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DID YOU READ

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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

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

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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…