Why people love Two and a Half Men, I may never know.
The jokes are obvious and the acting is over-the-top. But the show has averaged over 13 million viewers per episode in each of its 10 seasons on the air. Why people love Portlandia, I may also never know. The humor is too dry and the jokes too hipster-laden. While the show is dwarfed in ratings by Two and a Half Men (the first episode had 263,000 viewers before DVR and online viewings were counted), there is a cult following, and IFC isn't expecting the ratings of a network like CBS. This is a good thing for a show with a small audience like Portlandia.
In a recent New Yorker article, Emily Nussbaum offered that “odd humor, strange humor, the type that not everyone gets, has always been around, and it, too, has its value. Often, it grows best in narrow places.”
The internet has become the perfect place for entertainers to place more experimental pieces that attract smaller audiences. With the experimentation has also come high-quality comedy, and niche audiences are noticing. Kerri Doherty’s Geeking Out, “a celebrity interview series created and hosted by Kerri Doherty, everyone's #1 FAN,” is one of many web series whose odd humor stands out.
Including Geeking Out, here are a few online shows worth checking out:
1. Geeking Out: The Web Series
Doherty interviews lesser-known celebrities in the recurring series. In the episode above, she interviews actor P.J. Byrne, a performer who gets small pieces in big budget films and self-proclaimed scene stealer.
In this instance, rather than steal the scene, Byrne attempts to steal the show from Doherty, even getting the producers to put a graphic on screen reading, "The P.J. Byrne Show: Welcome To Awesometown." The scene is funny, not laugh out loud funny, but much like most of Doherty's interviews, the odd humor shines through.
2. Jake and Amir
With hundreds of videos and a huge following to boot, Jake and Amir are what many online web series aspire to be. Their humor is eccentric and leans more towards slapstick and sophomoric, but it maintains week in and week out without catering to any audience in particular. They clearly are not afraid to offend anyone (warning: link has crude, possibly offensive humor).
3. Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee
Even big time stars are enjoying this new found ability to perform narrow-minded comedy. With Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, the viewer sees exactly that. It's a great glimpse of what these hilarious people are like in a relaxed setting. While they are still funny, it's pretty obvious that they aren't trying to impress anyone or live up to network television standards. Not that Larry David or Jerry Seinfeld seemed to care when they were creating one of television's greatest sitcoms.
4. The Maria Bamford Show
While not for everyone, Maria Bamford is the representation of gearing a show towards a narrow audience. Lawyer Cats, one webisode she created, is odd (to say the least), and while maybe not funny to many, shows that online humor doesn't have to be. Bamford posts what she finds funny.
That is what great's about a web series: not everyone has to like it.