Occasionally, rockers, rappers, and pop stars take a break from trying to look cool in order to embrace their comedic sides. This can be very dangerous. Comedy, like air-traffic control, is best left to professionals. But, every now and then, musicians succeed in giving us hilarious visuals to accompany their tunes. It’s become increasingly common in recent years, as YouTube has replaced MTV and Vh1, and "viral content" has become the name of the game. Short of dousing naked people in fake blood and gunning for that coveted "NSFW" distinction, the surest way to get your clip shared is to make it funny as hell.
Read on to see our picks for the 10 funniest videos of all time. There’s new stuff, old standbys, and even a few you may have missed. Don’t just stand there — bust a gut.
Neko Case, "These Aren’t the Droids"
If you only know Neko by her records, you probably don't think she's very funny. She's the queen of country-noir, and while her lyrics are shaper than shark teeth, they don't exactly make you giggle. Live, however, she's a freakin' riot, especially when she and bandmate Kelly Hogan start trading one-liners. Here, Case and Hogan riff on the sexist conceptions of the future popular among male sci-fi fans, offering feminist alternatives based around puppies, kittens, and guns that "shoot feelings." Take cover, fellas.
Mumford & Sons, "Hopeless Wanderer"
As if the idea of a bunch of British dudes donning vests and playing arena-grade Americana wasn't hilarious enough, the Mumfords enlisted Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms, and Will Forte as stand-ins in this viral vid. The performances are as amazingly overblown as the song itself, and after Sudeikis and Forte lose themselves in the chest-thumping grandeur of this neo-folk anthem and engage in some open-mouth kissing, it's only a matter of time before someone humps the upright bass. Pity the real Mumfords aren't this entertaining.
Kanye West, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”
Come to think of it, Mumford & Sons totes stole their "Hopeless Wanderer" idea from Yeezy. Here, the rapper lets comedian Zach Galifianakis lip-sync to his tune while wilding out on a farm with indie-rock hero Will Oldham. The "rural white dudes doing rap" thing could have gone south fast, but Galifianakis is revelatory with his deadpan miming — especially when he’s up on the tractor, thrusting his pelvis like a video vixen.
The genius of Drake lies largely in his guilelessness. He's one of the suavest cats in the rap game, but he's not afraid to look silly or humble himself by rapping about his various foibles and obsessions. "HYFR" is a song about growing up and learning life lessons, and in the video, he touches on those themes as any nostalgic 20-something Jewish man might: by giving himself a second bar mitzvah. The clip starts with a snippet of Aubrey Drake Graham's actual bar mitzvah, and while it looks like young Drizzy had himself a blast, the party was probably nothing like the one he shot with the help of Director X.
Belle and Sebastian, "Step Into My Office, Baby"
When a schlubby window washer catches the eye of a foxy office worker and has a romantic liaison in her company's copy room, he figures himself pretty lucky. Then, word of his romantic prowess spreads, and before he knows it, he's the go-to lover man for every lady at the firm. He even gets an office with "Piece of Fluff" on the door. Just when our oversexed hero is reaching his breaking point, there's a happy ending. And, the song's fantastic, too.
Best Coast, "The Only Place"
No, this wasn’t filmed by the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, but it might as well have been. As Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno cruise through their beloved hometown, leaving a trail of Sriracha, smashed watermelon guts, fireworks ash, and broken guitar bits in their wake, they make a strong case for why L.A. is, indeed, "the only place."
Hospitality, "Friends of Friends"
The great City of Los Angeles makes another appearance in this cutesy clip, all about a couple of hip 20-somethings trying to maintain a long-distance relationship from opposite coasts. He's in L.A., she's in NYC, and as they hit their respective towns with buddies looking to cheer them up, it quickly becomes clear that something is amiss. It's a single-joke concept, but the one joke is a pretty clever, and at 3:01, this video ends before wearing out its welcome.
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, "Parents Just Don't Understand"
Back in the day, music videos told stories, and this one's pretty timeless. Showcasing the innate comedic skills he'd later perfect on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will "Fresh Prince" Smith plays a dorky teenager trying to survive high school in the cheesy bellbottoms and zip sneakers his mom buys him at the mall. If Smith's fictional 'rents don't understand, they do at least own a Porsche. He should totally take it for a spin, right?
Katy Perry, "Last Friday Night (TGIF)"
Corey Feldman, Debbie Gibson, and the great, great Kenny G guest in this over-the-top send-up of teen movies. Katy plays an ugly duckling who decides to throw a party while her folks are out of town, and as anyone familiar with the song's lyrics might guess, zaniness and debauchery ensue.
Beastie Boys, "Make Some Noise"
When the Beasties dropped their final album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, in 2011, Adam "MCA" Yauch was already sick with the cancer that would take his life the following year. This presented some challenges when it came to shooting videos, but with "Make Some Noise," MCA found a perfect solution. He wrote and directed a 30-minute sequel to the group's brilliant 1987 "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)" clip, casting Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, and Elijah Wood as old-school versions of the three MCs. Lots of other famous friends make cameos — even in the standard five-minute version seen here — and at the end, we meet a second set of faux Beasties staffed with even bigger-name stars. It’s beer-splattering, glass-shattering fun that tugs on the ol’ heartstrings.