Working in comedy has rewired my brain to the point that people have pointed out that I now often simply say “that’s funny” instead of laughing. The internet has also rewired my brain, in that I need constant never-ending stimulation and information poured into my eyes and I can’t be alone with my thoughts for even one solitary second. I’m sure the combination of these things is fine, and having no long-term impact on my psyche! But if it does it will all have been worth it, as it means that I have had the privilege of looking at heaps of stuff on the internet. Because of the unique and beautiful ways my brain is broken, most of the content that has made me actually physically laugh out loud in recent years is incredibly dumb and/or silly. Here is a list of some of those things.
Little Mix are a British girl group that were formed during a season of The X Factor. They have a song I like called Power. But most importantly, they once played an (ill-advised) game where they were asked to do an accent and have the other members of Little Mix guess it. This led to a now-iconic moment, in which singer Jesy Nelson attempts to do a Jamaican accent and spectacularly fails. It’s beautiful.
2. Focus Group
Creating a new TV sketch show that ends up still funny by the time it makes it to screen is very difficult. Creating one that feels fresh, even more so. Making one largely written by straight white men that I will like? Almost impossible. But all these things successfully happened with I Think You Should Leave in 2019, which was a perfect blend of hilarious acting, and completely absurd premises. Many of the sketches were great, but Focus Group left a lasting impression.
me, lightly touching miette with the side of my foot: miette move out of the way please so I don’t trip on you— Patricia Lockwood (@TriciaLockwood) March 19, 2019
miette, her eyes enormous: you KICK miette? you kick her body like the football? oh! oh! jail for mother! jail for mother for One Thousand Years!!!!
Patricia Lockwood is a very smart and funny essayist and poet, but it’s this tweet about her cat Miette that has now become part of my vocabulary.
4. “How many black friends do you have?”
i asked Alison Roman how many black friends she had and her answer... was enlightening. check out my instagram stories (@ ziwef) for the full interview pic.twitter.com/0r4KXl7IaO— ziwe (@ziwe) June 26, 2020
During lockdown we were blessed/subjected to comedians taking to Instagram Live and doing front-facing camera comedy to receive the attention they need to survive, like funny little houseplants. Many shone, such as my future husband Caleb Hearon and my future wife Meg Stalter (yes we will be a throuple), but comedian Ziwe Fumudoh is rightly getting a lot of her attention for her hilariously pointed content.
A reimagined version of her YouTube show Baited with Ziwe where she “baits” white friends with questions about race, has broken the Internet recently with its interviews of controversial subjects like Caroline Calloway and Alison Roman (who you might remember from her recent stoush with Chrissy Teigen). Ziwe is an excellent interviewer and asks some uncomfortable questions of her white guests, which feels absolutely perfect in this current climate. Also, she’s hilarious. This is a short clip from her interview with Roman, but follow her on Instagram to see what she does next.
5. Mountain climbing while … what was that?
This next clip is a very old news blooper, but it will never stop being funny to me. I will whisper it on my deathbed. I will reference it in my wedding vows, devastating my bride, but making some of my friends in the crowd laugh.
6. Something just didn’t sit right with me
Speaking of gay, Cole Escola. Cole is an incredibly funny actor and comedian who creates precise comedy that is perfectly formulated to appeal to weird little minds like mine. This sketch, which satirises serial killer documentaries, is pitch perfect.
7. You said hello to the baby
Even though I would love to pretend that during lockdown I had been improving myself with “books” and “well-made films”, the truth is that most nights you will find me lying in one position for several hours scrolling through TikTok before drifting into a restless slumber. There are many genres of TikToks (including lots of awful stuff) but also some really clever and funny content that makes me feel hopeful about the Youth (if they can survive what we’ve done to the planet). This is a simple story, perfectly executed.
8. This dog has no legs
I think Patti Harrison is probably the funniest person in the world right now. Her Instagram and Twitter presence is amazingly deranged, she writes for Big Mouth, acts on shows like Shrill, and went viral for talking about transgender rights on Fallon. There’s lots of her being funny on YouTube, like her Bachelorette parody set at a dog show, but I love the chaotic video series where she reviews exotic animals, alongside long-suffering sidekick Nature Nick.
9. Everything Laura Dern
Every so often awards shows produce something good, and at the 2020 Spirit Awards, we got an instantly iconic moment. Comedy writer Jordan Firstman wrote a song about the queer moments in cinema you might have missed, including an ode to Laura Dern (who is in the audience). Performed by a gay men’s choir and Glee cast member Alex Newell, it’s hilarious and delightful and very, very gay.
10. Buttery flaky crust
At no point could I have guessed that the words “buttery flaky crust” would one day provide me with endless enjoyment, but here we are. In the outtakes from an ad for local restaurant Dysart’s, we get to see a wonderful dance play out. A man unable to say three simple words, his wife completely baffled by his incompetence, and then a twist ending.