10 Funniest British Comedy Sketches
Britain without doubt pioneered the art of sketch and surreal comedy, first with groundbreaking (at the time) shows like The Benny Hill Show, then with such cult classic shows as Monty Python and Black Adder. But what are the best British comedy sketches of all time? Take a look at our pick and see if you agree.
Our list encompasses many of the great British comedies over the past several decades; not all of which are straight sketch shows, mind you; we’ve also chosen a few scenes from British sitcoms that were just too hilarious not to include in the list. Some of these you undoubtedly be familiar with, and we’ve also tried to throw in a few surprises out of left field. So sit back, and get ready to laugh.
1. Snuff Box – The Boyfriend Sketches
Snuff Box is the brainchild of Matt Berry and Rich Fulcher, two legends of modern-day British comedy. It’s a sketch show focused exclusively on the ludicrous and surreal, its cast of recurring characters demented beyond reproach, acting out dark and devious fantasies only fantasised about by most. A perfect example is this sketch scene, in which a man’s attitude towards helping a woman radically changes as soon as he finds out she has a boyfriend. The show was released in 2008 to an underwhelming response – perhaps it was too dark for a mainstream audience, or perhaps it failed because it received next to no publicity when it was first broadcast in February 2006 in a graveyard late night slot on BBC3.
2. Not The Nine O’Clock News – Constable Savage
Not The Nine O’Clock News was a brilliant British comedy show broadcast on BBC2 from 1979 to 1982, named as such because it was aired as an alternative to the BBC’s Nine O’Clock News, on at the same time on BBC1. The show was one of Rowan Atkinson’s first forays into sketch comedy, and his role in this skit as a police sergeant furious with his subordinate who insists on arresting people for the most mundane crimes imaginable (walking on the cracks in the pavement, for one).
3. Black Books – Bathroom Service
This scene from the brilliantly witty and acerbic comedy, Black Books, demonstrates the ingenuity of Bill Bailey’s character, Manny, as he fashions a device to deliver breakfast in the mornings to Bernard (played by Dylan Moran) without having to leave the bathtub.
4. The Two Ronnies – Four Candles
One of the most famous ever British comedy sketches, Four Candles, as seen in the hit sketch show The Two Ronnies, starring Ronnie Corbett, features a customer in a general goods store who constantly makes the most ambiguous possible item requests. The sketch was voted by the public as the fifth greatest British comedy sketch of all time in a Channel 4 special that aired in 2005, ’50 Greatest Comedy Sketches’.
5. Mr Bean Goes to the Restaurant
We couldn’t have a list of funniest British comedy sketches without mentioning Mr Bean, the most blockheaded and adorably oafish character ever to grace the small screen.
6. Monty Python – The Bookshop
A character being deliberately obtuse and misleading is hardly an original concept in comedy sketches, but this brilliant sketch by the Monty Python crew is one of the best examples you’ll see of this kind of paltering comedy.
7. Snuff Box – Guitar Lesson
Another brilliantly weird Snuff Box skit, the Guitar Lesson skit demonstrates how easy it is to write a hit song, using the three simple chords D Major, C Major Neutral and G Major Neutral Zero.
8. Little Britain – The Only Gay in the Village
Matt Lucas and David William’s hilarious sketch show, Little Britain, is known throughout the world for its colorful and memorable cast of characters, and classic British humour. The show was so popular it even spawned multiple spin-offs, including an American version, and helped launch the careers of its creators. Matt Luca’s role as Daffyd Thomas, or ‘the only gay in the village’ is one of the highlights of the series, and so is his see-through vest and increasingly flaming attire throughout the show.
9. Monty Python – The Four Yorkshiremen
Monty Python deservedly have two places in this list; they were truly one of the very first comedy groups to pioneer sketch comedy and really helped define modern comedy itself. This is one of their more famous skits, portraying the tendencies of folk from Yorkshire to wildly exaggerate how different things were ‘in their day’.
10. The IT Crowd – French Technical Support
Rounding out the list in tenth spot is this peach of a scene from the IT Crowd, in which Jen’s attempts to contact technical support for her broken laptop result in a hilarious and all-too-familiar communication barrier.