Alternative Television 101: Show’s You’ve Probably Never Heard of

Remember when the Independent Film Channel (IFC) only showed cult favorites like “Night of the Living Dead,” Wes Anderson flicks and French new wave? Well they also have shows now. With the success of their hipster-frankenstein experiment “Portlandia,” they have acquired a die-hard fanbase who seem to respond to counter culture television. And while “Portlandia” may have transcended into the mainstream, the shows that found their catalyst through it can certainly get you through the months before Season 4.

 

1. Comedy Bang! Bang!- “Comedy Bang! Bang!” is a late-night show, featuring host Scott Aukerman and his one-man musical accompaniment Reggie Watts. Never has there been such a duo since Hall & Oates! The show is weird but not enough to be thrown in with the stoner comedies of Adult Swim. Yet it’s certainly WTF enough to file it with Salvador Dali’s “Un Chien Andalou.” Guest stars are the main attraction, with A-list appearances from “Mad Men’s” John Hamm although they call him “Juan Jamon” (“Jon Hamm” in Spanish), Aziz Ansari, Zach Galifianakis, etc. In short, Comedy Bang Bang is where A-list stars visit to be really weird and creepy and provide plenty of laughs doing so.

 

2. Maron- This show stars Marc Maron and is about a comedian who is the Howard Stern of podcasting. The show parallels his life almost to the tooth, so he will often recreate scenarios literally. The show is not slapstick but a situational comedy. Maron is an internally-in-conflict neurotic, whose past battle with substance abuse and his “foodie” issues manifest in angsty verbal explosions with baristos (male baristas), hilarious monologues, and an overabundance of feline tenants. “Maron” is brutally honest and worthy of empathy. So if you’re looking for a situationally comedic flirtation with the human condition, “Maron” is your new show.

 

3. Bunk- Hosted by Kurt Braunohler, another absurdist comedian, “Bunk” is basically what would happen if “Whose Line Is it Anyway?” and “Jeopardy” had an unwanted pregnancy, ditched it on a doorstep, and it ended up being raised by a cultist faction. Like a circus in the 1920s. Maybe not that crazy but the host often wears no shoes. You don’t notice it until the camera zooms out, so it’s one of those silly nuances that remind you that this is IFC. The show pits comedians against one another, logic, decency, and themselves. Such challenges include everything from shaming a puppy to redrawing a Michelangelo sculpture to make it kid friendly. The contestants are also competing for things Braunohler has no intention of giving them, even if he could: Parents getting back together, note from a priest, superpowers etc.

4. The Eric Andre Show- I would hate for some Psychology major to analyze my overuse of “if they had a baby metaphors,” and subsequently deduce it as a freudian slip. But if “The Tom Green Show” and Adult Swim had a love child, it would be “The Eric Andre Show.”  The show is hosted by shock comic Eric Andre and his comedic bro-fist Hannibal Buress. If you haven’t heard Buress’ stand-up yet, he is certainly up there with the best. Although, during the show he plays the part of the dreadfully unenthusiastic co-host who just sits the couch, intentionally missing cues. You can expect things like guest performers being made to perform at the same time and some of the most awkward interviews in television history. Think, “Space Ghost.” While “The Eric Andre Show” isn’t an IFC programme, it’s certainly worthy of being grandfathered into this self-declared list-o-alternatives.

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