For all the talk over the last several years about web series becoming the next big thing for new, creative content, there’s yet to be that huge push that signals a renaissance in the medium. But that all seems poised to change in 2014 as the web series genre appears to be maturing to a point that its ready for the majority of casual viewers to take a strong, hard look at some of the best creative content around.
While Netflix can probably take a lot of credit for further legitimizing web-based original content last year when House of Cards became the first ever recipient of a major Emmy for a web-based series, the truth is that web series have been getting better and better over the past several years — especially in the comedy genre, which better lends itself to the shorter offerings common in web-based content.
So, if you’ve been putting off taking a look at some of the many comedy web series available, or have avoided the medium altogether, it’s time to put aside what you think about web-based content and give it another try. To get you started, here are seven great comedy web series getting attention, but don’t hesitate to branch out from there, because there’s a ton of great content available and there will be even more as the year starts gaining steam.
1. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is a web series by Jerry Seinfeld that was first broadcast on the Internet on July 19, 2012. Supported by Sony-backed web-video platform Crackle, episodes generally follow a format of Seinfeld introducing a vintage car, picking up a comedian, and taking them out to coffee, lunch, or dinner.
The show can be likened to a late-night-style talk show, but is completely unscripted, often leading to conversations that are humorously unstructured (in one episode, guest Larry David jokes, “You have finally done the show about nothing.”). But the series, which has featured comedians are far ranging as Don Rickles to Chris Rock, still manages to keep the conversations interesting, even if it revolves around why hot food is better than cold food. Now in its third season, the first episode premiered on January 2 with guest Louis C.K.
Check it out at comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com or on Crackle.
2. Little Horribles
Little Horribles is an indie gem from writer-creator Amy York Rubin about a self-indulgent lesbian navigating her thirties in Los Angeles. The dark comedy revels in the awkward type of comedy made famous by Girls creator Lena Dunham, and the show has already attracted a huge amount of talent, making a push into prime time television just a matter of time for Rubin.
Besides garnering attention from a variety of sources, including the International Press Academy, the show has also featured a talented cast of young actors, including Cynthia Stevenson, John Milhiser, Issa Rae, Ilana Glazer (Broad City ), Ann Carr, Sue Galloway, and Kali Hawk.
Check out Little Horribles at littlehorribles.com.
3. Broad City
Broad City is a web series from Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer about two New York City friends navigating the complicated and often ridiculous experiences that come with being a twenty-something living in the Big Apple. You might also know Glazer from her previous viral hit: “S–t New Yorkers Say.”
Broad City gained such a strong following that Amy Poehler approached the creators to produce the show for Comedy Central, where it will premiere later this month; but that doesn’t mean you should just wait for the show to go prime-time on Comedy Central. The popular web series has received rave reviews from a variety of publications and past guest stars have included Kristen Schaal and Hannibal Buress. You can count the reigning New York twenty-something comedy queen, Lena Dunham, as a fan. “I remember seeing the episode [where] Ilana was sensual dancing for Hannibal,” Dunham told Entertainment Weekly. “I thought, ‘These girls are geniuses.’”
Check it out Broad City at broadcitytheshow.com and then make sure to check out the Comedy Central series debut on January 22.
4. High Maintenance
High Maintenance is a comedy from Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair about a weed delivery guy that delivers the medication to stressed-out New Yorkers. Focused on character-based humor, the series has been featured on a majority of best-of lists when it comes to 2013, including USA Today, Indiewire, The New Yorker, and more.
Of course, for a series that gets its laughs from character-based humor, there’s no doubt that casting is huge — and that’s where Blichfeld’s background as an Emmy award-winning casting director for 30 Rock comes into play. “A lot of the people who I loved either I never got to cast, or I would cast them, and it was like a two-line part that would be funny and have impact but I would always know that actor was capable of way more than anyone was seeing,” Blichfeld said in an interview earlier this year.
High Maintenance can be found over at Vimeo, where several episodes have been chosen as Vimeo Staff Picks.
5. Burning Love
At this point, Burning Love is so big that it almost seems unfair to list it among much smaller, indie web series. But the fact is that, if you haven’t checked out the series yet, it’s pretty much required viewing as your first step into the medium.
Burning Love is a scripted web series that spoofs television shows like The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad. With Ben Stiller acting as the show’s executive co-producer, the show has had no shortage of star-power from actors. The show has featured: Kristen Bell, Jennifer Aniston, Ben Stiller, Adam Scott, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, and many, many others. Burning Love might not take many risks, but it’s an easy entry into the world of web series if you still haven’t made the plunge.
Burning Love can be found at Yahoo! Screen.
6. Ask A Slave
Ask A Slave is a comedy series from Azie Mira Dungey based on her experiences working at a popular historical site where she portrayed the slave character Lizzie Mae. Each episode of the series involves real questions and interactions Dungey has experienced while working.
While the show can be hit or miss, when its hitting it is one of the funnier new web-based series available. On the surface, Ask A Slave is often funny for the ridiculous nature of questions asked, but it can also reach further into more complicated issues of race, history, and the way they have interacted both in the past and present.
Check out Ask A Slave seasons one and two at askaslave.com.
7. 7 Minutes in Heaven
“Seven minutes in heaven” is a game that teenagers sometimes play in which two people are sent to a closet or dark place to do whatever they want for seven minutes. It is also the name of a comedy web-series from Mike O’Brien in which he awkwardly interviews famous people in a closet, ending each episode with a kiss — whether it’s with a male or female guest.
The series can be likened in some ways to Zach Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns, but the interviews are generally a little more serious than that show, even if they sometimes devolve into goofy banter between O’Brien and guests. Previous guests on the show have included Jon Hamm, Jeff Goldblum, Paul Rudd, Andy Samberg, and Kristen Wiig.
Check out 7 Minutes in Heaven over at YouTube.