The world wide web is now a valid channel for watching television. Over the past few years the internet has exploded with people making their own TV shows and posting them online.
And we're not just talking enthusiastic amateurs and out-of-work drama graduates with an iPhone either - although, yes, there is a fair amount of that going on.
But some of the biggest names in television have eschewed the rigours of full production network series in favour of something more immediate and manageable.
Web series' differ from broadcast series in a couple of important ways; when people are online they tend to have the attention span of a sleep deprived ADD amoeba, so webisodes tend to be brief, quick affairs.
Secondly, with no barrier to entry there is a lot of dross to sift through. On the flipside, a lot of extremely talented people are now making web series' and putting them out there.
The experimental, no rules nature of the form is allowing art to finally beat commerce in the television space and many shows are highly idiosyncratic.
No matter what you're into, someone, somewhere will be making a show about it; be it documentaries, teen drama, or confessional reality. I like pop culture and laughing so that's what the shows I watch on the regular tend to be about.
So, to get you started, here's a bunch of what I think are the funniest television shows not currently on television.
Cue the laugh track ...
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
Louis CK and Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Photo / Comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com
Watch two people get coffee. One of which is Jerry Seinfeld.
Jerry Seinfeld has gone from a show about nothing to a show so incredibly specific its title tells you everything you need to know. Seinfeld and a comedian buddy go out for a cup of joe and discuss ... well, whatever comes up really.
Hardly an adroit interviewer, Seinfeld's breezy, detached nature still seems to get his fellow comedians to open up. Funny and frequently fascinating, essential episodes include a bizarro adventure with Seinfeld co-star Michael Richards (Kramer), a confessional coffee with Sarah Silverman and a seafaring jaunt with ship captain, Louis CK.
A scene a Flat 3. Photo / Flat3webseries.com
Tales of flat life in the big smoke; Auckland.
Flat 3 is the critical darling of the local web series scene. And with good reason. It's got high production values, relatable characters and lol-heavy storylines. The show follows three 20-something flatmates as they negotiate the usual 20-something dilemmas. And while that scenario sounds a little played out, the show is fast paced and snappy, and more than willing to spin its likeable characters into weird or awkward situations (frequently both).
The question is; why isn't this on actual television? Surely, it's only a matter of time.
Watch Flat 3.
Jake and Amir
Jake and Amir. Photo / Jakeandamir.com
Extremely annoying office worker and his antagonising co-worker don't get along.
Set at a desk in an open plan office, this low-budget show is now one of comedy site CollegeHumour's longest running and biggest hits. Most episodes are only a couple of minutes long, but each is absolutely crammed with R-rated witticisms, visual gags, ridiculous non-sequiturs, some of the finest and fastest wordplay around, running gags, reoccurring characters, deplorable depravity and an extremely NSFW absurdist streak.
Brilliant. But most certainly not for everybody.
Watch Jake and Amir.
Lisa Kudrow and Conan O'Brien in Web Therapy. Photo / lstudio.com
Cranky and ineffectual psychiatrist conducts therapy sessions online.
Lisa Kudrow's darkly funny web series has since morphed into an actual television series, but it's natural home and best fit is online. This largely improvisational show sees Kudrow playing a self-involved psychiatrist pioneering a new form of therapy and dispensing generally awful self-serving advice. Sessions occur online, giving patients just three minutes to discuss their problems. Despite her justifications it's quickly apparent this is for her benefit rather than her patients.
Similar to animated classic Dr Katz, the show features big name stars playing Kudrow's troubled and put upon patients.
Watch Web Therapy.
A scene from NZ Idle. Photo / Nzidle.com
Creative type struggles to stay on the dole.
This local show follows unemployed artist BAM as he jumps through the hoops of the Labour Office of Sustainable Employment (LOSE) and their attempts to steer him into gainful employment. While our hero is a little too clueless to readily identify with, the parody of government department bureaucracy is spot on.
As a stint on the dole is almost a rite of passage for the Kiwi creative this series will really tickle the funny bone of those who have ever found themselves sitting dispiritedly in a work seminar down at the local WINZ office.
Watch NZ Idle.
The Angry Video Game Nerd
The Angry Video Game Nerd. Photo / Cinemassacre.com
Obsessive video gamer loses it trying to beat the games of his youth.
"Angry" as a thing is depressingly prevalent in web series' dealing with games and tech. They're all imitating this guy, James Rolfe. What started as simple lo-fi clips of the aspiring filmmaker getting raged out playing old Nintendo games quickly became a full production with Rolfe effectively churning out 20-minute, effects laden, surrealistic review shows from his basement. An interest in the retro video game scene will increase enjoyment, but truly, no one can cuss a blue streak with such passion and inventiveness like this guy.
Watch The Angry Video Game Nerd.
A scene from Crumbs. Photo / Webserieschannel.co.nz
Hilariously bugged out animated cop show.
This satire of hardboiled police shows comes from local animation heroes Mukpuddy. With a visual style reminiscent of Spongebob and a logic that's just as bizarre, the series follows three detectives - who happen to be foodstuffs - as they attempt to track down and bring the rat, crime lord Raticus Kahn to justice. Hugely funny, this deserves to be much more well-known than it is.
Also, look out for Mukpuddy's just announced, new animated series The Barefoot Bandits sometime next year.
Half in the Bag
Half in the Bag. Photo / Redlettermedia.com
Two filmmakers review films.
So dry you'll need a glass of water to wash it down. This is essentially a spin-off from the epic-length, murderously funny Mr Plinkett web series of analytical movie reviews. It's far lower key than that though, essentially being just two dudes sitting around discussing the latest films. But Mike and Jay's cinema nous and insight coupled with their oddly weird and peculiar humour elevates the show to 'must watch' status for film buffs.
Though fans of Transformers and its ilk are advised to avoid.
Watch Half in the Bag.
* Are you a fan of series' on the web? Any other great webisodes you can suggest? Tell us your favourites in the comments below: