It’s an interesting time to be a music fan with a sense of humor. Not only have the past few years seen the rise of artists with an absurd sense of humor develop legit critical acclaim and devoted fanbases, but we’ve also seen artists who’ve made their name as comedians venture into successful music careers without sacrificing the sense of humor that first brought them their audience. But while a funny line in a song can make for a quick moment of comic relief, an actually funny short-form music video can be absolutely dire if not executed correctly. While there’s plenty of dated and flat-out lame videos that have produced a hearty guffaw over the years, the clips that try and succeed at genuine humor are few and far between. We’ve assembled five of our favorites to prove that a truly funny video can keep an artist laughing all the way to the bank.
Beastie Boys, 1992
Always known for both their incredible videos and their irreverence, the Beastie Boys have had some absolutely masterfully funny videos over the course of their 30 years together. But as great as clips like “Fight For Your Right” and “Sabotage” are, the Boys have frequently stated that their favorite video has been the seldom-seen seemingly homemade clip for 1992’s “Pass the Mic” b-side “Netty’s Girl.” Here, in a testament to early ’90s ingenuity, Mike D dreams of a public park serenade, waxing poetic about a girl who “had her shit to-GETHER!” The low budget, and fun Q-Tip cameo, really showcases Michael Diamond’s more subtle comedic tendencies.
“Ass on the Internet”
The best video we saw last year had to be Atlanta sextet Dormtainment’s “Ass on the Internet.” As funny as it is inventive, this tribute to media and booty used the illusion of the one-take shot to make their dorm seem like a vast cornucopia of technology and twerk. While the group’s primarily known for their comedy videos, it’s worth noting how actually dope the song’s verses are, not to mention how legitimately impressive Mike Cooke’s detailed direction gives the clip seemingly unlimited replay value. Oh, and booty.
The Coup 2013
Sometimes even the most irreverent of funny music videos can fall into a controversy that’s no laughing matter. Earlier this year, Oakland political rap outfit The Coup unveiled a new video for their single “Magic Clap” starring comedian/actor Patton Oswalt. Equal parts a send-up of officially released cheaply made promotional “lyrics” videos as well as Oswalt being his hilarious self, it adds a palatable comedic slant to the group’s biting political lyrics, something the group’s somewhat lacked since member E-roc left in 1997.
“Cut Your Hair”
Perhaps the visual appeal of ’90s rock darlings Pavement was best summed up in the immortal Beavis and Butthead riff “It’s Like They Aren’t Even Trying.” The group’s playfully apathetic approach to the increasingly-elaborate video market allowed their short-form endeavors to stick out even amongst the alternative crowd. 1994’s surreal “Cut Your Hair” jam-packs the most laughs into just over three-minutes with a silly series of haircut absurdities only tangentially related to the song itself.
The Black Keys, 2004
“10 A.M. Automatic”
The very same year MTV updated the trademark way they listed video credits, The Black Keys offered up a video that clings to the very bottom of television technology. The David Cross directed “10 A.M. Automatic” clip pays tribute to the bizarre religious public access programming that we’ve all stumbled upon at some point. With Jon Glaser as the rabbi host bookending what might otherwise appear to be a basic performance video with a solid 20 seconds of scripture, Cross captures the community television aesthetic while allowing the band’s actual performance ability to shine through.
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