I’ve loved sketch comedy ever since I first saw Monty Python and Benny Hill when I was quite young.  I enjoy good comedy in all forms, but I especially like short-burst self-contained scenarios.  Here are my top ten favorite TV shows.  (Note: a few are technically “variety” shows, but feature sketches.)


10. Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim)

Quite bizarre, very original, and not for everyone.  They got a few pretty famous comedic actors to do cameos.

FAVORITE SKETCH: Anything with Dr. Steve Brule (John C. Reilly).


9. Chappelle’s Show (Dave Chappelle)

I think his stand-up’s fantastic, and the show is a little sub-par compared to that, but it’s still very funny.

FAVORITE SKETCH:  I’d be a commie bastard if I didn’t say the Rick James sketch or the Wayne Brady sketch.


8. Portlandia (Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein)

This is one of those shows that I tried to watch when it first came on, and I thought, “I appreciate what they’re trying to do, but it’s just not for me.”  I gave it another chance, and I’m glad I did.

FAVORITE SKETCH: I like the two giggly caffeinated Japanese girls, and the one where Fred and Carrie are trying to make a video of how to set up a tent.


7. That Mitchell and Webb Look (David Mitchell and Robert Webb)

Just discovered this recently because I started watching (and laughing a lot at) the Britcom “Peep Show,” which also stars Mitchell and Webb.  They’re two talented comedic actors and have some very amusing recurring characters.

FAVORITE SKETCH:  All of the episodes of The Secret Adventures of Sir Digby Chicken Caesar.


6. The Benny Hill Show (Benny Hill)

Great early British comedy.  He was a genius at clever wordplay and double entendres…and obviously had an affinity for buxom women.

FAVORITE SKETCH: Really, any of the speeded-up filmed segments with no dialogue.  Continuously patting the little old bald man’s head?  Comedy gold.


5. The Carol Burnett Show (Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Tom Conway, and Lyle Waggoner)

This was one my dad’s and my favorite shows in the 70s.  It was very popular, and for good reason.  You knew you were going to laugh any night it was on.

FAVORITE SKETCH: I love Carol, and I always looked forward to sketches with Korman and Conway, but there’s a sketch with guest John Byner, who is playing Euell Gibbons, a natural-diet enthusiast.  Euell is talking about how you should eat natural things, and he wanders over to a picnic table with a box of cereal on it (he also hawked Grape Nuts).  He grabs a chunk of the picnic table, rips off a big piece, and starts eating it.

I was a ten-year-old, crying and gasping for breath, trying not to pee his pants.


4. The Kids in the Hall (Dave Foley, Mark McKinney, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, and Scott Thompson)

Just pretty brilliant all around, with a very talented young cast.  I’m glad Lorne Michaels took an interest and produced the show.

FAVORITE SKETCH:  The song “These Are the Daves I Know,” and the inept couple trying to escape very slow zombies.


3. SCTV (John Candy, Eugene Levy, Joe Flaherty, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Catherine O’Hara, Dave Thomas, and Martin Short)

This is one of those 80’s shows that I always watched and always laughed at.  I love the premise (a cut-rate TV station working through politics and programming issues) and it has a great cast.

FAVORITE SKETCH:  Anything with Johnny LaRue (John Candy).  Also really like Five Neat Guys.


2. Monty Python’s Flying Circus (John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam)

Is it too dramatic to say this show changed my young life?  PBS would show reruns at 10:00 on Sundays, and I always got to stay up to watch it.  I was so obsessed as a kid that I’d jot notes on my palm so I could remember what funny stuff to discuss with my friends at school the next day.  Monty Python and Steve Martin taught me it was okay to be completely silly.

FAVORITE SKETCH:  I think it’s called “Tennis, Anyone?”  A posh garden party quickly turns into an hilarious gorefest.


1. Mr. Show with Bob and David (Bob Odenkirk and David Cross)

This mainly ousts Monty Python because it has some sentimental value.  Oh, and it’s devastatingly funny.  It ran from 1995 to 1998, and I was going through a rough period at the time.  A friend’s roommate had the show taped, and I was invited over to watch.  Talk about a drastic mood-changer.  I laughed and laughed, and still do.  I’ve owned all the DVDs for years, and I rarely buy TV-show DVDs.

FAVORITE SKETCH:  “Titannica.”  A metal band goes to a hospital to visit a young fan who’s attempted suicide after listening to one of their songs.  I’ve watched this at least 50 times and I still laugh every time.


HONORABLE MENTIONS:  Saturday Night Live and In Living Color.