DID YOU READ

5 weird sketch shows featuring totally unexpected casts

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Thanks to Twitter, forum apsecialthing, and those rare times where you co-habitate the meat-space to with your friends, there’s no shortage of opportunities to talk about comedy. But, eventually, those conversations can become overly sweaty because you are inevitably discussing the same handful of names over and over again — thanks, somewhat sincerely, to the prolificness of Matt Groening, Seth MacFarlane, and, oh, let’s say Jon Benjamin.

But, what if I told you there are old sketch shows out there that are long and buried, but still worth discussing? More specifically, to gush over them with befuddled excitement? Not only about their content, but also by virtue of the driving forces behind them? Well, as the headline for this piece and the last two paragraphs have indicated: I am not lying. I am, in fact, about to embark on a listicle with you, dear reader, letting you know about six bizarre sketch shows and the star power behind them that brought them to fruition.

As in, right now.


1. “Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show”

There are so many kooky-ass things going on with this show, that, somehow, the man behind Dr. Frasier Crane’s involvement in it somehow becomes one of the least strange things about it when you dig a little deeper. First off, this is a Grammer-produced port of an early 21st-century BBC show called, simply, “The Sketch Show.” In some cases, the Fox show (yes, it was on Fox) featured exact recreations of the British show’s sketches, like the “California Dreamin’” one in which the entire cast, basically, sings the wrong lyrics to The Mamas and the Papas’ classic song by the same name. The show was seldom laugh-out-loud funny — it seemed to aim more for just being amusing — and that is what’s the most shocking thing about it, because it was heavily stacked with Mr. Show heavy hitters (Paul F. Tompkins, Mary Lynn Rajskub) and Kaitlin Olson from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Grammer’s on-air involvement rarely exceeded a Laugh-In-style transition, where he’d appear onscreen laughing hysterically and then saying, “Now watch this!” The audience rarely did either.


2. “The Edge”

Another Fox sketch show with another absurdly impressive cast (Jennifer Aniston, Tom Kenny, Wayne Knight) and writing staff (Charlie Kaufman, “The Simpson’s” David Mirkin, who also created this show), “The Edge’s” was headed by Julie Brown. (It also was co-composed by Christopher Tyng, who composes for Futurama.) As in, Julie Brown, the stand-up who was in movies like “Clueless” and “Earth Girls Are Easy” and another short-lived comedy show, “Strip Mall.” What’s particularly noteworthy about this 1992 show is that while it didn’t pioneer it, it did beat “Mr. Show” by a few years in exploring sketches being inter-connected throughout an episode. It didn’t commit as hard as “Mr. Show” did, but, then again: It didn’t go quite as satirical or as silly as “Mr. Show” did, either. Still, it’s pretty weird to see Tom Kenny and Jennifer Aniston in the same room together, at all, and this show is probably the only time that would ever happen.


3. “Doggy Fizzle Televizzle”

Snoop Dogg’s short-lived 2002 to 2003 excursion into sketch comedy — which, for the record, is, as of this writing, is about as long as his excursion into reggae — may have been forgotten, but that’s not because people weren’t watching. And, as is the case with many of these oddball shows, they’re staffed with a lot of ringers. In this case, the show was co-created by Vernon Chatman and John Lee (“Wonder Showzen,” “Louie,” many other shows you’ve likely heard of). The show had more of a variety-style feel to it and a musical guest (think “Chappelle Show”), and the show didn’t take itself too seriously, which is actually why it’s kinda worth tracking down. Some of the better, though fairly dated, bits included a commercial for T-Bro: a more affordable version of TiVo, which is just “a brother who watches TV and tells you what you missed.” The show wasn’t picked up for a second season due to payment negotiation issues.


4. “Exit 57”

I wouldn’t say it’d come exactly as a shock to “The Colbert Report” fans that its host once co-starred in a mid-‘90s Comedy Central sketch show, but “Exit 57” is so rarely discussed or acknowledged, that I’d say it’s also possible that it could. More so that the show happened, not that Colbert, who came up through Second City and, of course, “The Daily Show,” dabbled in sketch. Nevertheless, this show, which also featured frequent Colbert collaborators Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello (both from “Strangers With Candy”), somehow seems to be largely forgotten. It’s worth tracking down if only because it trucks in a strange mix of gee-shucks Americana spliced with screwball satire. Sometimes, as in the video above, it’s not even clear what the show is mocking — more often than not, it’s sketches themselves in general, it seems. What else would you expect from a man who went on to be known as a fictional version of himself by the same name?


5. “Juiced”

Putting it as concisely as possible? “Juiced” is O.J. Simpson’s hidden-camera/prank show. Imagine “Punk’d,” if that show was much, much more morally reprehensible. One “Juiced” “bit” has Simpson trying to sell a White Bronco at a user car lot and tells a potential buyer that the car runs well and that it “…it helped me get away.” Yup. It’s on Netflix, and it should liven up some of those discussions you’re having with all your comedy buddies.

What is your favorite weird sketch show? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Car Notes

Portlandia Keeps Road Rage In Park

Get a lesson in parking etiquette on a new Portlandia.

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It’s the most American form of cause and effect: Park like a monster, receive a passive-aggressive note.

car notes note

This unofficial rule of the road is critical to keeping the great big wheel of car-related Karma in balance. And naturally, Portlandia’s Kath and Dave have elevated it to an awkward, awkward art form in Car Notes, the Portlandia web series presented by Subaru.

If you’ve somehow missed the memo about Car Notes until now, you can catch up on every installment online, on the IFC app, and on demand. You can even have a little taste right here:

If your interest is piqued – great news for you! A special Car Notes sketch makes an appearance in the latest episode of Portlandia, and you can catch up on it now right here.

Watch all-new Portlandia Thursdays at 10P on IFC.

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Naked and Hungry

Two New Ways to Threeway

IFC's Comedy Crib gets sensual in time for Valentine's Day.

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This week, two scandalous new digital series debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib.
Ménage à Trois invites people to participate in a real-life couple’s fantasy boudoir. And The Filling is Mutual follows two saucy chefs who invite comedians to make food inspired by their routines. Each show crosses some major boundaries in sexy and/or delicious ways, and each are impossible to describe in detail without arousing some awkward physical cravings. Which is why it’s best to hear it directly from the minds behind the madness…

Ménage à Trois

According to Diana Kolsky and Murf Meyer, the two extremely versatile constants in the ever-shifting à trois, “MàT is a sensually psychedelic late night variety show exploring matters of hearts, parts and every goddamn thing in between…PS, any nudes will be 100% tasteful.”

This sexy brainchild includes sketches, music, and props that would put Pee-wee’s Playhouse to shame. But how could this fantastical new twist on the vanilla-sex variety show format have come to be?

“We met in a UCB improv class taught by Chris Gethard. It was clear that we both humped to the beat of our own drum; our souls and tongues intermingled at the bar after class, so we dove in head first.”

Sign me up, but promise to go slow. This tricycle is going to need training wheels.

The Filling is Mutual

Comedians Jen Saunderson and Jenny Zigrino became best friends after meeting in the restroom at the Gotham Comedy Club, which explains their super-comfortable dynamic when cooking with their favorite comedians. “We talk about comedy, sex, menses, the obnoxiousness of Christina Aguilera all while eating food that most would push off their New Year’s resolution.”

The hook of cooking food based off of comedy routines is so perfect and so personal. It made us wonder about what dishes Jen & Jenny would pair with some big name comedy staples, like…

Bill Murray?
“Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to… Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to avoid doing any kind of silly Groundhog Day reference.” 

Bridget Everett?
“Cream Balls… Sea Salt encrusted Chocolate Ganache Covered Ice Cream Ball that melt cream when you bite into them.” 

Nick Kroll & John Mulaney? 
“I’d make George and Gil black and white cookies from scratch and just as we open the oven to put the cookie in we’d prank ’em with an obnoxious amount of tuna!!!”

Carrie Brownstein & Fred Armisen? 
“Definitely a raw cacao “safe word” brownie. Cacao!”

Just perfect.

See both new series in their entirety on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Dark Arts

Foot Fetish Jesus And Other Nightmares

Meet the minds behind Comedy Crib's latest series, Quirks and The Mirror.

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The Mirror and Quirks are really, really strange. Deeply disturbing yet hauntingly beautiful. But you really don’t need to read a synopsis of either of the aforementioned shows to understand the exact variety of nightmare-bonkers comedy these shows deliver — that’s why the good lord made links. Instead, take a peek behind the curtain and meet the creators.

Quirks

Let’s start with Kevin Tosi. Kevin does the whole show by himself. That doesn’t mean he’s a loner — Kevin has a day job with actual humans. But that day job is copywriting. So it’s only natural that his suppressed demons would manifest themselves in biting cartoon form, including “Foot Fetish Jesus”, in ways that somehow speak to all of us. If only all copywriters channeled their inner f*ckedupness into such…expressive art.

The Mirror

Onward to the folks at Wham City Comedy.

These guys aren’t your typical comedy collective in that their work is way more left-field and even elevated than your standard digital short. More funny weird than funny ha-ha. They’ve done collaborations with musicians like Beach House, Dan Deacon & Wye Oak, television networks (obviously), and others. Yeah they get paid, but their motivation feels deeper. Darker. Most of them are video artists, and that explains a lot.

See more of The Mirror and Quirks on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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