Comedy has undoubtedly evolved over the past five decades, adapting to various formats along the way. Comedy performers and writers have continuously challenged conventions and explored the boundaries of what can be achieved.
From the early ‘50s, live-studio laughter shows like The Honeymooners to the outrageous ‘80s spoofs such as Police Squad, the genre has progressed. This evolution has similarly influenced the world of film.
Mockumentaries Are Now The New Norm
Skip ahead to the present; the landscape of comedy has changed significantly: mockumentary-style sitcoms and films have taken over the airwaves. The mockumentary can most accurately be described as an interview-based documentary-style comedy, in which supposed real-life talking-head interviews play a crucial role in driving the storyline.
The term gained fame in 1986 when Rob Reiner met Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer for the excellent This Is Spinal Tap — a great starting point for comedy fans unfamiliar with the genre.
People in an online film community recently shared their favorite mockumentaries after someone asked, “Best mockumentaries?” These were voted the world’s best mockumentaries.
1. This Is Spinal Tap (1986)
1986 was an incredible year for comedy because it brought Christopher Guest to the mainstream. I think Christopher Guest is one of the most naturally funny people ever to walk the earth. Another fan agrees: “Christopher Guest is to Mockumentaries what Mel Brooks is to Parodies.”
2. Best in Show (2000)
Christopher Guest teams up with Messrs Mckean and Shearer for one of the funniest films about dogs — well, their owners — ever. A clear spoof of the Westminster Dog Show, this comedic movie tracks multiple couples pursuing canine domination.
3. Surf’s Up (2007)
Animations, too, embraced the mockumentary style, with Surf's Up serving as a prime example. This film pays tribute to professional surfing and features a cast of penguins. Jeff Bridges and Shia Lebouf provide leads in this ASP surfing tour-based comedy.
4. What We Do in The Shadows (2014)
One of Kiwi director Taiki Waititi’s earlier features, this movie follows a group of hapless New Zealand vampires who live in Wellington. It garnered such attention that it is now a TV series.
5. Man Bites Dog (1992)
Belgium may not have gained widespread recognition for its cinema in mainstream America, but this independent cult film stands out for its incredibly dark comedic moments that leave a lasting impression. A Belgian documentary crew follows a serial killer in his everyday life. “Hilariously brutal,” is one enthusiastic comment.
6. Behind the Mask (2006)
When handled correctly, the juxtaposition of horror and comedy can be highly effective. “Behind The Mask” introduces a universe where renowned slasher icons exist as actual historical figures. According to one comment, it came at a perfect time in the early millennium’s slasher sequel cycle to “nail the trope it mocks.”
7. Reno 911 (2003)
Not to be confused with the more recent reboot of the series that aired in Quibi, the original mockumentary series first aired in 2003. Shot in a tributary Cops style, Reno 911 pokes fun at cop vs. assailant and cops vs. life tropes — it is hilariously good.
8. Trailer Park Boys (2001)
The turn of the millennium saw a surge in sitcoms adopting a mockumentary style, with nothing matching the Canadian brilliance of “Trailer Park Boys.” This low-budget series was filmed in a handheld camera style, capturing the everyday antics of a quirky group of misfits living in a trailer park in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
9. CB4 (1993)
CB4 (which stands for Cell Block Four, where they were incarcerated) is a tribute to Los Angeles legend N.W.A. Starring a young Chris Rock and the late Charlie Murphy, CB4 is a must-see for old-school hip-hop fans.
10. Borat (2006)
“Jak się masz?” says the great Borat at the start of each video log in his brilliant series, which became a film in 2006. Starring one of Sacha Baron Cohen’s greatest alter-egos, Borat was a TV presenter from the “glorious nation of Kazakhstan,” catching members of the public with his slapstick idiocy.
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