There is genius in the absurdity of “Documentary Now!”, though it’s not the kind of comedy that’s easily described. Knowledge of the documentaries they’re spoofing can mean some extra giggles for viewers, but it’s not necessary because the intense dedication to re-creating the docs tells you everything you need to know. I’ve never seen “Grey Gardens,” the 1975 documentary that’s the inspiration for the first episode of “Documentary Now!,” “Sandy Passage,” but it’s easy to see what’s being riffed on and why it’s funny. In the episode “DRONEZ: The Hunt for El Chingon,” they roast VICE media documentaries, which frequently send young trust fund hipsters into incredibly dangerous areas that even experienced journalists would fear to tread. Whether you’ve never seen a VICE documentary or you’ve spent hours staring at random white guys with way too much confidence in deadly situations, the jokes are all hilariously on-point.
The series is executive produced by Lorne Michaels of “Saturday Night Live” fame and is made by a bunch of “SNL” alums, but don’t expect “SNL”-style humor here. This isn’t the kind of thing made for a studio audience and an applause button, but it is still uproariously funny. My recommendation is to start with an episode based on a documentary you’ve seen, then you can dive straight into all of the wild weirdness Hader, Armisen, and co. have in store.