Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The 50 Greatest Sketches (Plus Ten More)

Last week, the brainy hedonists at Nerve teamed up with the film fanatics at IFC to co-present their list of the 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches of All Time. All lists like this suffer from the same kinds of problems: overrepresentation of a certain groups or styles, people complaining that they're too mainstream or not mainstream enough, token inclusions, and so on. And while this list isn't flawless, they overcome a lot of potential problems by including sketches from the Golden Age of Television & radio through to the 2000s, and from Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. (obviously they're the 50 greatest English-language sketches). Nearly all of them are brilliant, some of them I'd never seen before, and yes, the sketch you were hoping/fearing would be number one is. And here in the second intermission of the Habs game (GO HABS GO!), I've decided to make a list of my own. Most of them don't have video links, but some do. Just consider these my own addendum to the list, from a guy who likes to think he knows a little about sketch comedy.

The Doc's Top 10 Comedy Sketches NOT on Nerve's/IFC's List:
1. "The Audition", Mr. Show, 1998. This sketch takes absurd to new levels of absurdity. (Video link.)
2. "The Funniest Joke in the World", Monty Python, 1969. My favourite Python sketch of all time. (Text link.)
3. "Shakespearean Baseball Game", Wayne & Shuster, 1958. Wayne and Shuster were completely shut out of the Nerve/IFC list, which is kind of understandable but I've always loved these two guys, and this is one of their most well-known bits. (Link to text & video.)
4. "Adultery", Mike Nichols & Elaine May, 1960. I've already talked about Nichols & May on the blog before, but it bears repeating: these guys were brilliant. (From An Evening With Mike Nichols and Elaine May.)
5. "Scrapbook", The Upright Citizens Brigade, 1999. Initially a fairly pedestrian sketch that quickly detours into the absurd, then disgusting, then metahumourous. UCB brilliance. (From the Season 3 episode "Mafia", no link anywhere I could see.)
6. "Nervous Break(fast) Down" (aka "Whole Lotta Milka"), Kids in the Hall, 1991. I could probably have put any number of other Kids sketches here, but this one really speaks to me because it makes great use of the often-underrated Kevin McDonald. (Text link.)
7. "8-in-1 Super Pan Infomercial", Mr. Show, 1996. From the first show of the second season, this show makes you laugh and then gasp. And then laugh again. (Text link; about 1/3 the way down, under "Thrilling Miracles".)
8. "Ben Hur", SCTV, 1982. The only memory I have of SCTV when I was a kid was John Candy talking in a weird high voice in a toga. And as an adult, it's just as funny for other reasons. (Review link.)
9."Spies One", A Bit of Fry and Laurie, 1989. A great send-up of Cold War spy stories, one of my favourite Fry & Laurie bits. (Text link.)
10. "Cheese Shop", Monty Python, 1972. Palin and Cleese have a few different clerk/customer sketches, and all of them are comedy gold; this one is a classic. (Video link.)

Anyone else have any suggestions? That's what the comments are for, baby!


Allan said...

I can't remember the name of the sketch off the top of my head, but it was from Mr. Show's second season, and it had David and Bob as the greatest protesters in the world. And it also had my favorite transition ever, into "We Make The News".



As well, there are some others I love :

"I'll Marry Your Stupid Ass";


"Shoecourt Shoe Store Job Interview"


But there was so much about that show to love, wasn't there?

Natalie said...

Dave Chapelle's Muppets talking about STDs sketch was one of my all time favorites. I can never stop singing "These are The Daves I Know" from Kids in the Hall. As for The State, "Barn Folk" and "Watch The Monkeys Do It" captured my heart. SNL with Justin Timberlake Cup Of Soup was also priceless. There was so much on Mr. Show that I loved I can't single anything out. I have such a childish sense of humor sometimes.