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The man who goes by the handle "BillBrasky2620" on aspecialthing.com is a librarian by trade, and he's nothing if not thorough. Below, this comedy expert among comedy experts offers his top ten comedy sketches of all time. With our apologies to Abbot & Costello and Your Show of Shows.
#10 Dave Chappelle - Clayton Bigsby I feel a little less strongly about this one than some of the others on this list, but I felt that Chappelle should be included, and this was one of the best sketches he ever did (impressive that it was in the first episode ever aired too). The last line of the sketch still packs a considerable punch, and it makes me wish that he was still doing stuff like this.
#9 The Day Today - Rok TV I'm not really sure if this counts as a sketch, it's really a series of sketches in the context of a parody of MTV, but it's one of the best parodies of MTV ever, and amazing when you consider one person (Chris Morris) is essentially playing every single character in this sketch. There's a willingness to go into dark areas here too, which Morris would eventually do even more in Jam and the Brass Eye pedophilia special. Not just the Fur-Q stuff, but little things like the Ian Curtis joke, show that Morris was willing to push the barriers of what might have previously been considered acceptable in comedy.
#8 At Last the 1948 Show- Four Yorkshiremen Not a Monty Python sketch, but the version I linked to here is the one from Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl. Basically, any sketch which is based on progressive exaggeration to an absurd end owes a debt to this sketch. Could Kristen Wiig's "one-upper" character have been inspired by this?
#7 Upright Citizens Brigade- Ass Pennies This is probably the best example of the UCB's style of humor, their particular brand of odd agressiveness- I guess you could call it a "punk" approach to comedy. I don't think the concept for this sketch could have ever come from anywhere but Ian Roberts' head, and his commitment to pursuing an idea that would not even occur to most people (to an almost scary level) is what made their TV show so unique.
#6 SNL- 60 Minutes The 1984-85 season of SNL is a really underrated season in the show's history, and maybe one of its best ever in my opinion. Most of that was due to what Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer brought to the show- an emphasis on filmed sketches that told a story and tried to make the characters as realistic as possible, while still being funny (basically what Guest continues to do today in his movies). The Synchronized Swimmers sketch is another good example, but this one is such a bizarre premise, with such well-defined characters (including Martin Short's Nathan Thurm) that I think it wins out.
#5 SCTV - Half-Wits One of my favorite types of humor is the humor of people who have difficulty understanding things or grasping simple concepts- the Mr. Show "Flat Top Tony and the Purple Canoes" conversation and the guard scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail are other good examples. These sketches from SCTV were pioneers of the form, and really laid the groundwork for endless game show sketches on SNL since then (the Celebrity Jeopardy sketches are pretty much direct descendants).
#4 Mr. Show- The Pre-Taped Call-in Show There are many Mr. Show sketches which could be included on this list, like Shampoo or The Audition, but this is in my opinion the show's greatest achievement in terms of producing a timeless piece of sketch comedy. Congratulations, Dino and Brett Forrester, for having the patience to think this through and making it airtight, completely grounded in logic while still being insane at the same time.
#3 Kids in the Hall- Citizen Kane There doesn't seem to be a video of this online, which is a shame, because a lot of the humor derives from the performances of Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald, and this sketch is maybe not as funny reading it on the page as some of the others on this list. Nevertheless, this has possibly one of the best endings to a sketch of all time (and a good example of how violence can be funny in comedy).
#2 Peter Cook and Dudley Moore- One Leg Too Few This probably isn't the best version of this available (it's from a 1987 edition of Comic Relief), but this is a really funny and well-constructed sketch. As the Wikipedia entry on it says, it is "a classic example of comedy arising from an absurd situation which the participants take entirely seriously, and a demonstration of the construction of a sketch in order to draw a laugh from the audience with almost every line."
#1) Monty Python- Dead Parrot sketch
I don't think I really need to say too much about this. Sure, you could make the case that the Cheese Shop sketch or the Argument Clinic are equally deserving of placement on this list, but I don't think anyone could argue the fact that the parrot sketch is an all-time classic of sketch comedy.
And here's a special bonus, in honor of our author's nom-de-internet... Bill Brasky at the Airport
In our regular feature Podthoughts, freelance journalist Ian Brill helps you navigate your way through the thousands of podcasts available on the internet. This week, he looks at the film criticism podcast Filmspotting.
When regular Filmspotting co-host Sam Van Hallgreen was out for a week it was The Onion AV Club’s Scott Tobias that sat in to discuss films with the podcast’s other host Adam Kempenaar. This choice for a substitute should inform you of the tone of this podcast. The hosts of Filmspotting have that same knack that the writers for the AV Club have for taking their knowledge and passion for pop culture and turning it into informative and typically entertaining content.
Van Hallgreen and Kempenaar’s discussions often reach the best type of criticism. The two aren’t giving “liked it/didn’t like it” reviews. Their analyses compliment a viewing of the film itself. A recent argument on Ocean’s 13 involved determining the film’s place in not just the “Ocean’s” series but in director Steven Soderbergh’s entire career. The critics paid careful attention to the acting styles and screenwriting of the film. The talk is always calm and intelligent, never colored by bias. One of the reasons to keep coming back to Filmspotting is to hear how Van Hallgreen and Kempenaar can be both in-depth and brief about a film. They can provide a review and still have time for plenty of other segments in each roughly hour long podcast.
Filmspotting is a rigidly structured podcast. Every entry for an episode on the website has it down to the time codes. There are one or two reviews, a look at new DVDs and gratitude for donations, Massacre Theatre (not a weekly tribute to Tobe Hooper but instead a segment where the hosts butcher a beloved screenplay), Polls and listener feedback, and then the Top 5 lists. They’ve also recently added “The Noir Marathon,” in which Von Hallgreen and Kempenaar dissect a classic like The Killers or Out of the Past. Occasionally a show will feature an interview with a filmmaker, such as a recent talk with A Might Heart director Michael Winterbottom. I was impressed how later in that same show one of the hosts talked about having a Filmspotting meet-up with fans. The podcast does a good job of straddling the line between journalistic professionalism and the looser, more fun feel of podcasting.
What keeps the show fresh is that, thanks to the hosts’ endless familiarity with film, these dependable segments can touch on virtually any subject. One episode can feature the hosts’ top five best films on music, then next week it can be top five best films on journalism. The fun of these lists is telling the other party how wrong they are, which is where the listener feedback comes in. These are the segment that best illustrate the main appeal of Filmspotting: the joy of being a movie geek.
We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Classics.
The Onion has been reporting fake news since 1988, when it was created by two juniors in their University of Wisconsin dorm room. Today its empire covers nearly all forms of media, and its hilarious wit and satire has never dulled. On this week's show, we talk with staff writer Joe Garden and editor-in-chief Carol Kolb.
Also -- Recorded comedy from the Sklar Brothers and Hard N Phirm!
Please share your thoughts on the show in the comments section!
Our pals at SF Sketchfest and ThinkFilm are presenting a special FREE screening of David Wain's newest magnum opus, "The Ten" in San Francisco: Tuesday, July 24 7:30 pm Landmark’s Lumiere Theatre 1572 California Street, San Francisco. To attend, you must RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to give your full name and let us know if you will be bringing a guest. Please note the theatre will be slightly overbooked to ensure capacity; an RSVP will not guarantee you a seat.
We've been talking a lot about Jordan's clothes on Jordan, Jesse GO! lately, and on last week's show, Carl from Detroit suggested something truly brilliant. Specifically: The Jordan Morris Paper Doll Project.
Here's how it works. We've uploaded three photos of Jordan in his underwear to our Flickr group. #1, #2, #3. Your job is to add clothes. Draw them on, use photoship skills, cut-and-paste. Make Jordan look nice.
Then, upload your pictures to our Flickr group with the tag "jordandoll." We'll highlight favorites on the forum, and probably give out some prizes if we can think of some good ones.
DJ Quik rocking a Fader party... which is great and all, but the really funny part of this video is the big white girl in the front row. She's all, "ohhhh... rap? (looking around) uhm.... huh.... errrrr.... (clutches purse tighter)"
What is she doing there? Why does she look like she's waiting for Madonna to hit the stage or something?
In the early 1960s, James P. Coyle and Mal Sharpe roamed the streets of San Francisco, microphone in hand, roping strangers into bizarre schemes and surreal stunts. Today, their humor is a cultural touchstone for artists as varied as Henry Rollins and The Upright Citizens Brigade.
These recordings are from the Sharpe family archive, which is tended by Mal's daughter, Jennifer Sharpe. You can learn more about Coyle & Sharpe on their website or on MySpace. Their recent box set is These 2 Men Are Imposters. This week, Coyle & Sharpe talk seriously with a man about apples growing human feet, and how, if need be, he might herd them across the country.