We’re experiencing a golden age of television, and nowhere is that more apparent than in comedy. For every Key & Peele, Birthday Boys and Kroll Show that have left us too soon, there are a dozen long running shows like Louie, Veep, Saturday Night Live, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, and Children’s Hospital that prove there’s an audience for unique voices in comedy.
Here is a list of hilarious TV shows that are just hitting their stride. While some of the series in the above paragraph have already assured themselves a spot in the pantheon of greatest TV shows ever made, we’ll be looking exclusively at shows that you need to start watching right now, before you end up out of the loop, binging them on Netflix in a desperate attempt to be relevant. Here are the 10 Funniest Shows On TV Right Now.
When Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham had their bubbly NBC sitcom Best Friends Forever cancelled, fans of their rambunctious improv-tinged humor had cause to wonder whether the world was ready for their high-energy, good-natured comedy on a weekly basis. Fortunately, the USA Network took a chance on the pair and their rebound show Playing House is everything you could want from a modern TV comedy.
When pregnant Maggie (Parham) discovers her husband has been leading a sex-crazed double life, she kicks him out and her childhood friend Emma (St. Clair) moves in to help her prepare for the birth. The joy of the duo’s comedy is watching them take the simplest problems and let them snowball into utter chaos, fueled by their late 80s/early 90s pop culture reference points. For a comedy about Middle American lifestyles, it’s perfectly winning.
The Eric Andre Show
Imagine a phantom musical collaboration between Frank Zappa, underground rapper MF Doom and noise-rap pioneers Death Grips. Now convert that into a public access talk show and you have the hilariously abrasive and abrasively hilarious Eric Andre Show. André’s stated goal was to create a live-action Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, but he left even that legendary talk show in the dust within seconds of his first show.
He enters, every night, to canned theme music, proceeds to destroy his set, and then continues to do himself untold bodily harm through a variety of absurd, surrealist sketches and interviews. André throws his body into the machinery of late night TV like a writhing, fleshy monkey wrench. He and co-host Hannibal Buress put guests through three minutes of the most awkward and forward interviews of their career before inevitably concluding with a bit of grand guignol violence or debauchery. There is, quite simply, nothing on TV like it and there may never be like it again.
What began as a way for Derek Waters to kill time with his friends (or anyway, that’s the vibe of the early Drunk History webisodes) has exploded into a justly loved Comedy Central series that attracts the likes of Josh Hartnett, John C. Reilly, Alfred Molina, James Hong, Owen & Luke Wilson, Laura Dern, Jason Momoa, Greg Kinnear and Courtney Cox.
The premise is so simple it hurts: a comedian gets drunk and relates a historical event. The audio of that telling is then used as a soundtrack for a full-costumed and wonderfully cinematic retelling of the event, usually with big name stars in the roles. It’s a formula that probably should have gotten old at some point, but the resourcefulness of drunk storytellers evidently knows no bounds. Each episode is freshly hysterical, treating every pissed utterance, hiccup and belch with the seriousness of a heart attack. History never went down so easy.
Natasha Leggero’s comedic voice is so specific and so relentlessly idiosyncratic that she’s usually been relegated to bit parts and side roles in a lot of comedy shows. Another Period finally found the perfect vessel for her persona, a mix of moneyed fatuousness and proud ignorance.
As one of the Bellacourt sisters (the always game Riki Lindholme, her co-writer, is the other), Leggero’s ravenous hunger for comfort is a roaring font of laughter. She and Lindholme are the prized offspring of Dodo and the Commodore (Paget Brewster and David Koechner), Providence’s richest twits, and they run their estate with limp iron fists.
The show is split between the decadent antics of the Bellacourt sisters and their serving staff downstairs (played with deranged subserviance by MVP Michael Ian Black, Brett Gelman, Armen Weitzman, Beth Dover and Christina Hendricks). A plot does eventually reveal itself, but the interactions between the stupidly wealthy Bellacourts and their terrified staff would be funny enough to sustain any show.
For his variety TV show, Review, Forrest MacNeil (Andy Daly) doesn’t review movies, books or music. He reviews life itself (as he so aptly puts it “Life is literally all we have, but is it any good?”). Forrest’s wife, son and father watch in confused amazement as he reviews the experience of being Irish for a day, going to space, and getting a divorce, among other things. No matter how damaging to his life it is to review, say, getting addicted to cocaine, Forrest tackles his subjects without swavering, egged on by his sociopath producer, Grant (James Urbaniak).
As played by Andy Daly, the Marlon Brando of podcasts, Forrest MacNeil is a hapless, enthusiastic choir boy in a grown man’s body. He’s excited by all the possibilities life has in store for him, and genuinely disturbed and confused when things keep going as apocalyptically wrong as they do. Poor Forrest watches relationships crumble and his life become a perpetual embarrassment, but he keeps getting back up to live another day. The show is unique in its reverse schadenfreude approach to life and wrings every ounce of laughter from the simplest ideas taken to their logical extreme at Daly’s expense.
Rick and Morty
Dan Harmon is famous as the creator of the cult-favorite Community, but just as his juggernaut was running out of steam, he unleashed Rick and Morty on an unsuspecting public. An insane, inebriated spin on the dynamic of Back To The Future (warped genius, teen boy adventurer), Rick & Morty finds the a young boy and his uncle going on a different immoral quest filled with sci-fi horror every week, usually to prove some inane point or settle a dumb argument.
Harmon’s genius is mixing the wonderfully preposterous nightmare worlds of Rick’s conjuring with the mundane concerns of Morty and the rest of his family, illustrating (in frequently beautiful animation) how thin is the knife edge of reality upon which they stand.
Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobsen are every young woman’s id and superego personified. They frequently trade roles, but in order to maintain their lifestyle, one has to be grounded while the other soars into the stratosphere of theoretically great ideas given half-assed execution. They’re queens of a palace of broken dreams called New York, and their elaborate rituals and secrets are all in service of making their lives just a little easier and more tolerable. That is, when they aren’t at home getting high and talking to each other.
Their misadventures illustrate that just trying to move up a tiny corporate ladder and/or get taken seriously as an artist are now nearly-universal issues. They are also vulgar and laugh-out-loud funny in a way that women rarely get a chance to be on television. I wager that most viewers under 35, male or female, will recognize their struggles only too well. The silver lining is that if these two vivacious, indomitable spirits can take life’s little tragedies in stride, maybe the rest of us can too. It feels good to be able to laugh at our pain.
As his baby, the touching and hilarious Parks & Recreations, started winding down its unprecedented run, writer/showrunner Michael Schur very kindly hopped over to Fox to start Brooklyn Nine-Nine, giving his fans a coping mechanism for their impending loss. Brooklyn Nine-Nine, about a police precinct in the hippest of the boroughs, hones the qualities that Schur helped pioneer as a writer on The Office and Parks & Rec.
Here, every member of the squad is one limb on the same comedic body, the head of which is a rivalry between star detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) and his superior Captain Ray Holt (a perfectly calibrated Andre Braugher). Though the rest of the staff of the ninth (Chelsea Peretti, Joe Lo Truglio, Melissa Fumero, Terry Crews, Joel McKinnon Miller, Dirk Blocker and Stephanie Beatriz) have personalities and are hilarious in their own right, their function as extensions of the central conflict make this one of the focused and funniest shows on TV.
Inside Amy Schumer
After the considerable success of her Judd Apatow-directed movie debut Trainwreck, which channeled her potty-mouthed stand-up persona into a winning, audience friendly rom-com, everyone should have at least a passing familiarity with Amy Schumer. What people might not have gathered from the charming Trainwreck is that Schumer fronts one of the most unapologetically progressive television shows around, and one of the most hilarious. Inside Amy Schumer is a sketch comedy show with a mission, which is to skewer the society’s sexism and prove, once and for all, that women can be just as funny as men.
Tackling rape, white privilege, female representation in the media with go-for-broke honesty and total commitment, Schumer is unafraid of pointing out the morally hideous aspects of societyfor the sake of a gut laugh. She may have cracked the mainstream, but don’t expect her to put her claws away when Inside Amy Schumer returns for its fourth season. As long as there are guys who think women have to look a certain way to be on their TV screens and billboards, Schumer and her ace writing staff will be there. We can sleep easier knowing that someone is tipping the scales in favor of a reasoned, logical attitude towards our country’s sexuality.
Mike Judge has cornered the market on amiable workplace humor. Office Space, King of the Hill, Extract, Idiocracy and others gently poked fun at the ideas that we all agree upon that keep us living ordinary lives. In his quietly revolutionary way, Judge shows the ways people get hung up on the things that matter the least in the world, but become of paramount importance because we let them. Case in point, his latest hit, Silicon Valley about a gang of programmers who accidentally find themselves in the middle of a war between software moguls when they create a compression algorithm while attempting to make a music app.
Suddenly, the work they do (which didn’t exist ten years ago) could potentially net them untold billions, but all they can focus on is the petty arguments involved in perfecting their program: the name, the logo, their office, who is and isn’t on the board of directors. Judge creates a hermetic world of self-obsessed loners who have to reckon with each other in order to justify their existence to a world moving faster than even their software. It’s great fun hanging out with these weirdos, and when it’s not laugh-out-loud funny, it’s extremely touching.
And this really only scratches the surface. What are your favorite comedies that you think deserve to be renewed and find a bigger audience?
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