In search of Black Comedy
August 22, 2014 8:54 PM   Subscribe

Recently, I've been interested in multimedia featuring aspects of black comedy or cynical characters in otherwise mundane settings. Searching on my own is more or less inefficient and I'm looking for any recommendations which fall into this category.

It's difficult to describe why this genre appeals to me but I've always found it odd method of coping with troublesome events in life. Some movies I liked would be Heathers and World's Greatest Dad. For books I don't mind nonfiction or fiction as long as it fits into the theme. Ideally, in should be still in print because it's a bit of a challenge to find out-of-print books nowadays. Articles are nice too, the most recent Mefi post is a good example of what I've looking for too.

I guess, you could call it dry humor too.

However, I'm not so much as looking for satire or parody atm. TV series are alright but I tend to be impatient with long running series and I prefer movies overall. Thanks.
posted by chrono_rabbit to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
If you can find it anywhere, "Drop Dead Gorgeous" would fit the bill nicely, I think.
posted by xingcat at 8:59 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Bonus points if you've ever experienced personally Portland, Oregon.
posted by jbenben at 9:42 PM on August 22, 2014

Death at a Funeral might be something you like.

Oh, anything with Louis C.K.
posted by Beti at 10:10 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

TV shows: Peep Show, Black Books, Father Ted, Young Ones, IT Crowd
Movies: Four Lions, Harold and Maude, Pleasantville
Books: Dress Your Children in Corduroy and Denim (or pretty much anything by David Sedaris)

Hope this helps.
posted by plague at 10:15 PM on August 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

13 Conversations About Just One Thing had me rolling off the couch during an existential crisis.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 10:46 PM on August 22, 2014

Getting On is a very dry and darkly funny series. I would put Rev there too at times, bitter and despairing, although the seasons end on a hopeful note usually. I think Rev is streaming on Hulu or Netflix, not sure about Getting On - it's got a US remake I haven't tried.
posted by viggorlijah at 11:23 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Jill in Nighty Night is just painful!
posted by Middlemarch at 11:42 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

The American version of Wilfred. People think it's just fart jokes, but it's so much more. The seasons are on the short side, too.
posted by Comet Bug at 11:57 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've just discovered Snuff box.

very very black comedy
posted by mattoxic at 1:31 AM on August 23, 2014

Doug Stanhope... Hell.. He even talks about helping his terminally ill Mom commit suicide.
posted by moshjosh at 1:40 AM on August 23, 2014

Animation: Daria.
TV: The Thick of It
Literature: The Third Policeman. Most of Kafka.

jbenben, that link is the essence of black humour: laughter (maybe forced, maybe hollow) as the alternative to a taste of gun blue on the lips and a last thought of "please make it not hurt ..."
posted by scruss at 3:23 AM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: jbenben: "Wait.

Why is the Mefi you linked to funny ?

Well, it's a challenge to describe if a person hasn't experienced the exact situation themselves. It's not that the particular event is funny but how the author chooses to portray it to the audience part.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 3:45 AM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

TV: Dead Like Me
Movies: The Ice Harvest
Books: a possible longshot but Slaughterhouse-Five
posted by Mizu at 4:25 AM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

The recent film Calvary has lots of good, dark humor.
posted by Maecenas at 5:56 AM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

That link could be characterised as "gallows humour", a fine example of which is the final song from Life of Brian (obligatory disclaimer for the 'sensitive': sends up religious figures): always look on the bright side of life.

From British TV comedy, I would suggest:
One Foot in the Grave about being old,
The League of Gentlemen, a sublime achievement and probably unbroadcastable in the US, was it ever shown there?
Bottom, also, I think unbroadcastable anywhere except the UK.
posted by epo at 6:04 AM on August 23, 2014

Your modern and post-modern writers fit the bill here. Dark, sometimes very dark, and hilarious. Heller, Pynchon, Gaddis, Delillo, Barthelme, Lutz, Foster Wallace. Maybe Beckett. Hell, get some Vonnegut in there. Oh shit, definitely check out Roald Dahl's short stories too (darkly funny, not kiddy stuff).
posted by stinkfoot at 8:46 AM on August 23, 2014

The Loved One film.
posted by brujita at 8:49 AM on August 23, 2014

Dr. Strangelove
posted by bile and syntax at 9:27 AM on August 23, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for all the recommendations so far :)

Oh, almost forget for anyone mentioning any authors, would it be possible to list a specific series or book which features black comedy? Otherwise, I'd feel a little lost unless all the books done by the author are considered fitting in the category. I'm not exactly looking for brief summaries but titles would fine too. Thanks.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 1:06 PM on August 23, 2014

Todd Solondz.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:42 PM on August 23, 2014

Second Peep Show the television series (it's British so the seasons can't be more than 8 or so episodes) and Daria. Also just finished Fargo the television series and it's pretty amazing (better than the movie, in my opinion)
posted by taltalim at 4:56 PM on August 23, 2014

Don DeLillo's White Noise. A professor of Hitler studies. An airborne toxic event. A fictional drug that treats fear of death. Not your typical thousand page postmodern loaf, just an eminently readable 350ish pages of dark, biting humour. I'm sure there's some other stuff in there too.
posted by Lorin at 9:12 PM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

- V, JR, Gravity's Rainbow
- The Recognitions
- White Noise, The Day Room
- 40 Stories, 60 Stories
- Stories in the Worst Way
Foster Wallace
- Infinite Jest, Pale King, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, everything else he wrote
- Waiting for Godot, Endgame
- Slaughterhouse Five, Sirens of Titan, everything else he wrote
- The Best of Roald Dahl
posted by stinkfoot at 7:46 AM on August 24, 2014

If you can find it, the BBC Radio 4 show Rigor Mortis was some really good black comedy. The finale, especially--I was astonished at how hilarious I was finding some terrible, terrible situations.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 9:27 PM on August 24, 2014

TV Series - A Young Doctor's Notebook starring Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm.
posted by Julnyes at 12:20 PM on August 25, 2014

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