A Silly Thing Done Astonishingly Well
June 12, 2020 1:51 AM   Subscribe

I am fascinated by people who acquire dazzling artistic or technical skills, and then apply them to intentionally silly ends. For example: the beautiful stagecraft on display in the Shia LaBeouf music video, or Mark Rober and friends spending six months building the world's strongest trampoline, or pretty much anything Weird Al has ever done . What are some other examples of this kind of thing? And is there a word (in any language) that means "a silly thing done astonishingly well"?
posted by yankeefog to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
OK Go's This Too Shall Pass uses an impressive Rube Goldberg machine which has a lot of delightfully silly components.
posted by acidnova at 1:55 AM on June 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Victor Borge?
posted by Chitownfats at 3:50 AM on June 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

How about Jelle’s Marble Runs?
posted by somedaycatlady at 3:57 AM on June 12, 2020

Speaking to the second thing - I'm not so certain you'll find a word specifically about "silly things done well" because categorizing a thing as silly can be such a subjective thing. One person's "silly" can be another person's "cool" or "funny" or whatever.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:12 AM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

This makes me think of the Penn and Teller quote, "Sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect"
posted by richb at 4:29 AM on June 12, 2020 [17 favorites]

Most of Monty Python. 24 seconds of silly, and a sketch with 'silly' in it's name
posted by Homer42 at 4:42 AM on June 12, 2020

There’s a subreddit called AWBGE, which stands for Awful Taste But Great Execution. Taste is subjective but some of the craft on display is pretty remarkable. Right now a hand knit cross-section of a small bird is toward the top, with each organ incredibly well detailed.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:17 AM on June 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

...And there's also Great Taste And Great Execution, r/GTATE.

Here's a nice example:
At the start of the quarantine, a house in the UK began placing giant Teddy Bears in their garden, each day creating a new scene. They're currently on day 47 and you can follow their adventures at /r/TeddyBearGarden.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:51 AM on June 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Kiwami Japan's youtube page. Knives made out of unusual materials processed with absurd levels of complexity or abstraction. I'm positive it's been been on the blue before.
posted by wellifyouinsist at 6:14 AM on June 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

In architecture, there's "folly," "a costly ornamental building with no practical purpose." It's often used metaphorically outside of architecture.
posted by bricoleur at 6:44 AM on June 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

If you like Rober you might like Colin Furze. His early videos are pretty slap-dash, but lately the craftsmanship is showing. They're also almost always very dangerous, but it's ok because he's wearing a safety-tie.
posted by tayknight at 7:26 AM on June 12, 2020

I'm not sure this counts as a dazzling technical skill, although I know I couldn't reliably do it, but I love this bottle flip.
posted by goatdog at 7:43 AM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Jerome Robbins' ballet "The Mistake Waltz" - impeccably choreographed, danced by professionals, and so very silly.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:00 AM on June 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

dorodango mud balls

theo jansen's Strandbeests

About half of the conceptual art movement, arguably.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:11 AM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

This wasn't meant to be silly, but I can't watch it without grinning. What a Honda sounds like.
posted by Mchelly at 9:23 AM on June 12, 2020

Simone Giertz should count, right?
posted by cobaltnine at 9:36 AM on June 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Stupid People Tricks?
posted by a humble nudibranch at 9:38 AM on June 12, 2020

Peter Schickele, first ever graduate of Swarthmore College with a music degree, graduate of Juilliard, composer for Joan Baez (among others)... and also creator and composer for the fictitious P.D.Q. Bach.
posted by hanov3r at 10:15 AM on June 12, 2020

The Otamatone Take On Me video is both ludicrously silly and shockingly well made.
posted by eschatfische at 10:34 AM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Galactica: Sabotage.

A lot of the best mashups are like this, IMHO. It's why I love them.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:40 PM on June 12, 2020

The stop-motion films of PES.

The History of the Typewriter Recited by Michael Winslow.
posted by miles per flower at 2:06 PM on June 12, 2020

Pretty much any early Michel Gondry music video has some level of absurdity or surreality. Off the top of my head, Let Forever Be or Sugar Water.
posted by homesickness at 4:32 PM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody!
posted by yankeefog at 10:42 AM on June 14, 2020

You should check out the body of work of these artists:

Eric Fischli and David Weiss: The Way Things Go is their most famous x

The Brothers Quay: I recommend their Heiniken commercial or their Roundup commercials; there is one made entirely of toothpicks that will blow your mind. Their serious work is very surrealistic and not conventionally funny, but their commercials are.

Filmmaker Roy Andersson also does very funny commercials with great choreography, especially staged accidents.
posted by effluvia at 6:48 AM on June 16, 2020

Anything by Paul Hunt: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Hunt_(gymnast)
posted by Wild_Eep at 4:32 PM on May 10, 2021

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