Cameron James: the 10 funniest things I have ever seen (on the internet)

The comedian has missed other being around other people – specifically people doing absurd things. Luckily, the internet has that in spades

I’ve missed people. Thanks to something called Covid-19 (look it up), I’ve been around other human beings less and less over the past couple of years. And I’ve missed you! I’ve missed overhearing couples bicker on the train, and watching Insta girls’ photoshoots get ruined by their dog, and seeing cocky business guys with Bluetooth headsets trip over on the footpath.

And most of all I’ve missed my favourite brand of real-world comedy: the moment when absurdity meets reality; the strange brew of “absolutely 100% real” and “that has to be fake”.

Related: Eliza Reilly: the 10 funniest things I have ever seen (on the internet)

Luckily for me, the internet has a bunch of this sorta stuff on it, so it turns out I didn’t need real life at all! Here’s 10 of my faves. There’s some magic in these clips that says something powerful about humanity striving for connection. Or maybe it’s just funny to see people screw up. You be the judge.

1. Philomena Cunk

This is exactly what I’m on about. Diane Morgan (genius character comedian) embodies her dense and rude journalist character Philomena Cunk so fully and completely that when real experts sit opposite her in an interview setting they are forced to react. Will they mock her? Or try to help her? It’s watching real people have to decide in the moment whether to be empathetic to a dumb asshole. I love it, and I love her, but we’re both in long-term relationships plus she’s never heard of me so it probably wouldn’t work out.

2. The high five

You either like Jackass or you don’t. I won’t waste valuable words trying to convert the second group. All I’ll say is this clip is a real life Looney Tunes of harmless fun, and I wish it went for another 30 minutes.

3. Oh, hello

Remember when the internet acted all shocked and surprised when John Mulaney split with his wife, then went on a bender, then started dating a celebrity, then got that celebrity pregnant? I wasn’t surprised. Because the dark, manic side of Mulaney has always been right in front of us in his character of George from Oh, Hello. This is a 90-minute improvised conversation where you get to watch Mulaney’s mind work in real time in response to unrehearsed questions from the moderator and the crowd, and – guess what – he’s evil as hell.

4. Rude talking car

Comedians and married couple Brendon Walsh and Amanda Conrad host the podcast the World Record Podcast where they spend 99% of their time prank-calling local businesses and testing the patience of middle management. It’s addictive listening. These two are artists at keeping people on the hook, and guiding them towards snapping. This one features a soulful performance from Amanda as a lady whose car AI keeps insulting her.

5. Nathan Fielder and John Wilson

These dudes made two of my favourite shows of the last decade. Nathan For You and How To with John Wilson were flipsides of the same coin, capturing real human beings in moments of their most absurd. This clip begins as a genuine behind-the-scenes video, but soon morphs into performance art from two guys who love cringe as much as I do.

6. David S. Pumpkins

OK this has nothing to do with my theme of “absurdity v reality”, but it’s a go-to sketch I watch when I need a cheer-up. Plus there’s something incredibly surreal in seeing acclaimed actor Tom Hanks commit so fully to the most outrageous SNL character piece since the days of MacGruber. Yeah, now we’re back on theme! It’s Tom Hanks (Oscar winner) doing something wacky! That kinda fits.

7. This Country

The Office made its debut in 2001 and everyone tried to copy its mockumentary format, but none ever really lived up to it. Until This Country. Daisy May Cooper and Charlie Cooper are a sibling duo from regional Britain who’ve made a comedy about class that’s the closest thing I’ve seen to being a real documentary – mostly because the rest of the cast is made up of the real-life locals of their home town.

8. Xtremers

Kyle Mooney is now on SNL, but in the early internet days when he first started posting on YouTube, I had no idea who this guy was. YouTube sketch was so new and unformed that I even thought this guy might be a real interviewer for a few seconds. His style – of being nervous to talk to even the most ordinary of people – instantly makes forces his subjects to step up and take charge of the interview. So funnnyyyyyyyyyy.

9. Who Is America?

This was Sacha Baron Cohen’s big comeback to pranking people on TV and I can’t explain to you how excited me and all my comedian friends were. This prank on former Republican politician Jason Spencer (he was forced to resign after what he does in this clip) was a highlight. How on Earth does he get people to do this? And how do they believe the insane prosthetic job?

10. Kate Berlant and John Early

The idea of getting the highly coveted standup comedy spot on The Tonight Show, and wasting it with a semi-scripted meltdown is so inherently funny to me. I love to imagine regular Americans at home watching it with furrowed brows, not realising it’s a bit.

  • Cameron James is a comedian and podcaster. You can follow him on Instagram, listen to his podcasts, and see his new stand up show Electric Dreams live around the country in 2022