It may not feel like anything good happened this year, but there were still some comedic gems unleashed in to the world, and so we’re going to celebrate them here.
Best Tv Comedy:
10) Dummy Season 1
The one really great Quibi series, this saw Anna Kendrick play series writer Cody Heller and examine her relationship with Rick and Morty’s Dan Harmon, and the talking sex doll that he owns, and hopefully it’ll turn up somewhere else soon as it deserves a much larger audience.
9) What We Do In The Shadows Season 2
The first series was fairly patchy and nothing that special a lot of the time but it upped its game in its second year by making Guillermo a kick ass vampire killer despite his love for Nandor and the others he lives with, and everyone else was much funnier too making it a surprise delight.
8) Out Of Her Mind Series 1
Sara Pascoe’s fourth wall breaking exploration of love and the chemicals that are involved when we meet that special someone was packed with a lot of intelligent commentary on life while also being very, very funny throughout.
7) Taskmaster New Zealand Series 1
The British series was a little patchy this year and the least deserving cast member won it, but this version has been sublime, with simpler tasks allowing the contestants to be far more inventive and imaginative, and it has made me laugh a huge amount.
6) Corporate Season 3
Another series which came to a close this year was this dark satire on corporate life that was more playful than ever as it explored a number of topics including depression, suicide and friendship, with the final episode tying in with the first rather beautifully.
5) The Good Place Season 4
I’ve still some minor issues with the finale but at the same time deeply admire how they choose to end this amazing series which was thoughtful and kind and best of all packed with superb performances from a cast who made me laugh time and again.
4) Joe Pera Talks With You Season 2
Most of the second series aired this year, and dear lord was it astonishingly good, with more of a narrative to the majority of the episodes which only made it more lovable, and the special which aired while in lockdown was the perfect tonic to the misery as well.
3) Bojack Horseman Season 6
Given the nature of the show I had a horrible feeling that this might end with Bojack’s demise, but instead we were given something new – a mostly happy ending, and though aspects were still bittersweet, it was a fantastic piece of closure.
2) The Shivering Truth Season 2 – Episode 4
PFFR’s anthology series was a beautiful beast in general but the fourth episode was an especially astonishingly inventive work, involving god fighting, prose addiction and fighting love machines that all led to one of the strangest but funniest pieces of comedy ever made.
1) Ted Lasso Season 1
This warm, gentle, and kind sitcom was just what the world needed this year, as Jason Sudekis’s manager may not have known much about football but he did know how to make you fall madly in love with his sweet natured individual.
Almost Made The List:
How To With John Wilson Season 1, The Kemps All True, Rick and Morty Season 4, Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, What We Do In The Shadows Season 2, Medical Police, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy Vs The Reverend, Upload Series 1, Miracle Workers Series 2, Three Busy Debras Season 1, Mandy Series 1, Archer Season 11, Search Party Season 3, Reno 911! Season 7, At Home With Amy Sedaris Season 3, Code 404 Series 1, Everything’s Going To Be Okay Season 1, Sex Education Season 2.
Best Film Comedy:
Showing that 2020 really wasn’t the best year for film comedy, but hey, it’s kind of understandable given how much of the year cinemas were closed, I struggled to find a film to include at no.10 but chose this as while nothing special it does contain some strong performances from Vince Vaughan and Kathryn Newton.
9) Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Will Ferrell and Amy Adams paid an affectionate homage to the Eurovision Song Contest, its a fairly standard underdog comedy which definitely could have been a little sharper, but it still had a good few funny moments.
8) Palm Springs
A Groundhog Day-esque time loop comedy, Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti attend a wedding but then get trapped living the day over and over again, this was a frustrating piece as the first hour was a delight, but the ending disappointed.
7) All Joking Aside
A smart, thoughtful exploration of stand up comedy and what it takes to perform on stage, this low budget indie comedy might not have set the world on fire but it had a lot to say about the artform and did so effectively.
6) Guns Akimbo
Daniel Radcliffe’s action based slice of madness rarely let up for a second, and Radcliffe once again showed what a fine comic actor he’s developed in to as he had to try and survive being murdered by a varied selection of oddballs.
A superb documentary about Howard Ashman, the man behind many a classic musical including Little Shop Of Horrors, Beauty and The Beast and Aladdin, it might not have been packed with hilarious moments but it was a fascinating insight in to this creative genius.
4) Le Daim (Deerskin)
One of Quentin Dupieux more conventional films and yet still pretty damn weird as a jacket obsessed film maker starts murdering people, it was packed with absurd laughs and though not his best work still pretty damn special.
3) An American Pickle
Simon Rich is an author I’m enormously fond of but when I heard Seth Rogen had been cast in the lead role – playing both main characters – I feared I may hate it. Rogen’s at his very best however, as he plays a man out of time who tries to come to grips with modern day America and his selfish grandson.
2) Borat Subsequent Movie Film
The odds were against a sequel to the superb original working after all this time and yet Sacha Baron Cohen, director Jason Woliner and writers Anthony Hines , Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena Friedman and Lee Kern pulled it off, and even made it oddly sweet natured and warm hearted too.
1) Bill and Ted Face The Music
And the same applies with this, but Reeves and Winter and writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson, along with director Dean Parisot, did something almost miraculous and made these characters endearingly funny once again, while Winter and Reeves were superb as the various versions of Bill and Ted that we got to meet, and Brigette Lundy-Paine, Samara Weaving and the rest of the cast were great too.
Almost Made The List: Nothing. Sorry.
Best Live Comedy / Comedy Specials:
10) Sam Campbell – The Trough
Campbell’s 2018 show debuted online early on in the pandemic and definitely made life briefly joyful as it is packed with innovative and extremely funny lunacy, a mix of stand up and sketches that have made me want to see him live as soon as I can.
9) Bec Hill – Out Of Order
Hill’s show is a fantastic selection of anecdotes, one liners, random thoughts or one of Hill’s much loved flip charts, with a laugh rate which is incredibly impressive delivered by one of the funniest comedians around.
8) Lucy McCormick – Post Popular
A bold, forceful hour where McCormick tells her version of the stories of Adam and Eve, Boudica, Anne Boleyn, Florence Nightingale, and (very briefly) The Suffragettes, it contains many a hilarious moment and was funny and fascinating throughout.
7) Eric Andre – Legalize Everything
Ridiculously absurd, often provocative, and always funny, in this latest special we got to hear Andre’s thoughts on everything from drugs to homophobia, religion, sex and the police, and each and every part is laugh out loud funny.
6) Eddie Pepitone – For The Masses
Recorded pre-pandemic this saw Eddie talk about the end of the world and how fucked the world is, so god knows how bleak a comedy special from the man right now would be. But despite being undeniably depressing it was also gorgeously funny too, and an absolute must see.
5) Hannah Gadsby – Douglas
Expectations were always going to be high after Nanette and this is something Gadsby tackles early on in this superb special, before then delivering some bloody funny routines about the patriarchy, her anger issues and autism, and it’s just as good if not better than the show which shot her to fame.
4) Rose Matafeo – Warms Up For Her Special
A warm up gig for the recording of her special Horndog which aired on HBO this summer, this saw Matafeo explore her past relationships, how she throws herself passionately in to them, and how she became that person in a comedy show which is gloriously funny from start to finish.
3. James Acaster – Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999
A sublime special which elevates Acaster in to the top tier of comedians, this two hour special flies by as he discusses the worst year of his life, why his Bake Off appearance was so bad, being dropped by his agent and the end of a couple of relationships, it tackles weighty subjects in a sublimely funny manner.
2) Police Cops – Badass Be Thy Name
Even in a year where live comedy took place all year round this would be something rather special, a sublimely silly romp set in Manchester 1999 and involving a priest fighting a sweets obsessed devil and some very funny vampires too.
1) Maria Bamford – Weakness Is The Brand
The Bammer’s latest special is another amazing piece of comedy, as she considers the nature of identity and how now that she’s happier in life she worries she won’t have enough material. She need not have worried though, as this is Maria at her very best.
Best Old Comedy Discovered / Rediscovered This Year:
10) Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich
I’ve loved many a thing by Simon Rich this year including Man Seeking Woman, Miracle Workers Season 2 and his novel Elliot Allagash, but this collection of short stories was my favourite, and each one is packed with very funny moments.
9) Action Family
A one off pilot starring Chris Elliot, I’ve reviewed many a pilot and been frustrated that it was never made in to a series, but never more than this as it plays with sitcom conventions and breaks the fourth wall in a gloriously funny fashion.
8) Emo: The Musical
This Australian musical was packed to the prim with some extremely funny songs while also containing a witty script and some superb performances, leading it to placing highly in our best cult musicals list.
7) Oh Hello On Broadway
Nick Kroll and John Mulaney have been performing as these two characters for a little while now and somehow passed me by, but having seen this pro-shot version of their Broadway show I’ve since tracked everything down as it’s hilarious and then some.
6) Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Released online for a week in the early days of the pandemic, this West End hit is so good that I’d love to see it live and hope to get the chance in 2021, it’s filled with stunning songs and a sharp, smart script that makes it one of the best new musicals of the century.
5) Army Of Darkness
I used to feel this was the weakest entry in to the Evil Dead world but upon rewatching it this year discovered that it’s actually the best, packed with hilarious set pieces and a stunning central performance from Bruce Campbell.
4) All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman
This short novella from Kaufman is impressively inventive as the marriage involving an unusual superhero is threatened when she’s made to forget her husband, and it’s very funny too.
3) The Films Of Masaaki Yuasa
The director of Night Is Short, Walk On Girl, Lu Over The Wall, Ride Your Wave and Mind Game has produced some all rather beautiful to look at and incredibly adorable movies, all of which are a must see.
2) Zazie Dans Le Metro
One of the best comedies ever made, and far better than the acclaimed book it was based on, Louis Malle’s dizzyingly joyful and absurd Paris based adventures are lovable, crazed and never less than hilarious.
1) The Films Of Preston Sturges
Reviews of which will begin early on in January as I’ve found myself extremely enamoured by Sturges’ slapstick filled and very witty comedies, with many of them essential viewing to this day.