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July 02 2008

The five funniest Buffy episodes. A Comedy Central Insider writer gives his pick of the show's funniest episodes--The Zeppo, Beer Bad, Dracula vs. Buffy, Band Candy, and Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered--along with his reasoning.

Mmm. If it were me, I'd switch Life Serial for Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered. And Lover's Walk always cracks me up.
And then there are episodes like Tabula Rasa and Intervention, where there is pure hilarity juxtaposed with some heartbreaking moments.

If it were me, I'd actually pick about none of those.
No No, The Zeppo is brilliant, the only thing it is missing is Spike.
I think my top five would include Band Candy, Lover's Walk, The Zeppo, Something Blue, and possibly Doppelgangland. Those are the ones where I remember laughing so hard that tears were running down my face. ;)
Seeing the last two. Replacing the first three... Hmm.

I think Hush is among the funniest, as well as being the creepiest. And silent-est. Giles's lecture is a thing of beauty, along with Spike's reaction to Xander's accusations and everyone's reaction to Anya's mime.

Something Blue for the escalating mayhem and "it's alright - I have more scotch".

And finally... Hmm. Doppelgangland? Or maybe Triangle.
I definitely think that every Buffy episode has something comedic. It was one of the best things about the show. But I know a lot of people here will disagree with this list. I think it's open to personal interpretation, as all comedy is.

My own list would probably be something like:

1. Superstar - Even the opening credits are hilarious. I will never forget Jonathan-Os or Giles embarrassed face as he pulls out the Jonathan swimsuit calendar. I always enjoy this one.
2. Once More, With Feeling - I love this, from the dancing and singing monsters the the lyrics to the end. This is a perfect Buffy episode, but almost above all, it was funny.
3. Band Candy - I have to agree with this on the list. Joyce and Giles and especially Snyder - "If you want to splash around in the poo, you're the filthy one!"
4. Something Blue - SMG and James Marsters crack me up with this one. Both are very funny but they are on point here. And Giles' distress is so hilarious.
5. Storyteller - Andrew was so unexpected in the last two seasons, he was really genuinely funny and he was on point here. Otherwise it might have been a weak episode but his opening monologue and romanticizing of B's life was awesome.

But I'm interested to see what everyone else would choose!
Triangle, Storyteller, A New Man, Superstar. Also I thought Flooded was deeply funny in a dark way. But above all it's Life Serial for the win.
"Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" will always be in my Top 5 Buffy list. It's still funny, even when it's over-the-top juvenile it's funny. I watched it for Valentine's Day this year or last year (can't remember) with one of only two Buffy-loving friends (aside from my family and co-workers I've met over the years). I'm not sure what the other four are. They probably rotate, depending on my mood. Heh, "Beer Bad" might've been in there at one point, "Dopplegangland" definitely was. Same for "Something Blue", probably my favorite lighter ep from Season 4. I was too pissed about the inclusion and cheesyness of Dracula during "Dracula vs. Buffy" to enjoy the humor that much (aside from...hmm...Giles with the succubi, maybe?), fortunately Season 5 turned out to be a masterpiece. I love Xander...I love Xander-centric eps...but I think "The Zeppo" is overrated.

I never really took special notice of the fact that there're way more near-pure-comedy episodes earlier in the series.
Pangs would be at the top of my list, as it was only the second episode I saw (when FX was showing two Buffy episodes in the evenings) and it brought me laughing hysterically into the fandom.

Others: OMWF, Band Candy, Tabula Rasa, and Something Blue.
Beer Bad? What the hell is the writer of the article thinking? That has to be the worst episode Buffy ever had.
What's wrong with Beer Bad? I find it hilarious, and it's the most underrated episode in Buffy. I can't explain why, but I really enjoy watching it. Maybe the metaphor is so obvious, it is actually a critique of the "very special episode" about alcohol.
I'm going to have to defend Beer Bad, as I saw that episode my first year of college and thought it was the funniest thing ever. I still laugh like crazy when I watch it, especially the exchange between Buffy and Willow about TV and four really smart guys.

Something Blue is a great one. "What's wrong with Buffy?" "Such a good question." Triangle is the first episode I ever saw, and it made me laugh so hard that jello came out my nose. (I had the flu) I love Checkpoint for the same reasons.

Tabula Rasa is so very funny, but then so heartbreaking at the end that I can't see it as one of the funniest. Maybe if you only watch until they remember. But there's no fun in that.

Love Band Candy. Giles as Ripper is just awesome, in addition to upping the hot quotient of ASH. Plus, I love the payoff in Earshot about Joyce and Giles.

Hush makes me laugh so hard, especially with all of the gestures like Buffy's stake motion, Spike's flipping Xander off, and the infamous Anya gesture. A New Man is a great one because of the Giles and Spikiness of it.

I'm not huge on The Zeppo, though I do enjoy it when I'm going through the seasons in order. A better Xander-centric episode IMO is The Replacement.

I love Life Serial because of Buffy's stint in the Magic Box. And then the kitten poker. And wasn't that the one with the Trio's James Bond argument? OMWF is of course classic. And hilarious.

And I love Living Conditions, because it is so very spot-on about college life. Plus, it taught me that anyone who listens to Believe time after time must be slayed. And that no one deserves mime. Honestly, I don't think this episode gets mentioned as often as it deserves to be.
I love Triangle. And I think Beer Bad is much better than many people give it credit for. And it has a great Willow scene to boot. I also love Halloween, even if it is not entirely funny. And Dopplegangland. And The Zeppo. And I really like Buffy v. Dracula.
1. Something Blue - by far the one I laughed at the most.

2. The Yoko Factor - Not all of it was funny but the bit where Giles is drunk is talking about Fort Dix just slays me.

3. Band Candy - Just plain funny. 'Summers you drive like a spaz!'

4. Buffy vs. Dracula - That was just funny every which way.

5. Him - When Buffy is outside the principal's window with a rocket launcher and Spike comes after her I can't help but belly laugh.
Something Blue makes me laugh the hardest and has little to no angst, so that for me is the funniest. Then it gets tricky because so many have things that I laugh about but are also heartbreaking.

In no particular order I'll go with,

Doppelgangland

The Zeppo

Intervention


and the last one is really hard.

I'm going with Tabula Rasa even though the end is so sad.

Beer Bad does have some lovely moments in it, but not enough to get past it's problems, IMO. I do adore when Parker does exactly what she had been dreaming about, and she bops him one. I laugh every time.
Think my list is something like BB&B, Intervention, Doppelgangland, Something Blue, and Him. I love Intervention.. can watch it loads of times and still laugh out loud.
Many of those on the list and mentioned above would make it onto my list... so on the whole I think my "Top 5 Funniest of Buffy" list would actually be about 32 episodes long. This may defeat the spirit of the exercise.

I will mention two that have not appeared so far, however: Restless and The Initiative. How can we forget the Exposition Song and Spike's conversation with Willow?
I'm gonna have to jump on the "Something Blue" train! It kills me every time. Same with "Tabula Rasa" and "Pangs" ("You made a bear! Undo it! Undo it!") :D

Generally speaking though, EVERY episode has something I laugh at every time in it. Oh, and I like "Beer Bad"! (Am I the only who doesn't even remotely dislike ANY episodes?)
Tabula Rasa and Intervention are two of my top 15 or so episodes - probably even in my top 10 - and I laugh out loud at so much of them, but they both end with such emotion that I can't say that they are among my funniest. My list would include Pangs, Something Blue, A New Man, and Older and Far Away, the latter just for the interaction between Spike/Buffy and Spike/Tara. Band Candy makes me feel so embarrassed about the adults' behaviour that I can't laugh and Beer Bad is also cringeworthy for that reason. On the other hand, even those episodes, as do all, have their funny moments.
palehorse, thanks for recognizing Pangs. I die laughing at it every time, and its become a Thanksgiving tradition. Especially since Willow is right! But I'm on Buffy's side, too... about the turkey... mmm. Anyways, here:

Willow saying that her head is the one that things would roll off of, "You made a bear! Undo it! Undo it!", "I like mushy peas", "Oops.", and of course the ever-romantic "I think my syphillis is clearing RIGHT UP!"

There's several more, but I'm just tossing 'em right now, and can't be bothered to look them up.

Also chiming in with the Beer Bad love! It's BAD EGGS that's the rotten episode, guys. How many times do I hafta tell you? ;)

*And I don't know how to spell syphillus, but I didn't want to ruin the flow of the line. Also don't want to look that one up. Sorry to my fellow SNs out there...
I do agree with "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" as a funny episode, along with "Pangs" as the ultimate Thanksgiving episode. Add that to any MST episode as the best way to laugh through Turkey Day.
But funniest ending has to be "Fear, Itself". The look at the Gachnar's face...priceless.
IG, are you thinking of PRINCE OF SPACE, perhaps?

Probably the single funniest MST3K, imo - thanks, Christine!

I also love Hercules and the Moon Men. Big fan of the Joel.
Wow, another MSTie. I knew they hang around here sometimes.
But yes, Willowy, those episodes will do as something to watch aside from football. You should also check out Joel's successor to MST3K, Cinematic Titanic.
Huh. I'll take Bad Eggs over I Robot, You Jane, personally. Although I think neither episode is truly bad; both have their redeeming moments. Especially with the whole "as punishments go, this is fairly abstract" line. Cracks me up...no pun intended. ;)

I love Anya in Pangs. "It's a ritual sacrifice--with pie." Ah, hell, I love Anya always. This is why Selfless is up there with my top episodes (my list is probably about 30-40 episodes long as well, ManEnough).

But the beauty of the show is that every single episode has at least one laugh out loud moment, at least for me. Okay, in The Body, the dinner scene with the barf discussion is only a weak, sad chuckle, but it's a small injection of humor nonetheless.

And Anne, though not hilarious, gives us the great "wanna see my impression of Ghandi?" line. Just don't try and share it with your Western Philosophy class when you're learning about the man. Trust me on that.

And though I've seen no love for Real Me, I'm going to throw it out there, if for nothing else than seeing Harmony trying to be an evil mastermind. With a gang. And Anya learning about capitalism.

As for MST3K, I've wanted to check it out but can't bring myself to spend money on it. How would I best go about rectifying the situation?

Oh, and Willowy, you were close to spelling syphilis right the first time. Not that I...you know...have the need to spell it a lot.
Another vote for Doppelgangland, that's the episode to put on whenever I'm in the mood for the funny, poor Anyas problems keeps cracking me up, not to mention 'dead' Willow huggage.
BandofBuggered...
if you want to see MST for free, there's plenty of clips on YouTube. You'll see why this show is one of America's Greatest Inventons...along with the idea of a girl giving Freddy Krueger nightmares (if you know what I mean).
Good to know I'm not alone in my love of "Living Conditions", it's about the only episode that had practically no emotional drama. The episode is just a dark(but not too dark) comedy from beginning to end.

If I had to pick another it would be: Homecoming, but it loses points on being less standalone.
Bad Eggs? Ugh... ;) Lots of good suggestions, though, and a reminder of how funny this show was while also being heartbreaking, thought-provoking, genre-subverting and life-changing! LOVE MST3K also. Manos, the Hands of Fate!
I would have included 'Something Blue', 'Him' and, of course 'Doppelgangland'. Talking of 'Doppelgangland' why did I think the episode was called 'Doppleganger?'
My top 5 Funniest:

1.Pangs (Just no contest)
2.Triangle
3.Beer Bad
4.Life serial
5.The Initiative

Other favorite funny eps: Something Blue, Doomed, Him, A New Man.
I think both The Zeppo and Band Candy are highly over-rated.

Tabula Rasa is one of my favorite eps of the entire series and I know it has some really funny moments. But for me, the tragic far outweighs the funny.
Willow & Tara's breakup at the end is one of the BtS moments that still makes me cry.
Talking of 'Doppelgangland' why did I think the episode was called 'Doppleganger?'

Probably because doppleganger is a real word. ;-)

What is MST3K, again?

I still think "Some Assembly Required" beats all others as the worst episode.

"Him" is a unique episode for me because I have a love hate thing going on with it like no other episode. I cannot watch the first half because of the embarrassment issues, (I can't watch embarrassment comedy) but enjoy the second half and consider the Spike/Buffy/rocket launcher moment the best sight gag in the series. Beautifully done.

I also thought of putting Doomed in there instead of Tabula Rasa. That ending on TR does make it hard to put into the funny episode category.
newcj: MST3K. Also just go search that on youtube. Hilarity will follow.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2008-07-02 15:52 ]
Thanks, Sunfire. I'll check it out.
(in no particular order)

Pangs
Something Blue
Him
Dopplegangland
Life Serial

That said, my funniest moments are all in other episodes (Giles' mime in 'Beer Bad', Buffy's mime in 'Hush', "... we band of buggered" in 'The Gift').

And 'Angel'

Spin the Bottle
Smile Time
Harm's Way
... err ...
Spin the Bottle
Spin the Bottle

(it was a dark show ;) - though, as with BtVS, a lot of even the darkest episodes also had hilarious moments)
Glad to hear there's so much love for "Something Blue", my pick for single funniest ep. Gotta agree with "The Zeppo", "Band Candy", "Doppelgangland". The funny parts of "Hush" and "OMWF" are hysterical.

Figured there'd be a sizeable Venn diagram of Buffy fans and MSTies here. I think the one that has my highest laugh per minute ratio is actually a short--"A Date with Your Family".
I'm surprised "Selfless" has only been mentioned once (and then only in passing). Here we have:
  • Anya in Swedish
  • Anya with bunnies
  • Anya spouting Marx
  • Olaf "Your hips are narrow" the Charmer
  • "That's where I was going with that, yeah."
Okay, it ended in tragedy and had dark under- (and over-)currents throughout, but those only made the comedic elements stand out all the more. One of my favorites of the last season.
A New Man always gets belly laughs from me. And I just love the knowing feeling as I put Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered on to show a noob for the first time (that closet scene at the end, and the nailing of the doors shut - so so funny). Gachnar is also a great moment.
I gotta endorse the BBB choice. The Angel/Drusilla/Xander interaction is just fantastic--here you have Angel being the big bad, and yet there's a way to throw a hysterically funny situation in there that doesn't ignore or trivialize him. Classic.
I guess I have my ownd efinitons of things; I can't quite grasp "Dopplegaengland," "Buffy vs Dracula," "Tabula Rasa," or even "the Zeppo" as comedy episodes in the realest sense.

And the bad-mvoie-type epsiodes : "I Robot, You Jane, Bad Eggs, Ted, I Was MAde To Love You" are funny but they lose some oft heir impact (except for the last) if they're seen as comedy.
I can't argue with any that have been mentioned. I guess I would also have to put Doppelgangland as my favorite. "Hi, Xander. Who's your frien. . . holy god you're Willow!"
There are so many. Argh!

I'd include Homecoming. Buffy and Cordy together in an update of the "The Most Dangerous Game." Gotta laugh.

Troll episodes are the best, so Triangle and Selfless for Anya.

The Replacement.

The Puppet Show. Not a strong episode, but the closing scene of Buffy, Xander and Willow performing the scene from Oedipus has me rolling every time.
I Was Made To Love You as comedy? Good grief, it's a tragedy. But then, I 'got' A.I., too, so maybe I'm just one of the rare people who think robotic emotions are a touching subject.
Personally I thought 'AI' was so heavy handed it punched us in the face repeatedly with robotic emotions. Which I guess is a form of touching ;).
newcj, I'm with you on Him. I actually fast forwarded through some of the first half this last time because I feel so embarrassed for Dawn and then Buffy, yet the Buffy/Spike/rocket launcher scene is definitely one of the funniest of the series.

Saje, Spin The Bottle certainly has my vote for funniest Angel episode.
jclemens; Well, yes I certainly agree with you; I was excluding the ending(s) from the comedy classification.
Hmmm. Pangs, Something Blue, Band Candy. The Scooby fight at the end of The Yoko Factor really cracks me up... but what Giles does to Prof. Walsh in A New Man might be an even bigger laugh. I wasn't necessarily thinking of Restless as comedic - but Willow's play ("I'm Cowboy Guy!"), Giles' song - is "And try not to bleed on my coach/ I've just had it steam-cleaned" among the Whedonesque quotes? ...Season four had a lot of comedy gold (even for us Beer Bad non-plussed types), didn't it? Fear, Itself too... I also skip at least Dawn's cheerleading audition in Him while loving the rocket launcher sequence (and, Xander and Spike's plan for defeating the evil jacket isn't bad, either). Storyteller, parts of OMWF and Tabula Rasa, BB&B, good point with Real Me... Okay, I'm failing at a top five :)

And cool, MST3K :) My personal favorite - certainly most re-watched - would be Space Mutiny - a bad movie - clearly, as they remark, "passed from editor to editor in a desperate attempt to save it" - yet with enough going on that it's not boring, and giving them plenty of material to work with. (And, historical note - almost every effects shot in the movie is lifted from the original Battlestar Galactica, for anybody who's only familiar with the current BSG.)

Edit to clarify: That is, all of the space ship effects shots (save one or two) are leased (stolen?) from old school BSG. All the railing kills and chases "reaching speeds of three!" are Space Mutiny originals :)

Oh, and I forgot to give love to Triangle! And (part of) Life Serial, and....

[ edited by LKW on 2008-07-03 23:37 ]
Doppelgangland is hilarious right from Willow asking Anya:
"Did you try looking in the sofa cushions IN HELL?"
And just gets funnier from there.


Something Blue, Pangs, A New Man,(all the stuff with Spike in the car) Tabula Rasa, Life Serial would be up there if the first half wasn't so dismal.
Count me in with the Spin the Bottle faction for funniest angel ep. Agreed, there wern't many to choose from, but even if there had been, I'm sure this would have been my favorie.

And if we could do parts of episodes, the first part of Convictions would be second on my list. Some of Joss's wittiest dialog ever, and who can forget Angel trying out his office phone for the first time?
The Zeppo, hands down, for this line alone:

Giles: There's something different about this menace. In the air, I can feel it. The stench of death.

Xander: I think that's Bob.
Let's see, Spin The Bottle, She (the first five minutes are the funniest ever), Guise Will Be Guise, Smile Time (obviously), and Sense & Sensitivity. There wasn't always as much funny in Angel, but what there was is completely spot on.
I definitely think I'd include Doppelgangland, Triangle, Tabula Rasa and Him on my list. The latter in particular is extremely underrated as a comedy, and even though the plot is deliberately quite farcical, again the metaphor is smart and very nicely echoes style of the first couple of seasons. Alyson and Emma are perfect in Triangle, Tabula Rasa is just an excellent excuse to see lots of silliness and misunderstandings and irony, which has a very dark edge because of the arc related plots at the start and end of the episode.
In reading that list, I can't help but feel like the columnist simply listed those episodes that best fit his definition of 'funny' without really considering them on their own merits. Although each of the episodes mentioned do contain some memorable humor, the distinction does need to be made, IMO, between episodes which were strictly comedic and episodes which were dramatic/angsty and had that balanced with exceptional moments of comedy/humor. It's also kind of hard to limit a list to just five episodes because of how well BtVS blended the humor and the drama/angst. If I were going to compile a list of five, though, I'd restrict it simply to episodes which were strictly about the comedy:
1) Band Candy (One of the best things about this episode, for me, is that it gives us some great insight into Giles's character, and plants the seeds - in typical Buffy fashion - for what will eventually become one of the more poignant relationships threads of the entire series [Giles and Joyce and the depth of the connection between them])
2) The Replacement (I'd submit that this is Nicholas Brendan's best episode of the entire series, although I think most people would give that honor to 'The Zeppo', which is an episode that I've honestly never really quite understood)
3) Life Serial (This is the 'calm before the storm' for the Trio, and is really the only time we see them truly working together as a unit before their attempts to take Buffy out take a much darker turn)
4) Doublemeat Palace (Buffy in that hat makes this episode comedic gold, IMO, even though it's widely regarded as one of the worst episodes of the series [which, incidentally, is a viewpoint that I've never really understood])
5) Him (I used to be an extremely harsh critic of Season 7, but this episode has always been one of the bright spots amongst that criticsm, mainly because I'm such a big Dawn fan; it's also great to see everybody's response to the 'attraction spell' that they fall victim to, since it says so much about who they are as individuals)
I love the way some of the funniest episodes (ie. Tabula Rasa) turn around and stick a knife in you at the end. Does that make me a masochist? But one of my favorite Buffy moments is in Earshot, when they are all in the library and we get what they are thinking vs. what they are saying, except in Cordelia's case whatever goes through her head immediately comes out of her mouth. She was such a pure creature in her way.
I actually agree with this list...*looks around* although Buffy vs Dracula did have funny moments, i'd probably replace it with Something Blue, Dopplegangland or Superstar. I'm also glad to find I am not the only one who thinks Beer Bad was funny (i know a lot of people think it is a terrible ep). I always loved the teaser with Buffy daydreaming in class about Parker and fighting the vampires...plus "beer foamy". Classic :)
I have to agree with Puppet Show. First Snyder. Giles trying to do that 'circle' thing, horny puppet, oedipus, cordy singing whitney huston..

BBB I watch frequently. Maybe for the whole "aren't you gonna unwrap your present" line, but also possibly for the ... nah...

omwf - my wife and i sing "i'll never tell" constantly to our son xander. (that's right!)

restless - giles' song is great and the play... gotta love the play "I'm looking for a man... a SALES-man"

and... the one where xander is split in 2... can't think of the name.

superstar is awesomely close to the list, as is the first halloween ep.

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