15 of the best comedy shows and movies on Netflix
We’ve all been there. You’re at home, you want to watch something funny on Netflix – but you don’t know where to start. There’s just so much available that you end up watching old episodes of Gossip Girl instead.
OK, so maybe the Gossip Girl thing is just us. But you get the picture.
That’s why the Stuff team has worked tirelessly to find the funniest comedy films and TV shows available on Netflix UK. Take a look and we’re sure you’ll find something better than Gossip Girl.
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I’m Alan Partridge
I'm Alan Partridge
Alan Partridge had already appeared on TV in The Day Today and fake talk show Knowing Me, Knowing You (the latter also available to stream on Netflix), but it was the two series and 12 episodes of I’m Alan Partridge that cemented Steve Coogan’s comic creation as one of Britain’s best-loved (or should that be most-hated?) comedy characters.
A sort of cinema verité sitcom that follows Alan around in his daily life as a failed TV presenter now slumming it as a local radio DJ in his home county of Norfolk, I’m Alan Partridge is rich with pathos, quotable lines and the sort of cringeworthy moments that Ricky Gervais later built a career on. Partridge’s Britain is one of Rover Fastbacks, owl sanctuaries, Travel Taverns, static caravans, driving gloves, attempts to wangle free power showers and terrible corporate event appearances – and it’s one that it’s a blast to spend (occasional) time in.
Beverly Hills Cop
The '80s were rife with comedy action films, and Beverly Hills Cop was the funniest, most action-packed of the lot. And it still stands up now.
A huge part of it is Eddie Murphy's cheeky charm as Axel Foley, a reckless Detroit detective who goes off the books to investigate the death of his friend. His enquiries take him to Beverley Hills, where he's very much a fish out of water, butting heads with the local police and aristocratic criminals.
If you haven't already seen it (seriously?!) you must rectify that immediately. If you have, Beverly Hills Cop really is every bit a brilliant as you remember. The two sequels aren't much, er, cop, but they're also on Netflix if you want to complete the trilogy.
The Thick Of It
You know how The Day Today made it impossible to watch the news without thinking it was a spoof (“Portillo’s teeth removed to boost pound”) and Brass Eye did the same with current affairs (“People say that alcohol’s a drug. It’s not – it’s a drink”)? Well, after watching The Thick Of It you’ll never again take anything a politician says seriously.
The unifying factor in those three shows is of course the supremely talented Mr Armando Iannucci, creator of TTOI and The Day Today and, given that he also worked on the various Alan Partridge shows, a man surely deserving of the title Greatest Living Briton.
But we digress. The Thick Of It could be described as a satire were it not so accurate in its depictions of jobsworth civil servants, careerist politicians and their clueless advisors. A must-watch for many, many reasons not least the virtuoso swearing abilities of Malcolm Tucker.
One of the Coen brothers’ early comedies, Raising Arizona stars a young Nicolas Cage as a career criminal and Holly Hunter as his police officer wife. When the couple discover they can’t conceive, Cage kidnaps the baby of a wealthy furniture magnate – and hijinks ensue.
Featuring Coen hallmarks like idiosyncratic dialogue (Fargo, also available on Netflix, is also rich in this regard – and arguably a superior movie overall), inventive camera work and nods to symbolism, Raising Arizona is a film that can be enjoyed on several levels – and chief among them is that it’ll make you laugh.
Louis C.K. – Live at the Beacon Theatre
Netflix is richly served when it comes to standup comedy specials, but for our money this is the best: Bostonian comic Louis C.K. has been touring the U.S. circuit for many years, but only discovered wider success relatively recently when he started doing routines based around his own insecurities, shortcomings, fears and failures. C.K.’s bald honesty as he touches on sex, fatherhood, ageing, drugs, death and his struggles with “being a good guy” produces a fresh, highly moral and utterly hilarious take on observational comedy that will banish the phrase “Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow” from your memory.
Dysfunctional families have been done to death on both the big screen and TV, but the Bluths are up there with the most self-centred, destructive and, well, downright hilarious bunch of the lot. Straight man George Bluth desperately tries to keep his family and fortune intact as their company is hit by the US government for embezzlement. Superb performances from the likes of David Cross, coupled with tonnes of re-quote potential make this a must-watch. It gets a little lost after the first three seasons thanks to the actors' other projects clashing with filming, but it's still well worth watching till the very end.
This show quietly stumbled into our lives quite randomly back in 2010, and we were hooked from the first five minutes. It revolves around Sterling Archer, a misogynistic, crazy-yet-capable agent for the (unfortunately-named) spy agency ISIS. His mother's the boss, his ex-girlfriend is a rival spy, and the rest of the team are crazy and psychopathic enough to ensure that there's never a dull moment. The writing is clever, the dialogue is comedically timed to perfection, and the animation style is gorgeous. A word of warning: you will have a strong desire to purchase a slightly darker-black turtle neck after viewing.
The Office (UK version)
Gareth's obsession with lesbians. Tim's hat radio. That dance. Fray Bentos. Keith eating a scotch egg. Monkey Alan in the warehouse. Brent's Princess Diana song. Gareth Keenan 'invetigates'. A stapler in jelly. The difference between dwarves, midgets and elves. Mr Sidney Poitier.
If you've never seen the original UK version of The Office, none of these things will be in the slightest bit funny. If you have, the mere mention of them should be enough to make you break out in a smile and decide to rewatch every episode. Right now.
Truly one of the greatest of all British comedies, The Office was hugely influential, unrelentingly hilarious and incredibly poignant, often all at the same time. Watch it. Right now.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
I’m not someone who loves every Wes Anderson film - The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic can bugger off for starters - but I challenge anyone to not be taken in by the utterly delightful Grand Budapest Hotel.
It’s typically whimsical and gorgeously presented, with eye-popping colours and patterns, but this tale of a dapper, deliberate, disarmingly foul-mouthed and extremely accommodating hotel concierge who's framed for murder is also easily the most gripping and downright hilarious film he’s made, thanks in no small part to the superb Ralph Fiennes in the lead role.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Narcissistic. Sociopathic. Sexist. Elitist. Delusional. And egos the size of a bull elephant. All descriptions that adequately fit every single member of staff at Paddy's Bar in Philadelphia.
From kidnapping cats to poisoning rivals, to stalking love interests and getting drunk at every opportunity, you're unlikely to ever find a group of people that you hate to love more.
Hilarity, madness (and Danny Devito in tight, tight skinny jeans) await.
Nothing much happens in Clerks. Some disaffected slackers go to work in their dead-end jobs. They argue with girlfriends, chat with mates, swear a lot. It all happens at a glacial pace, in black and white, on a budget of less than US$30,000. Yet somehow, it’s one of the funniest films of the ’90s, a textbook example of how good writing counts for far more than glitzy special effects or big-name stars.
A Netflix exclusive, this animated series features Arrested Development’s Will Arnett as the titular Horseman, a, er, “horse man” who enjoyed success while in a popular 1990s sitcom but now lives in a haze of booze and self-loathing as a washed-up former star.
Set in a skewed version of Hollywood in which humans live alongside anthropomorphic animals, BoJack Horseman features a strong cast (Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul plays BoJack’s best friend Todd) and strong writing, and the 26 episodes available now (two seasons plus two specials) will be supplemented with a third season, due to arrive later in 2016.
Team America: World Police
Imagine, just for a second, that Trey Parker and Matt Stone set out to make a film that was simultaneously funnier and even more offensive than South Park. Well, you'd have told them that it couldn't be done. Funnier? Maybe. But more offensive? Impossible.
Well, the pair managed it with 2004's Team America: World Police, an outrageously crude, relentlessly hilarious send up of action movies, spy movies, celebrity do-gooding campaigns, terrorism and geopolitics. And Matt Damon. Mostly Matt Damon.
The use of marionettes is inspired, ensuring that you never take it too seriously and actually, like, get offended. Well you might a little. But you'll laugh more.
Film-makers, like sportspeople and musicians, sometimes go through a purple patch where everything they touch turns to genius. Woody Allen had one such patch in the ’70s, starting around Sleeper (1973) and peaking with Manhattan in 1979.
Annie Hall sits firmly within this period, a stereotypically Allen film dealing with romance and relationships and neuroses and Jewishness and sex and New York.
It’s relentlessly brilliant: absolutely packed with one-liners and regularly hilarious but also incredibly poignant at times. Everything about it - script, acting, photography, location - is spot-on. If you watch just one Woody Allen film, make it this one.
If you’re not already an Andy Samberg fan (shame on you), Brooklyn Nine-Nine will make you one. That’s not to say he’s the only draw in this comedy cop show, though - the super-childish detective he plays is always at the centre of things, but each of the nutjobs he shares a precinct with have their own hilarious idiosyncrasies, not least of all the seemingly dry and dull Captain Holt.
It’s all as silly and immature as things get, and that’s just fine by us.