The 10 Funniest TV Shows of 2023

Looking back on the very funny television year that was
The 10 Funniest TV Shows of 2023

In a year in which not one but two entertainment unions went on strike, you might not have assumed there would be 10 funny shows to talk about. In fact, even as some scripted shows shut down production and all the late-night shows took a long break, comedies were very well represented on TV — and many of the titles listed here are already getting ready to return with new episodes in the weeks and months ahead.

First, a few honorable mentions that just missed the Top 10 but are still worth checking out. Bob’s Burgers (Seasons 13 and 14) and Harley Quinn (Season 4) continue to kill in the animated space; if you only watch one Bob’s episode this year, make it “The Amazing Rudy” — a tender outing about Rudy (Brian Huskey) arriving at a turning point following his parents’ divorce. Shows like Peacock’s Mrs. Davis and HBO’s fourth and final season of Barry were more heavy thinkers that take time to come down from than riotous comedies you can marathon. And while the second season of The Bear, the final season of Reservation Dogs and the (likely) final season of Starstruck had great jokes, they all might be more likely to leave you feeling melancholy.

With that: Here are the best bets to binge over the holiday season…

‘Somebody Somewhere,’ Season 2

The first season of Somebody Somewhere brought us Sam (Bridget Everett), uneasily returned to her hometown of Manhattan, Kansas following the death of her beloved sister, Holly. Though the rest of her family is, of course, also grieving the loss, the reason Sam left town was that she didn’t have much in common with them, and she still doesn’t. Her high school classmate Joel (Jeff Hiller) has hero-worshipped an oblivious Sam since she was a choir star; now that she’s back, he’s finally brave enough to try to make friends. Sam spends a lot of the first season resisting Joel’s gentle overtures, but by the time we rejoin them in the second, she’s come all the way around, and the two have become the center of one another’s worlds — to a possibly unhealthy degree. 

The season builds to a blowout between them, but before we get there, the show’s producers and both Hiller and Everett have a lot of fun crafting their boundaryless platonic love affair — particularly in the season’s second episode, when the two have a run-in with a pickle and cream cheese wrapped in ham, aka “St. Louis sushi.” I’ll just say it sets a new standard for comedy wrung from extreme digestive distress.

I remember finishing the first season of HBO’s Somebody Somewhere and thinking, “That was such a wonderful show that no one will watch it, and it’ll never get renewed.” That we got a second and a third is on its way feels like a mistake that will be corrected if we draw too much attention to it, so: don’t. Just watch.  

‘Late Night With Seth Meyers,’ Seasons 10 and 11

Like all the network late-night hosts, Meyers took his show off the air as soon as the WGA strike was called in May, so this year we missed out on several months’ worth of episodes. In recognition of what most regular viewers probably missed the most, the first episode back was entirely free of celebrity interviews, instead giving the whole hour over to “A Closer Look,” the show’s signature news recap. Is it fun seeing Meyers chop it up with celebrities, hosts and authors? Sure! But the true heads knew Sal Gentile, the writer behind A Closer Look, had to be pent up after his months of picketing, and needed to comment on all the Trump news he’d missed. (The indictments alone!)

As everything has returned to normal across the entertainment industry, including SAG members promoting their movies and TV shows on talk shows, my biggest delight in the return of Late Night is still the recurring comedy segments — like the recent 50th edition of Jokes Seth Can’t Tell, in which writers Amber Ruffin and Jenny Hagel ambushed Meyers with a bunch of potentially offensive jokes he’d never seen before.

As the show approaches its 10th anniversary next year, its greatest moments come when it leans into being a delightfully weird comedy variety show with the writers (and Mike Scollins’ tank top) as recurring players and “Corrections” as an absurdist brand extension. Meyers always seems like he’s making exactly the show he wants with minimal attention to the tropes of the form, which is why it remains the only one in the genre worth watching.

‘Cunk on Earth,’ Season 1

We’ve seen TV comedies spoof cop shows (Angie Tribeca), medical dramas (Childrens Hospital), action thrillers (Eagleheart) and even dating shows (Burning Love). This year, pop history got its turn with Cunk on Earth. British audiences have long known Philomena Cunk, the show’s titular host, from her past series Cunk on Britain and specials on Shakespeare and Christmas. But while Philomena Cunk embodies all the tropes of light educational programming — narration delivered in historically significant locations; interviews with experts; confident hand gestures to convey authority — Philomena Cunk is, in fact, an idiot, who doesn’t know anything about the topics she’s lecturing about. 

Cunk is also the alter ego of comic actor Diane Morgan; she originated the character in 2013 for Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe, and if his name seems familiar, it’s because he also created the dystopian sci-fi series Black Mirror. Morgan is a deadpan icon even when wondering something like “Did a mummy ever ride a bicycle?,” and Cunk’s utter imbecility makes Cunk on Earth one of the year’s simplest, silliest pleasures.

‘The Righteous Gemstones,’ Season 3

HBO’s Succession dominated the TV discourse this spring in its fourth and final season, but now, months later, can we agree that it may have lost its nerve just a bit? Succession, the story of an inherently corrupt family business, named its successor and then ended. The Righteous Gemstones, the story of an inherently corrupt family business, spent its third season showing how incompetent its successors actually are. 

Patriarch Eli (John Goodman) has functionally retired as the lead pastor of the megachurch he founded, leaving day-to-day operations to his children, Jesse (Danny McBride), Judy (Edi Patterson) and Kelvin (Adam DeVine). This decision is difficult to understand, since the Gemstone children are pathologically jealous of one another and deeply off-putting to virtually everyone they meet; under their leadership, the church is losing major donors, parishioners and even associate pastors. More problems arise from within the family, as Eli’s estranged sister May-May (Kristen Johnston) returns, terrified that her sons have been drawn into her ex-husband’s evangelical militia; the great Steve Zahn is nearly unrecognizable as May-May’s ex, Peter, a tiny tyrant whose mouth keeps writing checks his henchmen have to cash. 

And while Uncle Baby Billy (Walton Goggins) has a secure job singing at Zion’s Landing, the Gemstones’ new Christian resort, he has bigger dreams of stardom on the Gemstone TV network, hosting a Family Feud-esque game show called Baby Billy’s Bible Bonkers. The way this show can make you feel like whichever character you’re currently watching is the funniest is nothing short of miraculous. May God bless the executives who already greenlit this show for a fourth season

‘This Fool,’ Season 2

In the first season of This Fool, Luis (Frankie Quiñones) returns from serving time on gang-related charges, and moves into his grandmother’s house, in which Luis’ cousin Julio (Chris Estrada, who co-created the series) also lives. Social worker Julio is only getting through his largely disappointing life thanks to his self-conception as a decent and productive member of society — a notion that Luis helps deconstruct. 

So when we see them again in the second season, there’s been a reversal of fortune: Now Luis is the conscientious working man and Julio is haunting the neighborhood like a depressive ghost, identifying too closely with a neighbor’s disruptive pet rooster. At least Julio’s still in a neighborhood, though. Minister Payne (Michael Imperioli), who ran the gang rehab Julio worked for straight into the ground, has to be retrieved from an off-the-grid settlement in one of the season’s most hilariously unsettling episodes. Estrada puts his alter ego through all kinds of indignities — most of which are of Julio’s own misguided making — in a season-long portrayal of a “good guy” who isn’t and actually never has been.

‘What We Do in the Shadows,’ Season 5

As soon as FX’s What We Do in the Shadows — a series sequel to the 2014 mockumentary feature — introduced Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), it obligated itself to a payoff down the road. See, Guillermo is a mortal human who has gone into servitude as a familiar to the vampire Nandor The Relentless (Kayvan Novak), on the promise that, eventually, Nandor will reward his toil by making him a vampire and granting him immortality along with it. Nandor having continually delayed fulfilling this promise, the fourth season ended with Guillermo making an end-run around him to Derek (Chris Sandiford), a current vampire who was formerly a human peer, and paying him to turn Guillermo instead. But nothing can come easy for poor Guillermo, and the unexpected fallout from this decision provides the arc that runs through the whole fifth season

Around and aside from Guillermo’s travails, the show is still finding new experiences to delight and confuse its ancient characters, from the chance to run for local government to a guys’ night out to a trip to the mall.

I’m continually amazed by how much fresh material this show’s very talented writers can come up with for a chosen family who really should have already seen and done it all. Most shows — especially comedies — tend to start falling off after their fifth season; I have nothing but confidence in the sixth that’s coming soon.

‘The Other Two,’ Season 3

In its first season, The Other Two was the story of Brooke (Heléne Yorke) and Cary (Drew Tarver): underachieving, underemployed, possibly under-talented siblings whose desperate attempts to make it in New York only look more desperate when their teenaged brother reinvents himself as Chase Dreams (Case Walker) and breaks out online as a Justin Bieber-ish pop star. In its second, Chase and his management team attempt to chart his post-music course — college? fashion? Christianity? — while the siblings’ mother Pat (Molly Shannon) becomes a wildly successful daytime talk show host. Brooke manages Pat and Chase while aspiring actor Cary floats in career limbo as a busy but underpaid web series host. 

Incredibly, the third season heightens the setting yet again: Pat, who ended the second season dangerously burned out, has since become the figurehead of her own TV network, and unimaginably rich. Even more incredibly, the show effectively creates empathy for characters who now have everything they ever wanted and don’t know what to do with it. Brooke is an astoundingly successful entertainment manager, but feels furiously envious of all the glory she thinks her boyfriend Lance (Josh Segarra) is getting for having become a nurse during covid. Pat has become so famous that she’s essentially under 24-hour house arrest at her estate. 

And as Cary’s star rises, he becomes a worse and worse friend to fellow formerly struggling actor Curtis (Brandon Scott Jones). To the end, the show remained the sharpest satire about fame in the 2020s, striking at social media, Marvel, Machine Gun Kelly, recurring tropes in queer art and Applebee’s. I don’t know where it could have gone if there had been a fourth season, but given reports of inappropriate behavior by co-creators Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider (who were officially cleared by an HR investigation), that might have never been in the cards anyway. 

‘Party Down,’ Season 3

Like The Other TwoParty Down is a showbiz satire, but not one in which anyone even gets the chance to be disappointed when their dreams come true; instead, it dangles wins only to snatch them away. 

We’ve all seen far too many TV revivals that didn’t bother to make a case for their existence other than that they remind you of a thing you used to like. The very smart writers of Party Down — who, with one exception, are all series co-creators from the first go-round — thought very hard about what these characters had been doing since we saw them last. Of course Henry (Adam Scott) decided the best use of his acting talent was teaching drama to high school kids, and of course Roman (Martin Starr) became a YouTuber mystified to learn that his opinions would attract toxic male incels. 

While the returning cast members pick up their old chemistry as if no time has passed, the new ones bring the show into the current era and all our current dumb obsessions, by which I mean one of them — Tyrel Jackson Williams’s Sackson — is trying to make it on TikTok. Party Down is not about a workplace that’s “more like a family.” It’s about a workplace that’s more like purgatory. I hope we get a fourth season, even if it’s just as short as this one, so we can see which of the characters are definitely hellbound.

‘I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson,’ Season 3

Saturday Night Live is, indisputably, a cultural institution that can make a writer or comedian’s career. But it’s not the last word in sketch comedy, as I Think You Should Leave keeps reminding us. SNL runs a volume business: 20+ episodes in a standard season, each 90 minutes long, each packed with extremely topical humor, and each broadcast live. By contrast, I Think You Should Leave has produced only 18 episodes since its series premiere in 2019, each of which is well under a half-hour long, and each of which feels as perfectly and intentionally sculpted as an extremely stupid Fabergé egg. 

Robinson’s time on Netflix started with one episode of its anthology series The Characters, which seems to have been sufficient proof of concept to let him keep doing exactly what he did there. The third season brings us a whole new group of determinedly oblivious, misguided or moronic characters — suffering in a wacky wedding photo booth; trashing a middle school classroom during a children’s concert; abusing doctor-patient privilege to get into the coolest clubs in town; and straining to understand the purpose of an egg-themed video game.

When Wonder Woman herself is tweeting memes from your show, you’ve broken through the cultural consciousness in a major way. And now that I’ve written about it, I’m going to have to take a break and watch the season again. Be right back!

‘Primo,’ Season 1

As someone who watches TV for a living, the best thing I can say about Primo is that it was a surprise. Knowing nothing going in, I was not prepared to fall so deeply in love with the Gonzales family that surrounds Rafa (Ignacio Diaz-Silverio), the titular Primo. Officially, Rafa is being raised by his single mother, Drea (Christina Vidal). Unofficially, he has not just one but five surrogate father figures: Drea’s brothers — collectively “the uncles” — who occasionally take breaks from fighting with each other to try to pass their very different, usually insane “wisdom” on to Rafa. 

Arriving on Freevee just weeks into the 2023 WGA strike, Primo definitely suffered from an awareness problem. And, actually, Freevee itself has an awareness problem: Some friends I alerted about Primo confused it with the cable network Freeform, even after Jury Duty became a sensation in April. So there are a lot of reasons Primo has, in my opinion, been shamefully underrepresented on 2023’s Best Of lists. All I can do — other than yell at everyone within earshot of me to watch it — is place Primo at the top of my list and trust everyone who follows my endorsement to tell at least two friends and keep the momentum going. 

Jury Duty’s Ronald got a development deal for doing nothing except being credulous, while as of this writing his platform-mate Primo still hasn’t been renewed. Watch the show and help us right this wrong: You won’t be sorry.

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