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Things Jen finds hilarious, part one

April 15, 2009

I’ve been procrastinating on this post for a while because it’s hard to write about comedy. How do you convey the brilliance of something that lands you on the floor in hysterics without giving away the punchline?

The Whitest Kids U’Know is a sketch comedy group out of New York. You can find their current season on IFC, a channel so lost in the sea of HD multi-channels on my tv that I’d never noticed it before, but may be worth paying closer attention to. I don’t know how they do it, but IFC maintains a no-censorship policy and airs programs uncut and unbleeped, all without commercials. Amazing. You may be more familiar with The Whitest Kids as a Youtube/CollegeHumor.com sensation.

Zach Cregger has attributed his early inspiration for comedy writing to Adam Sandler- that’s the Adam Sandler of the 90s, when Billy Madison and They’re All Gonna Laugh at You reigned, not the Adam Sandler of kiddie movies and Punch Drunk Love- and a comparison to Sandler’s gleeful profanity can certainly be made. The Kids, however, produce jokes that work on more than the level of shock and gross-out. And I say this as someone who still cherishes Billy Madison as one of the greatest comedies of all time. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of their material is not for the faint of heart or easily offended, and if you don’t like jokes about poop then you’ll be unimpressed by some of the funniest poop sketches I’ve ever seen.

What I like most about the sketches these guys do is the versatility. Some sketches are less than a minute long, give you the punchline, and bam! they’re done (See: Pregnancy Test. Note: none of these videos are safe for work, you’ve been warned). Some weave joke after joke together in an almost Simpsons-esque way, you’re left at the end holding your sides and wondering how on earth you got from point A to point… Z (See: Classroom Sketch). And some go a long way around, leaving you hanging breathlessly for the invevitable joke (See: Whip Boy,  The Never Song). At times I’m reminded of the silliness of Monty Python, though with a much harder edge that truly belongs uniquely to the Kids.

Trevor Moore, the group’s head writer and de facto leader, has a commanding screen presence. He also has a knack for writing surprisingly catchy songs. The Never Song will stick in your head all day, and I’ve found myself shelving books in my library while bopping my head to the Dinosaur Rap looping on repeat in my brain. A song about getting high with dinosaurs may not be the best thing to sing under your breath while at work.

The Kids do falter at times. I wonder if the lack of women in the group leads to missteps like a couple of period jokes that fall flat. Then again, I’m not a twelve year old boy and have read too many books about feminism; perhaps period jokes have more of an audience than I’m assuming. The main problem I have with a few of these sketches is that the guys seem like smart people, and the period jokes or the “women talk so much about stupid things” jokes aren’t stretching to add something more, they’re easy and that seems like a cop-out. Especially when they can produce something epic like Abe Lincoln that riffs so effortlessly on Shakespeare and history.

The bottom line? I can’t get enough of this show. It’s on IFC Tuesdays at 10:00, it’s all over the internet, and you can get it on Netflix (even on Netflix watch instantly, for those of you who, like me, are too impatient to wait for the mail). I’m just sad that their current season features episodes that are only 15 minutes long, because that is simply not enough of a weekly fix. I’ll be keeping my eye out for when the Kids tour, or will maybe find a convenient excuse to go down to New York if they start doing live shows again.

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