An Ode To Skate Video Skits
Above photo: Ben Colen
Article by Jason Caines
If you want to celebrate skate video skits you can’t escape the creative influence of Spike Jonze, the first skate filmmaker to bring a distinctly artistic vision to skate video skits in a way which had never been attempted before. Spike took the skills he honed in skating to Hollywood and won an Oscar for his 2014 film Her as well as for his recently lauded music video for Kanye West and Paul McCartney’s 'Only One’.
Spike is a true innovator of skate video skits and, with Blind's Video Days and work in every Girl and Chocolate video to his name, his back catalogue is an absolute visual feast.
As an ode to Spike, here are some of his finest skate skits as well as some other memorable skate skits by others that have impacted our collective skate consciousness and given us some laughs over the years.
Jack Black in Girl/Chocolate - Pretty Sweet
Jack Black, star of School of Rock amongst other mega bucks Hollywood blockbuster movies, may seem like the type to shy away from skateboarding. But when he’s goading Sean Malto mid trick, waffling on about skate gods and getting involved in awkward shenanigans with Beibel and the others in the Girl/Chocolate camp it becomes extremely surreal. This was a fun skit and was definitely an unexpected addition to the video.
Frank Gerwer as Taxi Driver Character in Transworld - Free Your Mind
Frank Gerwer playing a disgruntled Travis Bickle type taxi driver just makes sense. Frank is one of skateboarding’s greatest outsiders; Anti Hero Skateboards lifer and San Francisco hillbomb terroriser, he's gnarly by nature. Frank has always brought his great personality into his skating but in Free Your Mind he proves he actually has great comedic timing and acting skill to boot. Squawky tones and an abrasive demeanour just add to his great performance and this skit is an instant classic.
Owen Wilson as Koston in Girl Skateboards - Yeah Right
Owen Wilson's appearance in Girl's Yeah Right was shocking. Firstly, because at the time skate audiences had never seen big Hollywood stars casually chatting about the Belmont nine stair with Koston like he's been a skate bro for years. Secondly, because by the looks of the footage it appears that Wilson's also an amazing skater.
But just to inform the uninitiated, it’s not actually Wilson skating – it’s Koston. Spike’s amazing camera trickery fooled us all the first time round. Just for a moment we all thought “wow, that dude from the Royal Tenanbaums can really handle himself on a board, no way!"
Johnny Rotten Pre-Part Spiels in Flip Sorry
Johnny Rotten's wild and energetic descriptions of the Flip team in the skits before the skate sections in Sorry helped made this video an absolute skate video classic.
Were Rotten's line's scripted? How much does he know about skating, or the Flip team even? All of these questions race through your mind as you try hard not to laugh aloud at Rotten madly jigging about on a brown leather Chesterfield cracking wise about a bunch of pro skaters he's clearly never even met. These skits are quirky and very, very funny.
Beagle: Baker Videos – Skits, Interludes and Hijinks
Beagle single-handedly captures the Baker skate ethos through his lens and he’s got an eye for finding messed up, weird ghetto shit. He's absolutely cornered the market by simply keeping his camera rolling when it looks like some serious stuff is about to go down. He has filmed everything from downright weird pre part intro clips to footage of random Latino gangsters attempting to rob his camera in Baker 3.
Beagle has a real method to his madness. His footage expresses all the raw situations that come along with street skating in Cali and how behind every corner could be the most crazy thing. Message to skate filmers - keep that camera rolling Beagle style, you never know what you could miss.
Andy Evans - This n That. Ben Powell, Bob Sanderson & Marc Churchill
Andy Evans is a standout pioneer of British skate filming. All of his videos have followed a different theme and allowed the British skate community to get creative, throw on some mad costumes and have a laugh. Just watch Bob Sanderson's Steve Irwin impression as he wrestles a wild skateboard or Ben Powell's medieval skater boasting about his tre flips over Spanish Galleons, they are hilarious. History, Bitch!
Flip - Extremely Sorry. Claymation Skits
At the London premier of the Flip Extremely Sorry video the claymation skits took everyone by surprise, as most of us were just expecting nonstop skate action. The skits gave some breathing space between the parts and each one expressed the personality of the team. The interludes are made in Claymation and clearly influenced by British claymation pioneers Aardman, who made Wallace and Gromit. Although the Flip team come from all over the world, Rowley and the other Flip head honchos created skits that allowed them to say something unique about each rider but which still remained distinctly British, like Flip itself. Smart.
Girl - Mouse. Eric Koston as Charlie Chaplin
Eric Koston's skating has always had a sense of theatre to it - he's the guy who's known for doing very difficult tricks whilst just goofing around and this skit really shows off his natural ability to bring humour into his skating.
Shot by Spike, in a grainy black and white film reel, there are two masters at work here. Spike captures the sense of Charlie Chaplin and the dolefulness of his iconic tramp character and Koston, the most Jedi like skate wizard, somehow makes us all believe that he's just started to learn how to skat. I think that, just for a moment, we all wanted to believe it as we were all genuinely entertained by this skit.
Girl - Yeah Right- Spike Jonze Invisible Boards
The Invisible Boards skit from Yeah Right is another stroke of Spike Jonzeian brilliance, managing to present skating without the skateboards. Seeing the position skaters get into to prepare for tricks is an interesting way to look at skating and it had never been done before. The Girl Skateboard’s team's distinct skate styles really add to this and you can see how they do tricks in a completely new way. It looks fucking cool and was an innovative idea, flawlessly executed.
DGK - Parental Advisory
DGK's Parental Advisory video is a homage to older storyline based skate videos which preceded it like Stacey Peralta’s Bones Brigade videos i.e. The Search for Animal Chin. Parental Advisory connects skaters part's through a storyline with some added touches of humour and drama. Let’s be honest, like its predecessors the skits in this can come across as cheesy; but thinking about where DGK and Stevie Williams started from, to see where they are now is actually astounding. If you want a chuckle and to see some gangster, precision based street skating laid down by some of the best in the game then give it a watch. Started from the bottom now we here!
Antiz - Z-Movie
In Antiz's skate video Z Movie they allowed each skater with a part to pick a film, remake it and act it out with their boards. This is a really funny and original idea done very well and is a great homage to culturally iconic films like A Clockwork Orange, Edward Scissor Hands, Reservoir Dogs and more. Z Movie was released at a time when skits in vids had fallen out of popularity and it provided a welcomed, refreshing take on the skate video skit genre.
Lakai - Fully Flared. Intro
Spike Jonze's Fully Flared intro is some straight up Michael Bay shit. The pyrotechnics involved in this project were potentially deadly. For example Lucas Puig does an indy tuck knee, gets fully crushed by a mistimed exploding block underneath him, becomes enveloped in smoke and his board flies out like a dismembered body part from the beach scene in Saving Private Ryan...it’s epic. This is the kind of clip everyone can appreciate and special mention goes to Mike Mo for his first try switch flip ender. This intro looks beautiful and really raised the bar for skate video skits, helping Fully Flared to become one of the bestselling skate videos of all time.
Santa Cruz - Streets on Fire
Streets of Fire by Santa Cruz was made in an era when home video had just been made available to the masses. Shot on film, this glorious masterpiece may have some of the most trippy lines and moments in a skate video made to date. It’s got everything from guys bonelessing from truck roof to truck roof to their own stoked out voice over to existential longboarders bombing hills to trippy 80's synth tracks. This video is a blast from the past that needs to be rewatched by new generations of skateboarders to see its goofball attitude and carefree take on skating the streets.
Bones Brigade – The Search for Animal Chin
The Bones Brigade did it all first. In The Search for Animal Chin, you can see how Stacey Peralta's dedication to expressing the personalities of his team through his videos was a big factor in helping him to create arguably the most legendary and influential team of all time. It was the first time a video camera had been pointed on pros when they were off their boards and helped launch them into the levels of celebrity they came to enjoy.
The Firm - Can't Stop. Mafia Skits
The Firm's Can't Stop video contains a series of mafia skits that are an uninspired reimagining of 30's Bugsy Malone mobster movies. The general idea is that if your video part is up next you get shot with a fake sounding revolver, get caught cheating at cards or run off with a swag bag with a dollar sign on it like some kind of mad cartoon. OK, the swag bag bit wasn’t in there but you get the picture. The sepia toned skits look cool at first but they quickly becomes a repetitively shot, episodic intro mechanism which wastes ample time you could be using to watch TX do switch flip back salad grind down handrails or Javier Sarmiento nail first try flip back noseblunts down steep ass Euro hubbas. Go figure.
The Firm - Can't Stop. Ray Barbee Music Video
Ray Barbee's short music video, featured after the Firm’s Can't Stop, is a refreshing and sweet guitar and glow in the dark xylophone affair which is perfectly mellow and cool. It really shows off Barbee's musical talent and another dimension to his influential contributions to skating and deep roots in early street skating.