When it comes to developing comedy show for television, with the exception of Louie, there is hardly any unilateral decision making that allows for something that is “just good” to be on the air. Demographics, built-in markets, censors, programming and more unfortunately factor into what usually makes it to the air.
On the Internet, however, the phenomenon of the web series, though often low budget, has allowed for creativity to dictate the process rather than those aforementioned business factors. Writing, producing, acting and editing are responsibilities of the creators rather than a group of suits. Thus, the show has room to breath. In short, many comedy web series are made because they’re just funny. We’re not talking about viral vlogs where people flip out about celebrities or cats. There’s plenty of regular recurring series online that consistently hit a high note on the funny. Which begs the question: Why can’t we see any of this type of comedic genius (Adult Swim’s bundle of 15-minute shows excluded) on television? Here are 11 web series that deserve to be on television.
One of the more popular, well-produced, and longest running series around (it’s been going since 2006), Mr. Deity, written and starring Brian Keith Dalton, shows the office and home life of someone whose both omniscient and omnipotent, which can be quite a hassle. With some of the sharpest writing on the YouTube screen, taking this perfectly executed religious satire to the small screen might sound like a risky move, but as Mr. Deity goes confidently into it’s fourth season, it’s sure to have a loyal and hardcore fan base on the boob tube.
Posted daily, Puddin‘ is promoted as a “live action comic strip,” which is true as it’s the same single locked-off shot featuring the hilarious Eddie Pepitone walking into a break room and always losing his shit where a co-worker is eating a cup of pudding. Though it would have to be expanded into some extremely dark version of The Office, the clear point from Puddin‘ is that Pepitone needs to be on TV way more often.
THE PARENT PROJECT
In one of the most meta comedy undertakings you’ll ever see, Brett Weiner records conversations with his parents, which are already pretty funny, then has them write stories, which they narrate as he produces them with real actors and actual locations, while they banter back and forth critiquing the story. As complicated as that might sound, it’s absolutely hilarious. Coming out of Channel 101, a monthly short screening series in New York and Los Angeles, where filmmakers compete for a chance to make another episode month to month, the Parent Project has already made five episodes and definitely could make some for network television.
KURT BRAUNHOLER’S WORLD WIDE OF ANIMALS
Comedian Kurt Braunholer talking about animals is one of the most hysterical things online right now. Just imagine if there were field pieces added to this. Though this totally makes fun of Animal Planet, Animal Planet needs to be taking notes.
This satirical take on all huge family reality shows can stand on its own. Already on Comedy Central-owned Atom.com, Kid Farm has made an amazing run through an entire season, it wouldn’t be hard to see this move up to Comedy Central’s main cable channel.
The History Channel hardly covers actual history anyway. Why not have funny people like Will Ferrell re-enact it according to what a drunk funny person like comedian Jen Kirkman says?
Degrassi is pretty ridiculous and unintentionally funny. Sex Teenagers, another Channel 101 program, that pokes quite expertly at programs like Degrassi, is even more ridiculous– but on purpose.
This is probably the most lo-fi, DIY series on the list, but the concept — three Los Angeles-based comedians, Paul Danke, Cornell Reid and Adam Jacobs going head-to-head in the games of their youth — completely makes up for that. Comedians trash talking is usually entertaining enough, but add in making paper airplanes or playing “Operation” into the mix and it reaches a whole another level of funny.
TED & GRACIE
Parodying a series by the New York Times, newly hired Late Show with David Letterman writer Jena Friedman writes and directs herself and a hilariously bizarre Ben Kronberg as a couple trying to get married. The chemistry from Friedman and Kronberg and whoever else they run into is amazing and can be easily expanded into a real series.
THE MIDNIGHT SHOW
This isn’t technically a web series, but the cult sketch group the Midnight Show posts their sketches online regularly enough that they consistently draw viral attention. With a little work, this could turn into a traditional television series. Performing a live version of their show with all their fast paced, hard hitting hilarity monthly at UCB in Los Angeles, this is what Saturday Night Live should be more like these days.
BETWEEN TWO FERNS
Well, it’s quite clear from this cult series that anyone online instantly watches that VH1 made a huge mistake when they cancelled Late World with Zach Galifianakis. In this current round of a Galifianakis talk show, famous guests are (or sometimes not) surprised by out-of-left-field awkwardness, making for some of the most memorable moments on the Internet. Why not just simply put that on television?