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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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Grow TFU

Adulting Like You Mean It

Commuters makes its debut on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Jared Warner, Nick Ciavarella, and Tim Dean were once a part of Murderfist, a group of comedy writers, actors, producers, parents, and reluctant adults. Together with InstaMiniSeries’s Nikki Borges, they’re making their IFC Comedy Crib debut with the refreshingly-honest and joyfully-hilarious Commuters. The webseries follows thirtysomethings Harris and Olivia as they brave the waters of true adulthood, and it’s right on point.

Jared, Nick, Nikki and Tim were kind enough to answer a few questions about Commuters for us. Here’s a snippet of that conversation…

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IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Nick: Two 30-somethings leave the Brooklyn life behind, and move to the New Jersey suburbs in a forced attempt to “grow up.” But they soon find out they’ve got a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jared: It’s a show about how f*cking stupid people who think they are smart can be.

IFC: What’s your origin story? When did you all meet and how long have you been working together?

Jared: Nick, Tim, and I were all in the sketch group Murderfist since, what, like 2004? God. Anyway, Tim and Nick left the group to pursue other frivolous things, like children and careers, but we all enjoyed writing together and kept at it. We were always more interested in storytelling than sketch comedy lends itself to, which led to our webseries Jared Posts A Personal. That was a show about being in your 20s and embracing the chaos of being young in the city. Commuters is the counterpoint, i guess. Our director Adam worked at Borders (~THE PAST!!~) with Tim, came out to a Murderfist show once, and we’ve kept him imprisoned ever since.

IFC: What was the genesis of Commuters?

Tim: Jared had an idea for a series about the more realistic, less romantic aspects of being in a serious relationship.  I moved out of the city to the suburbs and Nick got engaged out in LA.   We sort of combined all of those facets and Commuters was the end result.

IFC: How would Harris describe Olivia?

Jared: Olivia is the smartest, coolest, hottest person in the world, and Harris can’t believe he gets to be with her, even though she does overreact to everything and has no chill. Like seriously, ease up. It doesn’t always have to be ‘a thing.’

IFC: How would Olivia describe Harris?

Nikki:  Harris is smart, confident with a dry sense of humor but he’s also kind of a major chicken shit…. Kind of like if Han Solo and Barney Rubble had a baby.

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

Nikki:  I think this is the most accurate portrayal of what a modern relationship looks like. Expectations for what your life is ‘supposed to look like’ are confusing and often a let down but when you’re married to your best friend, it’s going to be ok because you will always find a way to make each other laugh.

IFC: Is the exciting life of NYC twentysomethings a sweet dream from which we all must awake, or is it a nightmare that we don’t realize is happening until it’s over?

Tim: Now that i’ve spent time living in the suburbs, helping to raise a two year old, y’all city folk have no fucking clue how great you’ve got it.

Nikki: I think of it similar to how I think about college. There’s a time and age for it to be glorious but no one wants to hang out with that 7th year senior. Luckily, NYC is so multifaceted that you can still have an exciting life here but it doesn’t have to be just what the twentysomethings are doing (thank god).

Jared: New York City is a garbage fire.

See the whole season of Commuters right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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C'mon Fellas

A Man Mansplains To Men

Why Baroness von Sketch Show is a must-see.

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Mansplaining is when a man takes it upon himself to explain something to a woman that she already knows. It happens a lot, but it’s not going to happen here. Ladies, go ahead and skip to the end of this post to watch a free episode of IFC’s latest addition, Baroness von Sketch Show.

However, if you’re a man, you might actually benefit from a good mansplanation. So take a knee, lean in, and absorb the following wisdom.

No Dicks

Baroness von Sketch Show is made entirely by women, therefore this show isn’t focused on men. Can you believe it? I know what you’re thinking: how will we know when to laugh if the jokes aren’t viewed through the dusty lens of the patriarchy? Where are the thinly veiled penis jokes? Am I a bad person? In order: you will, nowhere, and yes.

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Huge Balls

Did you know that there’s more to life than poop jokes, sex jokes, body part jokes? I mean, those things are all really good things, natch, and totally edgy. But Baroness von Sketch Show does something even edgier. It holds up a brutal funhouse mirror to our everyday life. This is a bulls**t world we made, fellas.

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Oh Canada

After you watch the Canadian powerhouses of Baroness von Sketch Show and think to yourself “Dear god, this is so real” and “I’ve gotta talk about this,” do yourself a favor and think a-boot your options: Refrain from sharing your sage wisdom with any woman anywhere (believe us, she gets it). Instead, tell a fellow bro and get the mansplaining out of your system while also spreading the word about a great show.

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Dudes, that’s the deal.
Women, start reading again here:


Check out the preview episode of Baroness von Sketch Show and watch the series premiere August 2 on IFC.

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Happy Tears

Binge Don’t Cringe

Catch up on episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia.

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Photo Credit: GIFs via GIPHY

A brain can only take so much.

Every five minutes, all day, every day, ludicrously stressful headlines push our mental limits as we struggle to adapt to a reality that seems increasingly less real. What’s a mind to do when simple denial just isn’t good enough anymore?

Radical suggestion: repeal and replace. And by that we mean take all the bad news that keeps you up at night, press pause, and substitute it with some genuine (not nervous, for a change) laughter. Here are some of the issues on our mind.

Gender Inequality

Feminist bookstore owners by day, still feminist bookstore owners by night, Toni and Candace show the male gaze who’s boss. Learn about their origin story (SPOILER: there’s an epic dance battle) and see what happens when their own brand of empowerment gets out of hand.

Healthcare

From Candace’s heart attack to the rise of the rawvolution, this Portlandia episode proves that healthcare is vital.

Peaceful Protests

Too many online petitions, too little time? Get WOKE with Fred and Carrie when they learn how to protest.

What Could Have Been

Can’t say the name “Clinton” without bursting into tears? Documentary Now!’s masterfully political “The Bunker” sheds a cozy new light on the house that Bill and Hill built. Just pretend you don’t know how the story really ends.

Fake News

A healthy way to break the high-drama news cycle is to switch over to “Dronez”, which has all the thrills of ubiquitous adventure journalism without any of the customary depression.

The more you watch, the better you feel. So get started on past episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia right now at IFC.com and the IFC app.

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