100 Funniest Sketches Of All Time (90 – 81)

Continuing my countdown of 100 of the greatest sketches of all time in no particular order. Every one of these makes me laugh. Let me know what you think in the comments.

In case you missed it: 100 Funniest Sketches of All Time:  #100 – #91  

90. Long Range Golfer – Marty Feldman

Marty Feldman was a favourite of my late father’s and here he proves that golf can be intentionally funny in an old fashioned harmless way (Feldman that is, not my dead father).

89. Complicated Drumming Technique - Fred Armisen

Fred Armisen has sketch comedy in his bones. He’s a veteran of both Saturday Night Live and Portlandia and this standalone sketch is another oddball gem that I love. Like so many great pieces of comedy, you can tell that he has great love and affection for the thing he is taking the piss out of. Which makes sense when you know that he used to be the drummer for the punk/hardcore band Trenchmouth.

88. Deep Thoughts - Jack Handey

You have to love Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey. They are short, simple, hilarious little sketch haikus. There is also a mischievous mean streak to so many of them that tickles me every time.

87. Saying Goodbye - Smack The Pony

Smack the Pony completely breezed by me when it came out. But like a good comedy nerd I discovered them when YouTube came into my life and this sketch is my favourite of theirs. It’s so quirky and uncomfortable, and I love the sharp turn at the end. 

86. Gallon of PCP - Whitest Kids U Know

The Whitest Kids U Know was an American sketch troupe that was recommended to me on several occasions but I was never able to track them down. It wasn’t until years later I saw them and I immediately liked the simple, familiar warmth of the cast playing off each other. This sketch always stood out to me because it somehow manages to to amplify a mundane awkward everyday situation in a preposterous way. The late Trevor  Moore is at his amiable best too. 

85. Black Jeopardy - Saturday Night Live

Sometimes SNL gets it really right. In this sketch Tom Hanks plays against type as a Trump-loving contestant on the recurring Black Jeopardy sketch. It just works. It’s funny and it has something to say, without actually saying it fully out loud. 

84. Martin Brennan & Alan Partridge - Steve Coogan

Steve Coogan has produced some of my favourite comedy creations of all time. I adore The Trip series and Alan Partridge is a hall of fame comedy character. This clip, while not strictly a sketch (it appeared on a recent Alan Partiridge tv series) works so well as a standalone segment. Coogan has long since perfected his Alan Partridge character over the years, but his note perfect portrayal of Irish farmer Martin Brennan is a thing of utter genius. The layers and build in this sketch are a thing to marvel at, and I don’t think I’ve laughed as hard at something in recent times. World class.

83. Ass Pennies - Upright Citizens Brigade

I remember going to the UCB Theater in Manhattan when I lived in New York to see the Upright Citizen’s Brigade perform improv. Imagine my delight when they got a sketch comedy show on Comedy Central. The UCB gang are definitely at their best when they are improvising, so not all of their written sketches were to my taste. That said, this sketch is so absurd and juvenile that it is probably my favourite. Perhaps more impressively, it appears to be done in a single take, which speaks to their skill as comedy performers. 

82. The Music Box - Laurel & Hardy

Laurel & Hardy are comedy heroes of mine. This short film “The Music Box” features one of their most memorable scenarios – delivering a piano up a set of steps. Its a very simple premise that delivers the trademark physical humour and classic banter between these two absolute comedy legends. I dont know how many times I have seen this but I always have time to watch it again. 

81. The Racial Draft - Chappelle's Show

Dave Chappelle is without a doubt the best stand up comedian I have ever seen. So I loved Chappelle’s show and watched it religiously when it aired on Comedy Central. There really wasn’t anyone else on tv with the same keen eye for social commentary. The Racial Draft sketch is a perfect example of that. Edgy, original and very funny. Look out for appearances by hip-hop legend yasiin bey (Mos Def) and a young Bill Burr (with hair!).

The sketch countdown continues…

 

100 Funniest Sketches Of All Time (100 – 91)

Creating a definitive list of the greatest sketches of all time is incredibly difficult (and incredibly fun) given the remarkable wealth of great sketches to choose from. As a longtime comedy fan, and as someone who writes and performs sketch comedy, this was a true labour of love. 

In terms of curation, I have tried to cast a wide net and feature sketches & skits from different countries, different voices, different eras and different points of view. In the end this list is ultimately a collection of the sketches that have made me laugh the loudest over the years. It is in no way exhaustive. It isn’t even necessarily in order. But they are all incredibly funny.

Simply put, these are 100 great sketches that you should watch and they will hopefully make you laugh loudly. With a bit of luck you may even discover some that you’ve never encountered before. And if you have suggestions for other great sketches not included on the list, please let me know in the comments. 

Alrighty, without further ado, here are 100 of the funniest sketches of all time, starting with a batch of 10 sketches, and 10 more to follow each day. Enjoy!

100. Are We The Baddies? – Mitchell & Webb

David Mitchell and Robert Webb starred in Peep Show, one of my favourite sitcoms ever, but they also made some of my favourite comedy sketches. Their series “That Mitchell & Webb Look” was consistently one of the funniest shows on tv. This sketch about an angsty existential German soldier is one that never gets old. Rightly so, it’s close to perfect. And if ever there was a modern indicator of the impact of a sketch, it can be found in the memes and GIFs it has spawned

99. Popcorn - The Muppets

The Muppet Show sits in the pantheon of all time greatest shows for me, and their ability to write funny sketches was really second to none. The Swedish Chef was a character that I personally had a love-hate relationship with due to my Swedish identity, but I have grown to love him, and this sketch is classic Muppets in the way it builds and builds, while always retaining its playful childlike heart. Hurdy gurdy laughs without wordys. 

98. Charlie Murphy & Rick James - Chappelle's Show

Chappelle’s Show is arguably one of the most influential sketch comedy shows of all time. Chappelle cooked up multiple brilliant concepts and a long list memorable characters, none more so than his portrayal of Rick James. The brilliantly funny true story by Charlie Murphy is told in such a charming and authentic way. Chappelle then manages to take that source material and elevate it even further with one of my favourite wild over the top performances. Comedy gold bitch!

97. The Hats - Tommy Cooper

Tommy Cooper was introduced to me by my father and I loved him from day one (I loved Tommy Cooper too, but not the same way). To me there was always something wonderful about the contradictions and contrasts in his stage persona. That loud, big presence with a sweet, soft core. A bumbling, clumsy magician who would suddenly turn around and perform a perfect trick. On the face of it, he was a man who delivered simple old school jokes, but his ‘Hats’ routine was the moment where I embraced his genius as a performer. Not only is the performance funny (and increasingly funnier the more frantic it gets), but I also love the authentic way Cooper laughs at himself as he starts to twist himself up in knots in his increasingly manic delivery. It is such a brilliantly rehearsed piece of lunacy that masquerades as a traditional story, and that is always what Tommy Cooper did best. 

96. Invisible Drum Kit - Rowan Atkinson

Rowan Atkinson is a comedy icon to so many in my generation. I’m a huge fan of Blackadder and Mr Bean, and I even enjoy watching the Johnny English films with my kids. This standalone gem of as sketch is a perfect example of Rowan Atkinson’s incredible physical comedy skills, as well as being a genuinely original comedy concept. He makes a potentially pedestrian idea at least 50% funnier with his gurning and physicality. Drum roll please!

95. Matt Foley - Saturday Night Live

the thing I loved the most about Chris Farley was that he always gave his all in every sketch. He left nothing behind and his iconic Matt Foley character from Saturday Night Live is the embodiment of that. It has that broad, mad caricature of a sketch character, with Farley’s trademark physical comedy, and there is just a hint of something slightly melancholy to it too. This sketch is worth watching for David Spade’s reactions, who is unable to hold back the giggles as Farley amps it up throughout the sketch. 

94. America - A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Hugh Laurie has rightly gone on to become a highly respected actor, but for me he will always be the genius who wrote and performed sketches with Stephen Fry in “A Bit of Fry & Laurie”. Most of the comedy on the show was very clever and really respected the intelligence of their audience. But every now and again they would throw in simple basic gags like this one and I loved them for it. I guess it also helped that Hugh Laurie was a gifted musican too, which only lent itself more to the silliness of the song. 

93. The Room Next Door - Michael Spicer

During lockdown I stumbled across a few very funny comedians online. The very best of the bunch was Michael Spicer with his hilarious series “The Room Next Door” where he plays an increasingly frustrated adviser who communicates live via an earpiece with a public figure speaking to camera. Simple but utterly brilliant. Watch them all, there isn’t a bad one in the bunch.

92. Bomb Disposal - The Fast Show

No list of the greatest sketches would be complete without Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson’s series The Fast Show. I know it is often dismissed as a simple catchphrase based show, which was true to a point, but it also managed to condense storytelling and jokes into very sharp, short, punchy sketches. One of my favourite recurring characters was the “Anyone fancy a pint?” guy, which felt intrinsically English, and always delivered a funny moment of surprise in a sketch that felt unclear where it was headed (in a show that relied on familiarity with the setup). I have seen this sketch countless times and I still always laugh at the end. 

91. How To Speak Dublin - Foil, Arms & Hog

Foil, Arms & Hog are a brilliant Irish sketch troupe who post fresh sketches regularly on their YouTube channel (I also love their quarantine maths class sketch). I was lucky enough to see them up close when they performed at one of my Brownbread Mixtape shows and their chemistry was terrific even then. There is a lovely simplicity to the concept of this sketch (a language school where you learn to speak like a Dubliner) and it is delivered with such sharpness. It’s also great to see Irish comedy stalwart Paul Tylak make an appearance too. His sketches on Nighthawks on Network 2 back in the day were a massive influence on me.

The sketch countdown continues…
 100 Funniest Sketches of All Time: #90 – # 81


Dead Eyes podcast – Lively, entertaining storytelling

I wanted to share another great piece of storytelling I recently encountered. For the past couple of weeks I have been blazing through the podcast series Dead Eyes. The podcast is hosted by comedian and actor Connor Ratliff, who tries to solve “a very stupid mystery” that has haunted him for two decades: why Tom Hanks fired him from a small role in the 2001 HBO mini-series, Band Of Brothers. 

Such a simple, narrow subject gives way to an amazing series of deep & interesting conversations with brilliant artists, creatives and performers (Jon Hamm, D’Arcy Carden, Elijah Wood, Damon Lindelof and many more) about the pitfalls of working in the entertainment industry, and the nature of rejection and ambition. While the central tale of his rejection from Band of Brothers forms the spine of the series, it branches out in unexpected and interesting ways that  And the whole tale is told in such a gentle, unassuming, entertaining way, that you can’t help but be swept along. 

You’ll have to listen to the series yourself to find out if he ever manages to solve the central mystery (or indeed if he gets to talk about it with Tom Hanks himself). Spoiler alert: The journey is as good as the final destination. Highly recommended listening!

Rakattak – 14 guitars, 16 amps, 1 mallet

One of the most creative periods of my life was when I was collaborating on the website artlick.com. No idea was too big or too small to be explored creatively. One such idea was a series of pop up ads for fake products & services. We zeroed in on a series of fake musical instruments and equipment. 

The Rakattak was a wild concept whereby 14 Fender electric guitars are suspended by springs inside 16 amps (on high distortion). Each guitar is in an open tuning to a note on a musical scale (not sure why we didnt design it with 16 guitar to cover two octaves) and an accompanying large mallet to strike each guitar, as if it were a large  vibraphone or xylophone. We imagined an unruly, melodic sound that would make My Bloody Valentine smile quietly. The ads only show the instrument in glimpses, but here is the original design by Dave Bagnall

You may also notice in the ads that the company producing and selling these musical items is called ChickenScratch. This always tickled me. I believe it was one of Dave’s ideas that was thrown out there randomly. And it stuck. 

The accompanying ChickenScratch logo was designed to look like a vinyl record that is stretching (time and space?), as well as sparking thoughts of the belt in a record player, or some similar analog piece of equipment. 

We both had a deep affinity for analog equipment in a world that was becoming increasingly digital (ironically using a digital medium to say it). So, the ChickenScratch tagline is reflective of our love for all things analog – “Analog solutions for a digital world”. In this slice of creativity we managed to achieve that to the fullest.

Plan “Be” – 5 tips about being creative

A few years ago I was lucky enough to become friendly with the brilliant Shane Langan and Nial Conlan, curators & hosts of a wonderful gig in Dublin called the Weekly General Meeting. As an offshoot of the show, they also had a podcast that showcased some of Irelands best established & emerging artists. I was featured as a performer in the very first episode alongside Hozier and Arthur Mathews (Father Ted), and they invited me back to talk about my philosophy of creativity, and ultimately to share my top 5 tips about being successful in your creative endeavors. This is the interview (starts around the 25 minute mark) and if you don’t have the time to listen, here are my original notes for the interview that capture the essence of the conversation, as well as adding some additional thoughts to it :

1. BE A LUNATIC Be a lunatic and shoot for the moon. Commit to it, then figure out how to do it. As JFK said about the actual moonshot. “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills”. In essence I am saying, simply grab a hold of an idea, own it, and do it yourself. Figure out how to do it along the way. The Brownbread Mixtape show that I hosted for a decade, as well as the LINGO spoken word festival I co-founded, were both anchored deeply in that idea. Dream big, shoot for the moon, and use your passion as fuel to make it happen.

It’s important to be a doer instead of a talker. Forget about “some day”, make it today. And surround yourself with people who say YES. Immerse yourself in a community of folks who say “Why not?”. Wild flights of fancy are worth the effort. Especially if you have others around you who want to realise the same ideas. And even if you fail, you will have built strong bonds with other creatives, and will likely learn something from the overall experience.

2. BE INCLUSIVE – A rising tide lifts all boats. I believe that. Especially when it comes to the creative community. When sizing up all angles of a creative undertaking, I believe it is important to always think about how to bring as many people along on the journey as possible. For example, when curating a line-up, I place real importance on the variety of voices represented onstage. And when it comes to the audience, my style of performance and MCing is about breaking down the line between me and the audience. I want to make everyone feel like they are fully part of the experience. The great Irish writer Dermot Bolger paid me the highest compliment by describing my live performances as follows: “… there is the feeling you felt at punk gigs in 1977 of no separation between performer and audience.” For all of my poetry performances, and especially as MC at The Brownbread Mixtape gigs, I was really focused on drawing the audience in, making them feel welcome and valued, hearing their stories, and ultimately making the experience theirs as much as mine. This takes some time and it takes commitment to build that trust. But I always go in trusting the audience. Trusting their intelligence. Trusting their willingness to connect. And the end result is a room full of people feeling connected on another level. And part of that is down to me and the people in the room, and the other part is down to the power of great art. Art is the great connector in the universe.

3. BE COOL Be cool and be kind. To artists. To audience. To everyone. To your work. If you are good to others, they will pay it back, or, even better, they will pay it forward. I didnt have an agenda other than to have a great night filled with great art, and in return we would all feel a bit more happy & connected afterwards. Sounds like common sense, but it isn’t common practice always. Most people are just looking for a nice gig with a welcoming audience. And I know that I can always provide that. Whatever comes after that is a biproduct of the energy you transmit. In a nutshell, my artistic philosophy has always been this – Be good and good things come back to you.

4. BE SPECIFIC  The more specific you are, the more universal it becomes. When it come to creative work and outputs, my greatest successes have usually come when I applied this principle. James Joyce even said much the same thing – “In the particular is contained the universal.” This has held true for both of the award-nominated Fringe plays I wrote (Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About and The Definitive View with Sneachta Ni Mhurchu). For both shows I chose topics and details that were ultra specific to me personally, or to the country I live in, and through that lens I was able to reflect greater truths and moments of catharsis in every place they were performed in (from London to Paris). Because those moments are really microcosms of grander human themes and experiences. If you get real & vulnerable with people and take them to a specific place, they will likely go with you and immerse themselves willingly, because you want to share something. Because at the core of your creation is often a fundamental human truth that resonates deeply and emotionally. And that is the best you can hope for with your art.

5. BE OK WITH WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW In life. In your art. There are so many things competing for your attention and for your time, and, as hard as it is, you must simply accept your circumstances. When I have forced myself to create something, it is rarely as good as the times where I have a fire lit inside me. And this is not an excuse to be lazy or to procrastinate, but rather a grander idea about accepting the demands of your life at any given moment and being fine with how much you can create at that point in time. Be it your family, your job, your commitments – these things may slow you down, but look at them as opportunities to live your life and fill your cup with experiences that can later be translated into your work. Forgive yourself for the days where nothing creative happens, but don’t forget to celebrate the days when you do create something new. And be prepared to fail. Be prepared not to please everyone. Be prepared to go long stretches without creating. But remain a believer in your ability to create. That is being. That is creating.

Playing for Ireland and Sweden

Identity is such a strange thing. I was born in England, grew up in Ireland, and was raised by Irish and Swedish parents. My formative experiences and upbringing was Irish, so I chiefly identify with Ireland as home. But I also hold on to my Swedish identity very strongly, and many of our holiday traditions & rituals are Swedish. It’s even more tricky when you factor in a very significant decade living in America, where I met my wife. She is American. Consequently my children are both Irish and American. We celebrate several American holidays and traditions in my home now too. So, who am I? I am all of these things. But if I had to pick a country to play for in a World Cup…

Photoshop images by Jacob Ford