There’s a wealth of comedy shows on Netflix, but the problem is you may not know what’s up your alley. We can picture you now, seated in front of your television on a Saturday night with a bunch of friends. And you can’t decide on what to watch.
We can’t blame you though, the stakes are high here. One person’s hilarious comedy is another person’s snoozefest. Why leave it up to chance when you can pick a movie out of our list of top comedies, which includes sitcoms, movies and comedy specials?
There’s something for everyone, so long as they can take a joke.
2015 (possibly 2016 for Netflix) saw the airing of Peep Show’s ninth and final series, so if you haven’t yet watched Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong’s groundbreaking sitcom – the longest-running in Channel 4’s (UK) history, no less – now is the perfect time to delve into the minds of David Mitchell’s Mark and Robert Webb’s Jez, two best friends and flatmates who stumble from one disaster to the next.
Peep Show’s “gimmick” is that we often see the action from Mark or Jez’s point-of-view, along with their inner thoughts as audible voice-overs. In the great British comedy tradition, self-delusion, self-hatred and social awkwardness frequently loom large here, and though both the main characters are indisputably despicable, selfish idiots, it’s impossible not to get sucked into their (often horrifying) antics.
While the show may at times puzzle you with its Britishness, the dynamic duo of Mitchell & Webb (a longstanding comedic double act) will keep you glued to the screen to see what they'll get up to next. Many a true word is spoken in jest, as they say – and Peep Show is as much a meditation on the human condition as it is a comedy show. As the joyless Mark internally remarks after his girlfriend takes him to a fair, “I suppose doing things you hate is just the price you pay to avoid loneliness.”
This Channel 4 hit has sadly left the air, but that shouldn’t stop you from digging into every glorious episode on Netflix. It focuses on three IT department members in a typical London office dealing with people who can’t tell an ethernet cable from a strawberry lace. In other words, it's more horrifyingly real than you think. Richard Ayoade and Chris O’Dowd nail the ‘socially awkward basement dweller’ vibes perfectly, while Katherine Parkinson does an excellent job dragging her slightly more normal self down with them. It also features a hilarious supporting cast in Noel Fielding, Chris Morris and Matt Berry.
The show proved to be a breakout success for O'Dowd and Aoyade in particular, whose charming brand of geekery is nothing short of spellbinding. "I came here to drink milk and kick ass. And I'm all out of milk," he deadpans to a hooligan at a bar challenging him to a deadly round of street Countdown (a TV game show that's mostly watched by retirees). If your PC freezes while watching, just try turning it on and off again. Always works like a charm.
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. It's a show that rewards your loyalty with an endless slew of running gags and a goldmine of obscure but fun references. When was the last time you ever watched a show with a Chekov's gun joke? A word of warning: you will have a strong desire to purchase a slightly darker-black turtle neck after viewing, as well as the urge to relisten to that Kenny Loggins song from Top Gun.
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, and part of the fun comes from the fact that it's really hard to make a well-worn formula of the boys in blue and humor refreshing all over again. Which it does. While the super-childish detective he plays is always at the centre of things, each of the nutjobs he shares a precinct with have their own hilarious idiosyncrasies, and they all play off each other brilliantly.
Melissa Fumero and Joe Lo Truglio's turn as love interest/rival and best friend respectively play the catalyst for much of Samberg's antics, while Stephanie Beatriz and the self-absorbed Chelsea Peretti up the nutjob factor by a gazillion. The lovable Terry Crews brings a sense of familiarity (not in a bad way), while the seemingly dry and dull Captain Holt (a Julliard-trained Andre Braugher in a slapstick comedy, why not) provides the perfect foil for Samberg's zaniness. It’s all as silly and immature as things get, and that’s just fine by us.
Freaks and Geeks
Paul Feig made his big-screen directing debut the 2011 hit Bridesmands, and followed that up with a few Melissa McCarthy vehicles, but back in the tail end of the 90s, he created a little TV show produced by Judd Apatow called Freaks & Geeks.
It only lasted for one season, but it’s become a cult classic, with many of the actors moving on to bigger and better things. Actors James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jason Segal make their debuts in this series, and Feig and Apatow have certainly made it. Even John Francis Daley, the actor who plays protagonist Lindsay Weir’s little brother, is now enjoying a career as a successful screenwriter.
The actor who plays Lindsay Weir, Linda Cardellini, is no household name. But since Freaks & Geeks, she’s appeared in ER, Mad Men, and more recently, the Netflix Original series, Bloodline.
The show felt so real. More real than the slew of teen dramas the studios were churning out back then. Growing up in an American suburb might feel like growing up on another planet to us. But if you were ever curious, then watch this show.