason Mendoza, the stupidest, though probably sweetest, human who ever lived. Jameela Jamil, of Radio One fame, is Tahani, the most spoiled, privileged human being who ever lived. And D’Arcy Carden is Janet, a sort of all-knowing Amazon Alexa, a god-like artificial intelligence in human form.

The show was created by Michael Schur, the brains behind the US mockumentary series Parks and Recreation, and the police spoof Brooklyn Nine-Nine. In the States, The Good Place claimed a Peabody Award, which goes to television deemed to have been of distinguished achievement and meritorious public service.

The punchline of all the jokes is humanity, and what it means to be human. Angels and demons think we’re ridiculous. We’re “flesh-suits”, “t**d-factories”. We smell, we get sick, we have bones growing out of our faces that we call teeth, and claws we call fingernails. We don’t live long enough to become intelligent, but we think we’re clever.

Given we’re in a heaven and hell situation, the series is about ethics – how to live a moral life. Humans never make the right choice because it’s impossible. If you buy an organic tomato you think you’re doing good, but the jacket you’re wearing while you eat it was probably made using child labour. Most of us try to be good and fail. Gods find that all very funny indeed.

READ MORE: All show, no punch: time to pull the plug on TV debates? 

Philosophy – actual philosophy that you maybe tried out in first year of university – is a vehicle for much of the comedy. It sounds insane. How can philosophy be funny? But The Good Place team manage to make jokes about Kierkergaard hilarious. I still can’t quite work out how they do it, but they do.

Take the famous first year philosophy class subject: The Trolley Problem. The thought experiment runs like this – there’s a runaway trolley car hurtling towards five people tied to a train track. If you pull a lever, the trolley will switch to another track and the five people will live. However, there’s a single worker on the other track, who’ll die if you pull the lever. What do you do? It’s a classic ethics test. In The Good Place, the Trolley Problem happens for real. Chidi, the most indecisive character, is placed in a real trolley with a real lever and five real people tied to a track, with a single worker on the other track. He’s made to do the trolley test over and over again until he’s a blood-soaked hysterical mess.

Like the best sitcoms, The Good Place is calling it a day after four seasons – they’re going out at the top of their game while fans still love it. The show makes lots of knowing references to Friends. Ted Danson’s character Michael adores it and thinks it’s the best sitcom ever made. Today, people are still watching Friends 25 years after it first aired. People will certainly be watching The Good Place 25 years from now. Its choice of finding comedy in the human condition means it’ll never stale.

The Good Place is comedy as catharisis. It makes us laugh not just at ourselves, but at the absurdity of the world we find ourselves within.

If you start watching it tonight – even if you binge watch it – The Good Place will see you through this election. Each episode is only 25 minutes long. After a day, spent drowning in political absurdity, a little jag of The Good Place before you go to bed will keep you sane until the next morning.

Neil Mackay is Scotland’s Columnist of the Year