We’re living in a golden age of sketch comedy, when everybody with some funny friends, a good idea, a cheap camera, and a YouTube account can find an audience online. And there are more opportunities, on shows ranging from stalwarts like Saturday Night Live to relative newcomers like Key & Peele, Inside Amy Schumer, and Comedy Bang Bang, for audiences to find whatever type of sketch represents their favorite brand of humor.
In other words, young unknowns who are hilariously out-there can end up on our radar as easily these days as the hyper-specific, widely beloved sketches from Portlandia–and with the big guys inspiring the small-timers, and the small-timers pushing the franchises to stay smart, relevant, and ahead-of-the-curve, fans are spoiled for choice. 2014 saw sketches that were relevant and politically aware, and dealt with topics as heavy as military sexual assault and racism in ways that made furthering the social discourse the funniest thing possible; it saw sketches that catered to the Internet’s endless appetite for the absurd; it saw pop culture parody get better and better; and it saw celebrities act like jackasses, which never stops being funny. As a creative medium, the future–and the present!–of sketch comedy is bright and getting brighter. And funnier. Take a look at a dozen of our favorite sketches in the slideshow above.