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SNL Sketch Showdown: Nude Beach vs Bill Brasky

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Welcome to the “Saturday Night Live” Sketch Showdown. Every weekday, an IFC writer will determine the winner of a matchup between two classic “SNL” sketches. You can check out the full bracket here.

Raunchy or Experimental?

Airing at 11:30 on a Saturday night allows “SNL” to push boundaries in a few different ways, which is how it has become an institution of comedy. On the one hand the late hour means that many of the FCC regulators have gone to bed so the sketches are allowed to be raunchier than prime time entertainment. On the other it allows “SNL” to push comedy boundaries with new forms of sketches or avant-garde humor which has created dozens of breakout comedy stars. So what makes the bolder statement of late-night comedy – the raunchy or experimental?

The Matchup

“Nude Beach” made it’s way through Round 1 for its historical significance to the show – there’s no denying that squeezing the word penis 43 times into one sketch and provoking 46,000 complaint letters is impressive. Most importantly, “Nude Beach” embodies the reason people love late night television – dirty humor. What’s the point of staying up past midnight to watch PG-13 sketches? While the concept of “Nude Beach” is pretty simple – penises are great no matter the size – it manages to build momentum on a one-word joke. You know what the punch line is before it comes, but it hits the mark all 43 times. The best part is with Kevin Nealon’s aside towards the end shows that “SNL” is self-aware. “Nude Beach” shows that it’s okay to be ridiculous, raunchy and proud all at the same time.

The last sketch of the night on SNL is usually reserved for their more “experimental” sketches. In 1996 the Will Ferrell and Adam McKay penned “Bill Brasky” filled that last spot and created a new form of SNL sketch. “Bill Brasky” centers around four friends who share increasingly tall tales of their work friend while intermittently admitting awkward secrets that are glazed over before the next Brasky adventure. The sketch had five different variations over the course of three years and one un-aired dress-rehearsal version that appears on Saturday Night Live: The Best of Chris Farley DVD. “Brasky” not only became an SNL staple but also helped solidify Ferrell and McKay as a juggernaut writing duo.

And the Winner Is…

“Bill Brasky.” While “Nude Beach” caused a momentary stir of excitement, “Bill Brasky” became a repeatable treasure. The sign of a truly good sketch is when you can put it in new places and build it out to new levels. “Nude Beach” is funny, and well done for what it is but it’s a one-note number. There’s no way to make a second round of saying “penis” every other word as shocking and funny as the first. “Bill Brasky” not only became a recurring sketch for the next three years, but Tina Fey, Ratchel Dratch and host Scarlett Johansson reincarnated the building-ridiculous-adventure form in their 2006 “Mr. Willoughby” sketch. In a way, the sketch created it’s own style and innovation always triumphs over shock-value. “Bill Brasky” shows that a late night experiment can become an institution, which is the true power of “SNL.”

Did the right sketch win? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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