For as long as television has existed, so too have comedy programs, with many of them becoming vital additions to our watching schedules.
However, as time has gone on, so too has comedy evolved. Back in the day, classics like I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners were considered the peak of the genre, but as tastes changed, the creators of these shows reacted by creating programs that would top all the greats that came before them.
As the 21st century came around, comedy found itself at something of a crossroads, with the classic sitcom feeling tired and overplayed, while the rise of the internet necessitated a much more fast-paced and vital style of storytelling. Thus, some of the greatest comedy series were soon born out of these need to adapt to the times, allowing for a more self-aware and modernised style of storytelling, comedic timing, and humour to take centre stage on the small screen.
With Foxtel Now housing some of the finest comedies known to humankind, we’ve decided to take a look at the cream of the crop of the 21st century, and focusing on some of the greatest programs to utilise the new millennium’s now-ubiquitous approach to comedy.
When Seinfeld ended back in 1998, nobody really knew what the future held for its co-creator Larry David – not even Larry David himself. Thankfully, that question was answered soon enough, with Curb Your Enthusiasm serving as a monumental showcase for his trademark comedy stylings.
Part scripted, part improv, and entirely hilarious, Curb Your Enthusiasm has lasted over two decades as one of the most cringeworthy, relatable, and downright inescapably funny shows on television. Whether you see yourself in Larry, or hope to never emulate his social awkwardness, there’s something for everyone here.
Check out the iconic MAGA hat scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm:
2. The Office
Undoubtedly, a few folks would’ve had reservations when it was announced that a US version of English sitcom The Office was in the works, but thankfully, these fears were quickly assuaged as soon as Steve Carrell stepped into the role of the iconic Michael Scott. Like many of its contemporaries in the 21st century, The Office derives its humour from the semi-realistic portrayal of live inside the titular Dunder Mifflin Paper Company and the interactions between its employees and clueless management.
Of course, The Office is one of those shows you sometimes need to watch through your fingers as you cringe about the oblivious behaviour of Michael Scott, or the hilarious antics of Dwight Schrute. But above all, there’s a reason it’s often called one of the best comedy series of all time.
Check out the hilarious fire drill scene from The Office:
For years, television sitcoms tried their best to illustrate life for the modern family, but never quite managed to pull it off as it resorted to tired clichés, overused stereotypes, and an unwillingness to adapt. However, 2009 saw Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan step up to the plate with the aptly-titled new series, Modern Family. Recruiting some veritable screen icons (Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Eric Stonestreet, to name a few), the show was a massive hit and quickly became a beloved fixture of the small screen for millions.
Helped along by its accurate portrayal of the titular modern family (albeit with a tongue-in-cheek approach most of the time), the show’s success has been bolstered by its easygoing nature and universal appeal. After all, it feels impossible not to watch a few minutes without a classic scene going by.
Check out the classic restaurant scene from Modern Family:
4. 30 Rock
Created by former Saturday Night Live icon Tina Fey, 30 Rock was a semi-autobiographical account of its creator’s time at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, creating timeless comedy for the small screen. Of course, while Saturday Night Live is replaced by The Girlie Show (much like its star is replaced by the inimitable Tracy Morgan), much of the humour derives from the outlandish behind-the-scenes happenings of network television in the US.
Chuck in the likes of Jack McBrayer as witless NBC page Kenneth, and the iconic Alec Baldwin as the controlling Jack Donaghy, and 30 Rock stands alone as an all-star showcase of talent, humour, and meta-references, with barely a bum note throughout its beloved seven season run.
Check out the ridiculously silly rural juror scene from 30 Rock:
The 2000s are now synonymous with the ‘mockumentary’ format, as characters broke the fourth wall regularly to interact with the camera. Perhaps none did this better than Parks and Recreation, which struck the perfect balance between heartfelt and hilarious as Leslie Knope aims to rebuild her local town bigger and better, one park at a time.
Check out Jerry killing DJ Roomba from Parks and Recreation:
6. South Park
South Park has had an immensely successful run of boundary-pushing comedy. In their trademarked fashion, these episodes tackle and satirise everything from racism to being diagnosed with ADD. Rewatching, you can’t help ask yourself the question — could a show like this ever be made again?
Check out the legendary “Drug Free Treatment” scene from South Park:
Ready to get some belly laughter going with some of the best comedies that Foxtel Now has to offer? Well, luckily, Foxtel Now has a free 10-day trial available, which includes all of these hilarious comedies plus over 70 channels including packages such as their essentials, dramas, movies, documentaries, and kids shows. By either streaming on the go or right at home, every single one of these classic comedies plus many more can be watched through Foxtel Now.