Harold and Maude, now streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime, deals with a timeless issue: the crushing morbidity of precocious young people. When our brains are getting used to being alive, we can’t help but confront some of the hypocrisy and misery we see around us. If you’re sensitive and dramatic as well, everything can seem wonderful and horrible and you can’t imagine how anyone does this life thing.

I personally like my comedy best when it is just spikes of terrifying truth thrown out at you through the darkness. These spikes have to be lobbed by an expert. Not only an expert at observing of these truths, which is a skill in itself, but they then have to be so expertly delivered that they tickle as much as they hurt. It’s not that there shouldn’t be metaphorical blood involved, it’s just that it should leak out through your mouth disguised as laughter, and afterwards you feel almost as good as you do after you cry. It’s a relief. It’s like leech therapy for your psyche. It’s like a deep tissue massage that both relaxes your muscles and painfully reminds you that they are there.

Maria Bamford is the master of this, and I love her for it.

In 1950’s Sunset Boulevard, Norma Desmond’s anachronistic glamour singes in its desperation. And still, we can’t get enough of her. She represents for us something awful, a monster choosing to reside in a delusion, trapped in a narcissistic painting of the past.