Stories House Top 10: Comedy Songs

from Nick Suss

April 21, 2013, 12:22 a.m.

Music really is a downer. I listen to songs and they make me feel sad. More often than not, music makes me think too hard and I don’t like it. Have you ever noticed that in almost every one of my posts that isn’t about sports there is an extended metaphor using the lyrics of a song? And it really never is that happy. I used “Dr. Jimmy” in Is It Me? I used “Don’t Look Back in Anger” in The Stuff I Get Myself Into. I even quoted “Simple Man” in the comments of The Dilemma. I use music to explain the complex emotions I don’t want to feel. I got to thinking about that and I just don’t think that’s right. Music should be a celebration. I should listen to that which makes me feel happy. And so I’ve compiled this list.

Comedy songs are great. They tell jokes, which I love, in a musical arrangement. When I listen to joke songs I laugh harder than during some TV shows and movies that I love. There is just something about verse and rhyme that makes me giggle. And I listen to a lot of silly songs. They really are everywhere. They’re on YouTube. They’re on the shows I love. They’re on Pandora and Spotify, always suggested to me and I always laugh. So I decided to make a list of the top ten comedy songs of all time. Through all of the laughter, and there is a lot, I have decided to whittle this list down to ten songs and a few honorable mentions. I had to set some ground rules though.

  1. Firstly, all songs on the list have to be comedic. That seems like it would go without saying, but here is why I bring it up. Some songs, like television theme songs, are associated with comedy, but in their own are not funny. These songs do not belong on this list. Neither do songs like Afternoon Delight, which are serious songs but funny renditions of them have been performed.
  2. Secondly, no single artist or entity can appear on this list twice. If that was so, the list would be fifty or sixty songs long and comprised of two bands and one TV show. A TV show can appear on the list twice if the two songs are sung by different characters. For example, two songs may appear from the same show if they are from different sketches or if there is no overlap between singers. But the same character or actor cannot sing two songs on this list.
  3. Thirdly, this is all my opinion. And my opinion is skewed. And probably wrong too. Don’t jump all over me. If you disagree, use the comment section to yell at me and make your own lists. It’s fun to make lists sometimes.
Without further ado, let’s start with some honorable mentions:

Honorable Mention: 4 Chords; Axis of Awesome

You way not think of this as comedy, but it is intended as so. The way the band did this song is so cool. Putting all of these iconic songs (and Double Rainbow!) together with one set of chords is brilliant. The first time I hear this song I was in disbelief and I couldn’t get enough of it. Frankly, it is among the best comedy songs I’ve ever heard, but I had to deduct points for the comedy coming from common knowledge instead of lyrical creativity. But any time a song can combine When I Come Around and Take on Me simultaneously, you’ve got yourself a winner.

Honorable Mention: United States of Whatever; Liam Lynch

For those of you who don’t know this song, it truly is a delight. It is a rapid fire session of laughs, packed into about two minutes of the same joke. Often songs which capitalize on the same joke over and over again fall flat, but this one doesn’t. I couldn’t include it on the list simply because of its relative obscurity and brevity. I just hope not including this song on the list doesn’t make Officer Leroy mad.

Honorable Mention: Soft Kitty; The Big Bang Theory

Not putting Soft Kitty on this list is one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. As many of you know, I’ve devoted entirely too much of my life to TBBT and the first use of this song is among the funniest moments in the shows canon. But I just couldn’t bring myself to use it. The song is hilarious, but I think the performance sells it far more than the comedy does. Which in many ways describes why The Big Bang Theory is funny as a whole. It’s funny when Penny sings it. It’s funny when Sheldon sings it. But outside of the context of the show, I really don’t know how funny it would be. Luckily for us, the top 10 list does begin with a little bit of cat-based humor.

Number 10: Smelly Cat; Phoebe Buffay; Friends

This one isn’t so much about the performance as it is about the comedy factor. Everyone can imagine actually seeing a coffee shop singer as bad as Phoebe singing her heart out about the poor smelling cat she once saw. As funny as her other songs are, (see Little, Black Curly Hair and My Sticky Shoes) none resonate quite like Smelly Cat. I guess it might be that at one point or another everyone has wondered what that cat is being fed.

Number 9. Lunch Lady Land; Adam Sandler; Saturday Night Live

The first of many sketches to appear on this list, Lunch Lady Land is a classic. I give attribution to Adam Sandler for this one, but I really should’ve said it was Adam Sandler featuring Chris Farley. Farley didn’t make this skit funny, it would’ve been funny regardless of his performance, but he made it hilarious. Sure, Farley has done funnier dances (see Chippendales). Sure, Farley has sung songs which had more laughs per capita. (see Fat Guy in a Little Coat) And sure, Sandler has even written funnier songs. (see The Hanukkah Song or the montage in Billy Madison) But never have the two combined to make a more perfect combination of heart and laughs. Everyone feels grateful for the lunch lady. Even if you don’t like navy beans, navy beans, navy beans, navy beans, you sure appreciate those hoagies and grinders. And Chris Farley can dance, I tell you that. Throw in the happy ending, and those six kids of theirs sure are doing just fine in Lunch Lady Land.

Number 8. Sandcastles in the Sand; Robin Sparkles; How I Met Your Mother

You people are going to jump all over me for this one. Yes, this song is a sequel to a much, much more famous song that most people will think is funnier. And yes, Barney has thrown some hysterical songs into the show that I kept off of the list for this song. But lyrically Sandcastles in the Sand is one of the most brilliant comedy songs I’ve ever heard. Let’s Go to the Mall is awesome, but Sandcastles in the Sand is legen-wait for it-DARY! It starts right away with the line “Met you at the mall,” so it did establish a sequel-esque sort of mood. And including the robot in the video was a stroke of genius by the writers. But it was the subtlety of the humor that gets me every time. It’s not so much the great jokes (“together we were gonna travel the globe, from Alberta to Ontario”) as much as that which Robin whispers in between lines. Every time I hear her whisper “I’m on the pill now!” I crack up. The way this song mocks teenage melodrama, from the notebook-scribbled issues in her life all the way to the inclusion of James Van Der Beek practically making fun of his entire career, is perfect. And the best thing about this song, and really all of HIMYM’s songs, Cobie Smulders can actually sing. This song would be a radio failure in real life too. And if you don’t think this is funny, like Tiffany says, “You’re a fool.”

Number 7. I Kill People; Jon Lajoie

Oh, Jon Lajoie. Not including your classic Show Me Your Genitals or Taco’s rendition of “Fear Boner” from The League is tough, but I Kill People is clearly your funniest work. Amidst all of today’s gun control controversy, it is great to know that guns don’t actually kill people. MC Vagina kills people. With guns. (Pow.) From start to finish, this song packs jokes like MC Vagina packs heat. And he is right, the lyrics to this song are a lot like the Shawshank Redemption. They’re really good. And even if it isn’t appropriate to compare Anne Frank to male genitalia, he makes up for it by being as dangerous as a fire in a nursing home. If you are all for old people burning, put those hands up! And with the call-back in the last lyric, adding the fourth thing women are good for, he solidified this song as great for the longtime fan or for the first time listener. All references aside, this song is the perfect example of YouTube funny. It is a hilarious, inappropriate, short burst of comedy that not everyone will love, especially not the 7,000 people he killed. And if you don’t like this song, maybe I should kick you in the face with my fist.

Number Six: If I Had 1 Million Dollars; Barenaked Ladies

This is one you guys might want to argue. Is this intended to be funny, or are BNL just a bunch of genii? I think it is a comedy song, and it holds this spot on the list for every serious band that just wants to take a break to laugh and lighten the mood. You can sing all of the Brian Wilsons and the It’s All Been Dones you want, but this is the best song in their catalogue to play live. No song can get an audience going quite like one which finally tackles the world’s greatest cruelty: real green dresses. Steve and Ed play back and forth in this one like Abbott and Costello. The wordplay is brilliant. Just to list a few instances of comic genius: a Garfunkel is not a work of art, one cannot simply buy all them crazy elephant bones, the fanciest Dijon ketchups in the world are indeed quite fancy, and finally, yes, I have always wanted a monKEY! And after all of the jokes and the cutesiness, all the Barenaked Ladies wanted to do was buy your love. Damn, you are not a cheap date are you? Are you that insecure in your relationship that you have to take a limousine to the store because it costs more? I guess they can take solace in the fact that because of that song, they are more than rich.

Number Five: Superhero; Stephen Lynch

Now this song kind of cheated to be as funny as it is. In order for a song like this to be funny, the audience has to be fully involved. And it was. To the max, this audience played along. Lynch makes this song his baby, talking down to the audience but using them for his comedy. You have to be either insane or cutting edge to rely on the audience to make your jokes for you, but this practically improvised song is the namesake of his album and one of the best he’s ever put out. Now yes, vulgarity is a lot of why this song is funny, but vulgarity is funny when used correctly. And Lynch used it perfectly here. And the absurd and, as he puts it, tongue-in-cheek, premise of the song is exactly what brings me so much joy. Singing this to a group of elementary schoolers would actually be plausible, but Lynch’s ethos takes this over the edge. And then the drunkards get involved. (Except for the old stoned table in the back) And the characters made up on the spot are superb. From Valtrex Man to Pussy Man and every silly, sixth grade humor joke in between, this song hits. Lynch would’ve been perfect on Whose Line is it Anyway?, because his quick wit in this song is some of the best improvisation I’ve ever heard. And I think we would all like to see Immigration Dude.

Number Four: Guy Love; Turk and JD; Scrubs

Sometimes, everything comes together and is just right. This entire episode of Scrubs, My Musical, is one of those instances. Everything Comes Down to Poo, The Reasons I Hate You, Puerto Rican or Dominican, We’re Gonna Miss You Carla, Welcome to Sacred Heart and Friends Forever are all beyond hilarious, and that isn’t even all of the songs. But Guy Love is on a plane all its own. This song was wholly necessary, because to make a musical episode without a Turk and JD love song would be like to make a musical episode of The Office without a Jim and Dwight duet. There really is nothing gay about their relationship in their eyes. Their personalities are perfectly articulated through song. JD would want to be so much more outward than Turk. Turk feels exactly those feelings too, and that’s why he keeps them inside. Sometimes a bear can’t bare the world’s disdain, and sometimes it’s easier to hide. And damn, can Zach Braff and Donald Faison actually sing. Like almost every other great show song on this list, it features callbacks that are just amazing. It is true that Turk is the only man who has ever been inside JD. There is no need to clarify that statement. And isn’t this feeling exactly what every guy wishes they could do: to marry their best friend in a totally manly way? These two are the best of friends, perhaps the best bromance in the history of the sitcom. And their matching bracelets prove it.

Number Three: Choppin' Broccoli; Dana Carvey

This song, along with the top two songs on the list, represents a special section of the list. This song is both a member of the television and album/standup ranks. This became famous because of SNL, but existed before and has been performed after. If you don’t laugh at Chopping Broccoli, you probably have never laughed in your life. Rock stars are pretentious. That is a known scientific fact. And Dana Carvey expressed this in the quintessential Dana Carvey fashion, with precise, narrow and smart joke telling. It may not seem smart to play stupid, but the idea is sublime. I can type out all of the lyrics and it would take up nary a line. It’s cold as ice, paradise, and the feeling I felt was nice. There’s a lady I know, and if I didn’t know her, she’d be the lady I didn’t know. My lady went downtown, she bought some broccoli, she brought it home, she’s chopping broccoli. Okay, just under three full lines on word. But the song last an eternity. The performance is sublime. Every face, every word, every stroke of the piano is a calculated and intelligent comedy machine. Dana Carvey may just be the funniest man alive, and his staple song proves two things: first, a long time ago there were a lot of people, and second, truly funny songs can stand the tests of time.

Number Two: Threw It on the Ground; The Lonely Island

Again, just like the song before it, this song belongs to the ranks of Saturday Night Live. But to confine the Lonely Island’s best work to a television show would be to disparage their creative passions. Yes, all of their funniest stuff was from Digital Shorts and then transposed onto albums or made directly for videos, and Threw It on the Ground is no exception, but this song is also an album cut on Turtleneck and Chain and a YouTube phenomenon. Picking a song from the Lonely Island to be included on this list was one of the hardest jobs I had to do, but when it all comes down to brass tax, Andy Samberg should always be remembered for this song and this song only. You can gripe all you want, but never did he put on a more authentic costume than in this video. Every single object that met the cruel fate of the ground in slow-motion went down better than the last. And when it comes to quotability, forget about it! Every line in this song is quotable. I’m not a part of your system! I’m an adult! Welcome to the real world, jackass! Happy birthday to the ground! And of course, my dad’s not a phone, duh! Elijah Wood and Ryan Reynolds have done some funny things in their lives, but these cameos were their best. No episode of Wilfred or Reynolds rom-cam can compare to tazing on the beatnik’s butthole, over and over. You can disagree with this being TLI’s best work, but your opinions are poison. I’m not gonna let you poison me. I’ll throw your opinions on the ground.

Number One: Hurt Feelings; Flight of the Conchords

Picking a funniest Flight of the Conchords song is like picking a funniest line from Anchorman: there probably is a right answer but no one person can decide for sure. When it comes down to it, you can quote them all and still be funny over and over again. Flight is the same way. Hurt Feelings isn’t the perfect duet like We’re Both in Love with a Sexy Lady. It isn’t the perfect subject matter like You Don’t Have to be a Prostitute. It isn’t as punny as Mutha’uckas or as much of a one trick pony as Jenny. It isn’t as sexual as Sugalumps or as filled with allusions as Rambling through the Avenues of Time. But what it does have is the most redeeming quality of any comedy song known to man. This song has relistenability. And I know that isn’t a word, but hear me out. This song truly gets funnier every time you listen to it. The inflection in Bret and Jemaine’s voices is ridiculously funny. Each verse is like an artisanal, hand-crafted, macramé piece of art. You know what, let me prove it to you. I’m going to go verse by verse to explain just how funny this song is.

Introduction: Some people do mistakenly think that rappers are invincible. But things do happen to rappers that make them vincible. And contrary to the popular belief, these guys are rappers. In the video version, as their chairs slide back into story telling mode, you can see the video building up into a climactic sort of goldmine. And as the rhymes get brought, Bret and Jemaine feel real pain. I hope you have a box of tissues next to you because this one is a real tear jerker.

Verse 1: What kind of an asshole doesn’t say something nice when someone makes them profiteroles? Jemaine is right. When you go through the effort to not only make something delicious but also keep it nutritious, your so-called friends should at least say thank you. But to withhold gratitude is to make Jemaine feel like the asshole. You guys are the assholes. Curse you Bret and all of the never again mentioned black friends that they gained for the purpose of this video. Curse all of you. You hurt Jemaine’s feelings.

Verse 2: That story did bring a tear to my eye, Bret. Thanks for the warning. All the mother-flipping Rhyenocerous wanted was a small man’s wetsuit. But no, you had to ask if a ladies wetsuit was fine. The same thing happens to me all of the time, but instead of ladies clothes, they ask if I want maternity pants to fit my humongous ass. I feel your pain brother. Bret shouldn’t be forced to try on a ladies size just because the suit was too big around the thighs. Curse you salesman. You hurt Bret’s feelings.

Verse 3: How can a mum forget her son’s birthday? Even though it was 2003, before Facebook reminded everyone when their friends and family had birthdays, families shouldn’t forget about one another. And this was 2003! Jemaine wasn’t in the States yet. He was still back in Wellington, just minutes from his family. How could they forget about him? They probably remembered all of their sheep’s birthdays. Curse you Clement family. You hurt Jemaine’s feelings.

Verse 4: This one happens to me all the time. I always ask friends to come with me to see Maid in Manhattan, but they always say “no, we’re too busy.” Then I go by myself to see Maid in Manhattan and they are always there. We all know no one can resist seeing Maid in Manhattan. It is the perfect film. It should win an Oscar every year. And all of Bret’s new black friends and Jemaine are lined up to see it even though they know he wanted to see it. Bastards. Curse you guys again. You hurt Bret’s feelings.

Bridge: First question: yes, I have been told that my ass is too big. Many times. Too many time too count in fact. Second question: I haven’t ever been asked if my hair is a wig, but people do mock my hair all of the time. Just ask my parents and sister. They bullied me relentlessly until I got it cut. Bullies. Third question: not yet, but I look forward to the many times I am told I’m mediocre in bed in my life. I assume I will hear it more than a few times. Fourth question: oddly enough, yes, I have been told I have a weird shaped head. I didn’t think my head was weird shaped, but apparently it is. Go figure. Fifth question: No, I don’t think my family has ever driven away without me, but I think Jemaine just needs a new family if they forgot to call him on his birthday and drove away without him. Sixth question: I didn’t take drama in school, but I have been called homo by middle school bullies. It didn’t feel very good. Seventh question: I hope not, but if someone think I look like a llama and called me it behind my back I would be very offended.

Outro: If all that stuff had happened to me in the past I would cry the tears of a rapper too. As Murray says, those are all good examples of having hurt feelings. Just from hearing this song I have hurt feelings by association. If you’ve ever had hurt feelings, you can feel where this song is coming from.

And those are the funniest songs of all time. Disagree? Have your own list? Want to give me hurt feelings via the interwebs? Feel free to comment. PLEASE! DO IT! WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE?


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