Inside the Lightbox is a new sponsored feature where we mine the extensive Lightbox catalogue for cool shows you might like to watch. This week, Alex Casey lines up an stunning selection of comedies led by some of the funniest women on the planet. //
Tina Fey writes and acts in this behind-the-curtain sitcom, a closely based (at at times autobiographical) account of her own time working on American stalwart sketch show Saturday Night Live. Playing the character of Liz Lemon, a writer on the fictional sketch show TGS, Fey leads a pack of miscreant writers, actors and suits as they overcome their respective shambles to put a show together week to week. As the seasons progress, the backstage world becomes laden with inside jokes and cultural references as dense as the contents of a cheesy blaster. It’s a true joy to watch unfold.
Fey is side-splittingly relatable as Lemon, with all the hangups and social faux pas of anyone who enjoys eating a little cheese at night or wearing a luxury slanket around the house (or doing both, at the same time). For all her problems, she is the calm in the middle of a chaotic television storm. Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) is a CEO with Mommy issues, Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) is a TV star hellbent on fame and Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) is very busy walking up a freeway in his underpants. It’s one of the funniest shows on television, about television, you will ever see.
The Jaquie Brown Diaries
We don’t have to stray far for this one. The Jaquie Brown Diaries stars our very own TV personality Jaquie Brown as a conflated version of herself – a pop journalist struggling to gain fame in a small country were fame doesn’t really need to exist. Written by Gerard Johnstone, Hayley Cunningham and Brown herself, it’s a semi-autobiographical look at the trials and tribulations of New Zealand’s dire celebrity circuit.
The show feels like an amalgamation of all things good in comedy, and feels slightly before it’s time. It has the panicked inner monologue of Bridget Jones’ Diary, the excruciating awkward silences of The Office and the frankness of Girls or The Sarah Silverman Program (I’ll get to that one in a minute). The show opens with Jaquie getting recognised at the gynaecologist, which I’m led to believe is based on a true story. It’s delightful, painful and a wonderfully refreshing example of New Zealand comedy at it’s finest.
Parks and Recreation
Over the weekend, my friends and I participated in Galentine’s Day – a celebration that would not exist if it wasn’t for a) our remarkable and unwavering friendship and b) the inspirational genius of Parks and Recreation. The concept of Galentine’s Day was devised by Parks‘ main character Leslie Knope, and gives you a good idea of her vibe. It’s about loving the people in your life with an unabashed sincerity, and worshipping strong women everywhere (just like she worships Hilary Clinton). Played by Saturday Night Live‘s Amy Poehler, Leslie is a heart-of-gold bureaucrat in an Indiana Parks and Recreation Department, determined to improve her community through any means necessary.
She is joined in Pawnee by a host of unbelievable talent including Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), the gruff moustachio’d breakfast fanatic, April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), the deadpan man-killer, Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), the T-Pain loving food nicknamer and Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt), the lovable pit-dwelling doofus. Not to mention Rashida Jones, Rob Lowe and Adam Scott. It’s a smorgasbord of inspired mockumentary-style comedy, shining vividly against the browns and mustards of small town bureaucracy.
The Sarah Silverman Program
Part of Sarah Silverman’s comedy schtick is how her disarmingly childish voice can carry deeply explicit and unexpected themes. Which is a fitting trait, because that’s sort of what The Sarah Silverman Show is like as a whole. On the tin it looks like a sweet light-hearted technicolour trip through two sisters’ lives – but in actuality it dishes out pretty dark dealings on the regular. With the help of Community‘s Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab, Silverman has made a comedy that isn’t afraid to rip open some issues that other sitcoms wouldn’t touch with even the longest of bongs. She confronts the Holocaust, dons blackface at one point and smokes a lot of weed.
But, although it deals with heavy issues – it’s still a comedy. Imagine it as the older sister of Broad City. The show uses surrealist, childish characters in a state of arrested development to create a comfortable space for discussing important social issues such as racism, sexism, mental health and rape culture. Pretty smart work for someone who also can be found singing something called ‘The Poop Song’.