The Kings Of Squirm Inducing Comedy


We realize that Bruno has been in theaters for a week now, so we may seem late to the game on this. Hell, if you didn’t see it opening night in order to gossip at the water cooler the next day, you were late to the game, too it seems. However, the more we thought about Sacha Baron Cohen’s style of humor, the more we wanted to explore that awkward world even more.

I don’t know about you, but I adore comedy like this that takes it to the edge. I like the awkward silences, the painful conversations and the jaws to the floor, I-can’t-believe-they-did-that moments. Bruno is just the latest in a long line of OH-MY-GOD comedy, that seems to be in its heyday. As everyone knows Britain is the home of awkward moments, thus I (as the token Brit) feel in a nice position to pick out the current kings of squirm inducing comedy.

5.  Damon Beesley and Iain Morris – The Inbetweeners, Flight of the Conchords

“Who?” I hear you ask. These may not be the most well known guys at this stage, but I predict big things for the future. They know how to craft an awkward moment perfectly, as anyone that has seen their series “The Inbetweeners” can attest. Outside Britain this has yet to make a dent, but it is the most realistic depiction of those ‘inbetween’ cool and geek. The situations are almost unbearable to watch as the reality of trying to hump whatever looks at you in high school backfires. They also wrote two episodes of the superb “Flight of the Conchords,” which has been note-perfect since episode one. Both fantastic portrayals of awkward comedy, and I eagerly await series three of “The Inbetweeners” and whatever else they lend their talents to.

Awkward moment of glory:


4. Seth MacFarlane – Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show

Here’s where I get hate comments. Yes I love “Family Guy”, dearly love it. I love the too-soon humor, I love the cut-away gags and most of all I love the balls out offensiveness of it all. I’ve been on board for years and following the adventures of Peter, Stewie et al has become a ritual. Of course this brand of comedy has split audiences, but I feel putting comedy before plot doesn’t hurt. But here we come to the reason for its inclusion on this list – the awkwardness. To fully enjoy pop in the DVD while sitting with your parents, or even better your in-laws, and watch as their opinion of you falls lower than Lindsay Lohan’s self esteem. See the pop culture referencing is contagious. Love it or hate it though, Seth MacFarlane is the highest paid man in TV land and with “American Dad” and “The Cleveland Show” already taking over, we’ll likely see a “Family Guy” film. Maybe you should get used to people liking it.

Awkward moment of glory:

3. Larry David – Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld

Larry David is a genius of comedy. He knows what makes funny, and he crafts moments of well earned cringe. You can only watch in agony as Larry puts himself in situations that will always end badly, he even seems to see it coming and yet on the path he stays. It’s the improvisational tactic that adds a fresh edge to scenes, as we don’t know where it’s going to go because they don’t either. The plots of almost all episodes are based solely around David’s social faux pas, which range from criticising the Black’s (the family of course) to having floppy trousers that look like an erection. Watching, you can’t help but feel bad for Larry as he is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time all the time. You’d think after six seasons you couldn’t wring more awkwardness out but we have a seventh season on the horizon, where of course the reality of being a ‘black’ will sink in.

Awkward Moment of Glory:

2. Ricky Gervais – The Office, Extras

Never has the simple office life been captured in all its painful glory. The basic, horrible, difficult day to day monotony captured flawlessly. David Brent is every boss everyone’s ever had, and therein lies the appeal of watching bad jokes land like a thud in a silent office. Encapsulating real life embarrassing moments is much more painful as you can’t help but regress to that time your manager asked you out for a drink and you had to mumble about doing something else. “Extras” is a different beast, leaving behind the ‘real’ world and yet the uncomfortable nature stays true. We get Andy Millman mistaking disabled people for drunks and kicking dwarfs in the head. Not something I can say I’ve done (yet) but just seeing the terrible consequences has you hiding behind the couch. Gervais main attribute is that he treats the audience with enough respect to know that he’s not a racist, or a misogynist, just an idiot. An idiot who always says the wrong thing.

Awkward Moment of Glory:

1. Sacha Baron Cohen – Borat, Ali G, Bruno

Make no mistake, Sacha Baron Cohen isn’t top of this list just because Bruno came out last week. He’s top because he gives awkward comedy captured with real people. So he not only puts his shame on the line, instead possibly his life. Take for example Bruno’s jaunt to an American football game in Alabama, or Borat’s rendition of ‘throw the Jew down the well’. This is the bravest a comedian can be; Putting themselves secondary to the laughs. Ali G was of course his first character, and he is a shining example of playing dumb, somehow making the interviewee look more stupid.  I can’t even fathom having the audacity to ask Buzz Aldrin whether the moon exists, and whether he was jealous of Louis Armstrong getting to go first. I’m shifting uncomfortably even thinking about it. His improvisational ability and startling ability to say anything. We shall of course see on Friday just how much further he’s willing to go.

Awkward Moment of Glory:

What do you think? Who is the best awkward comedian?

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