Comedy videos are fun. So are lists! Look at what a great start we’re off to already. When Paste first assigned me the responsibility of putting this list together, I was like “oh yeah bro, no problem, I love comedy videos, I’ll put those bad boys in a list for you right after I pound these here beers.” And then a short while later, as I stared into the vastness of the Internet, I began to realize it might be trickier than I first imagined. I stared out my window, thinking, how can you rank something which is so plentiful and so subjective? It’s like ranking grains of sand… Well, anyway, a few beers later, I put this list together. With that in mind, here are my rankings for the best comedy videos of the year. And this is only stuff that debuted on the internet and didn’t show up on TV, so no clips from late-night shows or Inside Amy Schumer or anything like that.
Created by Zoë Klar, Kira Hesser and Michelle Alexis Newman
This delightful webseries explores “the inane shit we find on the Internet” giving a funny visual form to the idiots who both ask and answer questions on Yahoo Answers. I especially like this video and the last shot of Klar as God walking down the street with Hesser as a nun, providing the kind of support that only God can really do. They’ve made 9 videos in total for this series so far and each one is about :30 seconds, so you should go ahead and enjoy the next few minutes of your life by watching all of them.
Created by Megan Rosati
Break ups are never fun at the time, but Megan Rosati’s webseries about failed relationships finds a nice balance between comedy and sadness in exploring the universal subject. In this video, Rosati and Anna Akana compare their experiences with “Tinder Todd” and “boyfriend Todd” to discover a universal truth about life: never trust a Todd. I especially like the stylish production of these videos and the performances are great. You’d be wise to watch the whole series.
Created by Tony is Back!
Seems like they don’t make them anymore, but the old commercials for Frosted Flakes clearly left an impression on Finnish artist Jani Leinonen, who created this pitch-black dark parody. Rather than helping teens with minor problems, in this webseries, Tony the Tiger is now in a much bleaker, more cynical world. The series as a whole is uneven and sometimes goes overboard in the darkness, but it’s a funny concept and the execution is impressive, particularly the Tony animation. I liked this video the best of them, in which Tony counsels a nervous suicide bomber but, as that description makes clear, these videos are definitely not for everyone’s tastes.
Created by Daniel Clark, Megan Maile Green, Joe Kwaczala, Joe McAdam, and Chris Stephens
Commissioned by IFC’s Comedy Crib, this is my favorite video from a webseries I thoroughly enjoyed watching this year. The premise is beautifully stupid — a group of friends are waiting in the car for their pal Dave to come out and join them. In this video, the friends Joe, Megan, Chris, and McAdam pass the time by playing a dumb game and they all say dumb things. What more can I say? Dumb is good. If Gordon Gekko could talk about Internet videos, he would tell you “dumb is good.” For me, I’ll just say these videos are 10/10, A+++, would watch again.
Created by The Onion
Leave it to The Onion to find the best parody of VICE with this webseries. Portrayed here, not inaccurately, as an organization of self-important millennial doofuses, the EDGE team sends reporter Nic Moss (played by comedian Devin Field) to investigate a big hole in the ground. Where did it come from, why is it there? As we’ve come to expect from The Onion they find the perfect balance between sharp satire and a sense of fun goofiness and I think that’s best on display in this video. Give it a watch.
Created by Anna Seregina
Poking fun at the bizarre world of ASMR videos (short for autonomous sensory meridian response) is an inspired choice for a comedy video. ASMR videos are an odd community of people who love hearing very specific, soothing sounds. They’re weird. Here, comedian Anna Seregina puts us into a kind of delightful nightmare-scape, the dark living room and VHS-style recording giving us a sense of the illicit as she loudly chews potato chips for our auditory pleasure. Credit to Anna for finding so many funny ways to eat the chips (“I like to start with a little crunch & work my way to a bigger crunch”) while also tossing out hilariously bizarre one-liners to make this video as funny as it is unique.
Created by WOMEN Comedy
Comedians Pat Bishop, Dave Ross, Jake Weisman, and Allen Strickland Williams are the fellas in WOMEN and they make lots of great videos, sometimes for IFC, like this one, a parody of “Unsolved Mysteries” that starts stupid and escalates into impressive levels of stupidity. I mean, you could probably make a successful sketch out of just mocking the style of those dumb true crime shows — and the editing coupled with Dave Ross’ host impression is spot-on — but what’s cool about what WOMEN does is they push it into this place of such absurd, insane logic that’s just so beautifully stupid. Anyway, just watch it.
Created by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Before The Late Show with Stephen Colbert premiered in September, the writers and digital team produced a few really great pieces of the ol’ internet content in the months before, like a text-based Choose Your Own Adventure and this hilarious “Lunch with Stephen” series. The idea is that every day for a week you, the viewer, are sitting down with Stephen for lunch to get to know him better, but things quickly go off the rails when you’re involved in an extortion and revenge plot. What I especially love about this video series is the simplicity in the production, it’s just Colbert addressing camera from a cubicle desk with a few easy props, leaving it up to impeccable joke writing and Colbert’s massive talent to get the big laughs, and they do.
Created by Matt Ingebretson
Small talk is awkward and there’s no worse place for it than grown-up parties. Comedian Matt Ingebretson zeroes in on this and adds a Black Mirror-esque twist by adding an intimidatingly authoritative robotic voice to the mix, guiding the party-goers through each step of their social rituals that suddenly seem bizarre when placed in this new context. Ingebretson is joined by a cast of comedians, Richard Bain, Jen D’Angelo, Josh Fadem, Esther Povitsky, Anna Seregina, and Jake Weisman, all of whom find moments to shine with great reaction shots. Credit to KR Blair-Henderson for the gorgeous cinematography and editing to make this into an impressively stylish production.
Created by Above Average
There really is no upper limit for the amount of Kate McKinnon goofery I want in my life, and I think this series from Above Average is so far the best showcase for said goofery. In this series, McKinnon is the star of a show about notary publics who take their job very seriously and this specific video pairs the notaries with SNL co-star Aidy Bryant, who needs her paperwork stamped to adopt 53 orphans, but she only brought one form of identification. It’s all very silly, and although the jokes are expertly written and amazing, they’re all kind of just an excuse for the most absurd and over-the-top line readings you’ve ever heard, transforming every other word into a punchline.
Created by Brent Weinbach
What if Facebook existed in the ‘90s? Sounds like a great premise for a sketch and it is, but it’s elevated even further by comedian Brent Weinbach’s commitment to getting the details right. Everything about the video, from the VHS distortion to the awkward voice-over, staging, and line-reading is exactly like those old television commercials for America Online, and I love the specific jokes about how “The Facebook” would work in the world of dial-up modems (you’d need to call the hotline operator to order photos you like, for instance). Credit to comedians Andrew Michaan, Zed Cutsinger, and Trevor Ames who co-wrote the script and provided graphics for the production. I’d be remiss to not also mention Weinbach created one of my all-time favorite web videos a few years ago, Gangster Party Line. If you haven’t seen that, be sure to watch it immediately.
Created by Bad Lip Reading
To me, the Bad Lip Reading videos are like “Hey Ya!” by Outkast — something that everybody enjoys that doesn’t somehow get worse through its own ubiquitousness. The anonymous producer behind this channel (all that’s known is he’s a music video producer in Texas) has been churning out great stuff for years and in 2015 his formula still works to perfection. There were Bad Lip Readings for the Republican and Democratic debates this year which were also great but I think the NFL 2015 video is top-notch.
Created by Cole Escola
This video has been previously described as “the Too Many Cooks of mom commercials” which may be all you need to know before watching it. You could make the argument its actually more impressive than that considering comedian Cole Escola is doing it alone here, the success of his concept relying solely on his writing and performance. We start with a pitch-perfect imitation of inane mom commercials and the devolution into insanity is expertly paced, as impressive as it is funny. If there were a such thing as Oscars for YouTube, Cole’s work would certainly deserve merit.
Created by the Dress Up Gang
The “My Roommate, My Friend” webseries, starring comedians Donny Divinian and Cory Loykasek, is the ultimate version of the “roommates hanging out” genre of Internet comedy videos. What sets them apart is their approach. The first thing you notice about the videos is they’re a little longer than other videos of their ilk. They’re not exactly sketches and short films isn’t right either; without going overboard in my appraisal I would say they are web videos in the best sense, the work they’re doing is so good it eradicates any sense of “less than” about the form, but really who cares about the semantics. What I love about these is there’s respect for the viewer and confidence in what they’re building. They display not only great comedy instincts in identifying odd and funny things to poke at, but a sharp eye for everyday social power dynamics as well. That’s not even mentioning the direction and performances which maintains a subtle silliness without ever breaking the reality. I especially love the patience in setting up and paying off punchlines and storylines, which are often the same thing as each video builds to a satisfyingly hilarious conclusion that’s also quite warm. The Dress Up Gang have released a number of videos over the last few years, none of which have the views that they deserve, and even choosing just one of their videos from this year was tough because they’re all so wonderful. I think “Burger Buddies” (which also features comedians and frequent collaborators Frankie Quinones, Christian Duguay, and Kevin Camia) is my favorite but you should watch all of their videos because it was a hard choice.
Created by 92Y
George St. Geegland and Gil Faizon are, in my opinion, the two best comedy characters currently active and although they’ve obviously been featured elsewhere, like Kroll Show and Comedy Bang! Bang!, this video showcases them in their purest form. An hourlong interview at the 92nd Street Y cultural center, which typically hosts artists waxing pretentiously about their work, is the ideal setting for Mulaney and Kroll’s Upper West Side doofus divorcee characters to let loose, seamlessly blending hilarious prepared material with top-tier improv. The comedians are so comfortable in these characters you almost get the sense this is a representation of their true inner-selves in some way. The video starts hot even before they take the stage, their written bios are laugh-out-loud funny even when clumsily read by moderator Willie Geist, and from there it’s a joyous ride of the funniest hour you’ll spend on YouTube all year.