Next Friday will see the premiere of The Birthday Boys, a new IFC comedy series from the sketch group of the same name. It’s been a while since the last time a network gave a show to an existing sketch team, so this is a pretty exciting thing since some of the best sketch shows ever come from groups that were already formed years beforehand.
Formed in 2007, The Birthday Boys is an LA-based sketch group made up of seven writer-performers (Jefferson Dutton, Dave Ferguson, Mike Hanford, Tim Kalpakis, Matt Kowalick, Mike Mitchell, Chris VanArtsdalen), most of whom met at Ithaca College before moving to the west coast. Since 2008, The Birthday Boys have been performing a monthly show at LA’s UCB Theatre, and they’ve also posted dozens of videos online, earning them fans like Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Bob Odenkirk, who’s producing their new IFC show alongside Ben Stiller.
To get familiar with the group before The Birthday Boys premieres next Friday (you can watch an episode early via IFC now), here’s a collection of some of their best videos:
“Pooljumpers” is arguably The Birthday Boys’ most popular video and justifiably so. It shows off the group’s knack for making extremely specific parodies of niche genres, while looking visually sharp (something rare for a web sketch group) and demonstrating The Birthday Boys’s sensibility at the same time.
The winner of Funny or Die’s Sketch Comedy Challenge in 2011, “The System” is another silly genre exercise from The Birthday Boys.
“Where Are They Now - Tom Hanks” is a rare Birthday Boys video that doesn’t feature any of the Birthday Boys on camera, but it’s still a super funny riff on TV tabloid “Where Are They Now?” profiles nonetheless.
Birthday Boy Tim Kalpakis stars in “Legendary Animator” as a pretty unlegendary animator.
“Buildings” was made for Funny Or Die’s “Spring Lineup 1986,” a week during which a bunch of Funny Or Die staffers made opening credits to fake 1980s TV shows.
The first episode of The Birthday Boys’ four-part web series, Horny Beach, a parody of sex-filled ‘80s teen movies.
A quick low-key sketch from Birthday Boy Mike Hanford.
“One Crazy Day” and “Valets” are a couple of short but sweet videos that see The Birthday Boys returning to the ‘80s movie well they’re so good at drawing humor from.
One of the group’s most popular sketches, “Ham Hat” is an absurd piece of anti-comedy that goofs on the very process of making comedy videos. Here’s an old interview during which Adam McKay calls it “one of my all-time favorite videos” and Will Ferrell calls it “fantastic.”