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YouTube for the Soul

Sometimes, you just need to be cheered up. We have all our blue days, and we do what we can to get through it. Some folks turn to alcohol (or worse), which has never been my way nor can I recommend it. I prefer the warm comforting embrace of someone I love when I'm feeling sad. And if she's not around, I can always turn to my sure-fire list of favorite videos on YouTube to watch.

Some of these are inspirational and sweet and just give you a big case of the awww's. Some of them are flat out hilarious. (And juvenile, but sometimes you need to laugh like a grade-school kid.) But they all tend to cheer me up, no matter how often I watch them. If you have a case of the blues today, or if you just want to know what sort of nonsense I find funny, let me take you on a tour. Presented in absolutely no particular order, here are ten videos I always turn to when I want to lift my spirits.

#1. THE EMPEROR'S BAD DAY

The fine classy folks from Adult Swim's ROBOT CHICKEN bring us a weekly show that's a collection of sketches featuring action figures in stop-motion hijinks. The show is usually hit-or-miss, but there's usually a few gems in each 15 minute episode. This is one of their legendary bits. Star Wars' Emperor Palpatine is on the Death Star, and we're treated to him just getting more and more frustrated with life's little mundane annoyances. Warning: (bleeped) language and obscene gestures are included.

#2. KERMIT and the ALPHABET

Jim Henson was my hero, as a storyteller and a human being. If you have never seen this classic bit of Sesame Street, prepare yourself. A little girl helps Kermit sing the alphabet, but she has a mischievous agenda of her own. You can actually hear where Henson nearly breaks character when he chuckles, but he soldiers on and finishes the scene. If the last moment doesn't just break your heart, please run out immediately and try to find yourself a soul.

#3. Just how cool is to be in band?

Kids today. So focused on their video games, their cell phones and their own little selfish interests. If only there was something to give us a little hope for their future. Then I ran across this video filmed in 2012, featuring the kids of the Louisville Leopard Percussionists. Playing Ozzy Osbourne's Crazy Train. And just like this, my faith in humanity is restored a little bit. You rock on, kids. You just f'ing rock on.

#4. Happy Father's Day

From the sketch comedy artists ROOSTER TEETH came this short film about three guys playing catch, while discussing how one of them never had a chance to play catch with his father. This one never gets old for me as the humor slowly, but surely, escalates.

#5. Batman has a Dirty Mind

Oh, this is so juvenile. It's as juvenile as it gets. But it doesn't get much funnier. This exceptionally well produced short film is a razor-sharp parody of the closing moments of the end of Christopher Nolan's THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. As the villains reveal their evil plan, Batman seems completely distracted by the memories of a night of passion that happened the week before. If you haven't seen the original film, and you are offended by strong sexual language, this video is not for you. For everyone else, hop on the roller coaster and witness the alternate ending of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

#6. The Elephant Sketch

Okay, so that was modern and offensive. This is classic and clean---and remains one of the funniest things ever seen on television. In the final seasons of the legendary sketch comedy series THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW, the cast was known for cutting up and improvising on set. They were also famous for keeping the camera rolling, no matter how off the rails the sketch became. It's not that the script itself is funny---nothing that was originally intended to be acted out actually happened. It's the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that makes this a legend. Carol Burnett and Vicki Lawrence (playing "Mama") were trying to play Password with Dick Van Dyke and Tim Conway. Conway, a known troublemaker, started rambling on about elephants. The other actors were trying so hard not to giggle that they couldn't say their lines, which allowed Conway to just kept piling on to his story. This went on for several minutes, as he held the audience and his cast mates captive. It was one of Conway's finest moments, but it was Vicki Lawrence and her unforgettable final punchline that made this television history.

#7. Katy Perry at the Super Bowl

I like Katy Perry a lot, but I was floored by her 2015 performance that combined a medley of her songs Roar, California Girls, I Kissed a Girl and Fireworks. Visually stunning, powerful and creatively cool, even if one of the dancing sharks had two left feet. For months after this aired, my daughter made me watch this with her, and lift her up into the air simultaneously with Katy during the final song. So I think my connection to this is really a sweet shared moment with my little one. But I think I'd like this even if she didn't. (I'm still a little disturbed, however, at how Cameron would always get on her knees and shake her ponytail just like Katy did at the 4:10 mark. Oh well, at least she doesn't want to be a Kardashian.)

#8. David S. Pumpkins

There's no reason that this sketch from the Halloween 2016 episode of Saturday Night Live should be as funny as it is. But it is, and just keeps getting funnier every time you watch it. Tom Hanks turned a throwaway sketch into a favorite recurring character, and it inspired the must-have Halloween costume of 2016.

#9. Creepy Text Theater

Every day, guys and girls exchanges messages with each other on social media sites like Tinder, Plenty O Fish, and other places.....all in the hopes of meeting that special someone, even if it's just for the night. In many cases, the guys are douches are flat out classless, mean and arrogant. This group of actors entertain each other by reading the transcripts of the worst and creepiest things some idiots have used to ensnare the hearts of the fairer sex. If you enjoyed this, there are many episodes of this series on YouTube, and they're all hysterical. Be warned, this one contains very strong language, both sexual and hostile. And if you're a dude who talks to women like this.....stop. Just, please stop.

#10. Paperman

Sorry to end this article without a visual aid, but my favorite cheer-up video isn't available for free on line. PAPERMAN is a short black-and-white cartoon, completely absent of dialogue but decorated with a powerful musical theme, about a man who shares a wordless moment with a beautiful woman at a train station, but doesn't have a chance to get her number. The first time I saw was it at the theater before the movie WRECK-IT RALPH with my wife. It's heartbreakingly beautiful, and we get teary eyed every time we see it. (We were probably cheering the loudest when it won an Oscar for Best Short Feature, the only time I've EVER cared about that category.) Unfortunately, this is the only video not available on YouTube with the original music, which is crucial to your enjoyment. Don't cheat yourself by watching an overdubbed copy, watch the original. You'll find it on copies of WRECK-IT RALPH or the WALT DISNEY ANIMATED STUDIOS SHORT FILMS COLLECTION dvd.

Hope you enjoyed this collection, and that I brightened your day a little bit. As always, please share my blog with any friends that you might think would enjoy it, and please let me know what are some of things you constantly go back to cheer yourself up?

JOHN YEO JR. is the author of THE INFINITE LEAGUE, THE KING'S TOURNAMENT and MAMA SAUVETERRE'S CURIOSITY SHOPPE. His next book, THE BARREN DAGGER, arrives in 2018.

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