Web of Laughs: The Future of Comedy

Broad City Web of Laughs is coming to its end, and we’ve covered a lot of ground in this little column. We’ve looked at silent-era pioneers, as well as the most absurd comedies the big (and small) screen has to offer. What is clear throughout, though, is that each piece of comedy influences another, offering something different and interpreting the original piece a different way. Obviously, comedy isn’t going anywhere. It’s evolving, it’s changing, sometimes not always for the better, but trust that there is good comedy out there, even if you have to seek it out.

Comedy is currently changing along with evolving media platforms, because it has to. Screens have gotten smaller. At one time, you had to go to a movie theater to see a movie, now you can download it on your computer and watch it on your TV, phone, holograph device, Google Glass brain, etc. You no longer are anchored to a big screen to get your media fix, and it’s taken a toll on the media in general. Let’s be honest, though. Netflix is the real game-changer here. Who knew we were all such huge comedy fans before we had the ability to re-watch 30 Rock or Arrested Development for the umpteenth time and then broadcast it over social media? Netflix changed the way we view comedies, especially TV comedies. The ability to binge-watch and re-re-re-re-watch a show seemed to increase the mainstream comedy knowledge, in general. It became such a prevalent use of our time that it only makes sense that more comedy is now coming through TV rather than film. Now, with Netflix producing and creating its own content, it’s only proving how tuned-in it is with comedy fans, first with its revival season of Arrested Development, and now with its revival prequel season for Wet Hot American Summer, aptly called Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.

Not all great comedy content has to come from an alternative platform, though. The No. 1 new-comer to win the TV-shaped part of my heart 200 percent goes to Broad City, which airs on Comedy Central. The plot sounds familiar, two girls and their misadventures in New York, but there is nothing familiar about this show. It manages to take a very contrived and unoriginal premise and attack it from such unique, interesting, bold angles. It’s not about two women in the city and their love lives, and sure, that pops up every once in a while, but it’s done so with a positive, independent tone that is different than its predecessors. The show is really about the two main characters, Abbi and Ilana’s friendship; their beautiful, supportive, very weird friendship. It’s the ultimate in modern female buddy comedy, truly taking a note from 9 to 5, and often times going off the deep end of the absurdity pool and making it work. The writers and stars, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, bring the female buddy comedy to a generation that really needed it after so many lady-centric comedies that still rely so heavily on love stories moving their lives along.

Even though I’ve talked a lot about comedy on TV becoming a larger part of the grand comedy scope, not every good piece of comedy is on TV. Great comedy films exist, and not every mainstream Hollywood comedy is a piece of garbage. The wonderful thing about comedy is that it’s there for us to laugh at and to make you feel good at the end, regardless of who you are. Every comedy that you enjoy has a history that pulls from another piece of comedy that pulls from another piece of comedy. I encourage following the comedic lineage of your favorite comedies, you may just learn something.

Jessica Dorrell is a graduate of the DCH improv program, and is currently enrolled in the sketch writing program. Her one wish is that some day she can have a Mogwai as a pet. You can see her perform every Thursday at 9:30 p.m. in the current Ewing show.