‘The Patient’: Steve Carell and Domhnall Gleeson Nail Dark Comedy

The Patient can hardly be called a comedy series, yet stars Steve Carell and Domhnall Gleeson manage to deliver surprising laughs in almost every episode. The Hulu series uniquely tackles comedy, injecting bits of humor into some pretty dark scenes. Here’s how The Patient pulled it off.

[SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers ahead for episode 5 of The Patient, “Pastitsio.”]

Steve Carell and Domhnall Gleeson nail dark comedy in The Patient. The actors smile for a photo while attendingattend FX's The Patient Season 1 Premiere at NeueHouse Los Angeles on August 23, 2022 in Hollywood, California.
Domhnall Gleeson and Steve Carell | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Steve Carell and Domhnall Gleeson are experienced comedic actors

The premise of The Patient sound like it wouldn’t allow for much comedy. Domhnall Gleeson’s character Sam is a man with a compulsion to kill. Hoping to change his ways, he kidnaps his therapist, Alan Strauss (Steve Carell), and chains him in his basement. Sam looks to continue therapy, hoping Alan can stop him from killing.

Both Gleeson and Carell have proven their comedy chops in years prior. Carell is a comedic legend known for his long-term run starring as Michael Scott on The Office. He has also delivered laughs in films such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Anchorman, and Dinner for Schmucks. Gleeson acted alongside his brother in the raunchy comedy series Frank of Ireland.

Gleeson and Carell nail dark comedy in ‘The Patient’

While The Patient can’t be classified as a comedy series, it is undoubtedly darkly funny. Alan and Sam’s bizarre situation leads to some amusing moments. In one scene, Sam brings out a box, stoically telling Alan, “Don’t worry, it’s not a head.”

“Every now and again, you’d read a script, and in the table read, everybody would agree that it was a really funny line,” Gleeson said while speaking with Decider. “Not that I was saying it funny, or Steve was saying it funny, but that the line itself was a brilliantly written dark comedic line.”

Gleeson added that Carell, as well as the creative minds behind the show, were good about not putting undo pressure on forcing these lines to be funny.

“Steve always waited until the end of the day. You know, if you do something and Steve says it’s funny, you dance all the way home,” Gleeson continued. “He never said it during the day. If it happened, he would always wait till the end of the day and say, ‘By the way, that bit earlier was really funny.'”

Kenny Chesney’s music leads to some hilarious scenes

The Patient finds room for several other bizarrely comedic moments. While Sam is trying to distract himself from killing Elias, he heads upstairs to blast Kenny Chesney, his favorite musician. He also attempts to dance.

“I loved the lighter bits. I loved getting to do, like, I think the dance wasn’t even scripted,” Gleeson told Decider. “That was just like, what do you do when you listen to Kenny Chesney? I guess you dance, or I guess dance. I loved going to those places, and I loved when myself and Steve got to do little bits where a part of your brain knew they were darkly funny, but you would play them serious.”

When dancing doesn’t work, Sam attempts to distract himself with porn, typing “big t***” into the search bar. The Patient also repeats a bit where Alan frequently overhears Sam urinating for an alarming amount of time. Perhaps that has something to do with the enormous cups of Dunkin Donuts coffee Sam is constantly drinking.

Watch new episodes of The Patient every Tuesday exclusively on Hulu. 

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