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DID YOU READ

The 10 most underrated comedies of all time

The 10 most underrated comedies of all time (photo)

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Comedy is the hardest thing to pull off, despite what the Academy Awards would have you believe. If you want proof of that, think of how painful it is to watch an attempt at comedy that isn’t actually funny. If a drama’s not that good, and can still get a cheeky enjoyability by how seriously everybody takes it. If a comedy sucks, there’s no saving it. Now, we all love “Anchorman” and “The Big Lebowski,” but here’s a quick list of undernoticed, underseen or underrated comedies that should not be dismissed just because they don’t have huge cult followings.


1. “The Jerk” (1979)

One might argue that Steve Martin’s classic can’t be underrated, since Judd Apatow made the enjoyment of “The Jerk” the barometer about whether or not a girl is worth dating in “Freaks and Geeks,” but it makes the list because it’s impossible to overrate this absurd gem, and it should be talked about a lot more than it seems to be. It’s Martin at the top of his wild and crazy game, before he transitioned into the erudite and droll intellectual aura he cultivates today, and as much as we love him now, the gloriously ridiculous wordplay, clever satire and innocently goofy charm of Navin Johnson’s naive stumbling into the real world is what made us love Steve Martin in the first place. Back when he was carnival personnel.


2. “Johnny Dangerously” (1984)

Often (although not often enough in the right places, apparently), one hears the sentiment that Michael Keaton should be in everything – or at least, why isn’t he in more stuff? He can do it all. He’s excellent at drama (both acting and directing), as evidenced by “The Merry Gentleman,” but he cut his teeth with comedies like this truly oddball gangster parody, also featuring Peter Boyle, Marilu Henner, and the best stuff you’ll ever see out of Joe Piscopo. It’s light, it’s breezy and a whole lot of fun, and Keaton is really damn charming even though he’s playing a fargin’ icehole. We defy you not to enjoy yourself while watching this movie. And for more evidence of great Keaton comedy, check out Ron Howard’s 1982 movie “Night Shift” – also underrated. He and Henry Winkler run a brothel out of a morgue. Come on. You gotta see that one, too.


3. “The Ten” (2006)

If Entertainment Weekly hadn’t done a big profile piece on “Wet Hot American Summer,” that would be the David Wain entry on this list. But they did, so instead, we shine a spotlight on “The Ten,” directed and co-written by Wain with Ken Marino. The all-star cast (including Paul Rudd, Famke Janssen, Liev Schreiber and Jessica Alba) really establishes the tone, pacing and insanity that eventually made “Children’s Hospital” a hit – featuring Gretchen Mol having a fling in Mexico with Jesus Christ, Winona Ryder’s delirious tryst with a ventriloquist’s dummy, and a song and dance number with a great deal of naked men.


4. “The Foot Fist Way” (2006)

For those of you who might be wondering where the hell Danny McBride came from, go watch this low-budget Jody Hill movie about cuckolded North Carolina taekwondo instructor Fred Simmons and you’ll be enlightened. Word has it that “Anchorman” greats Will Ferrell and Adam McKay loved this movie so much that they made a huge push to get it distributed – and said as much in the advertising for the film. Simmons battle of wills and skills with his celebrity martial-arts-movie idol Chuck “The Truck” Wallace (who turns out to be a drunken jerkface who sleeps with Fred’s wife) , as well as his unorthodox teaching methods and hard-line dojo philosophy are what make us all understand what McBride brings to the table and why he’ll always be welcome there.


5. “Burn After Reading” (2008)

The Dude gets most of the attention as far as Coen Brothers comedy goes, and “Raising Arizona” gets the rest, and they both deserve all the attention they get. However, there’s something sublimely wonderful about taking all the banal story elements of a by-the-numbers crime thriller movie and treating them seriously, but populating the cast of characters with the biggest stars in the world playing absolutely ridiculous morons. Frances McDormand’s surgery obsession, Brad Pitt’s energetic idiocy, John Malkovich’s profane rage and George Clooney’s sleazy skullduggery just make this a joy to watch.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.