Seeking a Laugh for the End of the World, or My Favorite Moments in Comedy

Little known fact about me: I love to laugh. I know I hide it really well, but believe me when I tell you that laughter is very high on my list of values. You could call me something of a comedy nerd: if there is an obscure-but-critically-lauded sitcom (bonus points if it’s an import!) I most likely have not only seen every episode but own it on DVD.

Another factoid: I also love to read. There, I said it! Now you know!

So when Mindy Kaling, a comedy writer who you may know as creator, writer, and star on The Mindy Project who got her start as Kelly Kapoor on The Office, that rare sitcom to enjoy mass success and also be genuinely, intelligently funny, also wrote a book, I knew I had to be first in line for a copy. By first in line, I mean the day it came out I went to Barnes & Noble over lunch to read the first few chapters, and then borrowed Lauren’s copy, which she preordered, a few days later, when she was finished reading it.

Despite the fact that I am not an Emmy-winning writer/actress, did not grow up in with Indian parents in a suburb of Boston, and most definitely have never been named to a Most Beautiful People list, I feel that Mindy and I have a lot in common.

One of those things, I discovered by reading Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me?, is a love of lists. I want to be a person who can readily provide an answer to anyone who asks me to list my dream concert lineup, the best meals I’ve ever had, or my favorite moments in comedy. This is a girl who knows herself, people would think. This is a girl who has things figured out.

I’ve already covered my desert island albums, so now I present my second authoritative list for you on this night, the potential last night of the world.*

My 11 Favorite Moments in Comedy

I know it’s typical practice to start with the lowest-ranked item and work your way toward number one but I have no patience for that right now. Let’s get to the good stuff first, I say!

And one word: I realize this list skews toward TV, and it is entirely contained within the last 20 years. I tend to like more current things and I tend to watch funny TV shows and serious movies, and also this is my list, so deal with it.

So without further ado, the list:

1. Gob and Lindsay Discuss Business Ventures in Bees, and Beads (Arrested Development, “Let ‘Em Eat Cake”)

Full disclosure: this list is a lie. If I were truly listing my 11 favorite moments in comedy, all 11 would be from Arrested Development. But for the sake of interesting reading, I decided to limit myself to 1 selection from each series/movie. This scene, along with the way the bee/bead confusion plays out in the episode (particularly the “Old Big Bear” business at the end), represent everything that is so wonderful about the Greatest Comedy Ever: the way the humor comes out of how what the characters say connect with and reveal about who they are, the way the plots dovetail back upon each other, the ridiculous wordplay and inspired delivery.

Runner-up, just for laughs: “Say what you will about America, $13 will buy you a hell of a lot of mice.” “Who said anything bad about America?”

2. Liz Lemon Films the Dealbreakers Promo (30 Rock, “Dealbreakers Talk Show 0001”)

It’s my dream to someday dedicate a wall to awesome women who inspire me. And in a position of honor will be Tina Fey. Because she is brilliant and funny. There are so many fantastic moments on 30 Rock that could have made this list (“Werewolf Bar Mitzvah,” anything Dr. Spaceman says) but this is my single favorite moment because it encapsulates everything that makes Tina great. She’s not afraid to look “ugly” and is a master of physical comedy as well as of the well-written joke. Two words: “Remember waving?”

3. Amber Cole Thanks God for Model Trains (A Mighty Wind)

I am pretty sure A Mighty Wind is my favorite Christopher Guest movie, but only because I saw it first. If I had been at all prepared for what was to come when it started playing during choir class my senior year, I don’t think I could have loved it as much as I did. I had never seen anything like it and I was just so overwhelmingly happy to find out something like this existed. Amber Cole is my favorite character in any Guest movie, and this is her shining moment. Sadly, I couldn’t find a good video, so you’re going to have to find the movie and watch it for yourself.

4. Charlie’s Kitton Mittons Commercial (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “Paddy’s Pub: Home of the Original Kitten Mittens”)

This may or may not be linked to my “feelings” toward cats. But it definitely has a lot to do with my love for Charlie Kelly.

5. Megan Introduces Herself to Annie (Bridesmaids)

This one I just straight up stole from Mindy Kaling. But I absolutely cannot list my favorite moments in comedy without including this scene, in which Melissa McCarthy’s character, in response to the question of how she is doing, describes her recent experience falling off a cruise ship, hitting multiple decks on the way down, and meeting a dolphin who telepathically communicated with her, all to a complete stranger.

6. Kristen Wiig Cannot Handle a Surprise Party (Saturday Night Live)

You can consider this entry to include basically everything Kristen Wiig ever did on SNL (excluding Gilly, of course) because my love for her knows no bounds, but if I had to narrow it down to one sketch or character, this would be it. It’s the hands, for sure. They’re uncanny.

7. Andy Diagnoses “Network Connectivity Problems” (Parks & Recreation, “Flu Season”)

The very best comedy comes out of specific characters. In other words, it’s only funny (or the humor is greatly heightened) because of WHO is saying, and what it reinforces or reveals about who they are. This line just so encapsulates everything about who Andy is, and it also connects to mutliple experiences every human can relate to (obsessive WebMD-ing, computer frustrations).

8. Bret and Jemaine Debate Where Bret’s Date Went Wrong (Flight of the Conchords, “Sally”)

Even more specifically, I love Jemaine putting himself in Sally’s mind and saying, “Oh, this is a nice situation.”

Alternate FoTC enry: Any band meeting. The one moment that most gets me is Murray writing down “He knew.”

I searched high and low for a video, but alas, none to be had. Just trust me, it’s hilarious.

9. Dan Hopper’s Lost Recaps on Best Week Ever (Best Week Ever blog, collected here)

This entry doesn’t quite fit in here, as it’s a series of blog posts and not a TV show or movie or viral video, but when I really want to laugh and can’t watch a video, these are my go-to source of funny.

Best Week Ever was my favorite blog (it sadly shut down operations in the spring, RIP) and these image-heavy recaps were a huge reason why. His MS Paint-created version of Juliet’s list in “Namaste” is my single favorite moment of LOST coverage I ever encountered.

10. “They Want You to Take the Rolls” (Boy Meets World, “Breaking Up Is Really, Really Hard to Do”)

This one is impossible to explain, except to say, the heart wants what it wants. This show is a part of me in a way that no other show ever could be, because it shaped me. I watched it every single Friday through elementary and middle school, and I have to believe that is the reason I still laugh out loud every time I watch a rerun.

11. Kelly Kapoor Explains Netflix (The Office, “Safety Training”)

In honor of Mindy, I select this scene . It might not be the cleverest joke ever on The Office, or even the most quotable, but, like the Parks & Rec clip, it is one of the most satisfying character moments.

Why there is no video available of this is beyond me. If I had any idea how to use editing software I’d make one myself! But I don’t! So go look it up yourself!

*So now we all know the world isn’t going to end tomorrow. It’s already December 21st in the Eastern Hemisphere and here we are, click-click-clicking away at our computers like it’s any old Thursday night. If there was ever even a sliver of doubt, or even hope, that tomorrow we might finally know what comes after this world, it has given way to the comforting reality that our little planet is gonna keep on spinning round and round the sun, as it ever has. So let’s enjoy some laughs and keep on keepin’ on, together.


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