Comedies with a macabre twist

Culture Film

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty, and Cee Lo Green, minus his cat. With Breaking Bad done and Walking Dead about to jump the shark, I spend much of my time trying to find new TV shows. Lately, due to my mood, I have been bingeing on any surrealist black comedies. If you like Monty Python or anything David Lynch, you might want to give these TV shows a try.

The Mighty Boosh (2004–2007)

This modern, Pythonesque show stars two unlikely friends (cool-guy Vince Noir and older, skat champion Howard Moon) who, along with their roommates, a shaman and talking ape, go on strange adventures which inevitably lead to a wide array of monsters, from a man made out of bubble gum to an intersex merman. Each season takes place in a new location, but all episodes include an elaborate musical number. The series has a lot of handcrafted puppets and costumes that add to its charm. Be aware that the show is British, so some jokes may need to be googled.

Frisky Dingo (2006–2008)

While the TV show Archer has gained quite a large following, an earlier cartoon produced by Archer creators only seems to have lived on in late night TV. Killface is a humanoid alien who intends to blow up the world. Yet, somehow the hairless villain ends up saving the planet and then running for president of the United States, much to the hatred of superhero Awesome X. Unlike many other surrealist comedies, Frisky Dingo has a continuing plot; yet the big question—what exactly is Frisky Dingo—is never answered.

The Heart, She Hollers (2011–2013)

Comedian Patton Oswald plays Hurlan Heartshe, a redneck innocent who has been stuck in a cave. Hurlan is released into the world when his Texan father dies, so that he can be the executor of his dad’s estate. However, Hurlan still has contact with his father through a series of VHS videos that seem to answer of all of his son’s questions—from “How do I open up this nut?” to “Who is my mother?” Very surreal and dark, especially with each episode beginning from documentary footage in which redneck Americans can barely be understood. Picture this show as a redneck soap opera parody, which can go as disturbing as a woman baking herself into a pie to win a beauty contest. The show’s humour stems from its pure awkwardness.

Children’s Hospital (2008–present)

This show started as a web series and has turned into a full-out show, staring comedians such as Rob Corddry, Megan Mullally, and the Fonz himself, Henry Winkler. It parodies ER, Grey’s Anatomy, and just about every other medical movie or TV show, wherein the last thing the characters do is take care of their patients. Instead, audiences view the emotional struggles and sexual lives of the doctors and nurses, with famous comedians and actors like Jon Hamm and Sarah Silverman often making appearances. My favourite parts of this show are the season finales; the show turns into a mockumentary documenting the making of Children’s Hospital.

Strangers with Candy (1999–2000)

Amy Sedaris plays aging prostitute Jerri Blank, who decides to go back and finish high school, much to the ire of Principal Blackman and two ambiguously gay teachers (one of whom is played by a young Stephen Colbert). Somehow all the students think that Jerri is a normal teenager who is going through the same problems as they are, including acne, unexpected arousal, and the question of who to take to the prom. However, Jerri, in her worldly ways, often does not give the best solutions to her young friends.