Variety Spotlight: Comedy Big League
The “Variety Spotlight” series is a chance for me to talk about shows that I am not currently recapping. Sometimes I’ll choose shows that I am gauging interest in to potentially add to my recap lineup, other times it’s simply because there’s an underrated show that I want to bring more attention to.
Rather than my usual recaps, this series will be a cross between a review and some rambling thoughts. Even though it’s not a recap per say, please be cautious of spoilers.
<Comedy Big League> is a sketch comedy show that airs on tvN every Sunday at 7:40 PM. The first episode aired on September 17, 2011, and it’s similar to sketch comedy shows such as <Gag Concert> on KBS and <People Looking for a Laugh> on SBS. The main difference is that <Comedy Big League> runs on a competition system where audience members vote for their favorite sketches after every episode. After every quarter, the team with the most wins gets a cash prize.
<Comedy Big League> appeals to a younger audience than it’s rival <Gag Concert> since it tends to push the limit on sexual jokes. It’s notable for being the jumping points of popular comedians such as Park Na-rae, Jang Do-yeon, Lee Guk-joo, Jo Se-ho, and brothers Yang Se-hyung and Yang Se-chan.
Other notable comedians who are popular within <Comedy Big League>, but not as famous outside of the show include Lee Yong-jin, Lee Jin-ho, Lee Sang-jun, and Hwang Je-sung.
The show is currently hosted by Shin Young-il and Jeong In-young. The hosts play a minor role and just simply facilitate the breaks in between sketches as well as the voting results announced at the end of the show. There’s also a “jing” man who rings a gong at the end of every sketch, but he’s been MIA for the past few episodes.
The screen caps in this post are from the most recent broadcast, episode 195, which aired on December 4, 2016.
I’ll go over some of the best sketches of the current season one by one.
Meddlesome Rapper 오지라퍼
Featuring: Lee Guk-joo, Lee Sang-jun, Kim Da-on, and Kim Wan-bae
Summary: Lee Guk-joo and Lee Sang-jun complain about the other sex. They also read actual Instagram posts written by audience members in real time.
Thoughts: This one is a decent sketch. The first half where they make fun of men and women is usually spot on. I like how they involve the audience members and ask couples for their opinions. It involves a bit of improv, which both Lee Guk-joo and Lee Sang-jun excel at. In this episode, Lee Sang-jun says the top three times when women hold a grudge are
- suddenly, randomly
- after mentioning an ex-girlfriend
- when they haven’t received a proper marriage proposal
Lee Guk-joo talked about the top three times when men hold a grudge
- the day before the wedding
- after breaking up
- after physical contact
The drawback of this sketch is that these kinds of segments making fun of the opposite gender are so common that it does get a bit stale. I much prefer the second half of this segment where Lee Sang-jun reads Instagram posts. He picks the most try-hard ones and reads them out loud. It’s a simple concept, but the pretentious way Lee Sang-jun reads hashtags as “SHAP” is just so funny every time.
Featuring: Yoon Mi-sook, Ahn Ga-yeong, Lee Han-byul, Lee Eun-ji, and Ha Joon-soo
Summary: It’s a look into the daily lives of four annoying, but realistic sisters, and their poor younger brother who has to put up with them.
Thoughts: This segment is relatively new, so it feels fresh. It’s really spot on, and every sister has a really distinct character. There’s the oldest sister with an inferiority complex, the second oldest who’s always busy trying to look cool on social media, the second youngest who’s gross, and the youngest who’s just weird. It has a good mix of strong characters and nuanced slapstick humor.
Here’s an example of one of the interactions on this week’s sketch.
Oldest sister, “My boyfriend was cheating on me. That jerk was at the club with another woman.” *sob sob*
Brother, “What a piece of trash.”
Oldest sister,” Who are you to talk about my boyfriend like that?”
Brother, “What? You said it first?”
Oldest sister, “Hey! I can diss him all I want, but how dare you.”
Suddenly Thirty 어쩌다 서른
Featuring: Lee Jae-hyun, Oh In-taek, Kim wan-bae, and Yang Bae-cha
Summary: The name of this sketch is a play on the tvN talk show . It stars Lee Jae-hyun as a jobless thirty year old bum who deals with social pressures and expectations of being a responsible adult.
Thoughts: This is absolutely my favorite sketch this season. Both salarymen and the unemployed can relate. This sketch usually took place at a pojangmacha, but today’s episode opted for a change to a rooftop of a low rise apartment. “Suddenly Thirty” makes good use of wordplay and comedic timing, but it’s so culturally specific that it’s hard to explain in English.
For the Sake of Jin-ho 진호를 위하여
Featuring: Lee Jin-ho, Kim Doo-young, Choi Sung-min, and Moon Se-yoon
Summary: Jin-ho is about to die, so he asks his best friend to reenact some of their favorite memories.
Thoughts: This sketch is all about Kim Doo-young and his impersonations. The set-up of the show allows for Jin-ho to pretty much ask for anything. Sometimes he asks Doo-young to impersonate their old elementary school principal, his late grandmother, a chicken, a soccer player, etc. The success of this sketch 100% relies of Kim Doo-young skills, and luckily he really is the master of detail. He’s amazing at both physical and vocal mimicry.
The highlight of this sketch is the end when Kim Doo-young impersonates someone riding on the disco pang pang which is a unique Korean cultural past time. For those who are unfamiliar, it’s a cheap carnival ride that you’ll only find at rundown amusement parks. It’s a round, rotating disc that people try to ride without falling off. There’s a DJ that controls the disc’s speed and direction as he smack talks the riders. I’ve never ridden one before, but I often go to Wolmido to watch the smack talk. It’s the watching that’s a cultural past-time, not the riding.
Kim Soon-kyung Patrol Division 지구대 김순경
Featuring: Kim Yong-myeong, Kim In-seok, Kim Yeo-woon, Kim Na-hee, and Kim Byeong-wook
Summary: A rich, spoiled high schooler and his lackey get in trouble with the police. The police call in his hardworking, single mother to come pick him up.
Thoughts: The way Kim Yong-myeong talks is really funny. He uses the same bumbling idiot accent in every sketch he does, but it really works with his policeman character. I also like how the high schooler is always embarrassed of his mom because that’s realistic for teenagers. It gets really sad when the mom laments how her son looks down on her, but then quickly gets silly again as the policemen try to comfort her.
Kim Na-hee, who plays the mother, looks like she’s had a lot of plastic surgery, which is usually a bad thing, but it really works for her because it adds a lot to the characters she plays. I also really liked one of the older sketches where she parodied Kim Min-hee in <Handmaiden>.
I like that the <Comedy Big League> sketches are a little longer than the ones on <Gag Concert>. It makes for more layered jokes. The actual filming of the show includes a few more sketches, but the PDs edit out the less popular ones.
I was a huge fan of this show when it first came out, but some of the segments have gotten repetitive over time. Regardless, I like it because it allows for hidden gems like Kim Yong-myeong and Kim Doo-young to shine.