I recently had a discussion, though I don’t recall with whom, about the fact that I’ve never been able to enjoy ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ because of fictional Larry David’s utter awfulness as a person.  Still, I’m also a massive fan of an obscure interview show called ‘Let’s Talk About Something More Interesting’, which embraces the awkwardness wholeheartedly, to the point where the guests actually seem unaware of what they’re in for and thus uncomfortable with the format, and I loved the terrible characters of ‘Reno 911’ with a passion.  What these have in common is the trend of ‘cringe comedy’, where the humor is derived from how awkward and embarrassing the things happening SHOULD be, but just aren’t for these particular people.  It’s why we have ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’, it’s why we have ‘The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ and it’s why a friend of mine could never enjoy ‘Napoleon Dynamite’, leading to today’s schadenfreude query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) notes that it’s also the bedrock of Sascha Baron Cohen’s career, though in that case it feels more cruel, as real people are involved, asking: Are you able to enjoy the awkward humor of Cringe Comedy?


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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. It depends a little on the nature of it, but for the most part, no.

    I’ve never been able to enjoy prank phone calls as a comedy premise, and I only lasted about 20 minutes into “Meet the Parents” before I had to stop watching; I couldn’t take another awkward thing happening to Ben Stiller. It seemed like a funny movie, but I could not take the cringy embarrassment I felt on behalf of his character.

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