It’s easy to get Netflix tunnel vision when embarking on an epic telly session, but you’d be a fool of Kraken-sized proportions to discount Amazon Prime Video’s growing library of gems.
As this collection of Stuff favourites shows, Amazon’s streaming service has become particularly adept at laughter generation. And remember; all of these movies and TV shows are already included in your Prime subscription, so sit back and prepare to engage your face’s smile apparatus with these comedy masterpieces...
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Inside No. 9
Having made their name with The League Of Gentlemen and Psychoville, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith set about creating Inside No. 9 – three series (although only the first two are available on Amazon) of self-contained stories that have one thing in common: they’ll keep you guessing right til the end.
Whether it’s a death on a sleeper train, a game of hide ‘n’ seek with extreme consequences, or the silent episode about a pair of hapless burglars, the writing here blows most of its contemporaries out of the water, with a macabre twist in the tail. While it won’t always have you rolling off the sofa with laughter, there’s normally at least one absolute gem of a gag in each episode.
Amazon spent a long time trying to “do a Netflix” by creating its very own blockbusting TV shows, and Transperent was the moment it got it right. For a start, this is really bold – it tells the story of a sixtysomething divorcee announcing to his three grownup kids that he’s always felt different and is now going to live as a woman.
Sounds heavy, and it sort of is, but it’s also darkly funny, with a degree of wit and sharpness that’s still rare even in this golden age of TV. The bickering between the three kids (each of whom is riddled with their own individual problems and peccadillos) is as chucklesome as it is awkward and believable. Amazing telly.
Released way back in 1980, Airplane! is a parody of the various disaster movies popular at the time - but unlike most parodies (Scary Movie, we’re looking at you), it manages to be consistently hilarious. In fact, it’s regularly rated one of the best comedy films of all time.
When food poisoning takes out the crew of an LA to Chicago flight, a former airforce pilot on board might be the only person who can avert disaster. Problem is, his traumatic wartime experiences have left him with a fear of flying; getting him back behind a joystick is going to require something truly remarkable.
With a host of hitherto non-comedic actors like Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges and Leslie Nielsen subverting their straight man reputations and sight gags galore, Airplane! formed the template for later classics like The Naked Gun and Hot Shots! (both of which were made by the same team). But it stands alone as a pioneering classic - and a movie that still nails its cues almost 40 years later.
Rejoice, for “the show about nothing” has finally come to a UK streaming service; now Prime customers have the perfect excuse to plough through all nine seasons of Jerry Seinfeld’s beloved sitcom.
An inventive, absurd and hilarious examination of the trivialities of modern life, never relying on slapstick or coddling viewers with cheap sentimentality, Seinfeld is quite simply a must-watch for all fans of comedy. With each episode clocking in at a little over 20 minutes, it’s also great fare for binge watching. Be warned: your Sundays will be eaten right up.
Parks and Recreation
The show that propelled Amy Poehler to Golden Globe-presenting notoriety and Chris Pratt to blockbuster ultra-stardom has its wit and one-liners honed to perfection. Taking Modern Family’s warmth, mixing it with Arrested Development’s absurdity and building it around The Office’s mockumentary formula, it centres on the inconsequential workdays of the least consequential department (Parks and Rec) of the council of madeup middle- American town of Pawnee, Indiana.
Like The Office, its brilliance lies in its characters and their relationships, although its comic set pieces are also ingenious. But unlike The Office, it’s not tragic – it’s bright, touching and will leave you grinning from cheek to cheek. It takes until series two to really hit its stride, but Parks and Recreation is a true must-see.
Attack the Block
Aliens descend on Earth with bad intentions. Aliens land in a South London housing estate. Aliens find out that South London housing estates hold their own kind of dangers.
By refusing to cast judgement - either good or bad - on the actions of its teenage protagonists, it leaves you free to make up your own mind. Though you'll probably be too engrossed in the action to bother. Directed by Joe Cornish (of Adam & Joe fame), Attack the Block is scary, funny and very cool.