This is a list for those of you who always wondered, “What can I do to get more laughter in my life?” Well, power up that laptop and get ready to for an attack of the giggles with these five underrated comedies:
- “Party Down” — I can guarantee you that, although you will recognize most of this dark sitcom’s actors, who range from Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”) and Lizzy Caplan (“True Blood,” “New Girl”) to Jane Lynch (“Glee”) and Megan Mullally (“Will and Grace”), you probably haven’t watched the show. That is a mistake. This hilarious comedy, which focuses on a catering company made up of people looking for their big break in Hollywood, examines what it means to be constantly on the very edge of being famous in a way that few shows ever have. The writing is top-notch, and the performances are even better. Definitely something to seek out even though it’s not currently on Netflix or Hulu. Not that I’m advocating Internet piracy<\p>…<\p>but I absolutely am.
- “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (Netflix) — I place this on the list purely because it has never been nominated for an Emmy. Although popular, this show doesn’t seem to have a taste which sits well with the normally conservative Emmy voters, which makes sense for a show whose pilot is entitled “The Gang Gets Racist.” An incredibly dark look at humanity at its stupidest and worst, “It’s Always Sunny” is a sitcom of brilliant dialogue and fabulous comic set pieces. For an example of the latter, seek out their parody of “Lethal Weapon” on YouTube.
- “NewsRadio” (Hulu) — “NewsRadio” seems like a fairly boring show at first glance. Set in a small-town radio station constantly on the verge of getting shut down, the show focuses on the motley crew of workers who populate the station. But it does the basics right. Every episode is packed with great jokes and well-written plotlines that don’t need a ridiculous premise to set them up.
- “Saturday Night Live” (Hulu and Netflix) — Although SNL is an iconic cultural institution, you cannot go more than two YouTube comment pages without hearing about how SNL sucks and isn’t as good as it used to be. While it would be impossible to live up to the counter-culture madness that pervaded its earliest iterations, castigating the current show does a disservice to the current performers and ignores the brilliance of the sketches that they churn out every week. They still book the most relevant hosts and musical guests — Christoph Waltz with Alabama Shakes last season was incredible — and they still produce interesting sketches with hilarious twists. For reference, seek out “Sigma” on the NBC website.
- “30 Rock” (Netflix) — As “30 Rock” debuted in 2006 when most of us were between 11 and 15, it becomes self-explanatory why many of my friends say, “Oh, I watched a few episodes when it came out, and I didn’t get the jokes.” Set behind the scenes of a weekly sketch comedy show — see No. 4 — “30 Rock” quickly branched out into telling hilariously warped stories about its central characters, head writer Liz Lemon and network suit Jack Donaghy. Immensely quotable, it is brilliantly clever and anchored by the standout performances of Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey. Queue it up on Netflix, and watch the best comedy of the last ten years.