2 Comedies Unlike Any Other

05 Jan

I did not expect to be sending out two posts within 24 hours but this is how it turned out. I couldn't resist sharing earlier today. I found out I had totally missed the director of Godzilla being from the town I live in! This was a great shock to me as you probably read.

Moving on to this post (which was planned), I will be writing about two comedies that are unlike any that I have seen over the years (and believe me there have been a lot of comedies).

Usually because of the amount of shows that I watch, which includes a number of dramas, I find myself needing either a break or a palate cleanser. I choose the latter usually which always comes in the form of a comedy. They're light, usually funny and don't require a lot of concentration. However there are 2 comedies that I treat more like dramas and give them pride of place in my schedule whenever they are on because they are that good and deserve the attention.

Best of all they are hilarious!

Sure there are other comedies that also deserve attention like these do but these 2 specific comedies are just that little bit more special.

I'm of course talking about The League and Community. I have mentioned them in previous posts but I felt that they needed a more lengthy post to really get down to why they are so good and also different from the other comedies out there.

The League

First up is The League a show about friends in a fantasy American football league. For those who don't like American football don't worry you won't have to go and read up on the sport or anything. The show is created in such a way that the sport is used as a way to lead in to some of the jokes and a part of the story, so you don't need to have more than a rudimentary understanding of it.

The true charm of this show lies in its six main characters that always end up surprising you in every episode which is a testament to both the actors and the writers of this semi-scripted show. These are rich characters who quickly feel familiar due to the quick-witted observational humour that they deliver every time. I'll give a brief outline of the characters below.

The League

Pete

One could consider him to be the main character and the leader of the group. Over the seasons Pete has gone on quite the personal journey that has an effect on how his fantasy team performs at times. Pete is played by Mark Duplass who is probably most recognisable from his role in the film Safety Not Guaranteed or more recently the Mindy Kaling's tv comedy, The Mindy Project.

This charismatic character and 3 time winner is one you will route for. High school friends of Kevin, Ruxin and Andre there is a lot of history between them that he knows and uses to his advantage to manipulate his friends in attempts to win the league.

Kevin and Jenny

The show's married couple are the crowning example of bad parents. However as bad as the MacArthur's are as parents...they're just great.

Kevin, a lawyer who is more ape then man and played by Stephen Rannazzisi(I'm not making these names up. Actors have odd names!) ends up being the butt of many jokes in the show. Kevin serves as the commissioner of the league. The actor is also a stand-up comedian when not on the show.

The gorgeous Jenny played by Katie Aselton is sometimes more of a dude than the rest of the guys if you can believe that. She swears like a sailor and I'm pretty sure she could take all of the guys in a fight. She is actually married to Mark Duplass in real life. She begins the show without a team even though she is just as much a part of the league as Kevin.

Both are obsessed with the fantasy league and will go to any length to win. It is generally considered that Jenny is the real brain behind the Kevin's fantasy team.

Taco

Taco is the unemployed, stoner brother of Kevin who doesn't know much about fantasy football and sometimes forgets he's even in the league. The writers obviously have a lot of fun writing scripts for this character and he is always a joy to watch. Internet star Jonathan Lajoie is the actor who brings this oddly endearing character to life. You might recognise him from a host of hit internet videos such as Show me your Genitals and Paedophile Beards. I suggest looking him up on Youtube. He is hilarious and somehow managed to get himself onto a show from them so you never know...you might just learn something! Or at least have a good time laughing.

Taco as a character will always end up surprising you with his well-intended actions. He brings us phrases that were unknown before but after you hear them it's almost like they should have always existed. "Eskimo brothers" and "vinegar strokes" are personal favourites.

vinegar strokes

Andre

Andre is a bald, awkward character who is surprisingly wealthy due to his job as a plastic surgeon. His tendency to follow trends has led to him being constantly mocked by his friends as he experiments with style after bizarre style.

Paul Scheer who plays Andre is a seasoned actor and writer who truly embraces the uniquely eccentric nature of the character.

One of Andre's crowning moments was his ridiculous version of MTV’s Cribs. I cannot find a video that shows this unfortunately so you will have to watch the series to find it.

As lucky as Andre is in his professional life, the same can not be said for his love life or fantasy league decisions.

Ruxin

Ruxin played by the talented Nick Kroll is an evil, conniving, backstabbing bastard who will betray you at a moments notice if he thinks it will lead to his advantage. This should not come as a surprise as he is a lawyer and has managed to snake himself an extremely hot wife.

As flawed as Ruxin is he slowly becomes an amazing character. Being extremely competitive, he will literally do anything to win. He often takes advantage of loopholes in league rules using his skills as a lawyer to their full advantage.

The downside of his competitive nature is that it comes with paranoia. He is constantly worried his friends are colluding to keep the league trophy out of his hands.

It is through Ruxin that we meet one of the craziest characters to grace TV. I'm of course talking about Rafi the brother in law to Ruxin who probably does not help his paranoia in anyway (Rafi is fond of sneaking up on people). His character does not come in to play until the second season but he quickly becomes a favourite character with some amazing lines.

This quick summary of the characters does not do them justice but I can't go into too much detail without spoiling some of the best moments in the series.

I can say however that if you like your humour to be a little less politically correct and with no boundaries as to what should be a joke this is a comedy for you. Even if that isn't the sort of humour that you like I challenge you not to laugh at this.

This is a show that will have you unconsciously quoting lines to people thinking they are in the know. As a friend of mine said;

These phrases stay with you forever.

Over the 5 seasons that these characters have been competing over the coveted Shiva Bowl there has been a cult following that developed quickly into a main stream following in America. So much so it is even mentioned on ESPN!!

It should also be pointed out that the actors have such a good relationship with each other that they hang out together. I believe they were even at last year's Super Bowl together.

Truly a great comedy show about friendship, competition and sport. But more importantly its humour is truly one of a kind on television.

If you're not watching it already I suggest you give it a shot. Let me know if you love or hate it.

Community

As stated in one of my previous posts
it is one of the best comedy shows ever created. Entering its fifth season Community is and probably always will be a cult TV show. Misunderstood by the masses and more disappointingly by the network that broadcasts it. There has always been a battle to keep it on the air and the cast never know if the season is going to be their last which is probably why almost every episode is amazing to watch and re-watch (I don't make a habit of re-watching stuff it's a big deal).

There is a running gag by those who work on Community "six seasons and a movie" which in the clip below is in reference to the short-lived super hero show The Cape (it was terribly awesome never watch it everyone should watch it).

Community cast, crew and fans took their own reference and used it to full effect after there were fears the show would be coming to an end. This is truly in the spirit of the show as although it is a comedy primarily it is also an exploration of characters and other forms. The entire show is filled with pop culture references (blink and you'll miss them). It's made for geeks like me but also for everyone who's ever liked anything. Everything influences this show or rather it's creator Dan Harmon.

The material in all of its wacky splendour would not be able to work without the great work by the cast. Some well known, others less well known, but all talented. Each character plays a stereotype but within those stereotypes it is impossible not to find yourself. In this show you will inevitably find someone you identify with which is one of the many things that make it great. The main characters that the story centres around I will do a quick run through of below. There are 9 of them so they won't be that in-depth.

Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) is the protagonist of the story. An anti-hero if there ever was one. A lawyer sent to get a degree after it was discovered he was a fraud working without one. His battle with his dark side is one that goes on through out the series as he tries to make the correct decisions to help those around him and not just himself.

Britta (Gillian Jacobs) is an anarchist with no direction (and possibly no talent) in life and love. Constantly making wrong decisions as she tries to be more than just a pretty face.

Abed (Danny Pudi) is arguably my favourite character and the one I most identify with in his obsession with TV and film as well as his odd nature it would be hard for me not to like him. His analysis of situations is always logical but he can at times be his own worst enemy as he has multiple psychological breaks.

Shirley is the mother hen of the group played by the talented Yvette Nicole Brown. Side note I once accidentally offended her on twitter. Wow did I royally mess up there. Lessons were learnt that day...

yvette

Continuing on, Shirley is a mother looking to get ahead in life after the father of her boys left her. She helps to keep everyone on the right track and usually has only good intentions but even she has some bad in her. Don't expect her to be a push over (character or actor!).

Annie (Alison Brie) is the doe eyed smart student who trusts that everyone has only the best of intentions. She personifies innocence. Watching her character grow is fun to watch.

Chang (Ken Jeong) I've mentioned before, but this character has more layers than anyone ever created in a comedy. If Rafi from The League is one of the craziest characters ever created then Chang is layer upon layer of crazy.

Troy (Donald Glover) my other favourite on the show is a star athlete who wants to be something more. He doesn't know what yet but he's looking. His relationship with Abed is the stuff of bromance legend. All bro's should aspire to be like Troy and Abed.

Pierce (Chevy Chase) is a much older student who finds acceptance in the group even though he is a tad racist and bigoted. His growth throughout the seasons gives me hope others can change in real life if they too are accepted and given the chance.

Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) is the Dean of the campus and is a strange one. Eccentric, clingy, trusting to a fault, closeted and knows how to turn a phrase. He makes the semesters fun for the characters every time.

All of these main characters put together made the show what it was. The show is truly unique in it's portrayal of common archetypes in movies and television while still staying in the form of a comedy. It is my sincere hope it does get six seasons and a movie.

I need to do a commentary on the fifth season premiere, as it was just purely genius. But I will save that for another post so as not to put in any massive spoilers for those unfamiliar with the show or those not yet caught up.

Community is the rare expression of a strange unique mind in it's purity (mostly) from creator Dan Harmon. The perfect blend of surprising and familiar. When it finally loses its battle with the network it will be a sad day. I hope it never happens.

six seasons and a movie

If you agree/disagree feel free to leave a comment. I'll always reply.

So those are the two comedy shows that I think aren't like any other. Well in Community's case it's more like its the best parts of every show.

I think everyone should give them a shot if they want to laugh their socks off.

As always I'll end this with something from a TV show that I think sums up what I thought when I finished writing this.

abed


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Trevor Price

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