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The Year in Sketch

The 10 Best Comedy Sketches of 2015

Comedy Bang! Bang! and Portlandia offered up some of the year's best sketch comedy.

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In many ways, this was the year of the sketch. Granted, that could be said for 2014, or 2013, or probably most years since SNL and the Internet were invented. Still, with world-class series like Kroll Show and Key & Peele bowing out, and all-timers like David Cross and Bob Odenkirk returning to the form, it was truly a special year in sketch comedy. Here are some of the very best to grace our television and computer screens over the last year.


10. “Rocky Horror Halloween Show,” Comedy Bang! Bang!

The Comedy Bang! Bang! gang pulled out all the stops for their Halloween episode, perfectly spoofing “Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show right down to Brad’s stiff delivery and Kid Cudi‘s spot-on Riff Raff impression. Once you’ve seen Scott in a dress and wig, there’s no going back.


9. “Father Daughter Ad,” Saturday Night Live

There was some controversy surrounding this sketch when SNL aired it earlier this year, but in an era where the show far too often plays it safe, it was nice to see them take a big swing. Taking on the commercialization of war, and the radicalization of recruits by ISIS, this ad parody has something to say, outside of the usual “aren’t commercials weird???” For that alone, it’s worth a look.


8. “Reality House,” Comedy Bang! Bang!

The brilliance of Comedy Bang! Bang! lies in taking the conventions of television, and turning them against themselves. Whether upending what a talk show is supposed to be, or highlighting the absurdity of reality television, CBB knows the best way to destroy TV is from within. Here Scott Aukerman hosts a reality show with no apparent purpose or rules. We watch as the contestants slowly lose their minds trying to understand what the hell is happening. “I’m not here to make friends…am I?”


7. “Know Your Rights,” W/ Bob and David

It’s been 17 years since Mr. Show went off the air, but the influence of David Cross and Bob Odenkirk’s sketch series is still felt today. Combining an indie comedy sensibility with a classic sketch format, the show wove together different bits to tell a larger story. Then, as now, this style keeps any one sketch from going on too long, or making the show feel like a bunch of disjointed jokes without purpose. The duo’s recent Netflix series, W/ Bob and David, fits in perfectly to the Mr. Show legend. It’s edgy, smart and absurd in equal measure, just like its predecessor. Reuniting with fellow Mr. Show alums like Scott Aukerman and Paul F. Tompkins, Cross and Odenkirk show they still know how to wring laughs out of some surprising premises, like in this sketch, where an insufferable troll will do anything to prove that cops can’t be trusted.


6. “Angela Mackenzie-Ng Performs…,” Kroll Show

Kroll Show is another sketch comedy series that ended its run this year, and though it went off the air to less fanfare than Key & Peele, it was no less brilliant. A truly monumental takedown of the media landscape we’re all subjected to, comedian Nick Kroll brilliantly decided to use the various characters he’d invented over the years to tell larger stories that lasted the length of the show’s three season run. No one sketch can completely stand alone without losing a little context, but if one bit has to represent the incredible final season, this spoof of singing competition shows and Canadian customs is as good as any. With Oh Hello now enjoying a sold out, Off-Broadway run, here’s to lots more “Bleep Bloop” in our future.


5. “Football Town Nights,” Inside Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer went from a funny comedian to an icon this year, largely thanks to her sketch show, which reached extraordinary new heights. While the episode “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” was one of the most brilliant things to air on all of television this year, it’s hard to consider the episode-length 12 Angry Men spoof a sketch. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of brilliant sketches that combine Schumer’s unique point of view and brash style. Afraid of nothing, Schumer took on any number of taboo subjects throughout the season, but perhaps none seems as inherently unfunny as rape. And yet, the show found a take that made it both challenging to the audience and drop dead hilarious.


4. “Weirdos Courtroom,” Portlandia

Portlandia is about to enter its sixth season, and shows no signs of slowing down. The Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein series beefed up plot in season five, telling comprehensive stories made up of various sketches. “Weirdos Courtroom,” starring Pee-wee himself Paul Reubens, isn’t just hilarious — it feels like a summation of the show’s offbeat point of view.


3. “Neurotology Music Video,” Saturday Night Live

Hot on the heels of Going Clear, Alex Gibney’s searing portrait of Scientology, SNL took the religion head on, taking aim at both its absurdity and the organization’s more nefarious secrets. A pitch perfect take on the church’s recruitment efforts, the one knock on this sketch may be that its hard to out do the ridiculousness of the church’s own music video.


2. “Negrotown,” Key & Peele

A true tour-de-force for Key & Peele‘s final season, this is by far the most ambitious sketch the show ever attempted. A cutting look at race relations in America, played out against the vibrant backdrop of movie musicals, this sketch lists just about every grievance one could have against the systemic racism in our county. Oh, and it’s funny to boot. No sketch better exemplifies that Key & Peele ended their five-year run as strong as ever.


1. “Last F*ckable day,” Inside Amy Schumer

If any sketch broke the Internet this year, this has to be the one. The combination of identifying a crystal clear comedic concept that we’d never seen before, catching a wave of feminism in comedy and upping the ante, and then employing a truly all-star cast made this, by far, the sketch of the year. In a year when Amy Schumer could do no wrong, this one took the cake.

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Very NSFW

The Brockmire Premiere Is All Truth

Watch The First Episode of Brockmire Right Now for Free

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At long last, the Brockmire pre-premiere has arrived. Which means you can watch it right now—on IFC.com, at Funny Or Die, on IFC’s Apple TV and mobile apps, on Youtube, on Facebook, on the AMC apps, and right here. So grab some headphones and get watching.

No seriously, get headphones.

Because whether he’s giving a play-by-play or ruminating on the world around him, Jim Brockmire calls it like he sees it. And how he sees it is very NSFW. His take on life is actually quite refreshing, even to the point of being profoundly sage. For proof just look at these pearls of unconventional wisdom from the premiere…

Brockmire On The Internet

“If I need porn I just buy a nudie mag, like my father and his father before him.”

Brockmire On Sex-Ed

“Kids, a strap-on is a belt with d— on it that mommies use to f— daddies.”
Brockmire-Strap-On

Brockmire On The Perfect High

“Somewhere between 10 cups of coffee and very low-grade cocaine.”
Brockmire-Perfect-High

Brockmire On The Tardiness of Spring

“Old man winter’s reaching his hand inside your coat to give that thing one more squeeze.”

Brockmire On Keeping Perspective

“I thought I hit rock bottom in a handicap restroom in Bangkok where a Thai lady-boy snorted crank off my johnson while a sunburnt German watched us on the toilet”
Brockmire-grain-salt

Brockmire On Humanity

“If you want to look directly into the gaping maw of oblivion, don’t look up to the heavens. Just look in the mirror.”
Jules-never-seen

See these nuggets and more in the first episode of Brockmire, and see the whole season beginning April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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