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10 Hilarious Documentaries You Need to See

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Documentaries are thought to be many things. Educational. Provocative. Life affirming. But hilarious isn’t often on the list. Still, there are the occasional docs that have something to say, and find a way to say it in hilarious fashion. While most of these films use comedy to arrive at a larger point, that doesn’t discount the fact that they are flat out funny. As we get closer to Documentary Now!‘s August 20th premiere, check out some of the most laugh-out-loud docs around.


10. Anvil! The Story of Anvil

For one glorious summer, back in 1984, the heavy metal band Anvil toured the world alongside the biggest names in rock. But unlike Whitesnake and Bon Jovi, they never went on to sell millions of albums. The 2008 documentary finds the band still together after all these years, just barely holding onto their dreams. What could be a sad look at failed music biz dreams, instead becomes a tour de force performance for the members of the band, who fight to keep moving forward. The group’s larger-than-life personalities, in particular lead singer Steve “Lips” Kudlow, make the film both joyful and hilarious. Thankfully, there is no expiration date on rocking.


9. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

Steve Wiebe didn’t mean to become the world’s greatest Donkey Kong player, but once he claimed the throne, he was willing to do anything to keep it. A down-on-his-luck public school teacher, Wiebe killed the long hours of the day playing Donkey Kong in his garage. One day he noticed that he’d somehow beaten the highest score ever recorded, and notified officials. Pandora’s Box, consider yourself open. Previous record holder Billy Mitchell, a reigning gaming champ and supposed “Hot Sauce King” of Florida, was not pleased. He soon showed up, challenging Wiebe to prove himself on the joystick. A rivalry was born. Basically Rocky set in the world of 8 bit video games, the movie manages to be both more bizarre and hilarious than even its premise suggests. It also added “There’s a Donkey Kong kill screen coming up” to our list of favorite movie quotes.


8. The Aristocrats

These days, the Internet seems to be caught up in a holy war about what comedians are allowed to say, and how they are allowed to say it. This film savors not just crossing that line, but sh*tting all over it. The premise here is simple: Filmmakers Paul Provenza and Penn Gillette simply ask the world’s greatest comedians to tell their version of ‘The Aristocrats,” a famously dirty joke that changes every time it’s told. Everyone from George Carlin to Jon Stewart to Carrot Top takes their turn, stating, “a man walks into a talent agent’s office,” before letting loose with the filthiest filth humanly possible. A look at how the minds of some of the best comedians of our time work, this film was a sensation for being rip-roaringly hilarious, while also challenging the very premise of political correctness in comedy.


7. Winnebago Man

How many of us have watched some bizarre viral video, of some crazy person doing some crazy thing, had a laugh and then completely forgotten about it? This documentary doesn’t forget. Instead, the filmmakers dig deep, tracking down the star of an odd RV infomercial from the ’90s whose R-rated outtakes became a sensation on the Internet. A look at the real world just underneath our bite-sized culture, the man they find is every bit as entertaining as his one bad day two decades ago would suggest.


6. Bowling for Columbine

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, something which filmmaker Michael Moore has always been well aware of. While this 2002 hit has largely been overshadowed by Moore’s Oscar acceptance speech railing against the Iraq War, people forget how effective this movie was at simply making us laugh. Wherever you stand on the gun control debate, Moore did a brilliant job of proving his point with humor, and not just statistics.


5. Slasher

It’s no surprise that filmmaker John Landis could find laughs in his documentary work, considering he’s the man behind some of our most beloved comedies, including The Blues Brothers, Trading Places and Coming to America. Still, this doc is a surprise, if for no other reason than Landis himself never meant to make it. Instead, he actually set out to make a movie about politicians, but while gathering footage comparing them to used car salesmen, he realized he’d struck gold. The movie follows Michael Bennett, otherwise known as a “slasher.” Slashers are typically hired by used car dealerships to organize sales extravaganzas that whip customers into such a frenzy that they end up buying cars well out of their price range. Bennett proved to be such a singularly unique and hysterical character, sipping beer and puffing cigarettes as he put on the hard sell, that there was no choice but to center the entire movie around him.


4. Religulous

Bill Maher doubles down on his unique ability to skewer religion with humor in this 2008 doc. Instead of safely lobbing bombs at the holy world from behind a desk, Maher gets out into the world, taking his critiques to the believers. An equal opportunity offender, he roasts everyone from Born Again Christians to Scientologists to their faces. You don’t have to agree with him (although it helps) to find the humor in a museum dedicated to people and dinosaurs living side by side. Then again, if you think the world is 6,000 years old, this might not be the movie for you.


3. American Movie

Wisconsin filmmaker Mark Borchardt has a dream, and that’s to make a short film called Coven (which he seems unable to pronounce). He’ll then use that short to raise money for a feature called Northwestern. And from there, take over Hollywood. He just has to finish the damn short first. Whether it’s casting his parents, relying on his burnt-out best friend Mike Shank, or injuring his actors with poorly planned stunts, Borchardt’s dedication to finishing the film above all else makes this one of the best, and funniest documentaries around. No matter how dark the film goes, it always finds humor in the situation, without ever mocking the people its about. A one-of-a-kind film that will make you want to chase your dreams, even if they involve a lot of low budget special effects.


2. Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure

A cult hit about a cult hit, this is another look at the people behind a viral sensation. The difference here is that this all happened before the Internet. Here, we see the story of two old men, Peter J. Haskett and Raymond Huffman, whose insane fights were so hysterical, their neighbors taped them surreptitiously, and then released those tapes onto the world. Little did they know those recordings would become a sensation, inspiring artists and filmmakers, and creating a strange world of its own. If this doc doesn’t prove that truth is stranger than fiction, nothing will.


1. Tabloid

Sex! Kidnapping! Mormons! This doc has it all! Legendary documentarian Errol Morris tells the story of Joyce McKinney, who was accused of kidnapping her boyfriend in the 1970s, and trying to counteract what she claims was Mormon brainwashing by continually having sex with him. The story became a tabloid sensation at the time and McKinney a household name. Morris interviews all the key players, trying to get to the bottom of what really happened. Plus, the sex stuff.

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Inauguration Alternative

Bill Murray On Repeat

It's a movie "Murray-thon" all-day Friday on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs courtesy of GIPHY

Democrats, Republicans and Millennials agree: 2017 is shaping up to be a spectacle — a spectacle that really kicks into high gear this Friday with the presidential inauguration. Not only will the new POTUS swear in, but all the Country’s highest offices will be filled. It’s a daunting prospect, and to feel a little anxious about it is only normal. But if your anxiety is snowballing into panic, we have a solution:
Bill Murray.

He’s the human embodiment of a mental “Happy Place”, and there’s really no problem he can’t solve. So, with that in mind, how about we all set aside reality for a moment and let Bill take the pain away by imagining a top-shelf White House cabinet filled exclusively by his signature characters. Here are a few hypothetical appointments for your consideration…

Secretary of Defense:
Bill Murray from Stripes

His incompetence is balanced by charm, and dumb luck is inexplicably on his side. America could do worse.

Secretary of State:
Bill Murray from Lost In Translation

A seasoned globetrotter steeped in regional traditions who has the respect of the whole wide world. And he kills Costello in karaoke, which is very important.

Press Secretary:
Bill Murray from Ghostbusters

“Cats and dogs, living together. Mass hysteria.” Dude knows how to brief a room.

Secretary of Health and Human Services:
Bill Murray from What About Bob.

A doctor-approved people person who knows that progress is measured in baby steps.

Secretary of Energy:
Bill Murray from Groundhog Day

Let’s be honest, this world is going to need a lot of do-overs.

Feeling better? Hold on to that bliss. And enjoy a healthy alternative to the inauguration brouhaha with multiple Murrays all Friday long in an IFC movie marathon including Kingpin, Zombieland, Ghostbusters, and Ghostbusters II.

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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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