Do you know what feels really bad? Being stuck inside and worrying about a pandemic.
Do you know what feels really good? Laughing.
Sure, the latter can’t cure the former, but it can provide a warm metaphoric blanket and nice brain massage. They don’t call laughter “the best medicine” because it’s lame.
Giggling, chuckling and knee-slapping is important for your health, and in order to help you find something funny, my colleagues (whose entries are noted) and I put together a list of 50 things to watch when you need a natural mood booster.
What did we pick? A bunch of sketches, movie moments, TV scenes, standup sets and songs we have long relied on when we need some extra serotonin, from vintage “Saturday Night Live” clips to new TikTok videos. Enjoy our 50 go-to laughs, in no particular order:
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For when you want to bob your head while smiling uncontrollably.
50. Jake Gyllenhaal: ‘Music Everywhere’
Jake Gyllenhaal turned his cameo at the end of “John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch” into a manic tour-de-force that is so outrageous, there’s no way you can get through it with a straight face. Gyllenhaal, with a xylophone shirt, acts so hard his mustache nearly falls off.
49. Dana Carvey: ‘The Lady I Know (Choppin’ Broccoli)’
Dana Carvey’s “SNL” piano song from 1986 about choppin’ broccoli has stood the test of time for good reason: It’s serious, it’s preposterous and it’s meant to be repeated whilst preparing one’s own vegetables. The best part: The dramatic “She chops (pause) Uh!”
48. Marsh family: ‘One Day More’ parody
The Marsh family of six from Kent in the U.K. turned the theatrical French Revolution song “One Day More” from the musical “Les Miserábles” into a parody about being quarantined. It’s brilliant and made funnier by the dedicated (and bickering) singing children.
47. Nick Andrews: ‘My Hands Are Bananas’
This black-and-white clip from the early YouTube days is meant to look like a German techno music video. It’s about a man whose hands are, yes, made of bananas. It’s also about a guy named Chad who’s never had chili, and a so-called “milky pirate.” Almost 14 years later, this song is still strange and beautiful.
46. ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’: ‘Love Kernels’
“Love Kernels” is the “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” version of a “Lemonade”-esque big-budget musical number. If Rebecca Bunch’s (Rachel Bloom) sexy cactus outfit doesn’t make you smile, the lyrics about the show using its entire production budget on the song should. (A sad editor’s note: Adam Schlesinger, the “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” songwriter has died from coronavirus complications.)
45. The Lonely Island: ‘YOLO’
This Lonely Island banger, featuring Adam Levine and Kendrick Lamar, has long been a sidesplitting song about misunderstanding the meaning about the phrase YOLO (you only live once). But in times of global pandemic, the lines “Don’t travel by plane and don’t travel at all,” “No such thing as too much Purell” and “Isolate yourself and just roll solo” hit a bit differently.
44. ‘Summer Heights High’: ‘Naughty Girl’
Warning: This song is NSFW (not that you’re at work, anyway) and might get stuck in your head, but it is worth the watch. The song “Naughty Girl” from Australian comedy “Summer Heights High,” is one of the numbers Mr. G (Chris Lilley) presents as part of the high school musical he has directed. Yes, those props are meant to look like ecstasy tablets. Yes, Mr. G is singing while a student lip syncs. Yes, it is insane.
43. ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic: ‘Amish Paradise’
“Weird” Al Yankovic has plenty of silly parody songs, but his Amish-themed take on Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” is iconic. The opening line – “As I walk through the valley where I harvest my grain, I take a look at my wife and realize she’s very plain” – is one you can rely on for a giggle.
42. ‘Rick & Morty’: ‘Get Schwifty’
Adult Swim series “Rick & Morty” is a great antidote to a bad mood. The song by the lead characters – Rick and his drunk scientist grandfather Morty – is particularly off the wall (and contains profanity). It’s called “Get Schwifty” and it’s so catchy that it appeased a giant alien head who came to planet Earth requesting a hit song.
41. John Mayer: ‘Drone Shot of My Yacht’
After billionaire David Geffen posted to Instagram about self-isolating on his enormous yacht last month, John Mayer premiered this earworm that includes the lyrics “let me flex these specs / 450 feet, 6 or 7 decks / You can try to stretch your neck … I don’t give a heck.” Instant classic.
For when you want to experience utter bliss.
40. Jack Black joining TikTok
Jack Black’s TikTok dance is not only glorious because it features him shirtless with cowboy boots and a hat in front of a trampoline, but also because it showcases the physical comedian’s unexpected grace. He kicks, he twirls, he becomes a peacock. It’s hilarious and, dare I say, magnificent.
39. Tom Holland: ‘Lip Sync Battle’
Our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man Tom Holland takes the stage looking dapper in a Gene Kelly-inspired suit and tie while dancing to “Singin’ in the Rain.” Charming, if a bit boring. But then something magical happens: he disappears from sight and emerges in a sexy, gender-fluid outfit to dance to Rihanna’s “Umbrella” in the pouring rain. He pulls moves that put Spider-Man’s grace to shame. Just three minutes of pure joy. – Barbara VanDenburgh
38. Rickey Thompson: Dancing like a pop star
Instagram personality extraordinaire Rickey Thompson is almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face with one of his videos, whether it’s an inspirational pep talk or him hitting every move in a choreographed dance routine. This video of him dancing to Janet Jackson’s “All For You” as if he is the star onstage at a concert is spot on. Who hasn’t danced around their room pretending to be their favorite pop star? As the childhood owner of a karaoke machine (complete with the headset microphone a la Britney Spears) and that very Jackson track as a performance option, this video never fails to make me laugh. – Anika Reed
37. Fatboy Slim: “Weapon of Choice”
Remember when we all learned Christopher Walken could dance? Like, really dance? There’s no counting the times I’ve pulled up this classic Spike Jonze-directed Fatboy Slim music video to watch Walken cut a rug across an empty hotel lobby just because. There’s no point to it except the pleasure of its existence, and that’s enough. –VanDenburgh
For when you want to see a short, silly story play out.
36. ‘SNL’: ‘New Paint’ sketch with Aidy Bryant
What starts as a fairly standard parody ad for British paint company Farrow & Ball becomes something else entirely in this soapy, delightfully unhinged sketch starring Kristen Stewart. “SNL” MVP Aidy Bryant’s commitment to the bit – particularly her mispronunciation of the word “color” (“Cuh-LORE!”) – make this an instant classic. –Patrick Ryan
35. ‘SNL’: ‘Van Down by the River’
Chris Farley is Matt Foley, a 35-year-old overly-caffeinated motivational speaker who attempts to scare two teens straight by telling them about his life “in a van down by the river.” The way Farley keeps hitching up his pants and screaming, combined with watching David Spade and Christina Applegate struggle not to break character by laughing, gets me every time. – Jennifer McClellan
34. ‘SNL’: ‘Not Gonna Phone It in Tonight‘
Best “SNL” cold-open ever: Jaded, bored Steve Martin can’t get excited about another hosting gig until super-fan Chris Farley pulls out his old King Tut duds. A suddenly inspired Martin and “SNL” cast members, including Phil Hartman, Mike Myers, Chris Rock (and executive producer Lorne Michaels in a great cameo) sing and dance through the entire set and backstage in a brilliant Broadway-style number. It’s from 1991, so the video quality and an “It’s Pat” reference wouldn’t be acceptable today, but otherwise it’s timeless, hilarious entertainment. – Bill Keveney
33. ‘Funny or Die’: Long Haired Businessman Zoom Conference
Doing a lot of Zoom meetings these days? Then you’ll find plenty of humor in this sketch starring Will Ferrell and Will Forte in long-haired wigs on a video conference call for their ambiguous company. What do they do? Doesn’t matter! But we do know they’re feeling good about their position in the marketplace and are looking forward to circling back again soon.
32. ‘SNL’: Live-action ‘Bambi’
With the theatrical release of the live-action “Mulan” delayed, at least we still have this sketch about what a live-action “Bambi” could look like, with Dwayne Johnson in the title role as a gun-toting, cigar-smoking deer (and “SNL” cast members parodying “Furious” actors as other characters). “When I was a boy, they took my mother,” The Rock says with his best smolder. “Now it’s time for them to pay … dearly.”
For when you want to laugh at someone who’s pretending to be someone else.
31. Alyssa Limperis: Mom impression
The best part of comedian Alyssa Limperis’ impressions of her mom, is that her mom, Linda, films many of the videos. I haven’t met Mrs. Limperis, but I know her. We all know her. And can laugh with her for her immense amount of maternal instinct.
30. Kate McKinnon as Justin Bieber
McKinnon has said that the secret to her Bieber impersonation is to make herself look like “a puppy who piddled.” Somehow, that mindset works amazingly well as McKinnon bites her lip, puts her hands in a prayer posture and squirms around on set looking exactly like the Biebz. It’s hard for the “SNL” cast not to break.
For when you might watch a whole film later, but just want to enjoy a couple of choice minutes of the comedy now.
29. ‘The Room’: Flower shop scene
Sometimes unintentional comedy is even better than the stuff that’s trying to be funny. That’s certainly the case with “The Room,” Tommy Wiseau’s accidental masterpiece that doubles as an instruction manual for how not to make a movie. Best to watch with friends (in this case, virtually), with a stiff drink or five. The scene where Wiseau buys flowers, complete with inexplicable dialogue and edits, is a good pregame. – VanDenburgh
28. ‘Airplane!’: Pick a scene
With such a high joke-per-minute ratio, almost any scene from the 1980 classic “Airplane!” should make you laugh, from “I speak jive” to “Joey, do you like gladiator movies?” – Gary Levin
27. ‘Step Brothers’: Dinosaur speech
Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as middle-aged stepbrothers is a comedic gift in this movie. But perhaps the funniest scene in the R-rated “Step Brothers”? Richard Jenkins, as Reilly’s dad, giving the guys a nonsensical speech about how he always wanted to grow up and be a dinosaur. It’s motivating nonetheless.
26. ‘Trainwreck’: John Cena & Amy Schumer at the movies
(Warning: This scene contains adult language.) John Cena is a full-blown movie star now. But back when we knew him as a WWE personality, he played Amy Schumer’s meathead boyfriend in 2015’s “Trainwreck.” His performance was surprisingly funny, especially during the R-rated scene in which he and Schumer argue with a couple at the movie theater, and Cena can’t help but make his threats sound homoerotic.
25. ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’: Rhino scene
Even out of context, the line “Kinda hot in these rhinos” tickles my funny bone. It’s something that Jim Carrey says as sneaky Ace Ventura while he is spying on bad guys from inside a mechanical rhino. What’s a sweaty detective to do once the rhino exit door is jammed? Exit from a tiny hole below the rhino’s tail as passersby scream, obviously.
24. ‘Anchorman 2’: News team fight
Most people slept on the “Anchorman” sequel, but there’s at least one scene from “Anchorman 2” that mustn’t be ignored any longer: The epic battle between news teams. Filled with plenty of adult language, it contains cameos of everyone from a leather jacket-clad Kanye West as an MTV News anchor to Will Smith as an ESPN reporter and Harrison Ford as … a werewolf? Amy Poehler as an entertainment news host has one of the best lines in the ludicrous scene: “Who are you wearing today? Oh, look, it’s your own blood!”
23. ‘Zoolander’: Derek confronts his father
I can barely talk about “Zoolander” without interrupting myself with a laugh/snort. But I shall try as I describe an early scene: Male model Derek (Ben Stiller) tries to connect with his father (John Voight) after working for one day at the family trade in a coal mine. This does not go well, what with Derek coughing and complaining that he has “the black lung.” It’s not his fault that he has “this perfect bone structure!”
For when you want a clip or episode of TV to pull you out of a funk – and when you probably want it to be from “The Office.”
22. ‘The Office’: ‘Threat Level Midnight’
Steve Carrell’s performance as weirdo boss Michael Scott in “The Office” is a work of comedy genius. Steve Carrell as Michael Scott playing Michael Scarn in a homemade action movie called “Threat Level Midnight”? That’s next-level.
21. ‘The Office’: Cold open from ‘Stress Relief: Part I’
“The Office” is full of ridiculous and inappropriate antics (i.e. the “Gay Witch Hunt” antics, not to mention everything that happens during “Dinner Party”). But the cold open of “Stress Relief: Part I” always makes me howl with laughter. Seeing all these characters panic in different ways is just what you could use as a distraction from your own worries right now. Kevin breaking the vending machine to steal snacks and Angela trying to sneak her cat up the ceiling vent with Oscar sends me into a giggle fit every time. Yes, I don’t mind cats. – David Oliver
20. ‘The Office’: ‘Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica’
Question: Which is the best prank Jim pulled on Dwight? It’s the one when Jim acts so much like his frenemy that Dwight cries, “Identity theft is not a joke!” – McClellan
19. ’30 Rock’: Dr. Spaceman
Oh, where to even begin with “30 Rock”? Kenneth’s “Father Pig” confession, Angie’s “HAM!” catchphrase and Jenna’s torrid relationship with Mickey Rourke are some of the most-quoted bits from Tina Fey’s brilliant meta-sitcom. But Chris Parnell’s clueless, deadpan Dr. Spaceman (pronounced Spah-CHEM-in) captures everything we miss about this weird little show, including his irreverent, out-there medical diagnoses that will force you to do a double-take. (Example: “Your blood tastes like root beer, and some of your bones appear to have vanished.”) – Patrick Ryan
18. ‘Parks and Recreation’: Leslie complimenting Ann
One of my absolute favorite (of many) running gags on “Parks and Recreation” is Leslie Knope’s (Amy Poehler) elaborate, ridiculous but also incredibly sweet compliments about her “beautiful, naive, sophisticated newborn baby” of a best friend, Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones). If you need to be reminded today that you are indeed “a beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox,” watch this. – Ryan
17. ‘Succession: Any Tom and Greg scene
Tom and Greg are easily the lighter comic relief in most scenes of “Succession,” even when they’re covering up nefarious acts. After all, you can’t make a Tomlette without breaking some Greggs. This is an actual line from the show. (Warning: Clip contains expletives.) – Oliver
‘Friends’: The One with Phoebe’s Cook
Monica spends at least two days trying to figure out Phoebe’s dead grandmother’s famous cookie recipe, only to find out it was stolen from the back of Nestle Tollhouse’s chocolate chip bag. Phoebe claims her grandmother got the recipe from her grandmother … ‘Nestlay Tollouse.’ – Rasha Ali
16. ‘Real Housewives of New York City’: Dorina Medley saying ‘clip’
In the words of former “RHONY” cast member Carole Radziwill, when Dorinda Medley is bad, she is so good. When Dorinda gets in an argument with Sonja Morgan, she reaches a fever pitch and just wants her fellow castmate to be quiet. Enter “clip.” Dorinda yells the word “clip!” at top volume during lunch in the Bronx with the other housewives in an attempt to get Sonja to stop talking. Paired with her facial expression, the obvious “clip” hand motion and a glass of wine, the scene goes down as one of the funniest in “RHONY” history. – Reed
15. ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ cold open of Season 5, Episode 17
In a serious contender for the show’s best-ever cold open, Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) conducts all the suspected perps in a criminal lineup in a performance of the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” – which is silly and good in and of itself, but it’s the punchline (which I will not spoil here) that makes this an all-timer. – VanDenburgh
14. CNN News: Chris and Andrew Cuomo
The Cuomo brothers have managed a tricky balancing act: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is coherent and factual in laying out the stakes of the coronavirus crisis at ground zero in the USA at his daily televised pressers, and then jousts amiably with his “little brother” Chris Cuomo of CNN, the latter who manages to get laughs even while suffering from COVID-19 in his basement and shivering from chills so much he chipped a tooth. They’re just what the nation needs: Reassuring competence mixed with an accessible sense of humor. You laugh in spite of your fears. You laugh in the face of your fears. Then you put on your mask. – Maria Puente
For when you just want a comedian to perform, and there’s a good chance that comedian is John Mulaney.
13. John Mulaney: Salt and Pepper Diner
John Mulaney has plenty of bits to make you cry of laughter, but this one gets me every time. His retelling of his favorite meal ever doesn’t actually include any food. Instead, he recounts setting the jukebox to play Tom Jones’ “What’s New Pussycat?” over and over and sitting back with a friend while watching the diner patrons react to the madness. His impression of one of the diners in the restaurant is priceless, and the devilish glee in his voice during the whole joke is perfect. – Reed
12. John Mulaney: ‘Kid Gorgeous’ Robots
OK, just one more from Mulaney on this list: A bit from “Kid Gorgeous” underscores the absurdity of accessing our own information on computers and is never not funny. Sounding like a troll under a bridge, Mulaney describes a test meant to suss out whether you’re a robot: “Look at those curvy letters! Much curvier than most letters, wouldn’t you say?!… Is it an E or is it a 3? That’s up to ye!”
11. Ali Wong: ‘Baby Cobra’ and/or ‘Hard Knock Wife’
If you’re a parent and you haven’t watched both of Wong’s Netflix specials (which include plenty of adult content), you’re missing out. Pregnant in each, Wong delivers – pun intended – ribald observations about pregnancy, marriage and childrearing that we’re not allowed to print here. – McClellan
10. Ronny Chieng: ‘Asian Comedian Destroys America’
I have watched Ronny Chieng’s Netflix special “Asian Comedian Destroys America” at least five times, and it never gets old. The “Daily Show” correspondent’s bone-dry delivery on almost missing his Australian wedding, our Amazon Prime dependence and his immigrant perspective on America is dead-on, and a balm for my frazzled nerves. – Andrea Mandell
Other things on the Internet
For when you don’t know what you want.
9. Bodega cats
This seven-second video of a man with a very macho-sounding New York accent petting a cat in a bodega and assessing it like he would a car after test-driving it is the purest thing I’ve ever seen on the internet. – VanDenburgh
8. Brad Goreski: Bradbucks
Celebrity stylist and TV personality Brad Goreski is posting a daily “Bradbucks’’ video segment, where he serves his finicky husband, TV writer Gary Janetti, his favorite Starbucks drink (iced grande cafe mocha with almond milk, two pumps, no whip) as if he were a barista. Start the series from the beginning for maximum laughs. – Dawn Gilbertson
7. ‘Tonight Show’: Kristen Wiig interview as Khaleesi from ‘Game of Thrones’
Between “Bridesmaids,” “SNL” and any one of her droll awards show appearances Kristen Wiig could easily occupy every spot on this list. But this 2015 “Tonight Show” appearance is an all-timer, as Wiig – who claims to have never watched “Game of the Thrones” – fumbles her way through a mock interview as fan-favorite Daenerys Targaryen, aka Khaleesi. (For instance, she says the Mother of Dragons’ favorite hobbies include playing the mandolin, casting spells and telling stand-up jokes about rocks.) As someone who gave up on the HBO fantasy hit long before it ended last summer, it’s the perfect encapsulation of how some feel trying to talk about “Thrones” with their friends. – Ryan
6. Jimmy Kimmel Live: Tiffany Haddish’s Groupon story
We’d love to include scenes of Tiffany Haddish in “Girls Trip” on this list because her standout party girl character is pee-your-pants funny, but none of her best moments are suitable for a family-friendly publication. Instead, we’ll steer you in the direction of a talk show conversation the comedian had with Jimmy Kimmel all about the time she took Will and Jada Pinkett Smith (her “Girls Trip” co-star) on a memorable Groupon swamp tour. The story is good, but her telling of it is a hoot.
5. ‘Vicious Mannies’
OK full disclosure, my friend made this web-series about gay mannies living in Los Angeles while working on their actor/novelist/agent dreams. But I can’t stop laughing at Rex Lee (Lloyd from HBO’s “Entourage”) debating the new hot manny’s motives during the 3-minute “Broad City”-style episodes. (Includes some NSFW language.) – Mandell
4. Matt Bellassai: ‘Whine About It’
A little more than four years ago, Buzzfeed’s Matt Bellassai used to get drunk at his desk weekly and complain about things. It was a very silly entertaining vent session, and still is. I recommend revisiting his video about “The Worst Types of Roommates” in these close-quartered times. Alright, everybody!
3. Will Smith’s beard
Have you noticed that the Fresh Prince has grown a fresh beard? Yeah, he sees your comments about his newly-sprouted facial hair, and he’s ready to make fun of his new look. How? With a parody video on Instagram that gives his various movie characters beards. (For more comedic beard content, Stephen Colbert has you covered.)
2. Olaf returns
Disney is posting new animations of fan-favorite “Frozen” star Olaf, complete with Josh Gad’s voice (from home). If the new shorts don’t make you gleeful, Olaf searching for “Samantha” from “Frozen 2” should.
1. Carly crashes on ‘Ninja Warrior’ course
Carly Mallenbaum falling down (immediately!) on the “American Ninja Warrior” course is good for a laugh. – Gary Levin (Editor’s note: Yes, that’s the same Carly Mallenbaum whose byline is on this piece. And yes, Gary is one of her editors.)