Hello, Internet! This is Jenna, longtime nerd, first time contributor to this wonderful website. While I consider myself to be a geek about many subjects, my greatest love will always be comedy. I’m the type of person who gets unbelievably excited every time a new podcast episode is released, who watches stand-up specials with a religious fervor, and who receives more Twitter text alerts from comedians than actual messages from friends and family. And I’m probably not the first to say that we are currently in one of the best eras of comedy, as so many performers are becoming more innovative, personal, and nerdy, with their material, with absolutely amazing results. Until recently, however, much of this has seemed to get lost in the enigma of “mainstream comedy.” And although it is okay to consume these “mainstream” shows and performers, there is so much great comedy at our disposal that deserves the same amount of attention. And with the popularization of podcasts and stand-up specials over the past few years, so much of it can be appreciated without even leaving your house. Which does mean that trying to find a place to start can be a little daunting. That’s where I (hope to) come in. My goal with this column is to highlight many of the great things in the comedy world that you might not have heard of, or that you might have previously written off. From podcasts to stand-up specials to television shows, I’m sure I’ll be able to introduce you to something in the comedy world that will make your geek heart happy.
Today, I’m going to talk about a show that has held a special place in my heart since this past September: Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The show – which, as the title suggests, focuses on a ragtag team of police officers at a Brooklyn police station – has been heralded by many as the best new sitcom of the year, and rightfully so. However, while I have been watching – and loving – Brooklyn Nine-Nine since episode one, I have found that many of my colleagues haven’t been doing the same. But at last Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, the show seemed to surprise everyone (including myself), when it walked away with not only the Best Comedic Actor award for its star, Andy Samberg, but also the Best Comedic Television Series award, beating out shows like Parks and Recreation, Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory.
Did I mention that this show is still in its first season?
On paper, this shouldn’t be such a surprise. Considering the resumes of its co-creators; Daniel J. Goor (a longtime writer for Conan and The Daily Show) and Michael Schur (co-creator of Parks and Recreation, as well as a longtime writer for Saturday Night Live), a collaboration between the two is almost destined to succeed. In addition, Samberg – in his first major television role since his seven-year stint on Saturday Night Live – delivers exactly the kind of performance you would expect from him as the goofy, yet loveable Detective Jake Peralta. Peralta is a grown-up version of the typical class clown, whose antics include everything from showing up to work in a Speedo to keeping a pet turtle in his desk. Oh, and he also happens to be one of the most talented detectives on the force. If someone with that description existed in your workplace, you’d probably despise him or her with every fiber of your being. But Samberg brings such a sincere, silly quality to the role that you can’t help but root for him more and more with each new episode.
And while he gives a wonderful performance, it’s wrong to write off Brooklyn Nine-Nine as “The Andy Samberg Show.” By far, the show’s greatest asset is its unbelievably strong ensemble cast. The seven main members of the Nine-Nine already have a refreshingly strong chemistry that you would normally find several seasons into a sitcom. And while most comedy ensembles have a handful of standout performances, it seems wrong not to acknowledge each of the characters, as they all truly bring something unique to the show. There’s Amy (Melissa Fumero), a delightfully awkward perfectionist whose behavior evokes every “teacher’s pet” you’ve ever shared a class with. There’s Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz), a tough, often-hostile detective with a secret soft side that she refuses to reveal to her coworkers. There’s Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio, who you might recognize from The State and films like Superbad and Wanderlust), a dweebish, yet dependable detective with a crush on Rosa and a borderline-unhealthy idolization of Jake. There’s Terry (Terry Crews, best known as the dad from Everybody Hates Chris) a sincere, albeit slightly neurotic sergeant with a crippling fear of getting hurt on the job after the birth of his twin daughters. And there’s Gina (Chelsea Peretti, one of the best female comedians/podcasters today), an absolute oddball of a civilian administrator who would rather be dancing or interfering in the lives of her co-workers than doing any actual work. Overseeing the team is Captain Ray Holt (Emmy winner Andre Braugher), a stoic, by the book boss, who is a perfect foil to many of the characters’ crazy personalities.
All of these characters, combined with Samberg’s Peralta, work together fantastically. While the individual players of most sitcom ensembles can take years to properly develop, the characters on Brooklyn Nine-Nine are already refreshingly well-rounded. With the awkward stage of initial character growth out of the way, the show is able to utilize its greatest – and most hilarious – strength week after week, which is the interactions between the characters. Thirteen episodes in, the show already has a slew of hilarious inside jokes and recurring bits between its characters, making the ensemble seem as multi-dimensional as your own coworkers or group of friends. Because of this, the team never ceases to be thoroughly entertaining, regardless of the scenario they are in. Whether the team is trying to stop a graffiti artist with a knack for spray-painting genitalia onto cop cars, or holding a Junior Police Program for a group of annoyed at-risk teenagers, each episode brings a scenario that is more enjoyable the last. And with the addition of many awesome guest stars – such as Fred Armisen, Patton Oswalt, and Craig Robinson – the world of B99 is quickly becoming one worth visiting every week.
While most shows take time to properly find their footing, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has had every ounce of confidence in itself since its inception. And – thanks to their experienced creative team and ridiculously talented cast – they have every right to do so. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is proving to be a breath of comedic fresh air in a landscape of otherwise-forgettable freshman sitcoms. If you’re in the mood for a delightfully silly, yet unbelievably sincere sitcom, then look no further than Brooklyn Nine-Nine. New episodes air every Tuesday at 9:30/8:30 CT on FOX, and the first thirteen episodes can be found on Hulu.com.