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The College Years is a look deep into the vaults of The Sound of Young America. Take a journey with us every week as we post a new program or two from our salad days.
Mace Detective, Private Detective is back on the job in this week's trip back to the College Years, as he solves murders and drinks fruity beverages. Jordan Morris later attempts to recover from amnesia caused by an unknown source.
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.
The one and only Mr. Paul F. Tompkins visited MaxFunHQ yesterday. We did an extensive interview that you can hear in audio on the podcast in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, though, I've prepared a VIDEO version of the proceedings.
You can watch it above, or download it directly from Google video, although the quality may be slightly compromised. If you'd like the iPod-optimized high quality download version, you can get that too... due to it's relatively large size, I'm distributing it via torrent here on MySpleen. MySpleen requires an invite, so if you need one, just email me with your email address and (for security purposes) your favorite TSOYA moment. You don't have to go into detail, I just don't want randoms asking for invites.
Here's the embed code for the video, if you'd like to add it to your blog, webpage or myspace:
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For those who remember my recent interview with Dr. Oliver Wang, we had a discussion of "Spinning Wheel," an example of a song O-Dub is so intruiged by that he'll buy records blind just to hear a cover of it.
Cool little interview with hip-hop superproducer (now superblogger) Just Blaze on BET's 106 & Park. He introduces the throwback video of the day, Freeway's "What We Do," featuring Beanie Siegel and Jay-Z, maybe the best Rocafella track ever. And the video features Body from the Wire, so that's a good look.
Bonus moment: Just DJs the "beat-of-the-day" game. You know the producer was like, "and then you'll DJ the beat of the day!" Then Just's hand reaches into his crate for "Shook Ones," and the producer continues, "and it's going to be Rihanna!"
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