Here's a fresh (and funny) refill of Canadian comedy

This is an interesting week for new cable arrivals. Scroll down and you'll see stories I sent to papers, about series that debut Tuesday and Wednesday (Aug. 2-3). Now here's another Wednesday one, this time about a clever new sketch-comedy show:

By Mike Hughes

Canadians, of course, are verty good at many things.

The end is (fairly) near for the delightful "Portlandia"

By Mike Hughes

six-plus seasons and piles of praise, “Portlandia” is calling it
quits ... gradually.

Now early in its
seventh season, the show's creators confirmed Saturday that the
eighth will be its final one. They promplty offered solace for
hard-core fans.

Old 'SNL' guys go to great lenghts -- and to Iceland -- for new comedy

Here's a good general rule for comedy fans: If Seth Meyers, Fred Armisen or Bill Hader are involved, give it a try; from "Weekend Update" to "Portlandia," they've brought some big laughs. Now all three are combining for "Documentary Now," which debuts Thursday (Aug. 20) on cable's IFC. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

Oscar time? First, the independents have their spirited day

There's great pleasure in finding a low-budget, low-hype movie that is better than the big ones. Many -- including the remarkable "Winter's Bone" -- are at video stores; some are in theaters.  On Saturday, the night before the Oscars, they'll be nominated at the Independent Spirit award ceremony. Here's the story I sent to papers:

Ah, the pleasures of overacting

At the right times, bad really can be good. From a "Love Story" or "Gone With the Wind" spoof by Carol Burnett to "The Californians" on "Saturday Night Live," there can be fun in starting with an exaggerated tale and then cranking the acting to overload. The latest to try are some former "SNL" people who made "The Spoils of Babylon." If you get IFC (via satellite or digital cable), you can catch the entire six-part, three-hour spoof Thursday; here's the story I sent to papers:

Friday assignment: Watch IFC comedies

Today (Friday, Jan. 6) is a fine day for people who like cleverly off-center comedy: "Portlandia" and "The Increasiongly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret" start their second seaons.

Both are filled with perverse wit. Here's the story I sent to papers:


Something special seems to happen when
clever people are let loose.

Anchoring the Onion: A Brooke-worthy performance

Somewhere at the pinnacle of comedy -- up there in the Monty Python and "Daily Show" stratosphere -- is  the Onion. Anything it does -- weekly newspaper, books, cable show -- is terrific.

Now "Onion News Network" returns Tuesday. Here's the story I sent to papers, profiling Suzanne Sena, who is perfect as Brooke Alvarez, the full-of-herself anchor:



At first, Suzanne Sena's career seemed
rather random .

Good news: "Onion News Network" and "Southland" will return

For cable viewers, two pieces of good news arrived today: "Onion News Network" and "Southland" have both been renewed.

These shows have nothing in common except that they are different from most and are well-made. Details include:

Skipping the speech? Try "Onion News Network" and "Portlandia"

OK, you really know you should be watching the State of the Union speech tonight (Tuesday, Jan. 25). If you don't, however, this is the perfect time to find "Onion News Network" and "Portlandia."

Their openers aired at 10 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and rerun at 9 and 9:30 p.m. tonight. That's on IFC (Independent Film Channel), which is hard to find -- you'll need satellite or digital cable -- but worth it.

Friday fun: Onion and "Portlandia" lead the way

One of the best trends lately has come from an unexpected source -- the Independent Film Channel.

IFC used to be content with showing indie movies (which its name kind of implies). Lately, however, it has also been the late-night place for clever, short-form comedies.

Some of these are reruns -- "Mr. Show," "The Ben Stiller Show" and more -- but there are also originals. Tonight (Jan. 21) brings the debuts of two of the best, "Onion News Network" at 10 p.m. and "Portlandia" at 10:30.