There’s no Man like this one.

That’s quite the distinction, because we’re in a particularly innovative period for TV comedy. You can start with Modern Family, which reinvented and reinvigorated the traditional family sitcom — and then move on to new shows like Black-ish, Cristela, Fresh off the Boat, Transparent and Jane the Virgin, which expanded the types of families TV welcomed into the tradition; and idiosyncratic series like Louie, Girls, Man Seeking Woman, Orange is the New Black and Mozart in the Jungle, which offer a very particular, and sometimes peculiar, take on what comedy can be and do.

Into that mix comes Fox’s The Last Man on Earth (Sunday, 9 ET/PT, ***1/2 stars out of four), a new comedy about the cheery subject of near-extinction that is, by definition, a one-man show. And if that built-in ensemble restriction weren’t difficult enough to pull off, the opening half-hour’s central theme is loneliness tending toward insanity, all wrapped in unusually long stretches of silence.

Well, silence on the show’s part; in your home, the silence may very well be broken by bursts of laughter. There may even be a few cheers for the audacity, inventiveness and achievement of Will Forte (Saturday Night Live), who created and stars in the show and has filled it with a warm, goofy spirit that always feels oddly appropriate to the subject matter.

The year is 2020, and an unnamed virus (and no, it does not involve zombies) has seemingly killed every man on Earth except Phil Miller (Forte), a 41-year-old former temp who clings to photos of his vanished family. Having searched America in vain for other survivors (leaving “Alive in Tucson” signs behind, just in case he missed someone), Phil now settles in for life on his own.

What would you do? For Phil, the answer is to move into a huge house and fill it with trinkets he acquired along the way, including Dorothy’s ruby slippers, a rug from the White House, a suit of armor, and any number of museum masterpieces. Oh, and to entertain himself by inventing new, no-one-to-stop-me games like bowling with cars.

Phil has two goals: To stay happy in his solitude and to avoid talking to a volleyball like Tom Hanks did in Cast Away. Let’s just say he has trouble with both as his links to civilization — and indoor plumbing — begin to fray.

What Phil wants is a friend, or better yet, a mate. Whether he gets what he wishes for is something you should discover on your own.

In the wrong hands, Last Man could have easily been either grim or silly: I Am Legend or Gilligan’s Island. Instead, Forte and The Lego Movie’s Phil Lord and Chris Miller — who serve as producers and, superbly, as directors — have adeptly walked a middle line, taking a comic approach to a scary subject, but keeping the humor grounded in reality. None of which would be possible without a tour de force performance by Forte, who immediately pushes himself into the Emmy conversation.

He may not be the last man to be considered, but he and his show may be among the best.