Sorry for the SEO optimized title. I just want to talk about some sketches I really like, but I have to go hard in order to get those keyword rankings! Sketch comedy is an interesting art form because it can span the gamut (I know most people say "run the") from highly produced pieces like SNL digital shorts to improv film making like Good Neighbor. Here are some sketches I think are awesome:

JAM - Musical Chairs
No dialogue and it's totally unexpected. It's so eerie how it's filmed from some sort of security camera, but it's in color. It's a completely different angle and style of footage from which you've ever watched a sketch. You get sucked in trying to figure out what's going on. They make you work to understand what it is. Eventually you see that it's musical chairs. You notice that the man who is controlling the music sees that his daughter keeps losing, but he won't have it! He removes one of the other kids and puts his own daughter in the chair. She keeps losing over and over. You notice another parent confronting him. Things turn violent. The music is haunting. And the thing that I love most about JAM is that there is no topic which is off limits. Violence towards children is run of the mill. After watching this sketch I was inspired to write my own sketch about a birthday party gone wrong. We had Ben Feldman play the conductor. He actually used to be a jazz musician before his hearing was destroyed after he flew on an airplane while very sick.

WOMEN - The Ultimate Trip
I just watched it again. Oh man. You might guess by now that I like dark comedy. This is a very specific type of sketch where you get to watch it two times because all the phrases take on a different meaning the second time around. I guess The Sixth Sense is the most famous example of that. The guys who make these sketches really take their time with production. I would say that they are probably the best produced videos of an independent sketch group. That creates an interesting dynamic because when you see something very well produced, it's generally on TV where there is such a broad audience that your jokes cannot be too dark. To see something that looks like it could be on TV, but that just ends up making you feel bad is so cool. Also these guys are all popular stand up comedians in Los Angeles. In particular Dave Ross runs an amazing show in LA called Good Heroin.

Tim & Eric - The Universe
I love these guys. A lot of this appears to be either improvised or written in a stream of conscience fashion. I bet that they recorded a ton of footage of them just talking about the universe and then just spliced together the best parts. This footage that I've linked to is the extended version where they added in a bunch of deleted parts that didn't air with the original show. I like how they throw every possible misdirection at you. Sometimes they don't finish their sentences. At one point Tim throws up in his mouth but it happens after the scene is already fading away. At the end they get super creepy with shining the light in the kids bedroom. All in the name of the wonder of the universe. The thing about Tim and Eric is that a lot of times you cannot tell why their sketches are funny. That's a good sign that they are onto something new. Right now I'm still in the phase where I know where the humor in my sketches comes from. My latest sketch was about an emotional bodyguard. It's simple to see how it was written. Usually bodyguards defend from physical harm, but what about emotional harm? With Tim and Eric you can't really distill it down. I'm sure there is a way to quantify it, because humor is a natural function, not a spiritual mystery. But the fact that it's hard to put your finger on it is intriguing.

Laurel & Hardy - Ice Cream Parlour
This sketch will definitely seem dated but I remember laughing at it when I was a kid, so I am including it for sentimental purposes. Also, I am not so old that I was a kid in 1929. My dad used to watch Laurel & Hardy sketches in the 1950s when he was growing up in Bombay, India. Why was he watching sketches from the 1920s during the 1950s? Because in India they love American entertainment, but back then movies didn't travel the globe as quickly as they do today. So Laurel & Hardy was considered state of the art in the 50s in India. Anyway, when my dad came to America his tastes in comedy remained the same and so I was raised on Laurel and Hardy videos. I think some of the jokes are definitely a bit goofy, but the faces, expressions, and mannerisms are still hilarious. The bartender's face in this sketch is so ridiculous. The influence of these guys is incredibly long reaching. Martin Freeman who plays Tim Canterbury on the UK Office said that the expressions that he makes in that series are mostly taken from the faces that Oliver Hardy does!

The Kids in the Hall - The Beard
Let's get back on that dark humor train. To me that's where the best humor lies because death and suffering are so polarizing that when you inject humor into the mix it creates a strange conflict which feels a little wrong. I used to watch a lot of The Kids in the Hall after school when I was in 9th grade. Most of the sketches were weird. If you watch all of their sketches you'll notice that their success rate on big laughs is pretty low. But there was always something that made you keep watching. Their tv show is reminiscent of maybe the last time that network television allowed people to get really weird. But regarding this sketch in particular, it comes back to me every time I shave after having grown out a moderate amount of stubble. That's incredible that they created a sketch that is permanently linked in my head to such a common event.

I hope you enjoyed this list!