Let’s face it: politics can often be both exhausting and depressing. And in any given year, you might find yourself reflexively shuddering when you see the “Breaking News” graphic for any political news.
Weirdly enough, though, politics can make for great comedy. And film and TV writers learned this a long time ago. Mixing politics and comedy is like mixing savory and sweet foods to create something truly unforgettable.
Want to get a little more political comedy in your life? We’ve put together the definitive list of the best political comedies of all time!
On the face of it, city politics doesn’t seem like a very gripping topic. But Spin City showed us just how funny a peek behind the political curtain can be!
Originally, Michael J. Fox headlined the show as Mike Flaherty, the Deputy Mayor of New York. For the final two seasons, Fox stepped down due to health reasons and was replaced by Charlie Sheen, who played the character Charlie Crawford.
The broad satire of city politicians and their staff was both funny and stinging. And for those who grew up watching Michael J. Fox in hit films like Back to the Future, this show gave us an awesome glimpse of Fox at the mature height of his talent.
When you hear the name Stanley Kubrick, you probably don’t think about comedy. Nonetheless, he gave us one of the most hilarious dark comedies ever made with the film Dr. Strangelove.
The movie put a spotlight on the most absurd aspects of the Cold War. And it gave us some truly iconic imagery, including Slim Pickens’ Major T. J. “King” Kong actually straddling a bomb as it falls through the air.
But the real reason to keep coming back to this movie is Peter Sellers. He plays multiple roles, and you’re guaranteed to catch another nuance of his performance every time you watch!
Don’t mind a little vulgarity in your political humor? In that case, Veep is one of the finest political comedies you can watch!
It stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus playing as a vice president who alternates between being weirdly ruthless and hilariously incompetent. And the supporting performers are also amazing: we particularly enjoyed seeing Anna Chlumsky playing Amy, the Chief of Staff.
And for better or for worse, this show gives us a surprisingly accurate view of Washington, D.C. politics. Just take a look at the last few years of politics and you’ll be able to see it!
Out of all the presidents, Richard M. Nixon seems particularly rife for comedy. And we don’t really get enough Nixon-centered comedies (and no, his head on Futurama doesn’t count).
But that all changed with Dick, a movie that looks at the Watergate Scandal from a different lens. Specifically, we see a fictionalized account of how two teenagers (played brilliantly by Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams) intersect with Nixon and ultimately help to take him down.
If you’re still mad at how the Dawson’s Creek finale did Michelle Williams dirty, you need to watch this movie ASAP!
No matter your politics, everyone has wondered if some of the most powerful politicians in our nation have lost their minds. And BrainDead is a wicked satire that explores that idea in a very literal way.
It stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a documentary filmmaker who discovers that alien bugs are chomping down on politicians’ brains and taking control of their bodies. Winstead is dazzling in the role, as is Tony Shalhoub (playing a senator whose body gets hijacked by the aliens).
Sadly, this show only lasted for one season. On the bright side, it’s that much easier for you to watch the whole thing!
Parks and Recreation
If you’ve never watched the show, it might be surprising to imagine Parks and Recreation as a political comedy. But most of the characters and action center around the titular Parks and Recreation department of Pawnee, Indiana.
While the writing is razor-sharp, the real delight of this show is the casting. The frequent clashes between Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope and Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson are hilarious. And the romance between Aubrey Plaza’s April Ludgate and Chris Pratt’s Andy Dwyer is as adorable as it is dysfunctional.
Come for the cast, and stay for DJ Roomba. Or maybe just Leslie’s fascination with waffles.
More than any other work, Bulworth is Warren Beatty’s baby. He helped write and produce the movie, he starred in the movie, and he even directed the movie.
What’s the film about? Beatty plays a burned-out California Senator facing off against a young challenger. He takes out a major life insurance policy on himself and even hires an assassin to end his life!
Because he feels like a dead man walking, Beatty’s Bulworth transforms into a “tell it like it is” politician. He publicly drinks at debates, freestyle raps, and takes on issues ranging from American healthcare to racial justice.
It may not be the best movie you’ll ever watch. But it’s definitely one you’ll never forget.
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Some of the best political comedies stretch the truth a little bit about famous figures. And that’s how we ended up with Blaze, a movie about Louisiana governor Earl Long and his (likely fictional) affair with a stripper.
The writing is sharp, and we see worlds collide with the differing viewpoints of Long and Blaze the stripper. But the real reason to tune in is Paul Newman. His performance as Long is downright hypnotic, and it shows how age stripped away none of his charm or his powers of performance.
Some of the political comedies on this list tackle high-stakes concepts, including national politics and alien invasions. But the film Election shows us how much a good writer and filmmaker can make out of a seemingly low-stakes event.
In this case, that event is Reese Witherspoon’s Tracy Flick and her attempt to become class president of her high school. Along the way, she runs afoul of Matthew Broderick’s Jim McAllister, a beloved high school history teacher.
Simple premise, right? But the movie has a lot to say about career politicians, modern education, and long-term relationships. These are amazing performers at the height of their game, and every frame of this movie is electric.
Remember when we said that many people find politics depressing? One reason for that is that yesterday’s satires often become today’s realities.
The best example of this is Mike Judge’s cult classic film Idiocracy. It came out in 2006 as a bleak satire of America’s future. And 15 years later, many fans can’t help but feel like these predictions were pretty accurate.
From ever-present advertisements to environmental disasters and the dangers of smart cars, this comedy had some impressively accurate future forecasts. But nothing beats the portrayal of Terry Crews’ President Camacho. He is an entertainer turned president who dazzles the nation with vulgar speeches and insane appeals to patriotism.
If that doesn’t remind you of a certain president, you should probably turn off the comedies and watch the news every now and then!