Every now and then a show comes along that makes me laugh out loud, literally. Which, for as common as that expression is, rarely actually happens to me. Not sure about you, but most times when I find a show funny, I’m more quietly amused by it; at most maybe I’ll smile. But a true laugh? Pretty rare.
Here are the few exceptions to that; perhaps you’ll find a new favorite here, too! Most of these shows feature an absurd kind of humor I tend to favor, starting with my most recent favorite:
Drunk History on Comedy Central
I caught a couple of episodes of this show recently and was so amused by it that it inspired me to write this post!
If you haven’t seen the show yourself, the premise is based on people recounting true stories from history — but while drunk! So of course that comes out all crazy and makes for really funny narrations.
The show maximizes its comedic effect by having actors reenact the historical events being described by the drunk narrator, with the actors’ lines being dubbed with the narrator’s delivery. Kind of like lip-synching, only I suspect the actors actually say their lines the way the narrator said them, and then they’re muted with the narrator’s voice dubbed in over them. I find it funny when a male narrator’s voice seems to come from a female historical figure, and vice versa.
It’s especially amusing when the narrator suddenly slips out of the narration, perhaps to say something to the film crew; this is often left in the reenactment. For example, in one story the narrator abruptly says, “Can I get my cheesy bread I brought?” At first it’s confusing because the actor portraying the historical figure is shown as saying that. Then the camera cuts to the drunk narrator who repeats her sudden request and is clearly craving food in her inebriated state.
The whole dynamic is somewhat hard to describe, so it might be better if you just see this brief clip of their episode on First Ladies, from Comedy Central’s YouTube channel; this segment depicts Woodrow Wilson’s wife taking care of his presidential duties once he had a stroke that debilitated him (and yes, that is Courteney Cox in one of the show’s guest-starring roles):
Personally, I think it’s even better when you see a full episode — it’s on Fridays at 2:15pm if you like it and want to DVR it! You can also visit the show’s website here.
A couple of my friends have wondered if this show is a bit controversial, since it can be said to be promoting excessive drinking. I can see that but I must admit, I still get a kick out of it (is that kind of wrong?). Plus, I’ve learned more from the few episodes of the show I’ve caught so far than I would have expected. I mean, did you know that about Edith Wilson? If I ever did learn that, I’ve clearly forgotten it. Either way, I think there’s something to learning in a humorous context that makes it “stick” more — and certainly makes it more fun!
Next up is a show I would have never thought I’d watch if you described it to me, but I happened to catch it when a friend was watching it and ended up really enjoying it! Plus, I have this show to thank for introducing me to Drunk History:
The People’s Couch on Bravo
Have you seen it or heard the premise? If not, here’s what it is:
It’s a show where you watch people watching TV.
Yup, that’s it. But strangely, it’s really entertaining! The viewers they choose to feature make really funny comments on the various shows they’re watching, which is fun to see if they happen to be watching a clip of a show you follow. But even if they’re watching a show you’ve never seen, it’s still amusing.
How could watching people watching TV be amusing, you ask?
Well, first of all, because of the witty commentary. Secondly, for the odd voyeuristic feeling you get watching people in their homes watching TV, eating and just hanging out. And finally, because you’re shown clips of what they’re watching so you’re not lost; plus the scenes are never so involved that you feel like you would’ve had to see the show in full yourself to be able to get the commentary the viewers are making. And, as happened to me with Drunk History, it’s a great way to get introduced to a new show you may end up loving!
To get a better idea of the show’s fun vibe, take a look at this episode from the show’s YouTube channel; it includes the viewers watching a scene from Drunk History (during minute 20, if you want to jump straight to that part):
See? I love when one of the viewers said, “She needs to eat a couple pieces of bread, soak it up,” referring to the narrator’s drunkenness which caused her to say “Burning Man” instead of “Birmingham” during the story of Claudette Colvin, the first person arrested for protesting racial segregation on buses (yes, before Rosa Parks — I told you the show teaches you things!). This clip is actually not only a great example of why I like The People’s Couch, but also another great example of why Drunk History is so funny!
For more videos and information on The People’s Couch, visit its website.
Other absurd shows that have made me laugh out loud have included:
South Park on Comedy Central
When I first watched it years ago, I found the show so bizarre on a regular basis that I was entranced by it. I particularly remember an episode where there’s a monster, one of whose legs is “TV’s Patrick Duffy.” I don’t know how to make that sentence make any sense. That concept and line was just so out there I couldn’t stop laughing — how do they think these things up?! Perhaps you might want to see the full episode on the show’s official website if you haven’t already.
For a shorter taste of the show (or a re-taste if you’re a fan), here’s a funny clip of the show from Comedy Central on Hulu, called “The Importance of Saving Money” — which many people will be able to relate to firsthand, unfortunately:
While I don’t watch the show as often as I once did, I still get a kick out of it whenever I happen to catch an episode! You can find many other clips and full episodes on the links above for Hulu and the official South Park Studios website.
TMZ on Fox
I feel bad for admitting to this, but I also have a special fondness for TMZ; many of the things said on the show make me laugh in that “I feel bad and should be doing something more productive but I can’t help it” kind of way.
If you somehow don’t know about TMZ, it’s basically a celebrity gossip show. I usually never watch shows like that, but it’s nothing like Entertainment Tonight or any of those other shows. Unlike most Hollywood news shows, this one doesn’t put celebrities on a pedestal and will say things about them you’ve likely thought or would appreciate, versus the typical “this star’s in a new movie which is GREAT” kind of suck-up drivel the other shows mass produce.
Here’s a clip demonstrating the more “real” dynamic I’m talking about, where the show discusses Angelina Jolie’s wedding and the dress she wore:
Part of what I like a lot about the show is how it highlights the staffers and their opinions; the show highlights them as much as it does the celebrities they’re reporting on. I’ve seen newer shows copy that dynamic but I feel like TMZ did it first, or at least better. Makes for a fun, guilty pleasure to watch regardless of whether you’re interested in the people they’re talking about; the staff members’ personalities and interactions alone make it worth it.
This show is no longer on, unfortunately, but it always stood out to me as being surprisingly funny; I felt its comedy was often overlooked and underrated. To me, it seemed like the show was viewed first as a dating show, but I always saw it as a comedy that happened to feature real blind dates, because the commentary the show added to what we were watching was usually spot-on and hilarious.
For those of you who never saw it, the show would film a couple on a first, and blind, date, featuring added-in captions as well as thought bubbles each person on the date was supposedly thinking about the other as the date progressed. I found the writers to be so insightful and clever with their humor; the added music and effects were also great at furthering the jokes between the writers and the viewers.
Here’s a good segment as seen in this video posted on YouTube by magician Murray SawChuck, who once appeared on the show:
I have to say, I miss this show! Luckily, we have people like Murray who post their appearances online!
Sadly, this show is also no longer currently on the air except in reruns you may catch here and there, although I haven’t caught one in years; luckily I own the series on DVD thanks to a thoughtful birthday gift from my closest friend!
This show featured British actor Rowan Atkinson portraying a socially maladjusted adult who consistently finds himself in awkward and embarrassing situations. The best way to get a feel for the show is by watching it — the outlandish scenarios and superb, yet almost completely wordless, acting are truly unique!
Here’s a brief clip from the official Mr. Bean YouTube channel, featuring a segment of an episode where Mr. Bean is at church, and having some…trouble:
I couldn’t get enough of the show after the first time I discovered it; if you feel that way too, you can watch many more videos on that official YouTube channel. Or, you can visit the official Mr. Bean website.
So, if you’re ever in need of a real laugh and share a similar appreciation for the absurd, I suggest you watch these shows if you haven’t already! And another great batch of shows can be found on my previous post, here. Enjoy!