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10 Detective Comedies You Seriously Need to Watch

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As we gear up for the July 8th premiere of The Spoils Before Dying, our minds have gravitated toward the movies and TV shows that turned the hardboiled detective drama on its ear. From subtle satires to broad parodies, there are countless worthy send-ups of pulp procedurals and whodunits filled with wisecracking leads, nutty red herrings, and goofy double-crosses. And because the genre mockery is so vast, invariably there will be overlooked gems amongst their more well-known counterparts.

So if you’re a fan of the genre, or just on the lookout for an obscure laffer, here are 10 must-watch detective comedies that you might have missed.

10. Murder by Death, for those who like Clue

Nearly a decade before the loopy adaptation of everyone’s favorite blunt trauma board game, Neil Simon penned a spoof of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Starring esteemed actors like Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith, David Niven, and Peter Falk as thinly veiled analogs to famous sleuths, this parody is a must-see for fans of objectionable characters being picked off one by one in a creepy mansion.


9. Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, for those who like The Pink Panther


Few bumbling detectives measure up to Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau in the 1963 comedy classic The Pink Panther — and that includes Steve Martin in the 2006 remake. However, Martin played the goofy gumshoe to the hilt in Carl Reiner’s Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid wherein 18 classic noir films are spliced into the narrative and act as fodder for Martin and his co-stars to play off of. It’s Steve Martin in his prime leading a whacked-out premise, i.e. an instant classic.


8. Black Dynamite, for those who like Pootie Tang


With all due respect to Louis CK as a film auteur, the elements that worked as a Chris Rock Show sketch never came together in his 2001 blaxploitation misfire Pootie Tang. But simultaneously honoring and skewering the super-’70s genre, Black Dynamite worked in all the ways Pootie didn’t. Authentic down to the era, swagger, and 16mm film stock, this spoof expertly mines its sources for humor both broad and obscure.


7. Police Squad!, for those who like The Naked Gun


Criminally canceled after only six episodes, the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker gag-heavy series Police Squad! first introduced us to dimwitted cop Frank Drebin, a role that couldn’t be played by anyone but Leslie Nielsen. Although the show’s premise, characters, and many of the jokes were resurrected for the Naked Gun film franchise, there’s a certain nostalgic charm to the original 1982 show that remains timeless even 33 years later.


6. Burn After Reading, for those who like The Big Lebowski


Not a detective comedy in the strictest sense, the Coen Brothers’ cult classic The Big Lebowski was nevertheless inspired by Raymond Chandler’s crime novel The Big Sleep through a filter of weed and bowling. Similarly, the Coens’ Burn After Reading extracted the espionage and intrigue from spy mysteries and injected them into a shaggy dog plot featuring off-the-wall characters and twists out of left field.


5. Action Family, for those who like Eagleheart


Defining surreal comedy before many of today’s comedy stars were even born, Chris Elliott’s most recent venture Eagleheart was Adult Swim’s answer to Justified. But Elliott skewered the detective drama and cheesy family sitcoms decades earlier in the Cinemax one-shot Action Family. In it, Elliott played both a hard-nosed detective and hapless dad in a 30-minute special that combined canned laughter and gruesome murder in one hilarious package.


4. Andy Barker, P.I., for those who like Monk


Detective series often employ leads that would be ill-suited for sleuthing if it weren’t for their canny skills in getting their man. And while Tony Shalhoub in Monk actively chose the world of private investigation, Andy Richter didn’t have much of a choice in Andy Barker, P.I. Mistaken for a detective due to a change in office space, Barker uses his accounting expertise to make ends meet as a crime-solver.


3. Kolchak: The Night Stalker, for those who like The X-Files


Although it was ostensibly a drama, Chris Carter’s X-Files was much funnier than its premise and storylines dictated, and much of that was owed to another supernaturally driven series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Starring A Christmas Story’s Darrin McGavin as an investigative newspaper reporter, the series not only inspired the “Monster of the Week” episodes of X-Files and Buffy, it did so with a heavy dose of humor and charm.


2. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, for those who like Lethal Weapon


Screenwriter Shane Black was barely out of college when he sold Lethal Weapon to producer Joel Silver, infusing the dialogue with witty repartee and further establishing the buddy-cop genre. Nearly 20 years later, Black upended the tropes he helped define, while also mocking the Hollywood machine and meta-filmmaking, for the detective comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Starring a never-better Val Kilmer and Robert Downey, Jr., the movie is a smart and uniquely funny neo-noir that picks on the right people.


1. Lookwell, for those who like Columbo


It’s impossible to imagine anyone but Peter Falk in the role of Columbo. Masking his deductive reasoning with affable chattiness, the detective usually has the case solved from the very first perp meet. Likewise, Lookwell couldn’t exist without Adam West, but his deduction skills are anything but masterful. In the role he was born to play, West is a former TV detective solving crimes in his spare time (he has a lot of it, he warns). Sadly, the pilot is West’s only turn as Lookwell, but in just 22 minutes, he has us all pining for six seasons and a movie.

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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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