7 Comedy Shows Within Comedy Shows That Should Be Real Shows
Ready to get meta? We love fake comedy shows that exist inside real comedy movies and shows -- maybe even more than the real shows. That’s why we’re proposing that Netflix, Apple, or some other enterprising streamer get to work on turning the shows-within-a-shows into actual TV shows. What the hell, hire some of the creators-within-a-show to pull some double-duty. Here are seven prime candidates that need to make the jump from fiction-inside-a-fiction into reality-reality. Ready-ready?
The Community College Chronicles (Community)
There’s never been a sitcom character more meta than Abed Nadir, so it’s no surprise that he creates his own web series featuring fictional versions of his study buddies. This would actually make The Community College Chronicles a third version of reality since Community is based on creator Dan Harmon’s own community college experience. “I ended up in this cramped study room with these total strangers,” he says. “It was halfway through this study session that I was like, 'Oh my God, I really care if these people pass their biology test.' I had this warm feeling come over me. The two thoughts I had were: I've been really distorted in my view of the universe, and this is the kind of pilot networks are always wishing I would write."
So the new show would be a fictionalized experience of a fictionalized experience of an actual experience, just the kind of freefall down the rabbit hole we’re looking for. And because Abed’s webisodes have the eerie ability to predict the future of Community characters, maybe he could create an installment where the study group is the subject of a feature film. Hey, that’s one way to make six-seasons-and-a-movie happen.
Yo Teach! (Funny People)
In Judd Apatow’s Funny People, Adam Sandler is George Simmons, a comic turned movie star who is diagnosed with a deadly cancer. He befriends some young comedians, including Mark Taylor Jackson (Jason Schwartzman), star of fictional sitcom Yo Teach!
It’s a show that would have fit right in on ABC’s TGIF lineup, with students including an absurdly young Bo Burnham. Bo plays Bo, a dumbass who has a way with a basketball and a hip-hop beat. The show is an eerily accurate parody, from the laugh track guffawing too loud at Teach’s terrible jokes to the Kramer-esque cheers for the funky principal, played by What’s Happening!!’s Ernest Thompson. Come for the laughs, stay for the nauseating “awwwww” moment at the end. We wish the real TGIF sitcoms were this funny.
TGS with Tracy Jordan (30 Rock)
When Tracy joined The Girlie Show, you just knew his comic way with a fart would create some amazing sketches. Thrill to the laughs of:
*The Chicken Nugget Inspector!
*The Chair and Robot Talk Show!
*The Star Jones Gastric-Bypass Cooking Show!
*That’s a Dealbreaker, Ladies!
*And of course, The Exploding Fart Machine!
30 Rock always wasted too much time on behind-the-scenes machinations and Liz Lemon’s life problems. TGS with Tracy Jordan would put the spotlight on the stupid laughs where they belong.
Ow! My Balls! (Idiocracy)
The title, Ow! My Balls! tells you everything you need to know about this show’s massive comic potential. In the Idiocracy world, Ow! My Balls! is a top-rated crowd pleaser on the Violence Channel, inspiring home viewers to create their own groin-crushing tributes. It’s not hard to imagine a real version of the show inspiring homegrown homages as well.
Oh wait, this show already exists. It’s just called America’s Funniest Home Videos.
The Larry Sanders Show (The Larry Sanders Show)
We’ll need a time machine to recreate this one, but late-night comedy talkers didn’t get any better than The Larry Sanders Show. Despite his crippling insecurity, Larry was a master at setting up other hilarious comics like Norm Macdonald. He wasn’t bad at flirting with female celebrities either. The sexual chemistry with Mimi Rogers was electric enough to power an erotic amusement park.
Part of us will miss the behind-the-scenes hijinks of the original, of course. It’s hard to beat Hank Kingsley telling Henry Winkler to go eff himself.
Half Wits (SCTV)
There were a number of SCTV shows-within-a-show that we considered for our reality experiment, including Monster Chiller Horror Theater, Mel’s Rock Pile, and The Battle of the PBS Stars. But we’d tune in weekly for Half Wits, a sketch that inspired Norm Macdonald to help create SNL’s Celebrity Jeopardy.
Norm loved the SCTV bit, including its use of Canadian icon Alex Trebeck as host. Macdonald asked Martin Short, one of the dimmest bulbs on Half Wits, who wrote the sketch. The answer? Schitts’ Creek star and expert Trebeck impersonator Eugene Levy. Norm called Levy, basically asked for his permission to rip off the sketch, and “he was kind enough to give it.”
But why not a real-life version of Half Wits with actual idiots as contestants? Game Show Network, it’s just sitting there for you.
The Alan Brady Show (The DIck Van Dyke Show)
There aren’t very many shows-within-a-show that got to take over the actual show for an entire episode, but The Alan Brady Show got its shot one holiday season. Alan Brady Presents was an all-time classic episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show, with the titular star’s Rob Petrie gathering family and co-workers to put on a network variety extravaganza.
We would have loved to have seen The Alan Brady Show as an actual program back in the day. You can’t get much better than Carl Reiner as a Sid Caesar stand-in, and why not throw Sally Rogers and Buddy Sorrell into the variety ensemble? It’s pretty obvious Laura Petrie never quite got the showgirl out of her blood -- husband Rob could probably pull a few strings and get her a regular spot in the song-and-dance numbers. But one favor, Rob -- leave little Richie at home. His rendition of The Little Drummer Boy always has us searching for the fast-forward button.
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Top image: Sony Pictures Television