The best comedy TV shows and movies on Foxtel Now

Foxtel Now offers a solid selection of comedy, whether we’re talking funny TV titles or hilarious flicks.

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If you’ve been paying attention to the entertainment industry in recent years, you’ll have noticed there’s been a significant decrease in comedies in the classic sense of the word, be that movies or TV shows. Studios and networks prefer to focus on titles that seamlessly blend comedy and drama in order to appeal to a wider variety of viewers.

In the era of peak TV, it’s harder for traditional sitcoms to succeed. Audiences have tired of slapstick humour and easy jokes and crave more thought-provoking content, which wins bonus points if it makes us laugh. Hence the rise of "dramedies" or "sadcoms". If you think about it, the most popular "comedy" TV shows released in recent years haven't been true comedies at all. They’ve been getting more serious.

Similarly, big studios prefer to focus on titles that make money. It’s difficult to come up with a comedy that will please everyone, since everyone’s sense of humour is different. Instead, it’s safer to produce comic book flicks (granted, these usually pack tons of jokes), action blockbusters, sequels, or provocative dramas. Remember a couple of years ago when The Martian won a Golden Globe for Best Comedy? It just proved that comedies have seen better times.

But even as the genre undergoes a complete overhaul, viewers can still enjoy some solid laughs, as long as they don’t mind a small dose of drama or gravity on the side. On that note, Foxtel Now’s library is well-packed with titles that will make you chuckle, from HBO original TV productions to big-budget movies. Here are some of the best comedy titles currently available to stream on Foxtel Now.

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1. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Year of release: 2014
Cast: John Oliver, David Kaye, Noel MacNeal, Alberto Bonilla

John Oliver's gig on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart propelled him into the spotlight. He now hosts his own series, this time on HBO. This well-researched late-night show reviews what happened in the news over the past seven days, relying on a heavy dose of humour and satire.

Besides smaller segments tackling recent events, Last Week Tonight also centres on one subject in depth each episode, from the American rehab industry to immigration courts to cryptocurrency. Thanks to a perfect balance of serious journalism and jokes, the show has become incredibly popular, both on HBO and online, as these lengthy segments are also available on YouTube. Last Week Tonight has already renewed for three years, so it will be on the air until at least 2020. If you’re looking to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the world without falling asleep on the couch, there’s no better alternative out there.

2. Silicon Valley

Year of release: 2014
Cast: Thomas Middleditch, Josh Brener, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani

This show follows a group of programmers who struggle to build a company after coming up with a revolutionary algorithm, and offers an interesting look at the competitive world of high technology and venture capital. Turns out, it’s not enough to have a brilliant idea. Everything that comes next is often the most difficult part.

Given that Silicon Valley focuses on the rapidly changing landscape of the tech industry, it's even more impressive that, five seasons in, the show manages to keep its edge and stay relevant, whilst being both hilarious and painfully realistic. On the more serious side, Silicon Valley explores what happens to friendship and morality in a world obsessed with making cash. You might not be interested in the minutiae of coding, but the main theme here is about loyalty and ambition, which makes the series accessible to a wide array of viewers, whether they have a tech background or not.

3. Veep

Year of release: 2012
Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Reid Scott

What’s there to say about this delightful and critically acclaimed HBO show that hasn't already been said? Its impressive collection of awards should be more than enough reason to pique your interest. Julia Louis-Dreyfus's performance has won her six consecutive Emmys, and the show has taken home the trophy for Best Comedy Series in the past three years. With the final season of Veep scheduled to premiere in 2019, now is the perfect time to tune in.

The series centres on Selina Meyer, the vice-president of the United States. The audience gets to follow Meyer and her team as they struggle to establish a solid legacy and leave their mark on American politics. It’s pure satire; and it’s highly entertaining. Sharp and funny, Veep offers a refreshing approach to politics, while dazzling viewers with amazing performances and engaging dialogue. In other words, you’re in for a treat.

4. Barry

Year of release: 2018
Cast: Bill Hader, Stephen Root, Sarah Goldberg, Glenn Fleshler

A more recent addition to Foxtel Now, Barry stands out thanks to its ridiculous premise and compelling tone. The series stars Bill Hader, and centres on a hitman whose life takes a turn when he follows a mark to an acting class. He starts to contemplate the idea of becoming an actor, but worries about being able to juggle his potential career with his, umm, job.

The show is the perfect balance of comedy, satire and drama. As many suspected, Hader’s talents go way beyond the sketch comedy he is known for. He offers a nuanced and memorable performance as the depressed hitman looking for something more. Barry is engaging, dark and definitely funny. Many of the laughs come from the fact that being a hitman is treated as if it were any other dreadful day job. It may be a ludicrous premise, but it works.

5. Modern Family

Year of release: 2009
Cast: Ed O'Neill, Sofía Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell

Modern Family is filmed from the perspective of an unseen documentary maker, who interviews members of a large, multicultural and unusually close family. They are followed around as they go about their day-to-day lives, getting into all sorts of trouble, and relying on each other’s help to make it through the day.

For those who prefer a more classic sitcom, Modern Family is the perfect binge. The novelty of the show wore off as the years went by, but it remains as charming and heart-warming as ever, and still delivers on laughs. Fair warning: the series can take you from laughing to crying in a matter of minutes. Plus, it features some smart writing and a slew of compelling performances from its huge ensemble cast.

6. Girls Trip

Year of release: 2017
Cast: Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish

Girls Trip centres on four best friends, who are in for the adventure of a lifetime when they travel together to New Orleans in order to rekindle their sisterhood. Along the way, the girls rediscover their wild side and partake in enough dancing and drinking to make viewers blush.

Raunchy, filthy and hilarious, this movie is a wild ride, featuring engaging friendships, and a couple of heartfelt moments that will make your heart sing. Despite the generic premise, Girls Trip pushes boundaries and allows each of its stars to shine. Luckily, they all deliver; it doesn’t hurt that the cast consists of Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish. Overall, this movie is a journey worth taking.

7. Logan Lucky

Year of release: 2017
Cast: Farrah Mackenzie, Channing Tatum, Jim O'Heir, Riley Keough

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, who was also responsible for the Ocean’s trilogy, Logan Lucky is a clever and hilarious heist movie, with a strong cast and quirky tone. The film follows two brothers who attempt to pull off an ambitious heist during a NASCAR race. It stars Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Daniel Craig and Seth MacFarlane.

Logan Lucky is like a distant cousin to Ocean’s Eleven, as it focuses on a more close-knit, rural community. This doesn’t make it any less entertaining. In fact, the movie is a nice blend of laughs and thrills, delivering both clever dialogue and exciting plot twists. There’s a chance you won’t remember much about it three months from now, but you will be thoroughly entertained during your stream.

8. The Big Sick

Year of release: 2017
Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano

Hollywood doesn’t seem interested in making "good" romantic comedies anymore. That’s one of the reasons The Big Sick feels like a breath of fresh air. In addition, this captivating little movie has so much going for it, it completely transcends the genre, allowing the characters to feel real and giving them room to grow way past the constraints of a typical rom-com.

The Big Sick follows the relationship between Kumail, a Pakistan-born aspiring comedian, and Emily, a grad student. What starts as a one-night stands develops into something more, but they find their relationship hard to navigate as their cultures clash. When Emily falls into a coma, Kumail has to deal with the medical crisis alongside her parents, whom he has never met. Both funny and touching, The Big Sick shines thanks to smart writing and its deeply personal tone, thanks to the story being based on the real-life relationship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon.

9. La La Land

Year: 2016
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, miée Conn, Terry Walters

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone play Sebastian and Mia in La La Land, two artists trying to make it in Los Angeles, where competition is fierce and chasing your dreams can seem like a fool’s errand. They fall in love, but their relationship is put to the test as they’re both struggling to kick off their careers.

Visually stunning and full of heart, this endearing musical is a celebration of love, jazz and cinema. It’s bright and colourful, romantic and melancholic, bittersweet and delightful. From its exuberant opening musical number to its glorious finale, La La Land is a rollercoaster of emotion and whimsy. Better buckle up.

10. Captain Fantastic

Year: 2016
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso

Ben raises his six children isolated from society, in the wilderness, in order to teach them to be self-reliant and show them the pleasures of co-existing with nature. However, when a tragedy hits the isolated family, Ben has to take his kids into the real world, where, as you might imagine, things don’t go as smoothly as planned.

Captain Fantastic is more drama than comedy, but its humour still shines through as the family struggles to re-integrate into society. Even if you won’t laugh out loud, you will at least chuckle. Viggo Mortensen is perfectly cast as Ben, whose eccentricities both madden and entertain. The film is moving and heart-warming, and will leave you with a lot to think about.

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