In the recent dumbing down of comedy, the Internet has a lot to answer for. IM -- the epistolary equivalent of a drugstore impulse buy -- has hastened the process of simplifying the comedic impulse to a few iconic images and phrases exchanged liberally among friends. Stuff on people's cats. Stupid people. And the pinnacle in mind-numbing inanity, YTMND sites.
But can I truly condemn a medium that has brought me so many hours of comedy gold? I remember the afternoon that I discovered the epic video series instigated by Michel Gondry's Rubik's Cube stunt. And for every depressingly crappy Chris Crocker link that I've been sent, there's been a thoroughly satisfying Sesame Street/Casino crossover.
But a new, more evolved, twist on Internet comedy has been dominating my monitor for the past couple of months: SuperDeluxe -- a comedy Web site that features a few of my favorite comedians and scores of new ones. There's a few similar sites out there, like Will Ferrell's Funny or Die. But Funny or Die relies on a lot of user-generated content -- making it incredibly hit or miss (hence the title, I assume), while SuperDeluxe commissions its shows from working comedians -- creating basically an online comedy network.
They get the format exactly right by featuring recurring series as well as one-off productions. The shows average about five to ten minutes in length, with often extremely low production values and bare bones animation, but are packed with absurdist jokes and a wide variety of types of comedy to appeal to a mass of varied tastes. Pretty much every clip is aimed at an adult audience, but some force you to declare yourself over the age of 18.
Here's a selection of clips from the site that shows the wide range of material available, and introduces you to some of their talented stable of artists. Enjoy!
Watching Mr. Show can be a bittersweet experience -- so very biting and timely, but now fully ten years in the past. But now you can see Bob Odenkirk still doing his familiar thing as one of the more prolific of the SuperDeluxe artists. Baby Talk from the series Derek and Simon: The Show proves that the jokes are as painfully awkward as ever.
A comic book artist turned animator, Brad Neely has created a masterpiece in the series The Professor Brothers. One's a neurotic whiner, one's a minimalist Hunter S. Thompson. Together, they're a complete waste of college tuition.
This New York-based comedienne shows off Daily Show-worthy poise, presence, and quick wit as she anchors her own talk show called All My Exes, in which she interviews her old flames. Don't miss the brilliant first episode that features Pras from the Fugees as her most recent ex.
Eugene Mirman has been on the NYC standup circuit for years and years, and has built up quite a rabid fanbase. The standout show he does on SuperDeluxe has to be Space Talk from Dimension Eugene. Watch for the delightful recurring segment called Laugh at the Past.
Yeah, I couldn't remember if Master P was a rapper or a comedian. Turns out he's both, as well as an entrepreneur, basketball player, and apparently, marketing guru. He's also the star of Master P Theatre. Watch for yet another James Lipton parody (it just never gets old, does it?).
I suspect the shows from this comedy troupe are written by different members, as the humor varies drastically from clip to clip. But The Applicant shows every new graduate exactly how to get that dream job, and Michel Gondry is so mean but so on target, it hurts.
Rasika Mathur is on a mission to make the most of her South Asian heritage -- and the stereotypes that come with it -- in Sourced Out, her original series. A little uneven, but there's definitely some good stuff. Check out the first episode, Serving America.