The 15 Greatest Mr. Show Sketches Ever

5. Lifeboat: The Talk Show

The format may be either dead or severely subdued today, but back in the ‘90s the “Confrontational Talk Show” was hot shit. Most of us equate this with Jerry Springer, but at the time just about everyone with a microphone and studio audience lost their minds and stacked their shows with ornery, argumentative caricatures. This skit distills all that nonsense into five minutes of gut-shredding goofery. The line “because life is precious. And god, and the bible..” worked its way into my friend group’s regular rotation, and is itself a great summary of the empty arguments these shows would pit against their perpetually agitated guests. Just words to stir the pot, and arguing for arguing’s sake… a lesson for us all!

“Imma fuck me a fish.”

Of course, I absolutely LOSE MY MIND every time Bob screams GOD DAMN IT, and David’s speech at the end made the whole room bust up laughing. It’s just an absurd-as-hell scenario, portraying an era of TV that really flew off the rails. – Brett Elston

4. Monster Parties: Fact Or Fiction?

This is an LT favorite because Laser Time knows everything about monster parties (the phenomenon of novelty songs where scary creatures hang out). That knowledge was largely inspired this lengthy sketch which touched on the late ’90s obsession with Unsolved Mysteries and similar shows. This show focused on a necrophiliac singer who dreams that he came upon a party full of draculas and wolfmen.

“Every-bloodies in-bite-ed!”

The sober testimonials of experts, the grim-yet-believing voiceover, the cheap stock footage of graveyards… it’s all a perfect recreation of those terrible shows, and David is excellent as the sad sack in the middle of it. Similar kudos should go to Bob for his monkish portrayal of Doctor Demento, and to future 30 Rock costar Scott Adsit as the onanistic party expert. Fun fact: Rick & Morty creator Justin Roiland was in the audience for David’s flailing that plays under the credits. – Henry Gilbert

3. Pallies

Goodfellas might be the most parodied movie of my lifetime, and part of the gag of Pallies is it starts out as an intentionally sloppy version of just that. But after the writers grow bored with taking the piss out of Martin Scorsese quickly (“Tommy ‘Wommy’ O’meara”), the whole sketch evolves quickly into a wildly different Chinese dentist. On a more personal note, I’ve been an obnoxious cinephile my whole life, I refuse to watch movies on network television/basic cable, and it has (almost) nothing to do with commercial breaks.

“My whole life I wanted to dabble in the mafia”

Should this principle ever come up while at a family or friend’s house, I don’t even have explain myself anymore;. I just pull up Pallies on Youtube. If that ain’t enough anecdotery for you, I’d also like to point out Mad TV ripped off Pallies’ premise wholesale for its Sopranos parody. – Chris Antista

2. Gibbons Vs. Fairsley

Unlike many sketch series before and after it, Mr. Show chose to make each sketch in an episode connect to one another, with commercial parodies often serving as simple bridges. This back-and-forth battle between competing supermarkets is funniest of the bunch. In less than five minutes, Mr. Show uses a series of fauxmercials to show how big box stores systematically destroy local businesses.

“That’s The Fairsley Difference!”

Fairsley’s constant insinuations and rumor-mongering starts a dirty game that Len Gibbons can’t possibly win, upping the threats to ludicrous extremes. Each effort he makes to counter Fairsley’s lies just hurts him further, as the sad reveal of Gibbons’ continually shrinking store shows. David is fantastic as the broken Gibbons, an honest man beaten by commerce. Len can’t even win in his flashbacks, as his grandfather admonishes him for losing to Fairsley in the future, making Gibbons’ string of failures hilariously complete. Plus, you see Brian Posehn does the best fart Mr. Show has ever aired. – Henry Gilbert

1. The Story of Everest

So, the entire bit is the guy falling into the same shelves over and over. But after a super-sedate opening where you’re like, “so where is this going?” the physical gags start and don’t let up for five straight minutes. It’s one of those premises that would… ahem… fall flat on another show, but Jay Johnston’s freakish height is absolutely perfect with his exaggerated movements. The first time I saw this, I could barely even look at the screen by the end of it. And I don’t mean that in an internet “lol i can’t breath!” way that pops up everytime someone’s cat wears sunglasses, I mean it like, “dude I am going to pass out from laughing so hard.”

“How could you think THAT was a stool?!? Idiot!”

What’s even better is that the Mr. Show book and DVD commentary track’s explain how this bit came to be. It’s hard to believe, but this sketch is practically a real-life account of someone who kept leaning on a wheeled grill and knocking shit over repeatedly. Once again, years later, I was losing my mind at the idea of someone just falling over constantly. This is not Mr Show at its best or most creative, I would argue, but it is without a doubt my favorite scene of all time. It’s also preceded by other bits in this list, making this episode (S4E4) possibly the best of the whole show. – Brett Elston

Mad we missed something? Want to recall your favorite Mr. Show moments? Talk all about it in the comments!

12 thoughts on “The 15 Greatest Mr. Show Sketches Ever

  1. Awesome article you guys. Mr.Show is one of my absolute favourite shows of all time, and I consider it the basis of my comedy nerdery. You guys introduced it to me, so I really have to thank you for that.

    My personal favourite sketches are all on this list (Everest, Monster Parties, and Blow up the Moon) but there’s one sketch I am honestly shocked not to see on here, just because so many people consider it to be the best sketch of the entire series.

    I’m talking about Audition of course. I know it’s played out and cliche to talk about how brilliant that sketch is, but it really can’t be overstated. I’ve seen it described as the platonic ideal of sketch comedy, and I kind of feel like that’s appropriate. It may not be the funniest, but on a pure, structural level, it’s pretty much perfect. I’m curious about your thought process about not having it on the list.

  2. My favorite Mr.Show skit will always be “24 the Highest Number”. It was my very first thanks to you guys playing it during one of the breaks in Talk Radar 24. That skit lead me on a journey to one day buy the complete Mr.Show boxset several years later. Man, how far we’ve come. Talk Radar reached a total of 24 episodes and now Lasertime is approaching its 24th episode with a Patreon giving y’all 24 dollars a month. And I a 23 year old that will turn 24 in 10 months. Damn, I was so close to a great end to this joke.

  3. Great list guys! Mr. Show is pretty much synonymous with Laser Time, since you guys introduced it to me during the TDAR days, so seeing articles like this is really awesome. My favorite sketches would have to be Larry Kleist: Rapist and Fuzz the Musical. “How High the Mountain” is permanently stuck in my head.

  4. ‘Gibbons Vs. Fairsley’ is so damned funny, and so sadly on point as well.

    (Could we get an honorable mention for ‘Evil Genius Telethon’?)

  5. The best sketch in my mind is still Devastator at Thrill World, since it was about this clearly deadly rollercoaster that somehow became an pandemic where everyone is dead or dying, including one the local favorite Hutchinson brothers. Also the news report talking to the people who are planning for this deadly rollercoaster ends up in a cruel twist of fate, prepared to go on the Devastator. Then again, I AIN’T ‘FRAID OF NO ROLLYCOASTER.

    1. You should try to find them digitally. Like all sketch shows there are a few misses, but overall every season is pretty spectacular.

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