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October 5, 2011 9:48 AM   Subscribe

In the cold open for this week's RadioLab (Loops), Jesse Thorn (MeFi's own) commemorates one of the craziest, most unconventional comedy bits in modern memory: Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler's "Kristen Schaal is a Horse", a sketch that starts out funny, then turns decidedly un-funny, then becomes hilarious. Ten minute version. Schaal on The Sound of Young America.
posted by Apropos of Something (62 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
I should clarify: the ten minute version linked above is a simulation of the ten minutes that Kristen and Kurt did at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. That televised version includes a commercial break.
posted by Apropos of Something at 9:52 AM on October 5, 2011


One of the funniest things about this is that somebody felt the need to put together a "simulation."
posted by koeselitz at 9:55 AM on October 5, 2011


Schaal also used repetition to good effect here "Am I right?"
posted by The Whelk at 9:58 AM on October 5, 2011


I didn't find that crazy, unconventional, or funny in any way. It's the kind of thing my first graders do all the time. Interesting post, though. I like Kristen Schaal a lot.

As with all comedy, YMMV.
posted by Huck500 at 9:59 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think it's a very fluffy pancake.
posted by The World Famous at 10:07 AM on October 5, 2011


Now I'm going to have Kristen Schaal is a Horse stuck in my head all day.


Again.
posted by mathowie at 10:08 AM on October 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


Kristen Schaal stars in pretty much the worst tv commercial i've ever seen.
posted by empath at 10:09 AM on October 5, 2011


It reminds me of Jerry Juhl, head writer of "The Muppet Show" who said "Any joke that is too bad to do once may be bad enough to do several times."
posted by inturnaround at 10:14 AM on October 5, 2011 [14 favorites]


Coventionally Kaufmanesque.
posted by davebush at 10:14 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


See also the rake bit.
posted by empath at 10:15 AM on October 5, 2011


It reminds me of Jerry Juhl, head writer of "The Muppet Show" who said "Any joke that is too bad to do once may be bad enough to do several times."

Arguably one of the funniest moments in The Simpsons, Sideshow Bob Gets Hit With A Rake For Two Whole Minutes, was invented at the last second as a way to fill out the run time.
posted by The Whelk at 10:18 AM on October 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


(jinx)
posted by The Whelk at 10:18 AM on October 5, 2011


Empath has a very strange definition of "worst", unless if by worst he means "best."
posted by fungible at 10:20 AM on October 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


Conventionally
posted by davebush at 10:21 AM on October 5, 2011


Now I'm going to have Kristen Schaal is a Horse stuck in my head all day.

For serious. I can't even hear someone say "Kristen Schaal" without my brain filling in "is a horse".
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:21 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


The old "repeat a joke until it's unfunny then funny again"? Didn't Mr. Show explore this years ago in the Story of Everest? Not like it was original then. Why WOULD anyone find this funny now?
posted by ReeMonster at 10:22 AM on October 5, 2011


That wasn't unconventional? Do you see that sort of extended repetition on stage very often? No? (Neither do I.) That pretty much makes it unconventional by definition.

Also, hilarious.
posted by oddman at 10:22 AM on October 5, 2011


"Why WOULD anyone find this funny now?"

Because it's funny.

Duh.
posted by oddman at 10:23 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whether it initially registers as funny or not, it takes an awful lot of courage to stand on a stage in front of a big audience for ten minutes screaming the same 10 seconds while your partner dances around like a horsey. The risk is what makes it funny - it's also why doing it on stage is fundamentally different and more groundbreaking than doing it on television (though both the Sideshow Bob and the Mr. Show sketches are independently hilarious).
posted by Apropos of Something at 10:27 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


What? The old "I've seen this so many times before that it's gone beyond classic and into just old" thread here on Metafilter? I've seen this thread so many times before.
posted by rusty at 10:27 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am increasingly convinced Kristen Schaal is a muppet.
posted by The Whelk at 10:27 AM on October 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


And that's how a bill becomes law!
posted by infinitewindow at 10:28 AM on October 5, 2011


Also: Englebert Humperdink is dead!
posted by rusty at 10:30 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


H. Jon Benjamin is a horse.
posted by steef at 10:35 AM on October 5, 2011


Oh, and paging Potomac Avenue, who interviewed Kristen and had this to say: Because Kristen Schaal is a horse, as you can plainly see from the evidence presented to you. Some comedians offend you, some make you blush, you grimace at some and nod at others' wisdom. Kristen's standup makes you want to dance with delight at her absurd transformations. If so much modern comedy is Ren and Stimpy, all down endings and nose-hair closeups, she's Animaniacs. She is, for all intents and purposes, a horse.
posted by Apropos of Something at 10:36 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


The old "repeat a joke until it's unfunny then funny again"? Didn't Mr. Show explore this years ago in the Story of Everest? Not like it was original then. Why WOULD anyone find this funny now?

Well, it was unfunny for a bit, but then it became funny again.

That's how it works!
posted by kenko at 10:48 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


a sketch that starts out funny, then turns decidedly un-funny, then becomes hilarious.

I don't know if I did something wrong by watching the two minute version, but for me it was more "starts out boring, then turns decidedly unfunny, then becomes annoying". The only remotely humorous bit was "and that's how a bill becomes a law", which was drowned out by the rest of it, plus it was a reference that the majority of the British audience probably wouldn't even get.
posted by unigolyn at 10:55 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


What? The old "It's funny / no it's not" thread here on Metafilter? I've seen this thread so many times before.

Whether something's funny or not is one of those things MetaFilter doesn't do well.

What? The old "MetaFilter doesn't do this well?" comment here on Metafilter? I've seen this thread so many times before.
posted by fetamelter at 11:01 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah it's true she is totally a h.o.r.s.e.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:04 AM on October 5, 2011


The old 'The old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' the old 'the old' again, eh?

rusty: What? The old "I've seen this so many times before that it's gone beyond classic and into just old" thread here on Metafilter?
Get your own community weblog!
posted by carsonb at 11:08 AM on October 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also the joke mainly is: ridiculous dancing. That is never not funny. Glad Jesse finally gave that bit the close reading it really deserves. (Hint: it could not be more actually like the judicial system).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:09 AM on October 5, 2011


Ah, arbitrariness as comedy. Good 'ol.

MONKEYMONKEYMONKEY!! Hey, I just said monkey monkey monkey three times? Isn't that crazy?!
posted by TheRedArmy at 11:13 AM on October 5, 2011


Okay, maybe the dancing was a bit amusing, but that was sort of overshadowed by the cameraman mainly focusing on the yelling dude, as well as by the yelling dude.

I was just honestly wondering if I'm missing something, or if this is funny simply because a gangly girl is doing a hokey dance.
posted by unigolyn at 11:14 AM on October 5, 2011


I didn't realize this was a genre: everything for ten hours. Oh wait, it's mostly by the same person. But still.
posted by jiawen at 11:21 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man this episode of Radiolab just got weird.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:21 AM on October 5, 2011


I think the reason I could never get that into Flight of the Conchords is that I find it totally implausible that Kristen Schaal is portrayed as sexually or socially undesirable in any way.
posted by cmoj at 11:24 AM on October 5, 2011 [6 favorites]



Good evening. Tonight on 'It's the Mind', we examine the phenomenon of deja vu. That strange feeling we sometimes get that we've lived through something before, that what is happening now has already happened. Tonight on 'It's the Mind' we examine the phenomenon of deja vu, that strange feeling we sometimes get that we've . . . Anyway, tonight on 'It's the Mind' we examine the phenomenon of deja vu, that strange . . .
posted by Herodios at 11:28 AM on October 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: the kind of thing my first graders do all the time.

Also, buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo &c. you know the drill.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:47 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not the best Radiolab ever, but the cold opening was quite good. The whale segment was thematically wtf, and the Gödel segment, while lucid and independently entertaining, wasn't loopy enough.

meh.
posted by flippant at 11:59 AM on October 5, 2011


The old "repeat a joke until it's unfunny then funny again"? Didn't Mr. Show explore this years ago in the Story of Everest? Not like it was original then. Why WOULD anyone find this funny now?

the fact that you called it "The Story of Everest" and not by its correct title: "The Story of the Story of Everest" proves that you totally missed the nuance that makes that sketch genius.
posted by any major dude at 12:03 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The skit just got a chuckle out of me, but now I just have "Kristen Schaal is a horse, …" stuck looping through my head. Damn it!
posted by JiBB at 12:08 PM on October 5, 2011


"one of the craziest, most unconventional comedy bits in modern memory." Only if modern memory is defined as the last ten minutes. I can sit here and recall skits by the Whitest Kids U'Know, Reeves and Mortimer, Kids in the Hall, Monty Python, and Bob and Ray which make that skit...wait, I can't remember what that skit was. Something about a horse?
posted by oneironaut at 12:15 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whether something's funny or not is one of those things MetaFilter doesn't do well.

On the contrary, I think Metafilter has always been very good at telling us what is and isn't funny. Take this thread for example. They're vikings* at it!

*metaphorical vikings, naturally.
posted by bondcliff at 12:34 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thank you Metafilter for another data point in my improbably and infuriatingly long-lived "Distinguishing Kristen Schaal from Kristen Wiig" personal project, which started approximately when Bridesmaids stopped being in theaters and I realized "hey! That's not Kristen Wiig! Is it? Who have I been watching?" and even though the two look nothing alike the project has revived itself every couple of months since, like a nightmare freelance gig about enroaching senility.

Now I know: Kristen Schaal is the horse.
posted by furiousthought at 12:45 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


That RadioLab episode also goes into "rolling amnesia" which I got experience firsthand once! A friend of mine got assaulted in the parking lot of a movie theater (that's a whole story in and of itself), and took quite a few blows to the head. Anyway, an ambulance trip and ER visit later, turns out he has the exact sort of looping amnesia that the woman in the show had. The questions all came in the same order:

"Why am I in the hospital?"
"What did I do to piss off that guy?"
"Does anyone have a mirror?"
"No, seriously, what did I do?"
"What movie were we watching?"
"Why am I in the hospital?"
And on.

By this point it was about four in the morning and we all had to get back to our daily lives, so we wrote him a full-page note, front and back, answering every question he kept asking us all night.

Once he was discharged from the hospital he told us that he spent the rest of the night and most of the next morning with the note in his hands, reading and rereading it. He'd read the front, flip it over, read the back, flip it over, think to himself, "Huh, a note!" and read the front, flip it over...
posted by backseatpilot at 12:50 PM on October 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


I think the Mr Show sketch is a lot funnier because it ends up using the gag in different ways as the repetition changes it. The first time it gets a big laugh from the audience, and the next few times after that it's still funny in the same sort of way. But once the audience starts to expect it, the scene becomes funny because all of the other characters start to get so upset about it. By the end the audience genuinely wants him to stop falling, so that the last time he tells the story with all of his exaggerated movements, there is some actual tension that you feel not wanting him to screw up. And then of course there is the meta ending that attempts to get one last laugh out of the sight gag by putting it in an ironic new situation.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:56 PM on October 5, 2011


Okely dokely.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:52 PM on October 5, 2011


More like Kristin Shadowfax amirite?

Get it? Because Shadowfax is a HORSE! From a famous story by HPP Lovecraft.
posted by Mister_A at 2:10 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


That was great, but mostly because Schaal is a very good at silly dancing.

oddman: "That wasn't unconventional? Do you see that sort of extended repetition on stage very often? No? (Neither do I.) That pretty much makes it unconventional by definition."

It's a pretty widely-used stand-up comedian's trick - go and see ten shows at the Edinburgh Fringe and you'll catch at least one comic getting a laugh with extreme repetition.

Stewart Lee has pretty much built a career on bludgeoning his audiences with a repeated phrase.

Lee's former partner Richard Herring's 'Mars Bar' routine is perhaps my favourite example, though, because it only uses two words: he starts off talking about Mars Bars in the style of a crap observational comic, then sort of has a crisis of confidence about whether or not Mars Bars really exist, then he just says the words 'Mars Bar' for ten minutes, maybe more, with slightly varying inflections... Mars Bar!.... Mars Bar?... It's really very funny, unless you try to explain it like I just did.
posted by jack_mo at 2:34 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was just honestly wondering if I'm missing something, or if this is funny simply because a gangly girl is doing a hokey dance.

There's no "because" to funny. Either you laughed or you didn't.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:44 PM on October 5, 2011


...then becomes hilarious.

No, it doesn't.

I thought it would, but it didn't.
posted by chillmost at 3:29 PM on October 5, 2011


Arguing about whether Mr. Show or Kristen Schaal is the funniest is a lot like arguing whether salmon or tuna is healthier: the world is a lot better for both, and it ignores the fact that most Americans are laughing at a guy talking through a puppet-shaped racial stereotype.
posted by Apropos of Something at 3:43 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I love Kristen Schaal, but this was only medium funny.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:46 PM on October 5, 2011


furiousthought: "Distinguishing Kristen Schaal from Kristen Wiig"

Now we see how all the Kristens come home to roost.
posted by jiawen at 6:56 PM on October 5, 2011


Fire Ant (part 2)
posted by St. Sorryass at 6:59 PM on October 5, 2011


I love Kristen Schaal, loved the interview. Was confused by the "sponsored by Ask Metafilter" bits (of the interview segment).
posted by Glinn at 7:41 PM on October 5, 2011


Yeah, I didn't laugh at all. But I did like the Kristin Schaal playstation android phone commercial, so there's that...
posted by 1000monkeys at 8:32 PM on October 5, 2011


I don't know if I did something wrong by watching the two minute version, but for me it was more "starts out boring, then turns decidedly unfunny, then becomes annoying". The only remotely humorous bit was "and that's how a bill becomes a law", which was drowned out by the rest of it, plus it was a reference that the majority of the British audience probably wouldn't even get.

Hm. It actually is a pretty good description of how a bill becomes a law. First, a completely unrelated premise is delivered, then, mindless repetitive bullshit is spewed, while the bill silently passes into legislation and hardly anyone notices.
posted by odinsdream at 7:11 AM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Andy Kaufman trusted you
posted by kitsy at 9:34 AM on October 6, 2011


and it ignores the fact that most Americans are laughing at a guy talking through a puppet-shaped racial stereotype.

Oh, COME ON!
posted by FatherDagon at 11:38 AM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Something something hey the repeat things for like 10 minutes meme is big with bronies and this is vaguely about horses so meh.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:32 PM on October 6, 2011


a sketch that starts out funny, then turns decidedly un-funny, then becomes hilarious.

...so I was the only one for whom it never got unfunny?

I also like shiny things.
posted by psoas at 4:06 AM on October 7, 2011


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