Comedy: Series today are about more than jokes, top comic actors agree

Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”), Anna Faris ("Mom"), Danny DeVito (“It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) and others discuss funny dramas, binge-watching and emotional investment.

The lines between comedy and drama on television have been blurring so much over the last few years that it sometimes makes you wonder if we need a whole new lexicon to discuss what we're watching.

"I think what's happening in culture now is that everything is mixing," said Jeffrey Tambor, who stars in a prime example of the situation: "Transparent," a 30-minute comedy that taps deep emotional wells. "We all know in comedy ... there's always a serious bent to it," he added.

Tambor gathered for the Envelope's annual Emmy Round Table along with Danny DeVito ("It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"), Anna Faris ("Mom"), Billy Crystal ("The Comedians") and Anthony Anderson ("black-ish") to talk about the nature and purpose of the genre.

With the changing television landscape and the ability to binge-watch a series, TV writers can embrace a broader idea of what comedies are capable of accomplishing. Not only do these television shows aim to make people laugh, but also they look to explore today's issues.

"There's an underlying desire to give the audience a little bit more than something to just joke around with," said DeVito. Shows like "Transparent," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "Mom" enable us to cope with problems and continue the conversation by flirting with drama in a comedic way, the group agreed.

Hear what else they had to say in the video above, and other conversations about your favorite shows and the shifting nature of television.