Cringe comedy is a subgenre of comedy that derives humor from social awkwardness, guilty pleasure, self-deprecation, idiosyncratic humor and personal distress.[1] 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.[2]

Typically, the protagonists are egotists 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.[3]


Notable examples of television programs in the genre of cringe comedy include:


  1. ^ a b c d Susman, Gary (12 May 2013). "Discomfort Zone: 10 Great Cringe Comedies". Time.
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ McFarlane, Brian (2009). "A curmudgeon's canon: random thoughts on 'Summer Heights High', 'The Office' and other nasty pleasures". Metro Magazine (160): 134–138.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Noel Murray (2020). "Cringe TV Comedy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  5. ^ "A Girl-Group Themed Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Proves Even a Fragmented Episode is Better Than Most TV". 3 December 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i 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.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Brian Logan (12 November 2018). "From the King of Comedy to People Just Do Nothing: why the 'cringe com' reigns". The Guardian.
  8. ^ "'I Think You Should Leave...' and the cult of cringe comedy". NME. 12 July 2021.
  9. ^ "Make America Cringe Again: Tim Robinson's "I Think You Should Leave"". The New Yorker. 30 April 2019.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Wade, Chris (24 September 2013). "This Is the Episode of Peep Show That Will Get You Hooked". Retrieved 19 November 2020. the apex of the comedy-of-humiliation also seen on The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
  14. ^ Aroesti, Rachel (2016-09-22). "Bare jokes: how People Just Do Nothing made sitcoms funny again". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  15. ^ "'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
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Susman, Gary (12 May 2013). "The Mindy Project | Discomfort Zone: 10 Great Cringe Comedies". Time.
  18. ^ Erik Hayden (August 23, 2014). "Emmys: 5 Cringeworthy 'Veep' Moments". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 November 2020.