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The Ten?

What would go on your list of the top ten comedy sketches of all time? Here’s a well-informed list from public radio’s The Sound of Young America. I’d be tempted to include at least four of these; “Clayton Bigsby”, “Ass Pennies”, and “Pre-Taped Call-In Show” are very strong representatives of their series’ particular genius. It would be a major challenge trying to decide which SNL stuff to include: there are the popular favourites like Ferrell’s Neil Diamond, “White Like Eddie,” and the original Matt Foley sketch, but then we’ve probably all got more obscure choices—in my case stuff like the Energy Brothers, “Jimmy Tango’s Fat Busters,” or Philip the Hyper-Hypo. I’m not sure anything’s ever made me laugh as hard as seeing “Cluckin’ Chicken” for the first time. SCTV creates ontological issues surrounding the definition of a “sketch” but there’s a ton of stuff I’d want to include. And you could get through the whole exercise and realize that, like the TSOYA list, you’d totally bypassed The State or A Bit of Fry and Laurie or anything with Steve Coogan…


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Comments (25)


The Fire Marshall Bill sketch staring Jim Carey on In Living Colour was very funny. I'm also partial to Toonces the Driving Cat, especially the Tooncinator episode. But Bill Brasky was the best for its absurdity and quotability.

Schmitz Gay Beer. The only remaining question is slots 2-10....


No surprise that The Frantics were left out -- plenty of their bits were just lame -- but "I Shit A Piece Of Pie" is the funniest comedy sketch ever.

Eight suggestions...

Goon Show - Insp. Neddy Seagoon booking for South America in "The Affair of the Lone Banana"*
Monty Python - Self-Defense Against Fresh Fruit
Kids In The Hall - Fine Ham Abounds
The Frantics - Idiot Tax
Monty Python - Fish Licence/Eric The Half Bee/New Zealand vs. Deby Council XI
Kids In The Hall - Chicken Lady returns to her roots
Radio Free Vestibule - Phillipa and Denina
Bit of Fry and Laurie - Sound Name ("...P-P-L-hyphen-E")

* The funniest line in the history of humanity is Peter Sellers (as Henry Crun) saying "it's no good, I'd better get a pencil and write all this down." I can't even type it without dissolving into gales of hopeless laughter.

And if a scene from an episodic, sketch-driven movie can be included, surely the "Stonehenge" arc in Spinal Tap is up there with the very best.

Agreed that "Schmitt's Gay" and "I Shit A Piece of Pie" are absolutely brilliant.


C'mon -- where's Mr. Show's Lie Detector?

Half Canadian:

I'm quite partial to The Frantics' "Teen buying car insurance", though I'd agree that the ending is anti-climatic.
Must be the demographer in me.

This is fantastic. Great post. Some suggestions of my own (not all specific sketches, but recurring ones):

The Playa Haters Ball-Chappelle Show
The Niggar Family-Chappelle Show
Samuel Jackson Beer-Chappelle Show
The High School Chess Coach-SNL
Nick The Lounge Singer (Star Wars)-SNL
Willie & Frankie (Billy Crystal and Chris Guest)-SNL
Bell Biv Devoe Dance Party-SNL
Barry Gibb Talk Show-SNL
Hardball with Sidney Poitier-SNL
Whole Lotta Milka-Kids in the Hall
Philosopher Soccer Game-Monty Python
Bob and Doug-SCTV
Ms. Swan goes to the DMV-MadTV

There was also a great sketch I saw on the CBC once, but I can't remember what show it was. It had Jesus in high school, and he keeps getting in trouble (he's picked last in the soccer game, he screws up his carpentry project, etc). Just hilarious.

I'm with Garnet, either Lie Detector or God-as-Robert-Evans from Mr. Show should be on there.

God-as-Robert-Evans is one of the few Mr. Show sketches I am tempted to fast-forward through, but "Lie Detector" is the best single suggestion in this comment thread. I would also endorse Andy's "International Philosophy" suggestion--no belly laughs there but the construction is perfect.

If I have to take a Frantics sketch, the ten-year-old in me votes for Will Reading (Boot to the Head). I watched that on YouTube recently and it turns out I still crack up when the cat gets blasted.

"Disaster, and sacred religious rituals, mix under the brooding peaks of Mt. Krasnydang, in Yugoslavia!"

Just about anything from NatLamp's Gold Turkey/Radio Hour.

"Headwound Harry" -- SNL.

Richard Belzer's Presidential Address in "The Groove Tube" dropped me to my knees in about five seconds flat. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgTzlXdviWk)

I dunno, man. This is really hard.


"You're the Betty Crocker of the bathroom!"

Come on, you know I'm right.

Dudley Morris:

There was a hilarious and bizarre pre-filmed segment on SNL (early-mid '80s) that featured Jim Belushi as an aggressive ice cream store clerk who freaks out on and ultimately pulls a gun on an indecisive customer; I'd nominate that one on its whacked-out weirdness value alone.

A couple of others:

MADTv: "Midnight Golfer" sketch
Python: the "Buying a Mattress" sketch

Matt, you have my back on the High School Chess Coach, right? That is just a beauty. Best work Jim Belushi ever did, other than Red Heat, of course.

no belly laughs there but the construction is perfect.

"Beckenbauer obviously a bit of a surprise there" kills with the philosophy students. So too does, "and Marx is claiming that it was offside."

Here's the clip.

Huh, I didn't realize God-as-Robert-Evans was so reviled, I thought it was great (but I also enjoyed the Jerky Boys first tape back when I was 14, so... yeah).

How about "blow up the moon" or "novelty monster party song writer actually a necrophiliac?"

I'm surprised TSOYA favourite "Phone Call to the 14th Century" wasn't included.



It probably doesn't qualify, but there's about 4 minutes of "The Germans" from Fawlty Towers where John Cleese reaches another dimension ("Yes you did, you invaded Poland!").

Also, Martin Short's first Ed Grimley skit on SNL when he was Ed Grimley in search of Pat Sajak. His leap from the middle of the room into a chair seemingly under control was stunning.

Mike w:

It probably doesn't qualify, but there's about 4 minutes of "The Germans" from Fawlty Towers where John Cleese reaches another dimension ("Yes you did, you invaded Poland!").

Agreed. And I pretty much bow to anything that's Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge.

I watch Alan Partridge's Countdown to the World Cup from The Day Today at least 20 times a year.

I have to admit that my knowledge of Coogan is limited to "Saxondale" and "Night at the Museum," which I watched with my son. I've just about fallen off my couch watching Saxondale, so any help with urls for other clips would be helpful.


If the transcript won't do, here's the beloved Cluckin' Chicken:


I want an SNL "Best of Smigel" DVD to exist, but how long would it have to be?

Unfortunately, this version omits the audible cries of outrage and horror from the audience that accompanied the original airing.

Mont D. Law:

1 Bob Newhart - The “Grace L. Ferguson Airline And Screen Door Company.” sketch

2 Peter Cook and Dudley Moore - One leg to few.

3 Pythons - Yorkshire men

Mike W:

I watch Alan Partridge's Countdown to the World Cup from The Day Today at least 20 times a year.

You too, eh?

"That's liquid football!" has become a phrase around work, where I've made everyone watch Alan Partridge.


Incidentally, Smigel's TV Funhouse series is lurking in bits and pieces on Comedy Central's website. Little seen north of the border but delightful, especially the mnemonics tips.

Miles Jenkins:

Can't believe no one has mentioned Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. The perfect measure of absurdity. And with Phil Hartman, the Sultan of Smarm, making it even more perfect.



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