Trevor Moore was a man of many talents—actor, writer, comedian and local sexpot—with a career spanning nearly 25 years. Following the sudden news of his tragic passing on Aug. 7, stories began pouring in from colleagues and fans alike. One particular tweet from fellow comedian Ron Funches stood out as an accurate description of Moore’s twisted and absurd sense of humor:
Throughout Moore’s expansive career, his love for sketch comedy—spurred by his cult favorite public access show The Trevor Moore Show and a coveted internship at Saturday Night Live—would eventually exemplify an exciting era of comedy. Alongside his friends that he met through his time at New York’s School of Visual Arts, Moore created The Whitest Kids U’ Know, which grew from a regular engagement at a local bar into a five-season hit television series greenlit by Fuse and picked up by IFC in its second season.
The Whitest Kids U’ Know adopts the same surreal framework of Monty Python with the edge of Mr. Show with Bob and David, not shying away from the crass nature of comedy from the early ‘00s while also bringing a hidden wit to even the most offensive of ideas. Even as their popularity continued to grow, they never lost their scrappy, DIY aesthetic. Sketches would end awkwardly and abruptly. Costumes were reused, sets were minimalist. The Whitest Kids U’ Know became a cultural touchstone for edgy teenagers, eccentric comedy fans and internet historians alike to bond over. A decade on from its last episode, Paste honors the legacy of Trevor Moore’s comedic genius with a list of some of The Whitest Kids U’ Know’s best sketches below.
The WKUK never shied away from the grotesque, always opting to go as bloody as possible. This sketch is a melting pot of their ridiculous ideas being shoved into a quick sketch: trying to avoid a Wheel of Fortune lawsuit, Moore acting as a disgruntled game show host, and three incompetent contestants who don’t realize you have to let go of the wheel after you spin it. Prepare to only be able to say “WHEEL…OF MONEY” every time the show comes on at the doctor’s office.
Moore had a knack for songwriting and hooky melodies that rival some of the most experienced comedic musicians of recent memory. The cheerful jingle that precedes the adventures of two best friends using a time machine to fix history possesses a keen amount of self awareness as they note that “history’s a fragile thing” and it’s “easy to fuck stuff up.” Upon using their good nature to stop 9/11 by attacking Saddam Hussein in an airport bathroom, they deal with more unintended consequences. If there’s anything to take away from this at all, it’s Moore’s perfect delivery of “Your nine-elevening days are over!”
Many WKUK sketches center around the usage of comedy to test the boundaries of censorship, their own network and society as a whole. Some of Moore’s best moments are when he’s alone in front of the camera, such as this clip where he delivers a public service announcement that it isn’t okay to say “I want to kill the president” or offer the suggestion that someone else should. By using the excuse that he’s offering this as a warning for others not to say it, as well as utilizing grammatical rules to avoid liability, this remains one of the group’s smartest sketches with such a simple premise.
Although Moore never explicitly acknowledged his political leanings, several skits in WKUK history have featured more radical ideas not explored in most popular comedies of the time. “Back Seat” opens with Moore and Sam Brown sitting in the coveted backseat of the school bus, ogling at breasts and throwing food out of the window while avoiding the watchful eye of Timmy Williams. This turns into a heartfelt deconstruction of capitalism limited only by the short attention spans of adolescent boys.
When the entire group comes together, the WKUK primarily rely on the trope of all of them being unable to complete the most basic of tasks due to their eccentricities. The options are endless. Zach Cregger plays the mastermind behind a bank robbery, enlisting the help of the rest of the cast to complete the mission. Hijinks ensue as the plan slowly falls apart, starting with Moore unable to wrap his head around the floorplans of two different floors being in the same building.
What do you do when you see a man on the ground getting mercilessly kicked because he killed someone else’s children? You join in! “Kicking Guy” is a popular example of how the WKUK end their sketches in the most awkward of ways. Much like the classic Wikipedia game in which you start at a random page and try to click as few links as possible to get to a desired target (which is usually the Holocaust), Moore and the gang show how kicking a man in the park leads to mass extinction.
This is one of the few times I’ve ever watched a sketch and wondered how the actors were able to shoot a proper take without breaking. What appears to be Moore and Darren Trumeter playing detectives analyzing a crime scene turns out to be a film shoot, and Cregger has a strange tweak to make the scene even better. By the end, it devolves into complete nonsense despite the actors’ reservations towards the suggestions.
Moore’s straight man is always a pleasure, but his humor shines when he’s excited about something. Channeling that childlike enthusiasm when describing movies to your friends in class the next day, Moore plays an overexcited mailroom employee ready to bring fresh ideas to executives at the movie studio he works in. Definitely a partial commentary on how cliche some movies have become, Moore describing explosions, dinosaurs and Mel Gibson one-liners eventually wins over the hearts of audiences and executives alike with an equally intense enthusiasm.
The WKUK are masters of misdirection, showing the already ridiculous premise of Hamlet actually being about vampires and a loud mouthed heckler. What happens when the heckler is the president? The gang has a special affinity for historical figures, but that doesn’t mean they want to portray them with care. Abraham Lincoln as a potty mouthed nuisance is one of the many ways Moore and his friends imagine history through their own warped lens.
Despite the show’s growing popularity and larger budget, WKUK’s production quality never changed. Aside from the occasional extras in the background, the group chose to play all their characters regardless of age and gender. Moore had a knack for playing a snarky, excited boy who knew just the right buttons to press to annoy the adults in his life. In “Whale Tail,” Moore explains that he taught a whale to jump out of its tail. He and his classmates then embark on the epic journey of a lifetime as his teacher, Cregger, tries to prove that it’s impossible.
Season 2 was probably the show’s best season, partially due to no commercial breaks and no censorship. With a larger budget and more possibilities, this freedom allowed for the group to test their comedic limits. “Feeler Doc” turns a normal cancer screening into a complicated ordeal as Moore grapples with his disgust and fear of turning gay in order to help Cregger, a concerned patient. It was refreshing to see Moore play opposite the straight man in sketches, allowing his comedic subtleties to shine through in his exaggerated reactions and whines.
Much like fellow absurdist sketch comedy shows such as Paste favorite I Think You Should Leave, WKUK worked best when they took everyday interactions and twisted them into their worst possible outcome. In this case, it’s the dreaded “What did you do this weekend?” question that fills the office air every Monday without fail. This sketch doesn’t feature Moore, but it does have Brown, who possesses one of the most hilarious screams in comedy.
Despite none of the guys knowing each other as children, they do a fantastic job of channeling the eccentricities of young boys that truly shines when they are together. While the boys’ parents are gone to buy lubricant, they do what any normal group of children do: play with a nail gun (which, by the way, should be read in a sing-song voice). Brown is the star player in this, coming back from the depths of hell to be nothing short of incredibly annoying.
Similar to “Kicking Guy,” “Sex Robot” takes an already strange concept of a perpetually horny dancing robot into dark territory, chronicling the unfair trial of an android that just wants to get down.
Never underestimate the creativity of someone who is desperate and horny, and never underestimate a retail worker’s ability to know why you want to buy that item. Brown becomes curious with the vacuums at a local department store (which is obviously someone’s apartment, despite airing in the show’s fourth season) and Cregger, the underpaid employee, tries to warn him of the painful outcome with Brown’s model of choice. This sketch also features one of my favorite pieces of dialogue in the show: “Are there multiple power settings on this thing?” “There’s high and there’s low, and both of those will rip your dick off.”
Jade Gomez is Paste’s assistant music editor, dog mom, Southern rap aficionado and compound sentence enthusiast. She has no impulse control and will buy vinyl that she’s too afraid to play or stickers she will never stick.