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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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Grow TFU

Adulting Like You Mean It

Commuters makes its debut on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Jared Warner, Nick Ciavarella, and Tim Dean were once a part of Murderfist, a group of comedy writers, actors, producers, parents, and reluctant adults. Together with InstaMiniSeries’s Nikki Borges, they’re making their IFC Comedy Crib debut with the refreshingly-honest and joyfully-hilarious Commuters. The webseries follows thirtysomethings Harris and Olivia as they brave the waters of true adulthood, and it’s right on point.

Jared, Nick, Nikki and Tim were kind enough to answer a few questions about Commuters for us. Here’s a snippet of that conversation…

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IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Nick: Two 30-somethings leave the Brooklyn life behind, and move to the New Jersey suburbs in a forced attempt to “grow up.” But they soon find out they’ve got a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jared: It’s a show about how f*cking stupid people who think they are smart can be.

IFC: What’s your origin story? When did you all meet and how long have you been working together?

Jared: Nick, Tim, and I were all in the sketch group Murderfist since, what, like 2004? God. Anyway, Tim and Nick left the group to pursue other frivolous things, like children and careers, but we all enjoyed writing together and kept at it. We were always more interested in storytelling than sketch comedy lends itself to, which led to our webseries Jared Posts A Personal. That was a show about being in your 20s and embracing the chaos of being young in the city. Commuters is the counterpoint, i guess. Our director Adam worked at Borders (~THE PAST!!~) with Tim, came out to a Murderfist show once, and we’ve kept him imprisoned ever since.

IFC: What was the genesis of Commuters?

Tim: Jared had an idea for a series about the more realistic, less romantic aspects of being in a serious relationship.  I moved out of the city to the suburbs and Nick got engaged out in LA.   We sort of combined all of those facets and Commuters was the end result.

IFC: How would Harris describe Olivia?

Jared: Olivia is the smartest, coolest, hottest person in the world, and Harris can’t believe he gets to be with her, even though she does overreact to everything and has no chill. Like seriously, ease up. It doesn’t always have to be ‘a thing.’

IFC: How would Olivia describe Harris?

Nikki:  Harris is smart, confident with a dry sense of humor but he’s also kind of a major chicken shit…. Kind of like if Han Solo and Barney Rubble had a baby.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Nikki:  I think this is the most accurate portrayal of what a modern relationship looks like. Expectations for what your life is ‘supposed to look like’ are confusing and often a let down but when you’re married to your best friend, it’s going to be ok because you will always find a way to make each other laugh.

IFC: Is the exciting life of NYC twentysomethings a sweet dream from which we all must awake, or is it a nightmare that we don’t realize is happening until it’s over?

Tim: Now that i’ve spent time living in the suburbs, helping to raise a two year old, y’all city folk have no fucking clue how great you’ve got it.

Nikki: I think of it similar to how I think about college. There’s a time and age for it to be glorious but no one wants to hang out with that 7th year senior. Luckily, NYC is so multifaceted that you can still have an exciting life here but it doesn’t have to be just what the twentysomethings are doing (thank god).

Jared: New York City is a garbage fire.

See the whole season of Commuters right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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C'mon Fellas

A Man Mansplains To Men

Why Baroness von Sketch Show is a must-see.

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Mansplaining is when a man takes it upon himself to explain something to a woman that she already knows. It happens a lot, but it’s not going to happen here. Ladies, go ahead and skip to the end of this post to watch a free episode of IFC’s latest addition, Baroness von Sketch Show.

However, if you’re a man, you might actually benefit from a good mansplanation. So take a knee, lean in, and absorb the following wisdom.

No Dicks

Baroness von Sketch Show is made entirely by women, therefore this show isn’t focused on men. Can you believe it? I know what you’re thinking: how will we know when to laugh if the jokes aren’t viewed through the dusty lens of the patriarchy? Where are the thinly veiled penis jokes? Am I a bad person? In order: you will, nowhere, and yes.

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Huge Balls

Did you know that there’s more to life than poop jokes, sex jokes, body part jokes? I mean, those things are all really good things, natch, and totally edgy. But Baroness von Sketch Show does something even edgier. It holds up a brutal funhouse mirror to our everyday life. This is a bulls**t world we made, fellas.

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Oh Canada

After you watch the Canadian powerhouses of Baroness von Sketch Show and think to yourself “Dear god, this is so real” and “I’ve gotta talk about this,” do yourself a favor and think a-boot your options: Refrain from sharing your sage wisdom with any woman anywhere (believe us, she gets it). Instead, tell a fellow bro and get the mansplaining out of your system while also spreading the word about a great show.

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Dudes, that’s the deal.
Women, start reading again here:


Check out the preview episode of Baroness von Sketch Show and watch the series premiere August 2 on IFC.

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Happy Tears

Binge Don’t Cringe

Catch up on episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia.

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Photo Credit: GIFs via GIPHY

A brain can only take so much.

Every five minutes, all day, every day, ludicrously stressful headlines push our mental limits as we struggle to adapt to a reality that seems increasingly less real. What’s a mind to do when simple denial just isn’t good enough anymore?

Radical suggestion: repeal and replace. And by that we mean take all the bad news that keeps you up at night, press pause, and substitute it with some genuine (not nervous, for a change) laughter. Here are some of the issues on our mind.

Gender Inequality

Feminist bookstore owners by day, still feminist bookstore owners by night, Toni and Candace show the male gaze who’s boss. Learn about their origin story (SPOILER: there’s an epic dance battle) and see what happens when their own brand of empowerment gets out of hand.

Healthcare

From Candace’s heart attack to the rise of the rawvolution, this Portlandia episode proves that healthcare is vital.

Peaceful Protests

Too many online petitions, too little time? Get WOKE with Fred and Carrie when they learn how to protest.

What Could Have Been

Can’t say the name “Clinton” without bursting into tears? Documentary Now!’s masterfully political “The Bunker” sheds a cozy new light on the house that Bill and Hill built. Just pretend you don’t know how the story really ends.

Fake News

A healthy way to break the high-drama news cycle is to switch over to “Dronez”, which has all the thrills of ubiquitous adventure journalism without any of the customary depression.

The more you watch, the better you feel. So get started on past episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia right now at IFC.com and the IFC app.

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