I discovered these from Bill Simmon's, the Boston fan/sportswriter who leads a pack of truly excellent journalists on ESPN.com's Page Two. He wrote an article entitled "The YouTube Hall of Fame," and I've stripped out some of the best ones for your perusal. Some of them are amazing.
I should spend more time on YouTube. It's truly amazing the way people can find the time to dig up these insanely obscure clips from the past, digitize them, and put them up for all the world to see. I don't know who these people are, or if they're as weird as I imagine them to be (I suspect so). But no matter. Tonight, I salute them. Your efforts are not in vain.
Anyway, here's my top ten from the clips on the article. In order.
10. "Grand Theft Submarine"
Adam Corolla - who, if he's not the least talented person on television, is awfully close - goes into a long diatribe on a movie idea that he's come up with off the top of his head. Simmons notes that he does this quite often, and since he has no long-term memory, usually recycles these ideas 7 or 8 times over the course of a month or two. Wow. They give this guy shows. Multiple shows.
Some bright-eyed cynical animator decided to animate one of his movie ideas into a pretty convincing animated pitch for a film. This film has been made before. If this were 1988, this film would be being made now, and would probably star Jean-Claude Van Damme and Lea Thompson. Think about that.
9. Van Damme on the Dance Floor
Speaking of which, remember that brief period of time between "Dirty Dancing" and, um, common sense in which brief dance segments were added to films to up the fanbase?This is the dark, moldy underside of that movement. Stick around to about the one-minute mark on this clip. That's when the splits start coming.
8. Namath-Kolber I
I feel bad putting this up, not because it's not funny (it is), but because I feel that Namath probably put in a few too many years for the Jets, took a few too many sacks, got a few too many concussions, and now awkwardly hits on vaguelly attractive female reporters while being interviewed on national television, and what right have I to laugh at him? I imagine that by the time I'm 30, Aikman and Young will be pulling similar stunts on the sideline of important playoff games and mortifying their fanbase. Or, more appallingly, a slow-witted Brady trying to get some action while the Patriots play in Super Bowl LV. I'm feeling sick about this.
Though, honestly, it's pretty great when she throws it back to the booth and the announcers try to play it off with one of those "Oh, that's just Joe" comments. You've gotta be professional to pull that one out with a straight face.
7. Mike Tyson Post-Fight Interview
This is the one where he reveals his plan to eat Lennox Lewis' children. I'd forgotten how wildly insane Tyson was. He's really from a different planet, isn't he?
There was a time when Eddie Murphy was huge, huge. There was a time when Michael Jackson was even huger. And they made a video together.
It's like watching the entire Holy Roman Empire crumble in under five minutes, counting download time.
5. Bill Shatner & Rocket Man
I'd only seen Family Guy take-off on this (which I couldn't find online). I'd had no idea that it was based on reality. I had no idea that awards shows could get this out of control. I had no idea that William Shatner was more out of touch than, say, if Mike Tyson had been raised by aliens (though I vaguelly suspected it).
It's like a dream come true for all that is unholy in this world. Remember folks: he's in dead earnest here. This is like watching R. Kelly's dramatic one-man interpretations, only ten times better.
4. Carl Lewis "Break It Up"
Carl Lewis - yes, that Carl Lewis - wrote a song and made a music video out of it. I've always held the view that the 80's were a dark period in our history, something that should be erased from the books and from our musical memories. Every other nation in the world is willing to rewrite history in order to forget the atrocities of the past, but we can't even destroy this.
3. NY Jets Draft Blunders
The best part of this - by far - is the point where Commissioner Rozelle starts off "The Jets select fullback..." and doesn't get any further, because from the back there's a piercing howl of one man going "Noooooooooooo!" I've watched this clip several times, and that moment never gets any less funny. Other highlights include a freaked-out Mel Kiper, as stunned as every fan in the auditorium, going "The Jets just do not get what the draft was about." Priceless.
2. Vanilla Ice Goes Postal on MTV
This is a cool idea. Before all the snotty "Talk Soup" and "Best Week Ever" shows that they have now, MTV gathered some legitimately funny stars: Jon Stewart, Chris Kattan, Janeane Garafalo, and Dennis Leary, and sat them down to make fun of the most terrible and overplayed music videos together, then destroy them. This comes to a head when they're joined by the newly punk-rock Vanilla Ice, who was to help them poke fun at "Ice, Ice Baby," then destroy the tape.
Everyone was unsuprisingly too scared to poke fun at a video while watching it with the artist there, but it got great as the video went on. Instead of destroying the video, Vanilla Ice destroys the studio, wreaking havoc on the set. The crowning moment is him charging with a bat towards an end table, while a terrified Kattan screams "Vanilla, no!" It's like Christmas.
1. Journey -- "Separate Ways"
Everything that's beautiful about the 80's - over the top lip-synching, air guitar, weird cinematography, bewildering choreography, and the complete ruination of a band's best song by a video that tazers one with its awfulness. Did I mention the heavy slow motion?
There's a reason this beat out Carl Lewis and Vanilla Ice, and that is this: lead singer Steve Perry, sleeveless but by no means buff, launches into this video with a performance Simmons called "one of the greatest performances of the last 35 years -- he throws himself into this thing like DeNiro or Pacino." Anthony Michael Hall couldn't have given a more fitting 80's performance than this. This is the apex of the decade.