Cringe comedy refers to comedy which makes us feel uneasy or embarrassed.
Programmes such as The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret and Peep Show rely heavily on our sense of schadenfreude.
We watch programmes such as these to feel superior, or to feel better about ourselves. Watching other people undergo painful or embarrassing experiences allows us to find humour in our sense of ‘I’m glad I’m not them’.
Due to the nature of cringe comedy, the situation the person has been put into is often their fault, thus we find it fitting to laugh at them, because it was their own foolish actions which brought this about and so they brought it on themselves.
If the serious of misfortunes had been brought about through no fault of their own, our reaction would be to feel sorry for them, and some of the humour would be lost.
Watching someone else go through uncomfortable circumstances, especially if they deserve it, can be highly entertaining and make us feel superior.