In an effort to revamp my momentum to write at all, blog, scholarly or otherwise, I decided to briefly review something that really caught my eye, but I have resisted looking at thoroughly until now. Nerve.com and IFC put this together a while ago. It’s a list of the 50 Greatest Sketch Comedy Bits of all time. I haven’t looked at the list beyond numbers 50-41, in an attempt to at least have some revelatory value as I progress forward. My almost certainly unrealistic goal is to do all 50 in 50 days, but I will be happy if I just get off to a good reasonable start.
While I have no experience as a sketch comedy expert, I would consider myself a connoisseur. I started watching SNL with my parents when I was at least a couple years too young to get almost any of the jokes. I was really into the various late 80s early 90s catch phrases, primarily because my dad latched onto them as well. I don’t think he has watched the show, or stayed up till 11:30 on a Saturday, for a decade now, but he was big into the Church Lady, Hans+Franz, etc. By time time Wayne’s World sketches started, my friends Dan and Steve and I would probably watch each week’s episode 4-5 times before the next one debuted. We had entire seasons of the show virtually memorized and I am constantly plagued by lines from a song that I would imagine will not make the countdown, which was a celebrity benefit to explain Watergate (“This is an intriguing turn…”). I will find and embed it at some point along here.
The list can be found here if you’d like to follow along or, for that matter, skip ahead.
It begins with kind of a doozie in the contemporary range, at least one that everyone has heard of. I don’t know how long it was between this sketch’s actual debut and its becoming a Busted-Tees favorite of frat-folk everywhere, but there was definitely some lag.
More Cowbell - video powered by Metacafe
Popularity and appropriation aside, this bit really does showcase Will Ferrell as a physical comic. Don’t get me wrong, prescriptions for more cowbell are funny, but this isn’t even one of Chris Walken’s top 3 roles on the show. Ferrell “exploring the space of the studio,” his shirt riding up, that’s where I still LOL watching the sketch for the 500th time.
Another good mark for this sketch is Jimmy Fallon laughing. If you watched SNL during the Jimmy Fallon years, that sounds pretty stupid on face, since d00d would crack up if he was on camera when someone introduced Tom Petty. But there are times you can tell that the actors are laughing cuz its just funny (i.e. the original Matt Foley sketch) and it seems to me like this is Jimmy Fallon’s legit laughter.
I am not sure this sketch would have made my personal top 50. It would be in consideration, so I’m by no means upset to surprised or upset to see it on the list. I think that placing it here is a good sign for the rest of the list, as I’m sure if Maxim had done the same work this would have been right behind Homey the Clown in the top 5.
SNL-1 Video (#50)