The Best Comedy Duos on TV Right Now


The day has come, Community fans. After three months of cruel hiatus, Greendale reopens its doors to the best study group in the history of television. There are a lot of things we’ve missed since Dan Harmon, et al, took the piss out of Glee in a typically wonderful Christmas special: Jeff’s arrogance, Dean Pelton’s randomness, Britta’s, well, britta-ing everything she touches. But perhaps what we’ve longed for most is the heartwarmingly dorky, ridiculously culturally literate friendship between Danny Pudi’s Abed and Donald Glover’s Troy. In fact, we’re so inspired by the pair that we’ve rounded up the ten greatest comedy duos on TV right now. Let us know who you’d add to the list in the comments.

Donald Glover and Danny Pudi, Community

Community college best friends and roommates Troy and Abed rap, they host a fake morning TV show, they geek out about pop culture. They’re just like us! Except, you know, consistently funny.

Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan, How I Met Your Mother

How could HIMYM go wrong pairing up Nick from Freaks and Geeks with Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s best character, Willow? And the adorable geek super-couple has never disappointed. According to Flavorwire Film Editor Jason Bailey, “Segel and Hannigan’s chemistry is marvy, their timing is razor-sharp, and there’s something about their high-fives (particularly with regards to their sex life) that gets me every time.”

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, Key & Peele

It’s been a while since Comedy Central had a great sketch show, so we’re especially grateful for Key & Peele — which we’ve been on board with since the beginning. In skits that address race, pop culture, history, and politics in a fresh way, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele demonstrate that they’re not only smart and original comedians, but also genuinely well-suited collaborators with great chemistry. We’re especially enamored of the clips that feature Peele as Barack Obama and Key as his “anger translator,” Luther — if you haven’t gotten into the show yet, this is the place to start.

Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell, House of Lies

Both best known for their dramatic roles, Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell may not provide as many laughs per minute as the other duos on this list. But as ruthless management consultants on Showtime’s excellent House of Lies, they make quite the pair — as Marty Kaan, Cheadle is smooth, protean, and manipulative to the steely unflappability of Bell’s Jeannie Van Der Hooven, a tough woman in an oppressively male sphere. There’s no shortage of sexual tension between the characters, either.

Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, Portlandia

Portlandia may seem inevitable now, but if someone told you, two years ago, that the lady from Sleater-Kinney and the dude from Saturday Night Live were going to team up on a sketch show that satirizes life in hip, urban enclaves, the news would have seemed pretty random. What makes Brownstein and Armisen such good collaborators, as this fantastic New Yorker profile illustrates, is a close platonic friendship formed by similar sensibilities and tireless work ethics. Oh, and the fact that they can both apparently read the minds of everyone we know.

Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock

At the center of the 30 Rock solar system is the unlikely friendship between Liz Lemon — a smart, neurotic, socially awkward TV writer — and her smooth, confident, conservative boss, Jack Donaghy. The near-opposite characters are perfect together, and their personalities facilitate just about any possible relationship: pals, rivals, mentor and protégé, mortal enemies, fake lovers, grudging allies, confidants. And we don’t think we’re exaggerating when we say that no one besides Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin could play these roles, which they so thoroughly embody that we sometimes forget to distinguish between the actors and their characters.

Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family

Cameron Tucker and Mitchell Pritchett have been widely praised as network TV’s best depiction of a same-sex relationship. But really, long-term couples of all orientations can see something of themselves in Stonestreet and Ferguson’s characters — the petty fights and silly competitiveness, the contrast between Mitchell’s uptight politeness and Cam’s bigger-than-life personality, and the deep love for each other and their daughter that underlies every single one of their interactions. Some of this stuff is clearly there in the script, but it’s the warmth between these two actors that really brings their relationship to life.

Larry David and Jeff Garlin, Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm is all about Larry David, the actor and the character — his curmudgeonly stubbornness, his neuroses, his disregard for social conventions. But he wouldn’t get into half the trouble without his loyal friend, Jeff Greene. David and Garlin are hilarious together because they’re both hapless schmucks, enabling each other’s nutty behavior and fleeing the wrath of Jeff’s hysterical wife, Susie. The conversations between the two characters always rank among the funniest moments in any given episode of Curb. That much of the show’s dialogue is improvised is all the proof we need that these two veteran comedians were made to work together.

Nick Offerman and Aubrey Plaza, Parks and Recreation

There’s no shortage of well-matched duos on Parks and Rec: Amy Poehler and Adam Scott, Adam Scott and Rob Lowe, Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler, Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari and Ben Schwartz. But we’re always most delighted to see Ron Swanson with his faithful assistant, April Ludgate. He loves her because he hates dealing with government bureaucracy, and she ensures that as little work gets to his desk as possible. Their apathy toward the day-to-day business of the Pawnee Parks Department makes them the perfect deadpan allies, and welcome counterpoints to Leslie Knope’s relentless enthusiasm.

Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake, Saturday Night Live

It probably says something about SNL in 2012 that its best pairing of the post-Tina Fey era is between Andy Samberg and a celebrity who isn’t even a regular cast member — Justin Timberlake, who’s teamed up with Samberg and his Lonely Island pals on a series of cheesy ’90s R&B send-up videos over the years. There was “Dick in a Box,” “Motherlover,” and — most recently, with an assist from Lady Gaga — “3-Way.” Lorne Michaels, isn’t there anything you can do to get Timberlake to sign on full-time? It’s not like he’s busy making another album or anything!