WHO IS AMERICA?
Months since it aired its final episode, Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who Is America? remains one of the most incomprehensibly daring comedic feats in TV history. Playing an array of odd characters designed to lampoon American perceptions of foreigners and some of its own, Cohen, taking his dangerously awkward ideas to frightening heights, tries to spend time with monsters (i.e., racists, homophobes, pedophiles, Dick Cheney, the world’s most famous former Buffalo Bill), ostensibly to understand them, but really to expose them for what they really are.
HANNAH GADSBY’S NANETTE
Since Nanette launched on Netflix, it’s become a much-discussed cultural event, bringing the concept of “anticomedy” to the fore. Australian Gadsby performs at the Sydney Opera House, telling funny jokes about the perceptions she’s faced as a lesbian in a part of the world that only in the last 20 years or so stopped viewing her as ille- gal. Gadsby also points out our strange collective history of apologizing for and excusing men and their behaviour, drawing a fascinating parallel between such impulses and expectations around tension and release in comedy. But, in a high-wire act of shock, Gadbsy makes the show more and more devastatingly personal, ascribing blame for society’s deep-seated interpersonal ills on the very act of joking itself.
BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW
The team behind Baroness Von Sketch
Show have been up to some subversive shit lately. The four stars have always had performance chops, and the comedic concepts by the troupe and their skilled writers have always been smart. But there’s been a necessarily sharper, harsher tone to some of their latest work, as if their initial success, and the current climate of outspokenness coupled with the realization that life on Earth feels more finite than ever, has given them free rein to really see how dark they can go.