Underground Comedy in Media

Underground comedy has been a theme in several different types of media. This includes films, television shows and video games. Some of them feature real-life members of the underground community. Others portray fictional comedians instead.

Man on the Moon

In this 1999 biopic, Jim Carrey portrays underground comedian Andy Kaufman. It chronicles his rise from small venues to national fame. Kaufman was well known for including inside jokes in his act, as well as blurring the lines between fiction and reality. For instance, he played a character called Tony Clifton, who he insisted was a separate, real-life person. This film shows the dedication that Kaufman put into his work.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

This sitcom follows a group of narcissistic friends who run a pub together. One of them is Dee, an aspiring comedian. In the episode “The Gang Broke Dee” she falls into a depression. Her negative outlook on life ends up positively affecting her comedy. Armed with new material, she impresses audiences on the underground circuit. Thanks to her new fame, Dee is able to go on tour.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Jerry Seinfeld presents this program where he drives around LA with professional comedians. Some of them are A-listers, whereas others are up and coming performers. A large number of them started out as underground comedians. During the show, Seinfeld interviews them about their work and life. It offers a candid look at the people behind comedy personas.

Drunk History

Drunk History was originally a web series produced by Funny Or Die. In it, indie comedians get drunk and attempt to tell stories from history. The show became so popular that Comedy Central created a version starring mainstream comedians. A version has also been adopted by the UK. The original Drunk History helped to introduce lesser-known comedy performers to the world.

Lady Dynamite

Maria Bamford spent years as an underground comedian before she finally became famous. Lady Dynamite depicts her early career and the struggles that come from trying to reach a mainstream audience. It also shows the toll that comedy performance can have on mental health. Bamford has been open about the emotional strain she suffered in the past. This is reflected well in Lady Dynamite in a darkly humorous way.

The League of Gentlemen

This sitcom is about a town called Royston Vasey filled with grotesque characters. One of them is Geoff Tipps, a salesman. In season 3 he decides to quit his job and become an indie comedian. Geoff’s act is a disaster due to his poor material and nervousness. He eventually moves back to Royston Vasey. After an accident, he becomes more confident and is later shown performing comedy successfully.

Comedy Night

Comedy Night is a video game where players take control of a virtual stand up comedian. Using a microphone, they can deliver their own material and get feedback from an audience. One of the game modes pits two comedians together in order to see who is the best. This game is great for up and coming performers to hone their craft in an underground environment.