It's no secret that this season's crop of new sitcoms have yielded about as many laughs as Dane Cook performing at a MENSA convention. It's been a dismal year for comedy—which makes now a perfect time to catch up on old shows that keep the giggles coming.
IFC, the Independent Film Channel, has recently course-corrected its schedule to include syndicated television shows. And whoever is doing the programming over there is reading my mind, because all my favorites are either currently being re-aired or will be showing early next year.
I always knew IFC was there somewhere high up on the dial, but because Jim Jarmusch and Vincent Gallo don't really do it for me, I never really visited. Then the network began running Arrested Development in syndication—and next thing I knew, I was attending a Bluth family reunion every other day. Another chance visit exposed me to The Jon Dore Television Show, which is a mix of Ali G. and Tom Green, and discovered my new favorite Canadian comedian. Then the channel added Monty Python's Flying Circus. And Judd Apatow's two TV gems, Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared. And the UK production The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. It's fringe comedy heaven.
With this kind of brilliant programming, I was unsurprised—yet heel-clickingly excited—when an e-mail landed in my inbox today announcing that the channel has added The Larry Sanders Show starring Garry Shandling, The Ben Stiller Show starring Stiller, and Mr. Show with David Cross to its lineup. All three shows will begin airing early next year. And for all you Breaking Bad fans out there, Bob Odenkirk, who plays Saul Goodman on the AMC hit, is a major part of each one. What's more, IFC will also air Action, Jay Mohr's hilarious, under-appreciated, and subversive comedy about Hollywood, in late 2011.
Even if you've seen these shows before, do yourself a favor and tune in again. Watch as David Duchovny hits on Shandling on Larry Sanders. See Andre Agassi as a vigilante cop and the most annoying person in a dandruff commercial ever on The Ben Stiller Show. Witness "Coupon: The Movie" on Mr. Show, the best sketch show ever (not up for debate!).
Trust me, if you're tired of the same-old storylines and laugh tracks that pollute today's comedies, it's time to give the syndicated laughers on IFC a shot.
A Mr. Show classic: