Watch Dark Side of Comedy
- 2 Seasons
Dark Side of Comedy is a documentary series that explores the personal struggles and controversies surrounding some of comedy's most legendary figures. Premiering on Vice TV in 2022, each episode profiles a different comedian, tracing their path to stardom while also delving into the darker aspects of their lives and careers.
The show begins by examining the life and work of Richard Pryor, widely considered among the most influential stand-up comedians of all time. It details Pryor's rough upbringing in a brothel run by his grandmother, where he endured sexual abuse at a young age. This trauma informed his raunchy, uncensored brand of comedy that tackled taboo subjects like race and drug use head-on. However, Pryor's career was marked by self-destructive behavior, multiple marriages, drug addictions, and infamous incidents like the time he set himself on fire while freebasing cocaine. The episode explores how he channeled these demons into his groundbreaking comedy.
Another episode focuses on Andy Kaufman, the eccentric performer who shocked audiences in the 1970s and 80s with his bizarre alter egos and commitment to blurring the lines between truth and fiction. It analyzes Kaufman's early obsession with trickery and pranks, tracing it back to his lonely childhood. The profile also covers the extreme lengths Kaufman went to stay in character and undermine the entertainment industry's conventions, including his infamous feud with wrestler Jerry Lawler and his final months spent insisting he was dying of a rare cancer as a prank.
Dark Side of Comedy also examines the tumultuous life of John Belushi, the hard-partying founding member of Saturday Night Live who struggled with drug addiction and depression before dying of an overdose at age 33. It includes interviews with Dan Aykroyd and other former SNL colleagues about Belushi's reckless behavior and agonizing comedown after his swift rise to fame. Despite his personal demons, Belushi's completely uninhibited physical comedy left an indelible mark on pop culture.
With its unflinching look at comedians' troubled lives behind the laughter they inspired, Dark Side of Comedy offers a poignant celebration of their groundbreaking art as well as a cautionary tale about the high personal cost of pushing creative boundaries. Without excusing bad behavior, it aims to understand the psychological wounds, insecurities, and inner turmoils that drove these comedy legends. The show captures how their darkest impulses were translated into pioneering, culturally resonant humor that still resonates today.
Dark Side of Comedy is a series that is currently running and has 2 seasons (20 episodes). The series first aired on August 16, 2022.