As this collection of Stuff favourites show, the world wide web has become particularly adept at laughter generation – so sit back and prepare to engage your face’s smile apparatus with these comedy masterpieces...
Amazon’s been trying to “do a Netflix” by creating its very own blockbusting TV shows for ages now, but this is the first time it’s got it right. For a start, Transparent is really bold – it tells the story of a sixtysomething divorcee announcing to his three grownup kids that he’s always felt different and is now going to live as a woman.
Sounds heavy, and it sort of is, but it’s also darkly funny, with a degree of wit and sharpness that’s still rare even in this golden age of TV. The bickering between the three kids (each of whom is riddled with their own individual problems and peccadillos) is as chucklesome as it is awkward and real. Amazing telly.
Hank Moody is a writer, but he behaves – and is treated – like a rock star. It’s all Hollywood parties and excess in all its most debauched forms. It’s glorious to watch in the same way Entourage was when its characters were at the peak of their success. What’s more fun than watching someone living the dream?
The show’s guilty of getting a little too bogged down in the relationship between Hank and his paramour and “baby momma” Karen, but Duchovny plays the roguish charm so well that it’s always pretty irresistible. And an outrageous sexual encounter or improbable cameo is never far away. Marilyn Manson and Tim Minchin pop up in the final series, for heaven’s sake.
The concept of community college is a bit weird for us Indians, but within the first five minutes of the first episode of Community that ceases to matter. What matters is that a group of very different weird and wonderful dropouts are thrown together in an educational institution run by a dean with a fetish for men dressed as dalmations.
There are highs and lows in the six (so far) series, but even the weaker episodes are rescued by a single scene featuring Troy and Abed – perhaps the most adorable bromance ever seen on screen. And then there are the epic paintball episodes. And Chevy Chase is in it. Honestly, just watch it!
Parks and Recreation
The show that propelled Amy Poehler to Golden Globepresenting notoriety and Chris Pratt to blockbuster ultrastardom has its wit and oneliners honed to perfection. Taking Modern Family’s warmth, mixing it with Arrested Development’s absurdity and building it around The Office’s mockumentary formula, it centres on the inconsequential workdays of the least consequential department (Parks and Rec) of the council of madeup middle- American town of Pawnee, Indiana.
Like The Office, its brilliance lies in its characters and their relationships, although its comic set pieces are also ingenious. But unlike The Office, it’s not tragic – it’s bright, touching and will leave you grinning from cheek to cheek. It takes until season 2 to really hit its stride, but Parks and Recreation is a true mustsee.
Charlie Brooker’s worryingly prescient 2004 sitcom told the story of Nathan Barley, an East London dwelling ‘selffacilitating media node’, which is a much nicer description than the fourletter title he was given in the spoof TV listing that spawned him.
With bizarre slang ("well Jackson"), even stranger fashion (his Geek Pie hairdon't was inspired by an accident with some paint) and a complete lack of selfawareness, there's nothing Nathan won't do to be respected by his equally narcissistic contemporaries. With careerlaunching performances from Richard Ayoade and Bond's latest Q, Ben Whishaw, it's only now that most people have begun to appreciate just how brilliant Nathan Barley is. Keep it chopped out, yeah?
The Alternative Comedy Experience
To many people standup comedy on TV means endless repeats of Live at the Apollo on Dave – and that’s exactly why The Alternative Comedy Experience is so important.
Filmed in a genuine, pokey comedy club in front of a regular audience – not whichever soap star was up for elimination on Strictly that week – The Alternative Comedy Experience is curated by Captain Grumbles himself, Stewart Lee. That means you get the kind of acts that won’t please everyone, sing songs or deliberately attempt to antagonise an audience. Some of them are even women. Radical, huh?