The versatility of comedies speaks to humanity’s never-ending creativity behind capturing both the quintessential and the audacious aspects of life. Comedies can either prompt audiences to laugh in place of the laugh track found in most sitcoms. However, other comedies provoke laughter in those who find onscreen scenarios relatable or ridiculous.
Presenting fans with fluffy material or dark tales, comedies tend to find the light in both seemingly innocuous stories and deeply traumatic tales. Independent filmmakers are largely responsible for expanding audiences’ views on what a comedy consists of. What makes these some of the best comedies to come out of the independent world is their memorability, fantastic acting, and uniquely appealing documentation of their characters.
While some hone in on character development at the expense of a plot, it would be preposterous to perceive those films as lesser than others. The quality of the films has led to the projects and the people behind the scenes receiving acclaim and greater interest in their careers, thought processes, and work ethic.
10 Sleeping with Other People
Sleeping With Other People features “likable leads” in Hason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Adam Scott, Jason Mantzoukas, and Natasha Lyonne. Viewers are introduced to Jake (Sudeikis) and Lainey (Brie) during their college days when both spend one night together. The initial encounter is particularly important because both Jake and Lainey are revealed to be serial cheaters. Twelve years later, the two reunite during their paths toward improvement.
Sleeping With Other People gifts audiences with an interesting storyline and entertaining screenwriting, providing lines baked in frankness while including both heartwarming and hilarious scenes alike.
9 Frances Ha
Frances Ha is a comedy noted for its black-and-white cinematography and its unique depiction of interpersonal relationships, various apprehensions towards life stages, and its influential portrayal of female protagonists.
Starring as the titular Frances’s Halladay, Greta Gerwig, and Noah Baumbach provide audiences with a special look inside the lives of struggling New Yorkers in their late twenties. Frances is a student living in the city with aspirations of being a dancer. After financial troubles and crumbling connections complicate her plan, Frances wanders around the world and comes across epiphanies that almost read as essential to Frances, her friends, and film watchers.
The 2004 film finds Paul Giamatti, Sandra Oh, Thomas Hadden Church, and Virginia Madden in a film adaptation of Rex Pickett’s novel of the same name. Sideways follows Miles Raymond (Giamatti), A San Diegan who works as an English teacher and an unpublished writer. Dealing with depression, Miles decides to take his friend and former college roommate Jack Cole (Church) on a road trip to commemorate the latter’s upcoming marriage.
Along the way, the pair come across two women and Jack decides that should experience one last fling before his wedding, and obliges Miles to do the same. The weekend is nothing short of dramatic as expected and yet, the men head into the new week with a better understanding of each other as friends as well as their respective relationships with the women they have come to forge connections with.
Aside from the impact made on the film industry and consumers moving forward, the Santa Ynez Valley and the scenery depicted on screen led to a 16% spike in sales for pinot noir sales.
7 The Royal Tenebaums
In The Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson, with assistance from Owen Wilson, masterfully combines popular tropes such as child prodigies, family reunions, and less-than-stellar parenting and conjures up a comedy that finds the family patriarch (Gene Hackman) journeying to reunite his loved ones.
Inspired by the works of J.D. Salinger, The Royal Tenenbaums features fantastic comedic timing and stellar portrayals from an ensemble cast including Luke and Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, and Ben Stiller. Dealing with a dysfunctional family onscreen, the Tenebaums frequently make light of serious topics such as depression and generational trauma in a manner that grasps the gravity of the tension lingering in the room while also providing audiences with laughter and thus a sense of comfort during their initial intake of the narrative. In Wes Anderson fashion, The Royal Tenenbaums sits perfectly between whimsical and sincere.
6 It’s A Disaster
Todd Berger’s 2021 film has been described by many as an art house black comedy. Mustering an ensemble cast including Julia Stiles, America Ferrera, David Cross, and Rachel Boston, the film follows four couples vacationing at home when they discover that the entire world is under threat from a contagious chemical.
It’s A Disaster combines the increased depiction of 2012 as the year of the apocalypse with typical tropes that find characters trapped and secluded from the rest of the world. The comedy complements the seemingly absurd plot and makes for an enjoyable viewing experience. Watching the film with the added context of a worldwide pandemic offers an interesting reexamination of a comedy that tackles something as unimaginably stressful as the world crumbling around its inhabitants.
5 Other People
While the trend seems to be protagonists laughing through their pain, only a few films live up to the meaning of “having to laugh to keep from crying” like Other People. A semi-autobiographical comedy-drama by comedian and writer Chris Kelly, the film stars Jesse Plemons as David, whose comedy writing career is unpredictable at best. It doesn’t help that he’s on his way back home to Sacramento after a fresh breakup with his boyfriend and news of his mother coping with leiomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer.
Coming face to face with his conservative father amidst the added pressure of his mother’s treatment, viewers get to meet the relatable and memorable personalities that make up his family and friends. Despite the looming despair that lies on the surface, the center of the film is a warm, amusing commemoration of lost loved ones while serving as a moment of necessary evolution for David and his community.
4 Yes, God, Yes
Yes, God, Yes is a dark, satirical comedy starring Natalia Dyer. The Stranger Things star plays Alice, a curious Catholic schoolgirl who quickly becomes the subject of ridicule following a series of invasive questions and questionable comments made by her peers and adults in proximity.
The film sits among some of the most enjoyable coming-of-age comedies, presenting audiences with a story about adolescence that focus on a unique archetype found in American pop culture and investigates it throughout the film. Although experiences with bullying, harassment, and ostracization are common in schooling, Yes, God, Yes points out the various inconsistencies within these phenomena and also ties them to an insidious yet pervasive system, all the while providing hilarious callouts of hypocrisy.
3 Ingrid Goes West
Aubrey Plaza joins Elizabeth Olsen and O’Shea Jackson Jr. in this bizarrely funny examination of influencer culture. The film’s opening scene may seem ridiculous but sets the stage for the wild ride audiences will surely appreciate. After a traumatic event, Ingrid decides to pack her bags and start a new life in Los Angeles. Sounds normal, doesn’t it? Viewers quickly come to know about Ingrid’s coping mechanisms and how they enable the events of the film.
Ingrid has a disturbingly relatable obsession with social media, seeking validation and worthwhile connections with the various influencers that she comes across. She soon attaches herself to (Elizabeth Olsen), emulating every aspect of her life. Ingrid Goes West examines and ultimately deconstructs the new normal that social media has introduced, tackling issues like grief, imposter syndrome, and socialite culture with a strong combination of humor and despair.
Widely revered as one of Sean Baker’s most valiant efforts, Tangerine follows the lives of Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodrigues) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor) two trans women living in Los Angeles. Audiences follow Sin-Dee Rella and Alexandra to navigate their hectic lives. Both women are overwhelmed by revelations of infidelity, the complications of sex work, and their plans for future career opportunities.
The cast and crew breathe authenticity into the film in more ways than just filming a brilliant story with three iPhone 5S smartphones. After producing four low-budget films, Baker eventually came to a resolution with Mark Duplass, allowing him to freely create without worrying about the constraints of capitalism.
However, Tangerine would not be the phenomenal film it is without the two leads. Rodriguez and Taylor captivate audiences with their respective performances and contributions to the plot. Both women came up with the premise of the film after a conversation with Baker about a real-life experience with infidelity. What makes a piece of fiction like Tangerine immaculate is that at its core, the film is a mirror of reality. The film shies away from creating spectacle and instead embraces the everyday lives of trans women in the United States: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the humorous.
1 Shiva Baby
Shiva Baby continues to enjoy its prestige and reputation as one of the most seminal comedies in recent memory. From the mind of director, Emma Seligman comes an anxiety-inducing comedy that follows Danielle (Rachel Sennott), a queer Jewish girl who comes home to attend a shiva, the week-long mourning period for Jewish observers.
Throughout Shiva Baby, anything that can go wrong for Danielle does go wrong. The Shiva is a day of uninterrupted chaos, though not in the typical sense. The disarray slips into the event and fits right in among any other guests. Sennott perfectly captures the fish-out-of-water feeling in her performance. Surrounded by successful ex-girlfriends, sugar daddies and their secrets, and inescapable pressure from loved ones. In this satisfying comedy, Seligman comes to remarkable conclusions about sex, power, family, and faith while remaining relatable to anyone willing to receive her insight.
This story originally appeared on Movieweb