100 Funniest Sketches of All Time (10 – 1)

10. More Cowbell – Saturday Night Live

More Cowbell! One of the best Saturday Night Live sketches of all time, and in the hall of fame for best sketches ever. I love Walken being his mad genius best version of Walken here . Will Ferrell is a bundle of funny bones and is gutbustingly funny. And Jimmy Fallon barely keeping it together is fantastic. Some sketches put their pants on one leg at a time, but this one makes a gold record. 

9. The Joke: The Musical - Mr. Show

What do you get if you turn a dirty joke into a musical. Pure genius is what you get from Mr. Show. A perfect example of the inventiveness and madness of their wonderful comedy minds. This one always makes me laugh. 

8. Horse Racing Commentary - The Day Today

There is something so perfect about Steve Coogan’s commentary in this sketch, but it is the writing that delivers so perfectly. The names of the horses still make me roar with laughter no matter how many times I hear them. Christ’s Chin!!

7. Apocalypse - Key & Peele

The apocalypse can’t get any worse can it? It can. This sketch has a brilliant cinematic feel, terrific atmosphere, and a silly, surprising twist that takes the sketch to another level. Easily my favourite Key & Peele sketch out of the many works of genius they have given us. 

6. Full Like A Kastrull - Veckans Nyheter

Henrik Schyffert is a comedy hero of mine. Growing up half-Swedish I sought out comedy from Sweden, and Schyffert was consistently involved in the stuff that made me laugh. His prank phone call show “Hassan” was inspired and this mish-mash hybrid of English and Swedish felt like it was made just for me. Perhaps difficult for a non-Swede to enjoy fully but still worth watching for his incredible linguistic trickery. Ultimately, I love his version of biting social commentary with bonkers delivery. Fun fact: Schyffert’s band Whale had a number one song with Hobo Humpin Slumpin Babe and it was all over MTV back in the day. 

5. History Today - Newman & Baddiel

At the time this was surely the most quoted sketch in Engand and Ireland amongst students. It still holds up as one of the all time greats for me. Such a nice simple idea done really well. Two eminent history professors descend into schoolboy levels of stupid slagging. That’s you that is.

4. RAF Pilots - Armstrong & Miller

Two RAF World War II pilots babble like angsty slang-ridden teenagers. It became a recurring sketch on the show and every one of them has little gems to marvel at. But this one is my favourite, innit though?

3. James Brown Hot Tub Party - Saturday Night Live

Eddie Murphy was indisputably the funniest person on television during his stretch on Saturday Night Live. Not only do I love the ridiculous premise for this sketch, but I love how Eddie Murphy commits so fully to the bit and does a brilliant impression of James Brown. Should I get in the hot tub? YEAH

2. No Direction, Period - The Post Show

The Post Show was an online based sketch comedy team from New York and this sketch spoofing Bob Dylan’s musical output has long been a standard bearer for parody-style sketches for me. Who knew that this mock Bob Dylan documentary was something we never knew we needed. I would genuinely love to hear Bob Dylan sing some of these pop songs. I guess, thanks to this sketch, we already have.

1. Prince - Big Train

What’s the point in trying to explain one of the most brilliant surreal sketches ever written. Just watch it and be thankful you’re not a jockey. So absurd, so good. 

The sketch countdown is done!

100 Funniest Sketches of All Time (20 – 11)

20. GloboChem – Mr. Show

Mr. Show is probably my favourite sketch show of all time. Not only do I love Bob Odenkirk (Saul Goodman!) and David Cross as performers, but their consistently clever writing on this show never failed to bowl me over. What really made the writing stand out when I saw Mr. Show first (and it is still impressive) is the way they were able to weave their sketches so seamlessly and inventively together, from live onstage segments segueing into filmed sequences, tumbling through set changes and other cool crafty set ups that took the viewer on a continuous journey from beginning to end. And like all great comedic artists, as well as doing their primary job of being insanely funny, they really had something to say. 

19. Dangerous Drugs - Ali G

Ali G is a thing of genius. Put a guy playing the biggest idiot in a room with real people, and see how it plays out. This police drugs segment has always been my favourite, not least because of the brilliant quips (Sacha Baron Cohen uttering “Thank you”towards the end is pure gold), but also the patience of this policeman is a thing to behold. For a while, there really was nothing as odd and funny as Ali G on television, and this is still one of his peak moments, as it doesnt trade in being mean like some of his later skits. In other words, “is there any negative effects?”

18. Die Hard 12 - The Ben Stiller Show

The Ben Stiller Show famously had one of the most amazing writers room ever on a sketch show and it shows in the quality of this fantastic Die Hard parody. I love Stiller’s impression of Bruce Willis/John McClane (his facial expressions alone are brilliantly observed), and the preposterous escalating stakes of the sketch in the supermarket are done so well that it almost feels plausible as a sequel. Yabba dabba doo yabba dabba deebee dabba! 

17. World Cup Countdown - Alan Partridge/The Day Today

Alan Partridge is such a classic comedy creation and this sports round-up for the football World Cup was a perfect way to showcase his special brand of idiocy. I love the energetic banality (and clear lack of understanding) in his football commentary, and in a strange way doesn’t feel too out of sync with real commentary language – “EAT MY GOAL! The goalie has football pie all over his face”

16. Samuel L. Jackson Beer - Chappelle's Show

A few dodgy jokes aside, this parody of a Samuel Adams beer commercial was such a great concept. The aggressive over-the-top Samuel L. Jackson energy is such a brilliant contrast to an anaemic standard ad for a mass produced beer. 

15. Staring Final - Big Train

Big Train had some really great sketches and this animated one always tickled me. Expert commentators for a ridiculous event like the World Championship Stare-Out Contest is one of those ideas I wish I had thought of myself. I particularly love the onscreen statistics that flash up and the StareCam is a touch of brilliance. 

14. Mighty Mouse - Andy Kaufman (SNL)

Andy Kaufman is a comedy hero. Unafraid of alienating his audience with his uniquely odd sense of humour is a thing I am really drawn to, probably because I would never truly attempt it myself. This is a lovely slice of madness from Kaufman on the very first episode of Saturday Night Live. He could have done anything with this showcase moment, and he chose to do this. Love it. Here he comes to save the day!

13. Numberwang - Mitchell & Webb

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJDu5D_IXbc

Numberwang is easily my favourite gameshow. Rules that make no sense, overly enthusiastic presenter, and magical details like “rotate the board” Mitchell & Webb are easily in the top three of my favourite comedy sketch shows. Of course, that’s Numberwang!

12. The 4 Yorkshiremen - Monty Python

A true classic and one of my all time favourites. Originally written for “At Last the 1948 Show” and later popularised by Monty Python, it is so simple but so funny. In my day they didnt write sketches like this. 

11. Farming - Mitchell & Webb

This Mitchel & Webb sketch still makes me laugh out loud every time. There’s something so intangibly funny in David Mitchell’s performance that makes it even funnier than it has any right to be. “It’s actually made of chicken!”

The sketch countdown continues tomorrow…

100 Funniest Sketches of All Time (60 – 51)

My carefully curated list of the 100 funniest sketches of all time continues. Today’s selection is a mix of classics and lesser known gems. Here we go from 60 to 51.

In case you missed it: 

60. Put a Bird On It – Portlandia

Portlandia had a cult following for its run. I was a fan of Fred Armisen’s comedy and I adore Carrie Brownstein’s band Sleater Kinney, so I had high hopes for it, but I never totally connected with the show. For some reason I felt it was trying a little bit too hard or something. That said, this sketch was one that stuck out. In particular I love the moment in the sketch when an actual bird arrives on the scene. The lesson here is clearly, if in doubt, put a bird on it. 

59. The Valets Love Liam Neesons - Key & Peele

A list of sketches like this could almost include all of Key & Peele’s sketches. They are that good. My favourite recurring characters were the valets and the enthusiastic nutty conversations they had. A lot of it is in the ridiculous over-the-top energy of it, but also the decision to always have a crazy ending to close them out. Ending a sketch is such a tricky thing sometimes and they always decided to go big, which felt right, especially because it became something I would eagerly anticipate every time one of the valet sketches appeared on the show. This particular sketch has now entered the lexicon in my household, to the point where we refer to the actors solely now as Liam Neesons and Bruce Willy. 

58. Last F**kable Day - Inside Amy Schumer

I never got a chance to watch Inside Amy Schumer when it was on, but I was sold as soon as I was sent a link to this star-studded sketch featuring entertainment icons Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Patricia Arquette. I loved her clever take on the unreasonable demands on women in the entertainment industry, while also sticking the landing on a seriously funny sketch. 

57. History of Punk - Saturday Night Live

Fred Armisen appears on this list once again, this time with one of his Saturday Night Live sketches that parodies punk era Britain brilliantly (with a lovely twist). Armisen’s affinity for the punk scene just beams out from the screen. You can’t help but smile seeing him and Bill Hader having bucketloads of fun. It’s not surprising that the two of them went on to expand this documentary-style sketch into short film length parodies on the superb Documentary Now series.  If you haven’t seen Documentary Now, you are missing out on a comedy masterclass down to every detail. 

56. Focus Group - I Think You Should Leave

I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson is a uniquely bonkers brand of sketch comedy. Not for everyone, but I absolutely love it. There’s a surreal vibe to a lot of them, but often done very subtly. One of the things that I particularly like is the unpredictability of the sketches and this one is a lovely example. 

55. Daves I Know - Kids In The Hall

Growing up in Ireland I wasn’t exposed to the Canadian cult favourites Kids In The Hall, so I came to their stuff later when I lived in America. But in a pre-YouTube world their stuff was hard to find, so I eventually got to catch up via d’internet. Like most sketch shows it was a bit hit and miss, but they were never better than this ridiculous song. If your name is Dave, you’re really gonna love it.

54. Dead Parrot - Monty Python's Flying Circus

This sketch is usually number one on most lists but this list is not in order of funniness, so I have popped it in here at the midway point to savour. It’s probably true to say that without Monty Python’s Flying Circus there really wouldn’t be a lot of the other sketches on this list. They were bright, brilliant, bonkers skits that influenced generations of comedy writers 7 performers, myself included. There is nothing I can say about this sketch that hasn’t already been said, other than the fact that it will likely leave you pining for the fjords. 

53. D**k In A Box - Saturday Night Live

Andy Samberg is a funny man (My son adores the sitcom Brooklyn 99 and we recently bonded over the ridiculous movie Hot Rod). Justin Timberlake also clearly has a sense of humour. Together they created the most foul-mouthed, Christmassy boyband ballad of all time. Juvenile humour never sounded as good.  

52. Nick The Lounge Singer - Saturday Night Live

I love the loose, freewheeling energy to this sketch. It feels like these early days of Saturday Night Live were a little less tightly scripted and they sometimes just set up a premise and let funny people do funny things. In fairness, a sketch with a young Bill Murray as a lounge singer at a ski lodge is a great set up (doesnt hurt to throw in Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, along with Paul Shaeffer on piano). It meanders a bit but Bill Murray is committed to the bit and he has that inimitable glint in his eye that I’ve always loved. 

51. Spoonie Luv's Personal Ad - Crank Yankers

Crank Yankers was the brainchild of Jimmy Kimmel & Adam Carolla and featured some brilliant comedians doing prank phone calls. Those calls where then reenacted onscreen using puppets, which made them really unique in look and feel. Tracy Morgan’s calls (as the character Spoonie Luv) were always my favourite because they veered into his particular brand of madness, and the reactions from the other end of the phone were priceless. 

The sketch countdown continues… 

100 Funniest Sketches of All Time #50 – #41 


100 Funniest Sketches Of All Time (70 – 61)

The list of the funniest sketches of all time continues today with a snappy selection of the sublime to the ridiculous.Here are the sketches from 70 to 61…

In case you missed it: 

70. Schweddy Balls – Saturday Night Live

The Schweddy Balls sketch is essentially a dick joke filtered via a pitch perfect parody of a National Public Radio show. But juvenile humour has its place on a list like this too. Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon (my favourite cast member at the time on SNL) play it so wonderfully straight. There is a lovely moment near the end where Molly Shannon nearly breaks but keeps it together. Juvenile, yes. Silly, yes. Funny, hell yeah. 

69. Cute House - The Dress Up Gang

Sometimes great comedy is about unexpected contrasts. This sketch does this with a simple conceit and then delivers that one-note gag over and over. The sketch is maybe a bit too long but I’m a total sucker for this kind of humour that gets funnier through repetition. It’s so fuckin’ cute. 

68. Sharing a Lyft - Conan O'Brien, Ice Cube & Kevin Hart

Conan O’Brien is a genius and easily my favourite late night host. For whatever reason I adore his particular brand of foolishness, whether it is his writing on The Simpsons & SNL or his many skits & segments on his late night shows. This particular segment from his show is so simple and so funny. Send a camera crew out to follow Conan, Ice Cube and Kevin Hart for the day driving around LA and see what happens. It’s no surprise that they all have fantastic chemistry and banter, but it is Conan, who keeps playing up his idiot persona, that serves up genuine laugh out loud moments. This video truly never fails to make me smile. 

67. Falconhoof - Limmy's Show

Limmy’s Show from Kevin Limond is an absolutely bonkers sketch show.  Limmy feels truly unique, and his observational eye feels uniquely Scottish. This Falconhoof sketch lampoons a late night tv phone-in game and gets the details beautifully right, as well as adding a ridiculously over the top Scottish twist to it. I properly roared with laughter the first time I saw it. One of a kind, although thankfully there’s actually more than one Falconhoof sketch.

66. Voice Recognition Lift - Burnistoun

Sticking with all things Scottish. This is such a clever sketch about what happens when modern technology meets an impenetrable Scottish accent. Simple and superbly done. Top drawer comedy.

65. Star Trek: The Wrath of Farrakhan - In Living Color

In Living Color was an amazing, influential sketch show with an embarrassment of riches in the cast. This sketch is a great example of the show’s ability to juxtapose popular culture with social commentary, while still being preposterously over the top and silly at the same time. Carrey’s gurning impression of William Shatner is a thing to behold, and Damon Wayans’ Louis Farrakhan is the perfect deadpan complement. It’s the kind of sketch where you imagine they came up with the name and it almost writes itself after that. 

64. Going For An English - Goodness Gracious Me

I never saw Goodness Gracious Me when it aired, but I’ve been a fan of the performers on different shows they have done. This is a clever little sketch that manages to lampoon British late night culture with perfect precision. How can you not love a sketch with the line: “What’s the blandest thing on the menu?

63. Who's On First - Abbott & Costello

Old school classic wordplay from Abbott & Costello. Still one of the most well known comedy routines of all time and with good reason. Yet another entry on the list that relies on crisp, clever writing as its foundation. Who’s on first? Indeed.

62. Bradley Cooper: Between Two Ferns - Zach Galifianakis

Between Two Ferns is a thing of slow, gentle, quirky genius. Zach Galifiianakis has expert delivery. Bradley Cooper plays along really well. Deliberately awkward as hell. And the way this escalates is terrific. And that final cut to the credits is comedy timing of the highest order.

61. Night Before Christmas - Drunk History

If you havent watched Drunk History yet, do yourself a favour. The conceit is super simple. Get the host drunk and ask them to tell a story as best they can. Then get super famous actors to re-enact the drunken storytelling verbatim. This Christmas Special featuring some A-list actors, and it really shouldn’t work but it really does because of the po-faced delivery. 

The sketch countdown continues..

100 Funniest Sketches of All Time #60 – #51

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…