A Handful Of Dark Comedies To Watch

1. THE KING OF COMEDY (1983).

An aspiring stand-up comedian, Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro), wants to achieve success in showbusiness and resorts to stalking his comic idol, a late-night talk-show host who craves nothing but his own privacy, in order to achieve such success. The King of Comedy was the first real proof that De Niro could tackle comedy on screen, not to mention the plethora of other genres and characterisations to which he had become accustomed. With Martin Scorsese helming the picture, it was sure to be a recipe for success. 

Station Agent 2. THE STATION AGENT (2003).

When his best friend passes away, a man (Peter Dinklage) born with dwarfism uproots and relocates to rural New Jersey to live a life of isolation, only to meet a talkative food vendor and a woman dealing with her own personal demons. I had never seen anything with Peter Dinklage in before — I don’t watch Game of Thrones — so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but with the superb writing/directing of Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), as well as an ensemble cast comprising Michelle Williams, Patricia Clarkson, and Bobby Cannavale, Dinklage’s performance is nothing short of comedic, yet endearing, brilliance.

Being There 3. BEING THERE (1979).

Chance, a simple and carefree gardener, has never left the estate on which he lives, until one day when his employer passes away. Out in the real world, his TV-derived utterances are mistaken for profundity, and we ultimately follow our maladjusted, muddled protagonist as he tries to combat whatever life throws at him. This can be a difficult film to sell, not least because of the banality in abundance, but Peter Sellers, once again, proves why he is leagues above most comedians. 

Dr Strangelove 4. DR. STRANGELOVE (1964).

An insane general initiates a process of nuclear holocaust, which a war room of politicians and generals frantically try to stop. There are not many films which have me in stitches, but Stanley Kubrick’s satirical masterpiece, which features the ever-formidable Peter Sellers in three separate roles, does just that. I would like to think that this film isn’t an accurate portrayal of war-room behaviour.

The Apartment 5.  THE APARTMENT (1960).

A man attempts to rise in the ranks of his company by allowing the executives to use his apartment for trysts; however, a romance of his own ensues and complications start to arise. This was my first experience with Jack Lemmon and certainly wasn’t my last. “They don’t make ’em like they used to” may be one of the most appropriate sayings when discussing this film. His ability to play the underdog is effortless yet captivating.

Robot and Frank 6. ROBOT & FRANK (2012).

In the near future, a former burglar (Frank Langella) receives a present from his son: a robotic butler programmed to tend to his every need. Soon, the two companions try their hand at being a heist team, with Frank having realised that the robot isn’t programmed to acknowledge unlawfulness. What started as one of those late-night, accidental discoveries of films became something so much more. The idea of watching a film about the awkward relationship between a man on the verge of what we believe to be dementia and a robot that bugs him constantly may seem fairly boring to some; it is quite the contrary. It’s more of a psychosocial study played out on screen and is thoroughly engaging from beginning to end.

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