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10 Detective Comedies You Seriously Need to Watch

detective-comedies

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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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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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