5 of Nerve’s 50 Greatest Commercial Parodies Worth Watching


Nerve’s new list of comedy classics, The 50 Greatest Commercial Parodies of All Time, is in some respects a pale imitation of its 50 Greatest Sketches of All Time list from last month. But I tried to find for you, dear reader, the five hidden gems of this list that you may not have seen.

And it was easier this time. First, I eliminated the SNL entries about vaginas. Then, I eliminated the other ones about vaginas. Then I eliminated the other SNL entries. This reduced the list from 50 to eight. And of the eight remaining sketches, there are definitely a few you might not have see — or may just really want to see again…

MADtv: “Levitrol” (2006)

This is totally sold by Keegan-Michael Key’s performance as a man who asked his doctor if Levitol was right for him…and didn’t get quite the answer he was expecting.

SCTV, “The Young and the Wrestling” (1980)

SCTV‘s skewed take on television was full of bits like this mashup of soap operas and “sports entertainment.” The sad truth is that if this were a real show, I’d watch.

MADtv, “Zoloft” (2006)

Not only is this a clever riff on anti-depressant commercials, but it also makes a fair point about both the relative difference between prescription drugs and illegal drugs and the dangers of drug use (I say this as somebody with at least five Moby albums in my collection).

Chappelle’s Show, “Samuel Jackson Beer” (2004)

Samuel L. Jackson beer
If this sketch were even a half second longer, it’d be completely ridiculous. But it turns out that one minute is the perfect amount of time to watch Dave Chappelle shout at the camera in a SLJ wig. Bad-ass.

The Lily Tomlin Comedy Special,”G-R-R-R Detergent” (1975)

This sketch actually comes in at #12, six places behind “Samuel L. Jackson Beer” at #6. But it’s a clever piece that showcases Tomlin’s talents as a character actress. Plus, the punchline has quite the punch.

Fascinatingly, the compliers of this list are reduced to using at least five different sources for compiling the SNL entries — proof that if Hulu really wants to be the great SNL archive it claims to be, it really needs to get the ball rolling. Because even though the SNL house style for commercial parodies is so predictable that it itself is due for parody, it’s still a classic comedy genre worth examining. Even if, ultimately, I might prefer Dave Chappelle shouting to Dan Ackroyd shilling.

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