6 comedies about making comedies

Esther Povitsky and Benji Aflalo in Alone Together. (Photo supplied)
Esther Povitsky and Benji Aflalo in Alone Together. (Photo supplied)

Cape Town - These series prove that being a comedian is no laughing matter. It’s a serious business, and trying to make it as a stand up is tough enough to make you lose your sense of humour. But, luckily for us, it makes for some good comedy. Here’s what to binge on internet TV this weekend.

1. Alone Together (First on Showmax)

Real-life stand ups Esther Povitsky and Benji Aflalo star in this awkward, hilarious show about two dorky young people trying to break onto the LA stand-up scene. They play exaggerated versions of themselves struggling to find eligible people to date - because, for once, this is a series about a strictly platonic relationship between a cute guy and a cute girl who are genuinely never going to hook up. Produced by Andy Samberg’s comedy trio The Lonely Island.

2. Nobodies Showmax)

In another series with comedians basically playing themselves, we see the lengths to which comedians will stoop and the depths to which they will go to achieve their desired levels of fame in Hollywood. Hugh, Larry and Rachel are writers on a kids’ show, but what they really want to do is get their big-budget movie made. Studios aren’t too keen until they drop their name of their old friend Melissa McCarthy, and suddenly everyone’s interested. Everyone except Melissa. Produced by Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone, her husband in real-life (and yes, in the series, too).

3. Difficult People (Showmax)

Julie Klausner plays Julie Kessler and Billy Eichner plays Billy Epstein. Yip, you guessed it, they’re both aspiring comedians in the show, and actual comedians in real life. In the series, Julie and Billy live in New York and are as jaded as they are unsuccessful. But at least they have each other - they’re each the only person the other one doesn’t hate. This series is darker and more bitingly funny than any of the others on this list, and is elevated by appearances by Gabourey Sidibe as Denise, Billy’s awful boss at the cafe where he’s working - you know, just until he gets his big break.

4. Crashing (DStv Now)

Created and produced by Pete Holmes, this Judd Apatow series is about Peter (yes! It’s another show by a comedian about himself!), an aspiring stand-up comedian in New York who gets to fulfil his dream of pursuing a career in comedy after his wife leaves him for a man called Leif. But Peter doesn’t exactly fit the mould of a foul-mouthed, hard-living stand up. For one thing, he doesn’t drink. And for another, he believes in God … for real. Starring real-life veteran comedian Artie Lange as himself. Season 2 is currently streaming on DStv Now.

5. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Netflix)

Jerry Seinfeld is the brains behind this eminently bingeable series that sees him picking up one of his famous friends (usually fellow comedians) in a cool vintage car and taking them somewhere cosy for coffee and a chat about their lives. It’s been billed as an “anti-talk show”, and we can’t help but feel like we’re getting a glimpse into the person behind the persona as soon as the guest steps into the car. Our favourite episode is a tie between the one with Jimmy Fallon imitating Seinfeld imitating Bruce Springsteen (much to Seinfeld’s hysteria) and the one with Alec Baldwin, for so many reasons, but mostly because he’s wonderful, and the only guest we’ve seen who ends up interviewing Jerry. 

6. Seinfeld (Amazon Prime)

“The show about nothing”, which is really a show about the life of a minor comic celebrity in New York and his eccentric friends and neighbours, ran from 1989 to 1998. It launched not only the career of Seinfeld himself but also that of Veep’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine, Jerry’s ex. Seinfeld wrote and created the show with Larry David, who in turn plays a version of himself in Curb Your Enthusiasm (if you find a legit streaming service in SA that’s got CYE, let us know, please and thank you). All nine seasons of Seinfeld are excellent easy-watching binge-session fodder, available on Amazon Prime, but if you’ve only got half an hour, go straight to the funniest episode ever: Season 7, episode 6, The Soup Nazi.