project landmine

watch your step

Best Non-Musical Digital Shorts

by Liz Davies

Andy Samberg announced his official retirement from Saturday Night Live last week. While I’m excited to see what he has in store for the future, I’m really sad to see him go. He was an integral part of the cast, introducing several famous characters and sketches, including impressions of Hugh Jackman, Jack Johnson, and (my personal favorite), Nicholas Cage. His most famous legacy, however, will be the Digital Shorts that he and his friends and fellow SNL writers, Jorma and Akiva, created almost weekly for the show. These instantly became some of the most famous and popular sketches in the show’s recent history, and probably of all time. If you haven’t already seen my list of the best musical digital shorts, be sure to check it out here. Otherwise, check out this list of the best non-musical digital shorts:

Outside of the Top Ten:

The Mirror. It’s just Samberg popping into a mirror behind Ellen Page. OR SO IT SEEMS! A nightmare with a nightmare within a nightmare, this also provides a few scares despite being a part of a comedy show.

Grandkids in the movies. Andy and Bill Hader appear in movies in order to explain certain confusing parts to their grandparents. Their commentary makes the entire short hilarious by explaining movies such as No Country for Old Men, Transformers, Juno, and more. Most of the time these commentaries are more entertaining than the movies they’re describing.

Andy Popping Into Frame. The title just about sums it up. Samberg’s ridiculous faces and the fact that he doesn’t allow anyone else to enter his frame make this as funny as it is. He travels all over the world and pops up to say hey to viewers with his trademark goofy grin.

People Getting Punched Right Before Eating. Again, exactly what it sounds like. Andy Samberg offers up a cute dance after most punches. His victims, including Jon Bon Jovi and Dave Grohl, band together as zombies at the end and perform a Thriller style dance.

Lettuce. If I remember correctly, I believe this was the first SNL digital short. Andy Samberg and Will Forte talk about serious issues, including death, while biting into heads of lettuce. Weird, unexplained, and confident, this was the start of a long line in a legacy of hilarious segments.

#10. Andy’s Dad. Jonah Hill falls in love with Andy Samberg’s dad and has to break the news the Andy. This culminates with Jonah Hill making out with Andy’s dad. Bill Hader then confesses that he feels the same way. I lived a situation similar to this when most of my friends in high school told me they thought my dad was hot. While none of them actually made out with him in front of me, it was pretty traumatic. Sitting at a lunch table surrounded by friends who all described, in detail, what they found attractive about my dad isn’t something that’s ever going to leave my mind. So while the situations are basically nothing alike, I still thought it was funny in a “thank god that didn’t happen to me” way.

#9. Threw It On the Ground. I feel like this Digital short was more of a guinea pig to use their brand new, state-of-the-art cameras, which capture some of the most incredible slow-motion images of all time. It’s literally just things falling on the ground. And if you’re wondering—I didn’t include this in the best musical digital shorts because the focus of this definitely isn’t the song. The focus here is the imagery of an energy drink, a hotdog, a Blackberry, a cake, a fish bowl, a vase, and more hitting the ground in intense detail. This also features someone flipping a table, which was my New Year’s resolution and I haven’t accomplished that yet. And Andy says “butt hole” like, 13 times at the end of this video, which obviously still makes me laugh just thinking about it.  No, seriously; my mom just called upstairs to find out what I was laughing about in my room by myself.

#8. Firelight. A parody of Twilight starring Taylor Swift, but instead of sexy vampires, this features The Frank Family. Frankenstein’s monster (Frankenstein was the scientist, his creation was called The Monster. Boom, literary mind explosion) tries to woo a lip-biting teen, despite accidentally choking anyone he loves and an intense fear of fire. The fact that this movies seems like a joke despite almost exactly following the plot of Twilight really makes me question the values of pre-teens and horny housewives who are so obsessed with the Cullen family. I would absolutely choose the watch Firelight over Twilight any day after seeing this mock-movie trailer.

#7. Curse. Jon Hamm (I’m already interested) stars as Sergio, a human-curse set upon a prominent businessman (Samberg) after he breaks a wise, homeless man’s (Fred Armisen) lucky dream catcher.  Sergio pops up in the businessman’s life, ruining situations like an important meeting, a date, a meeting with his therapist, and (five year’s later) the birth of his first child. While Sergio specializes in playing sweet jazz music with his saxophone, his glorious hips sway with the magnificence and splendor of Shakira and the sexiness of Rihanna. Sergio’s mullet is also pretty sweet. All of those things combine to make an excellent Digital Short.

#6. Party at Mr. Bernard’s. Another parody, this time of Weekend at Bernie’s, this relies on a slightly different premise than the 1980s movie.  Samberg and Bill Hader find their boss dead, which totally ruins their plan for a big party that a bunch of bodacious babes are coming to. So they dress up their dead boss in order to pass him off as alive, but it completely backfires. Everyone at the party freaks out when they see a dead guy dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and the boys end up in prison and then court. But (twist ending!) it turns out that Mr. Bernard had some very specific goals laid out in his video will and testament, and the guys are free to party with all the court patrons!

#5. V-Neck. Ben Stiller and Andy Samberg compete to see who has a bigger V in their V-neck t-shirts. This is the perfect example of how The Lonely Island is able to take any mundane task and turn it into a hilarious short film. In my mind, I imagine the trio of the Lonely Island were sitting around watching TV, when a commercial for The Gap came on. They noticed some V-neck shirts and imagined what would happen if there was a shirt with a deep enough V that it showcased their junk. Throw Ben Stiller into the mix and you’ve got yourself some comedy gold!

#4. Andy & Pee Wee’s Night Out. Andy Samberg bumps into Pee Wee Herman at a bar and his life is forever changed. What starts with a few shots quickly progresses to drunken hijinks that no one could have predicted. The guys start by gallivanting around the bar before brutally attacking Anderson Cooper on the street. When questioned by a cop, they give him the same treatment they gave to Cooper before heading back to Andy’s apartment. They’re greeted by both Andy’s friends and friends from Pee Wee’s Playhouse, including Chairie, staging an intervention. Anderson Cooper obviously flashes those steely eyes again as he begs the boys to stop being friends because they’re a band influence on each other. After an emotional goodbye, Samberg and Pee Wee decide to part, and everyone celebrates with shots! And a great time was had by all…

#3. United Way. I know: most people who write for and read this blog hate Peyton Manning. But comedy is comedy, and this is a really funny segment. Manning works as a mentor in a Big Brother situation, and all hell breaks loose. As someone who works with children, I can fully appreciate the hilarity of a grown man yelling, “get your head out of your ass” to a seven-year-old boy. Manning sentences a child to sit in a Porta-Potty for not making a catch, tattoos his face on a little boy, and even teaches the children how to break into cars. He obviously teaches them how to run from the cops as well. I would hire him as a counselor at my camp any day.

#2. Dear Sister. A spoof of a scene from The OC, this immediately spawned thousands of parodies itself, including one from some of my fellow Project Landmine writers about a dodge ball tournament during high school. I had to watch this Digital Short a few times before I appreciated how funny it was, but after that I was hooked. The best part comes at the end, when two cops shoot each other over dueling versions of “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap. This is the version of the song that came before Jason Derulo remixed it into “Whatcha Say.” To this day, whenever I hear a loud noise or a gunshot during Civil War reenactments in my front yard (that’s never happened), I either think or immediately exclaim, “mmmmm whatcha say!” And, depending on whether or not people understand the reference I’m making, I silently judge them and decide whether I can be friends with them. That’s probably one of many reasons that I have no friends.

#1. Laser Cats. A Digital Short that spawned seven, yes seven, sequels, this is undoubtedly one of the most popular digital shorts of all time. Over the course of the series (I feel comfortable calling it that as Laser Cats could definitely stand as its own show) guest stars Steven Spielberg, Lindsay Lohan, Jake Gyllenhaal, Christopher Walken, Steve Martin, James Cameron, Sigourney Weaver, and Elton John lent a helping hand to the two unsung heroes from a post-apocalyptic future, Bill Hader and Andy Samberg. Oh, and also in the future cats developed the ability to shoot lasers out of their heads. These mostly revolved around the idea that Samberg and Hader could never convince SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels to air these segments, which of course involved showing the segments. The possibilities were endless, which is how so many sequels were made and how so many guest stars were able to make appearances. My personal favorite is the episode featuring Tom Hanks and, of course, his beloved Wilson from Cast Away. The graphics are awful, the acting is hilariously bad, and there is neither continuity nor logical plot lines. All of those factors lead to an excellent series of Digital Shorts.

About Liz Davies

Who's that gurrrrrrlllllll? Who's that gurrrrrrlllllll? It's Liz.

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