Recommending comedy is always a risky business. A comedy that might leave one person rolling on the floor in a puddle of laughing tears may leave the other person stone cold. But I’m willing to take that risk. I can’t guarantee you’ll find these three recommendations funny, but if you don’t, well, that’s your loss.
Airing on CBC Gem right now is a wickedly funny animated series called Ten Year Old Tom, which originally aired on HBO Max. Tom (voiced in a deadpan manner by show creator Steve Dildarian) is the perpetually beleaguered 10-year-old son of a white trash single mom. Tom is an underachiever (when he gets a B- on a test, he’s ecstatic because it’s the best mark he’s ever had) who gets himself into increasingly peculiar situations, frequently with sharp jabs at contemporary culture. The animation is in the style of South Park – which is barely animated at all – but this is a dialogue and situation-based comedy, so the graphics hardly matter. Each half-hour episode contains two separate stories, making it ideal for times when you have 12 minutes to spare and need a laugh.
Community Squad is a comedy from Argentina that was released on Netflix, and as far as I can tell barely made a ripple.
The Urban Guard (which is what Netflix is calling the series) is the standard rag-tag group of strangers who are thrown together to help combat crime, but without guns, or walkie-talkies, or any sort of authority. The squad is an attempt by the police at displaying their diversity and inclusion, without really doing anything. The squad is made up of the main man, Filipe, (who is allowed to join the group because he’s Jewish), his overweight friend, a woman in a wheelchair, senior citizens, etc. The public mocks the powerless group, until they stumble upon a dangerous criminal conspiracy. Mixed in with the comedy is some bloody violence, which is a little disconcerting if you’re not ready for it (I wasn’t, but now you are), but overall Community Squad is good hearted without being sickly sweet. You can watch it with subtitles or dubbed.
For Canada Day, The Globe and Mail ran a lengthy story headlined “The 23 Best Canadian Comedies Ever Made’’ as selected by critic Barry Hertz. I know what you’re thinking … there are 23 Canadian comedies? Turns out, there are, although I have to admit I’m not familiar with most of them. The most famous film on the list is “Goon,” the hockey comedy that was a genuine box office hit. But it’s only no. 4 – shocking, I know – behind the recently released “BlackBerry” at no. 3, the Bob and Doug McKenzie comedy “Strange Brew” at no. 2, and at number one … “The Wrong Guy” from 1997.
Chances are you’ve never heard or seen “The Wrong Guy.” It came and went without a ripple and is now hard to find, an accompanying sidebar says, due to a variety of legal reasons. Foremost among them: nobody seems to know who owns it. But I’ve seen it, at least a couple of times, and I am happy to report the entire film is available on YouTube. And with apologies to “Goon” and its legion of fans, “The Wrong Guy” is absolutely worthy of its no. 1 position.
The feature stars Kids in the Hall’s Dave Foley as the nebbish-y Nelson, an inconsequential company executive who finds his boss (Kenneth Welsh) dead in his office, just after Foley threatened to kill him for not giving him the promotion he believes he deserved. Thinking the police are after him, Foley flees. But it turns out the police are not looking for him – video shows the real killer, played by Colm Feore – but Nelson doesn’t know he’s in the clear. The real killer, however, IS following him, and the police are following the killer. Foley eventually lands in a town where he meets a floundering local banker (Joe Flaherty) and his gorgeous daughter (Jennifer Tilley).
Every joke, every set piece lands perfectly in “The Wrong Guy,” directed by Canadian comedy legend David Steinberg. The film is so obscure, so little seen, that Rotten Tomatoes only has three critic reviews. But it’s an absolute gem, a potential cult classic just waiting to be discovered. And it is refreshingly free of language or gratuitous nudity, although Tilley’s body is outlined through a nightgown, leading to one of the funniest one-word jokes I’ve ever heard in a movie.