No-Calorie Comfort Food For The Brain

ComfortvideoWhen it comes to comfort food, I know exactly what I want: freshly baked bread, mashed potatoes, wonton soup from San Francisco's Slanted Door, a chocolate croissant, a crisp apple or Red Vines licorice.

But since I don’t like to rely solely on food -- especially the less healthy stuff -- to get me through my hectic days, I’ve found a no-calorie alternative: YouTube videos that rest my brain or shift my mood. I watch them not because some are viral video darlings, but because they do what comfort food is supposed to do: Make me feel better.

Here’s my list, with viewing times noted.

The Muppets Bohemian Rhapsody (4:47 minutes). Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the fandango? The Muppets Studio’s version of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, with Gonzo, Animal, Beaker, Kermit The Frog and Miss Piggy, among many, many others, makes fun of video conferencing -- in a good way. There’s a reason it’s gotten more than 28 million views since it was posted in 2009. If you haven’t seen it, now’s the time.   

Creature Comforts (5:16). Nick Park and Aardman Animations, the folks behind Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run, won Best Animated Short Film in 1990 with this look at how animals view their life in the zoo. What makes it so fun is that the dialogue comes from non-actors, interviewed at a housing project and a home for the elderly. The animals’ stories were then built around their answers. My favorite is the Brazilian jaguar who just wants a little space.  

Hercules (13 seconds). This very short outtake of actor Kevin Sorbo playing Hercules in the 1990s television series is laugh out loud funny, especially after you read what went wrong with the dialogue. Sorbo sums it up for a lot of us. What am I talking about? It will take you only 13 seconds to find out. 

Here It Goes Again (3:05). Too busy to to go the gym? I say watching OK Go do their thing on the treadmill counts. 

Danzón No. 2, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel (9:51). When I want a little background music, I listen to this lovely, engaging, lively piece by Mexican composer Arturo Márquez. In this version, Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel, now music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducts the Simon Bolivar Orchestra (a youth orchestra!) 

Susan Boyle’s audition on Britian’s Got Talent (7:31). I still love watching Susan Boyle’s audition, even though it’s no longer the surprise it was the first time I saw it. I enjoy going back and watching her – from the first moment we see the then-47-year-old on screen, with her frumpy hair and incredibly thick eyebrows, chowing down on a snack, then talking about her cat (Pebbles), and giving Simon Cowell sass when he asks about her dream of being a singer. When she starts singing, you see the disbelieving audience come around to her side. 

And now for a commercial break. Dollar Shave Club (1:33) -- The party is on! -- and Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like (32 seconds) are worth two minutes of your time. Seriously. And if you’ve got another minute, this funny and clever ad by the New Zealand Lotteries Commission (1:01) is also worth watching. 

Jaan Pehechaan Ho (5:34). When I think of cool 60s movies, the 1965 Indian thriller Gumnaam (loosely based on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None) comes to mind. Why? The fabulous opening song, “Jaan Pehechaan Ho,” of course. You may have heard it before. The song was used in a Heineken commercial (1:32) last year, and in the opening credits of the movie Ghost World. In any case, Laxmi Chhaya, the masked dancer dressed in gold, and the band, Ted Lyons and his Cubs, are loads of fun to watch. 

Where the Hell is Matt? (4:29). Matt Harding visited 42 countries in 14 months and convinced thousands of people to dance with him, earning him kudos as an Internet phenom. I just enjoy the goofiness of his dancing.

Downton Abbey, not exactly (Part 1 (6:55)Part 2 (8:32). Downton Abbey Season 3 won’t be broadcast in the U.S. until January. But if you’re feeling the need for a fix of the popular British series, try this wicked parody instead, Uptown Downstairs Abbey. You don’t have to be a Downton Abbey fan to find something to laugh at. 

Build Me Up Buttercup, the ukulele version (3:26). Indie musician Julia Nunes, singing and playing her ukulele in her dorm room in this 2008 video, gets a bunch of her friends to join in. Simple, sweet and infectious. Hey, hey, hey!

Chad Vader, Day Shift Manager (4:57). This is definitely an Internet oldie -- a series of short films about Dark Vader’s less successful brother, Chad, who works as the day shift manager in a grocery store. This first episode is a classic: Chad has a date! 

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (3:22). Marcel is offbeat, cute, silly, funny and weird. Best line: “Sometimes people say that my head is too big for my body? And then I say, compared to what?” 

Christian the Lion (2:32). If watching Christian greet his former owners after living in the wilds of Africa for a year doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, then you’re just not…human. Once you understand the story, watch this longer video (4:44) with additional footage of Christian.

Got a video you like to watch? Send it my way and I'll put together a readers' edition of this list. Because when it comes to no-calorie comfort food for the brain, you can never have too much. -- CG

If you liked this story, you might also like:
Dancing in September
9 Unsung Museums
16 Guaranteed Stress-Busters. Tested, Unfortunately.

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Image courtesy of Muppets Studios/Walt Disney Co.

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