Though “a suicidally depressed loser hangs out with his OCD nephew” doesn’t necessarily sound like the makings of a laugh parade, that’s exactly what this stellar BBC comedy hinges on. Created by Oliver Refson and Lilah Vandenburgh and starring the master of confrontational deadpan comedy, Nick Helm, Uncle is a masterful blend of mean-spirited laughs and heartwarming emotion. (In particular, episode 5 of season 1, Last Of The Red Hot Uncles, achieves a level of farce that is truly transcendent.) As Erroll the hapless nephew, Elliot Speller-Gillott is one of the most delightful comedy discoveries of recent years.
It’s been a decade since we were last gifted a Christopher Guest film, his last effort being 2006’s For Your Consideration (lest you think we forgot it, 2013’s Family Tree was a series, not a film). This time around, Guest and many of his regular collaborators (Jennifer Coolidge, Fred Willard, Parker Posey, Harry Shearer, Bob Balaban and more) set their mockumentary sights on the world of professional mascots --the people in the big, dumb, fluffy suits-- as they compete for the World Mascot Association’s Golden Fluffy gong. In the broader pantheon of Guest works, Mascots is no This Is Spinal Tap, but it’s always a treat to watch this troupe of deadpan weirdos get together and make awkward magic happen.
In proof that the best way to make good comedy content is to find bright young talents online and give them a bit of money and a platform, SBS plucked local filmmaker and special effects, well, wizard Michael Shanks from YouTube and set him loose on this tale of one wizard’s attempts to live a normal life in Melbourne’s western suburbs. With a bewilderingly starry cast of guests that includes Guy Pearce, Bruce Spence, Mark Mitchell and Christie Whelan, as well as effects that wouldn’t be out of place on the big screen, The Wizards Of Aus is well worth your D20 roll.
If by some massive failure as a human being you missed Party Down’s two perfect seasons back in 2009 and 2010 before it was callously cancelled, you’re in luck: it lives again on Stan. Created by John Enbom, Rob Thomas, Dan Etheridge and Paul Rudd, the show tracks the intersecting lives of a bunch of underemployed creative types in Los Angeles as they make some money on the side as cater-waiters. With a bafflingly good cast that includes Adam Scott, Jane Lynch, Martin Starr, Ken Marino and Lizzy Caplan among many others (not to mention an uncomfortable level of relatability to anyone who has tried to make it as an actor or writer), it’s not a stretch to call Party Down one of the best comedies of the last decade.
As anyone who has ever seen one of those group photos of late-night comedy hosts will know, satire in 2016 is an enduringly male game. Thank god, then, for Samantha Bee, one of the guiding lights of political/news satire. The former Daily Show correspondent branched out with her own show earlier this year, and it’s everything you want a news comedy show to be: scathing, uncompromising, thought-provoking, and most importantly, utterly hilarious.
The Logie nominated and AACTA winning Black Comedy is one of our national broadcaster’s brightest lights of the past few years (and one that makes up for the unceremonious cancellation of National Black Theatre sketch series Basically Black in 1973 when Aunty got cold feet). Starring a panoply of Indigenous talent including Nakkiah Lui, Briggs, Steven Oliver and Aaron Fa'aoso (and countless guest stars), after years of ho-hum TV comedy in Australia, Black Comedy introduced a host of beloved characters and catchphrases to the national vernacular. If anyone’s ever yelled “WHAT’S THIS THEN, SLUT!” or “can’t even [verb]” at you, Black Comedy is why.
Luke McGregor and Celia Pacquola were the breakout stars of ABC’s Utopia, so it makes sense that they’ve forged a new path together, creating, writing and starring in the eight-part series, Rosehaven. Inspired in part by McGregor’s parents’ lives as Tasmanian real estate agents, the show is a warm and gentle delight, and Pacquola and McGregor’s chemistry is winning. And, in a bonus for the Apple Isle’s tourism economy, the local landscapes are so appealing they may even make you want to throw it all in and move to small-town Tassie to run a real estate business.