It’s a lazy, trite comedy trope to make fun of Canada, at worst presenting it as an icy, bland, over-polite backwater, and at best, presenting it as a slightly dulled-down America Lite. Yes, they have Mounties and socialism and we share English and team sports and gravy-based foodstuffs, but Canada’s best offering, as far as the greater Splitsider community is concerned, is its plentiful offerings of sketch comedy and sketch comedians. They’ve given us so much: SCTV, The Kids in the Hall, and most everyone from Saturday Night Live ever. (And Will Arnett.) We could project this and assume, then, that if we dig a little deeper into Canadian comedy, we'd find even more excellent sketch comedy, like that really, good, weird obscure stuff only the comedy nerds would enjoy and appreciate it, just waiting for us to salivate over it and desperate scour for on YouTube.
I’m sorry, but Canada does not have any old, obscure, and awesome sketch comedy for us. We’ve seen all the best stuff. The sketches heretofore overlooked and/or forgotten are the comedy stylings of Wayne & Shuster. READ MORE
Maria Bamford has a great bit about how she wants to have a TV sitcom someday called Me, My Mom, and a Monster, in which she, her mother, and a friendly but disgusting monster all live in the same house, where one can presume wackiness would ensue. Had Bamford been an up-and-coming comic in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s (which she wouldn’t have been, because she would not have gotten any club dates in that culture of jokes about airplanes and the myriad difference between New York and Los Angeles), she might have actually gotten the greenlight, and Me, My Mom, and a Monster would have wound up as a Saturday morning cartoon.
In the stand-up comedy boom of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, lots of comics translated their act and persona into network sitcoms. Others, bizarrely, and in what was almost universally ill-conceived, wound up with Saturday morning cartoons based on themselves and their routines. This could never happen in 2011, mainly because there’s not much Saturday morning TV for kids left (other than third-rate syndicated animal facts shows and reruns of Busytown) and comedians are too cool and too edgy to be asked to participate in such an endeavor. Bill Cosby and Fat Albert is definitely the pioneer here, but comedians and comic actors are stereotypically (if not usually) tortured, idiosyncratic, and dark-sided. Only the squeakiest of squeaky-clean comics (like Cosby) or shtickiest of shticky (like Jeff Foxworthy) even register on a kid’s radar. Marketing-wise, it doesn’t make sense. Plus it’s impossible to think that some network executive thought it would be a good idea to pitch Louie Anderson to children. READ MORE
At the beginning of the 2011 fall TV season, there were 22 live-action sitcoms on the broadcast networks. Twenty-five years ago: there were 37. Among them were progressive, inventive classics of the form, like Cheers, Newhart, and The Cosby Show. But for the most part, those three dozen sitcoms were horrible, cynically churned out dreck, meant to provide escape from the rapidly declining American family, rising cocaine costs, and 15 percent housing interest rates. The Night Courts were far outnumbered by formulaic, rube-baiting junk like Mr. Belvedere, Who’s the Boss?, My Two Dads, and Easy Street. That one was about Loni Anderson moving in with her uncle at an old folks’ home, because those places are hilarious, and not at all crucibles of death, dementia, and depression.
And yet, these network sitcoms, many with sitcom titles so sitcomy they sound like sitcoms Homer Simpson would enjoy (Gimme a Break! and You Again? = Dumbin’ it Down and The Malarkeys), were not even the worst comedies readily available for public consumption at the time. The worst were syndicated sitcoms, ones produced by some production company then peddled to individual TV stations to be used as schedule filler. READ MORE
In 2001, a critically loathed, sparsely attended movie born out of a hit, hip cable show became synonymous with bad movies, failure, and struck a blow against edgy and weird comedy infiltrating the mainstream.
That movie was Pootie Tang, eventually a cult hit, written and directed by Louis C.K., who eventually became president of comedy. But that description back there also fits Freddy Got Fingered. Directed by, co-written by, and starring Tom Green, famous for his strange and surprisingly popular MTV man-on-the-street show, Freddy Got Fingered upped Green’s penchants for irony and gross-out humor. It more or less killed Green’s career for a while and became shorthand for shitty movies until Gigli replaced it in hearts and minds a couple of years later. READ MORE