For most freshmen, the transition into college includes an infrequently talked about period of crying, home-sickness and loneliness. Though you would never guess it from your high school friends’ snapchats of frat parties, movie night, and endless roommate bonding activities, everyone is going through the same thing. While this period of adjustment varies in length and degree for everyone, mine was a two-week long crying session filled with constant Facetime calls and way too much bread (I’m practically Oprah). When I was not talking to my friends or stuffing my face, there was only one other thing that appeased my sadness. It’s what some call the best vacation and others call the best medicine (but please still get your flu shots) – laughter. From Key and Peele sketches to SNL skits to episodes of Friends, here is a list of all the funny shit I watched to, at least temporarily, keep my mind off all the painful shit going on in reality.
(To give credit where credit is due, this idea is partially stolen from a chapter in Mindy Kaling’s memoir, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?,” where she lists her 11 favorite moments in comedy. If you recognized that, then we should be friends. If you didn’t, then go buy her book because she’s f*cking awesome.)
1. Key and Peele’s “Substitute Teacher”
If you lived through 2012 and have not seen this sketch I am genuinely surprised and you may have been in a coma (check your medical records). For months, Keegan-Michael Key’s Mr. Garvey graced the screens of televisions and phones every time I was with my friends. And though, by now, I’ve watched him refuse to correctly pronounce the names Jacqueline, Blake, Denise, and Aaron, this sketch has never lost it’s humor, and I don’t think it ever will.
2. “The Shooting AKA Dear Sister” – An SNL Digital Short
It’s not only the hardcore SNL fans who remember back fondly to a time when Andy Samberg and The Lonley Island created a weekly digital short for the show. While I was too young to watch SNL at the time, I’ve watched (probably too many) of these digital shorts ever since I realized they’re a Youtube search away. Though “The Shooting AKA Dear Sister” was based off an episode of The O.C. from 2005, the sheer absurdity and complete hilarity of it’s plot translates to teens today; I’ve seen clips of it circling around Twitter as recently as a few days ago. I am rarely able to contain my laughter when watching Andy Samberg, Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis, among others, shoot each other without purpose to the soundtrack of Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” (more commonly known as “Mmm Whatcha Say”) playing in the background. It’s absolutely ridiculous and completely nonsensical. It’s everything that comedy is and should be.
(Little-Know Fact: This short was put together extremely late on the Friday before that Saturday night’s show. The cast filmed it at 3:00 a.m. in a hotel suite on Saturday morning. Lesson to be Learned: Procrastination is good, and you should all do it… I’m totally kidding, but don’t feel too bad about waiting until the last minute every once in a while. These guys did it.)
3. Bill Hader as Stefon on SNL
While we are on the subjects of both SNL and Bill Hader, I find it necessary to bring up possibly my favorite character in SNL history: Stefon. Appearing frequently as a guest on Seth Meyers’ Weekend Update, City Correspondent Stefon never failed to flamboyantly and unhelpfully name New York’s Hottest clubs. Though much to the dismay of Meyers, who was looking for tame, touristy destinations, he was consistently hopeful in Stefon, always encouraging him to try again. In the words of Hader himself, “A person being patient with an insane person is my favorite thing in the world.” It is now one of mine too.
(Little-Known Fact #2: John Mulaney, who worked for SNL at the time, wrote all of the scripts for these Stefon skits with Bill. Often, John would switch the jokes on the cue cards before going live to make Bill break on air. As you can clearly see if you watch even one of these sketches, John was very successful. Though Bill’s recent works (HBO’s “Barry” and “It: Chapter Two”) aren’t much indication, he obviously enjoys laughing as much as I do.)
4. “John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City”
If you have Netflix, go watch this right now. If you don’t, go get a free trial or steal your friend’s login information and go watch this right now. John Mulaney is, in my opinion and in many others’, one of the greatest standup comedians in the world right now. While Mulaney’s been funny for years (see “Little-Known Fact #2”), he’s frequently been behind the scenes. Now that he’s on-screen and unabashedly himself, there is no holding him back. With the demeanor of both a 1950’s businessman and an awkward goody-two-shoes, his jokes always deliver; sometimes the mere tone of his voice makes me laugh. While all of his material since birth (I’m assuming that’s when he started writing comedy) has been great, “Kid Gorgeous” stands out as his best work yet, winning him a well-deserved Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special. I can’t wait to see what he does next, but for now, I will binge-watch this special rountinely and for your own health, you should too.
5. Robin Williams and Billy Crystal’s Cameo on Friends (Season 3, Episode 24)
The world misses Robin Williams so much. He was so extraordinarily talented, and whenever I see his always-sparkling eyes light the screen of my laptop, I can’t help but smile. Every time I binge-watch Friends I forget about this appearance and every time I watch it, I am so greatly entertained. This cold open features the cast attempting to have a conversation, but being interrupted repeatedly by Robin Williams’ character sobbing over his wife’s adultery with her gynecologist, who is, ironically, his confidant. It is ridiculously shocking, fantastically absurd and so goddamn hilarious.
(Little-Known Fact #3: Crystal and Williams’ appearance in this episode was not in the original script. They were coincidentally on a set nearby the same day that this episode was filmed. The writers asked if they wanted to make a cameo and they said yes. Their entire conversation is improvised. Lesson to be Learned: Again, procrastination and waiting until the last minute makes everything better.)
6. “Josh Runs Over Oprah” – Season 4, Episode 1 of Drake and Josh
Drake and Josh was a seminal part of all of our childhoods, and at a bare minimum, this moment defined comedy to us when we were just old enough to understand what it meant to be funny. After years of proclaiming his love for our favorite bread-lover, Oprah, (Did I already mention this?) he ran her over with his car. There is something about watching Josh run over Oprah, get tasered multiple times attempting to visit her in the hospital and get chemically bathed after Drake says he has a Flesh-Eating Virus that makes all of my sadness disappear. (We may all be psychopaths.)
I could continue this list for pages, but for your sanity and mine, I’ll stop here. I hope you watch all of these. Like it says in the title, there’s a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee and as we all know, everything that we see online must be true. It’s a fact (see what I did there).
Alright, enough reading, nerd. Go grab a bowl of popcorn (or bread) and enjoy!