Cringe comedy is a specific genre of comedy that derives humor from social awkwardness, idiosyncratic humor and guilty pleasure. A type of a cringe comedy are pseudo-reality TV shows, sometimes with an air of a mockumentary. They revolve around a serious setting, such as a workplace, to lend the comedy a sense of reality.
The protagonists are typically funny people who overstep the boundaries of political correctness and break social norms. The comedy will attack the protagonist by not letting them become aware of their self-centered view, or by making them oblivious to the ego-deflation that the comedy deals them. Sometimes an unlikable protagonist may not suffer any consequences, which violates people's moral expectations, and also makes the audience cringe.
Imagine the cutlery laid out for a formal dinner. Suppose that the salad fork is in the wrong place. If you are the sort of person who is disturbed by such deviations from the norm, you will not be capable of finding this amusing. On the other hand, if you are more easy-going about such matters and also aware of the incongruity, it may elicit a chuckle. That is, you may find the error amusing or not. But if you find it genuinely amusing, you cannot find it annoying.
Notable examples of television programs in the genre of cringe comedy include:
- Ally McBeal
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
- Curb Your Enthusiasm
- Da Ali G Show
- I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson
- I'm Alan Partridge
- Impractical Jokers
- Nathan for You
- Parks and Recreation
- Peep Show
- People Just Do Nothing
- The Comeback
- The Inbetweeners
- The Larry Sanders Show
- The Last Man on Earth
- The Mindy Project
- The Office
- Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!
- Susman, Gary (12 May 2013). "Discomfort Zone: 10 Great Cringe Comedies". Time.
- Press, Joy (21 January 2003). "The Comedy of Cringe". Village Voice. Archived from the original on 2018-09-15.
I’m not sure why this Comedy of Cringe is so pleasurable to watch
- McFarlane, Brian (2009). "A curmudgeon's canon: random thoughts on 'Summer Heights High', 'The Office' and other nasty pleasures". Metro Magazine (160): 134–138.
- Carroll, Noël (2014). Humour: A very short introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-19-955222-1.
- Davies, Jeffrey. "How 'Ally McBeal' Influenced the Modern Cringe Comedy". Collider. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
- Noel Murray (2020). "Cringe TV Comedy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
- "A Girl-Group Themed Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Proves Even a Fragmented Episode is Better Than Most TV". 3 December 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
- Zinoman, Jason (29 September 2017). "Watch the Evolution of Cringe Comedy in 9 Clips (Published 2017)". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2017-09-29.
- Brian Logan (12 November 2018). "From the King of Comedy to People Just Do Nothing: why the 'cringe com' reigns". The Guardian.
- "'I Think You Should Leave...' and the cult of cringe comedy". NME. 12 July 2021.
- "Make America Cringe Again: Tim Robinson's "I Think You Should Leave"". The New Yorker. 30 April 2019.
- "Ebiri on Alan Partridge: Steve Coogan's Character Is Best Digested in Small Doses". Vulture. Archived from the original on 2014-04-07.
a key step in the rise of humiliation comedy — the crucial link between Basil Fawlty of Fawlty Towers and David Brent/Michael Scott of The Office.
- Luke Holland (21 March 2016). "'Stick your finger in their ear': a crash course in pranking from Impractical Jokers". The Guardian.
We join them for an afternoon of cringe comedy
- Anielski, Ryan (23 November 2015). "'Nathan for You:' How Cringe Comedy Doesn't Have to Offend to Make Us Laugh - IndieWire". Indiewire. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
- Wade, Chris (24 September 2013). "This Is the Episode of Peep Show That Will Get You Hooked". Slate.com. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
the apex of the comedy-of-humiliation also seen on The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
- Aroesti, Rachel (2016-09-22). "Bare jokes: how People Just Do Nothing made sitcoms funny again". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
- "'The Inbetweeners': Like 'Freaks and Geeks,' But 'Less Attractive and Less Friendly'". The Hollywood Reporter. 7 September 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
the cringe comedy at its core
- David Wilcox. "Will Forte's Fox show 'The Last Man on Earth' could use a little less cringe in its comedy". Retrieved 19 November 2017.
- Susman, Gary (12 May 2013). "The Mindy Project | Discomfort Zone: 10 Great Cringe Comedies". Time.
- Erik Hayden (August 23, 2014). "Emmys: 5 Cringeworthy 'Veep' Moments". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 November 2020.