HBO has built its legacy on tentpole series like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones, but you could make the most out of your subscription by just watching its comedies. The original bad boy of cable, HBO let comedy shows do their thing without much interference, which gave way to some of the most influential comedies of all time.
Below I've listed the nine best comedies on HBO ever, which you can take a look at through HBO Now and HBO Go. So while the summer is lacking in new television shows, that just leaves plenty of time to catch up on these classics and current series you may have missed.
9. The Life and Times of Tim (2008-2012)
Steve Dildarian's animated series about a loser who has a job he hates and a girlfriend who might hate him ran for three seasons starting in 2008 and didn't get much press as it flew under the radar, but it was as funny as anything HBO has ever aired. The crude, flat "squigglevision" animation harkened back to the great Dr. Katz but its best feature was something else that Dr. Katz did so well: perfect the art of comedic timing. With scenarios ranging from Tim becoming a personal assistant to a professional female basketball player to Tim smashing spending records on his company credit card at a strip club to entertain a client, Tim proved that awkward comedy — best exemplified by fellow HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm — wasn't limited to live action.
8. The Comeback (2005 and 2014)
Lisa Kudrow's follow up to Friends was set in the industry and genre that made her a star, but was also an insightful look at the career horrors of the business that spits out celebrities — particularly aging actresses — after it's done with them. A damning look at the television industry, particularly reality television, The Comeback was well ahead of its time and never took off (apparently audiences wanted Entourage's hollow look at showbiz instead). But it had a happy ending. Following its debut season in 2005, the series took its name and premise seriously when it was brought back for a second season nine years later in 2014.
7. Flight of the Conchords (2007-2009)
The easy-going attitude of stars Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie belies all the demand that went into making this one of the best short-lived goofball musical comedies starring self-deprecating New Zealanders ever on American premium cable. Flight of the Conchords wasn't just a season of television comedy. It was also a full multi-genre music album and a suite of videos for all those songs that had to be crammed inside a TV show, making Beyoncé's Lemonade look lazy by comparison. But after two seasons and at the height of their success, Clement and McKenzie called it quits, citing the impossible task of making the show while also trying to do something as simple as have a life. Its legacy will last however, as I still say, "That's why they're called business socks, oh!" whenever I put on my socks.
6. High Maintenance (2016-present)
No other series accurately shows off New York City — not Girls, not Sex and the City — in all its glory and ugliness like HBO's vignettes about a weed dealer going about his business in the Big Apple. High Maintenance, like most comedies today, is evolved comedy that isn't in it for the jokes, but for astute observations about human behavior. And listen up Westworld: What is more emblematic about the true nature of people than the exchange of a quarter bag of kush between a buyer and a seller? The potential awkward and hilarious insights are endless.
5. Veep (2012-present)
The fact that this absolute classic is at number 5 shows just how good HBO has been with comedy. Julia Louis-Dreyfus' legacy will always be tied to Seinfeld first and foremost, but any sensible famous actor would give up first class for a year to have "star of Veep" at the top of their bio. However, for as good as Louis-Dreyfus was as the ambitious vice president (we're talking six consecutive Emmys good), she couldn't carry all those trophies without the incredibly deep ensemble cast surrounding her; Veep has HBO's best comedy ensemble ever and it isn't even close. Add in television's best and most creative insults, and I'm starting to wonder why Veep isn't higher on this list.
4. Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-who knows when)
Larry David went from "that guy who co-created Seinfeld' to making his own name when he went off on his own and starred in the neurotic Curb Your Enthusiasm, TV's best and brightest example of You're Not Wrong, You're Just an Asshole comedy. Curb is the kind of show that would have a hard time launching in today's age of sensitivity, but when it debuted in 2000, Larry became the poster child for questioning social norms and false courtesy. Yeah, he was funny as hell, but more importantly he made it OK to call out people for who they really were (or flame out spectacularly for doing so). David is so well liked at HBO that he basically has a standing invitation to make the show whenever he wants to.
3. The Larry Sanders Show (1992-1998)
The late and great Garry Shandling had already broken the mold of what television comedy could be with It's Garry Shandling's Show, and his experience as a favorite guest of The Tonight Show made him a shoo-in to be the next great late-night talk show host. But instead, he did the unthinkable when he pulled out of the race to replace Carson and made a show about a talk show, and The Tonight Show got Leno. We'll happily take that trade as The Larry Sanders Show became one of the most influential comedies of all time. By throwing the curtain back on the insanity of late-night television, Hollywood and celebrity in a near documentary format, the series paved the way for shows like 30 Rock and The Office, while offering celebrities a chance to spoof themselves. The Larry Sanders Show could make this list for its use of David Duchovny alone.
2. Enlightened (2011-2013)
It's not a comedy through and through, but Mike White's sharp series is certainly one of the most ambitious uses of the comedic drama format that dominates cable television today. What made Enlightened so special — aside from its beautiful indie-film cinematography, soundtrack and sensibility — was the creation of its lead Amy Jellicoe, one of television's all-time great characters brought to life by White's writing and Laura Dern's incredible performance. Amy was pop culture's first social justice warrior, and a character who was both grating as she failed to grasp how to forward her cause and enviable as she was trying to do the right thing. You weren't always fighting alongside with her in the battle against the corporate behemoth that gave her the mental breakdown that turned her into a new-age agent of change, but you still hoped she'd win. And when the show wasn't about Amy, it gave us the character classics "Consider Helen," "The Ghost Is Seen" and "Higher Power." When it aired in 2011, it was too much for most audiences to handle. If it was released today, everyone would be drooling all over it.
1. Mr. Show with Bob and David (1995-1998)
I will take anyone to the mat who thinks there is a better sketch-comedy series than the seminal Mr. Show. Bob Odenkirk and David Cross' absurd comedy was a relentless onslaught of skits that never stopped thanks to its trademark format of blending live and pre-taped sketches together so there was no time to breathe. But what made Mr. Show stand out was how it destroyed the rules of traditional comedy through surreal humor, risky comedic timing that challenged viewers (like an extended sketch about a man asking for change at a store) and a f*** you attitude to popular culture. Mr. Show put alternative comedy on the map while indie music and film were crashing the mainstream, and any comedian worth the laughs today would note Mr. Show as a major influence.