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The 5 Funniest Tiny Desk Concerts

"Now get back to work!"

It's the default joke at the end of many, many Tiny Desk concerts — not all of them, of course, but maybe 400 of them? 500? The band gets done playing, the applause dies down and someone blurts out, "Now get back to work!" It might be the singer or a band member, or perhaps an NPR staffer; Felix Contreras does it a lot, befitting his role as NPR Music's lovable uncle. And the crowd dutifully, reflexively and/or sincerely laughs uproariously, struck by the discord between the event (a concert!) and the setting (a workplace!). Sometimes we include the line in the published recording; most of the time, we edit it so the applause trails off into silence.

To join the ranks of the funniest Tiny Desk concerts, you've got to dig a little deeper. In the case of Fragile Rock's 2017 set, "digging deeper" meant rolling out an emo puppet band — complete with puppet crowd-surfing — while Reggie Watts improvised three delightfully funny songs in 2012, even filling one with playful digs at NPR. Dan Deacon's bonkers 2015 performance featured the most ludicrously elaborate dance-party instructions we've ever heard, "Weird Al" Yankovic went unplugged all the way back in 2010 for three satirical originals and Neil Innes (the Rutles and Monty Python veteran who died late last year) joined us in 2011 to revisit a few of his comedy classics.

Now get back to work!

Tiny Desks In This Playlist

  • Fragile Rock
  • Reggie Watts
  • Dan Deacon
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic
  • Neil Innes
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    Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)