15 Funny Spoofs and Parodies That Understood the Assignment
Parody and satire are extremely delicate arts that, apparently, can only be mastered by the planet’s goofiest improv dorks. Here are 15 of the best to ever do it…
Julia Louis-Dreyfus leads an all-star cast of vitriolic doofuses that would give us a chilling insight, between 2012 and 2019, into just how stupid politics could become.
Killer Quote: “I need you to make me not have said that.” (Selina Meyer to her team after a gaffe)
Best in Show
An all-star cast of improvisers create 10 of the proudest (but objectively saddest) contestants to ever compete at the illustrious Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show.
Fred Willard: I don’t think I could ever get used to being poked and prodded like that. I told my proctologist one time, “Why don’t you take me out to dinner and a movie sometime?”
Jim Piddock: Yes, I remember you said that last year.
Wet Hot American Summer
This 2001 spoof of 1980s and 1990s rose-tinted retrospectives on hormonal summer flings and adventures features a slate of actors who would go on to front their own comedy franchises.
Killer Quote: “When I was at camp, my favorite activity was always arts and crafts. Or, as we used to call it, ‘Arts and farts and crafts.’ We used to make drawings... cave drawings! Which is my way of saying we were cavemen. I went to camp so long ago that I can remember saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones’ and meaning it! I went to camp so long ago that Jesus Christ was my counselor! And my best friend hadn’t fully evolved yet! His name was Ug, and he walked on all fours! There were two epidemics when I went to camp: head lice and the plague — the bubonic plague!”
Seth Rogen and James Franco play journalists who score an interview with Kim Jong Un and are then recruited by the CIA to assassinate him. Kim Jong Un took umbrage with the plot and launched the 2014 Sony hack, which aired a whole bunch of Hollywood’s dirty laundry.
Killer Quote: “You know what’s more destructive than a nuclear bomb? Words.”
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
John C. Reilly carries this 2007 send-up of self-serious biopics like 2004’s Ray and 2005’s Walk the Line.
Killer Quote: “Prison has changed me. I understand the common man the way I never did before. I gotta get out of here! So I can bring joy to the men back in here, but I don’t wanna live with them!”
Robin Hood: Men in Tights
This Mel Brooks joint takes a more comedic (and meta) eye to a character that had been romanticized with overly serious reverence for centuries — including Prince of Thieves, which had come out just two years earlier.
Robin Hood: I’ve come to warn you that if you do not stop levying these evil taxes, I shall lead the good people of England in a revolt against you.
Prince John: And why should the people listen to you?
Robin Hood: Because, unlike some other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent.
This very 1980s spoof of a very 1970s sci-fi franchise still largely holds up — for a 96-minute ode to puns. George Lucas was very chill about the whole thing, making only one demand: That Mel Brooks not sell any Spaceballs merchandise, because “your action figures are going to look like mine.” This request was granted, but also inspired the running joke of hawking ridiculous Spaceballs merch in-movie.
Killer Quote: “Merchandising — where the real money from the movie is made. Spaceballs: The T-shirt, Spaceballs: The Coloring Book, Spaceballs: The Lunch Box, Spaceballs: The Breakfast Cereal, Spaceballs: The Flame Thrower.”
A decade and a half later, this movie still periodically stirs up controversy, as people argue over blackface and depictions of the disabled in film and television.
Killer Quote: “I know who I am: I’m the dude playin’ the dude, disguised as another dude!”
This 2000 horror/slasher/mystery parody by the Wayans Brothers kicked off a trend of parodies not overthinking their titles. It turned a $19 million budget into $278 million at the box office — an ROI that has largely drowned out the critics who called it out at the time for punching down with a lot of its jokes.
Killer Quote: “Watching TV shows doesn’t create psycho killers. Canceling TV shows does! I mean The Wayans Brothers was a good show, man! It was a good show, but we’ve never even got a final episode!”
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
This award-winning 2022 mockumentary started out as a sketch on Funny or Die in 2010. Weird Al would play the fake trailer at his shows, and fans spent a decade clamoring for the real thing.
Killer Quote: “I’m living the dream! To have 20,000 people every night singing MY words... to someone else’s music. I feel truly alive on that stage.”
Eleven MacGyver parody sketches on SNL served as vehicles for hosts ranging from Jeremy Piven to Betty White. Will Forte and company were able to spin that into a feature film, a sequel that’s still in development and, if you can believe it, an eight-episode season on Peacock.
Killer Quote: “Let me tell you how this is gonna go down: First, I’m gonna kick you in the chin, breaking your jaw in four places. I’m gonna take you and karate flip you over my back, and then knee your nose into your brain, killing you instantly. I do wanna get a throat rip in here. I think that’s gonna be you, small fry. One thing I do know, at the end of the day, Cunth, I’m gonna rip your dick off and shove it in your mouth. And that is non-negotiable. Who’s first?”
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
The Lonely Island boys teamed up with Judd Apatow and a smattering of SNL alumni to make this box-office bomb — it made back just under $10 million of its $20 million budget — but it’s become a cult hit among disciples of Andy Samberg.
Killer Quote: “Out of four possible stars, Rolling Stone has given it the shit emoji. So let’s call it mixed reviews.”
This Is Spinal Tap
The mockumentary on the fictional Spinal Tap — “one of England’s loudest bands” — was spliced together from dozens of hours of improv, and highlights the tendencies of rockumentaries to treat the planet’s dimmest attention-seekers as modern-day philosophers.
Killer Quote: “I used to say, ‘Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.’ As long as there’s sex and drugs, I can do without the rock ‘n’ roll.”
Cunk on Earth
Diane Morgan’s Philomena Cunk is a fluffheaded but supremely confident reporter who alternates seamlessly between borderline gibberish and scathing social satire.
Killer Quote: “One in 20 people has been a victim of crime. Which means that 19 out of 20 people are criminals! No wonder we need police.”
This mockumentary series was created by some of SNL’s most prolific alumni in Bill Hader, Seth Meyers and Fred Armisen. Host Helen Mirren adds almost surreal gravity to these absurd slices of life.
Killer Quote: “A hypnotist with pink eye is like a boxer with two broken hands.”