Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Funniest Sketches In Mel Brooks' History Of The World, Part II

Hitting theaters alongside "Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams," "Clash of the Titans," and "Raiders of the Lost Ark," Mel Brooks' "History of the World, Part I" first premiered in 1981 as a pie in the face of every stodgy history professor. A parody of epic sword-and-sandal films and historical period movies peppered with pop culture references, the film took aim at the Roman Empire, the French Revolution, and even the Stone Age. Called a "bizarre grab bag" and "a rambling, undisciplined, sometimes embarrassing failure" by Roger Ebert, the historically-grounded sketch comedy collection nonetheless achieved cult comedy status, making it a perfect candidate for revival decades later.

Released on the 2023 Jewish holiday of Purim, Brooks' "History of the World, Part II" is a showcase for some of the brightest stars in the comedy world, including a number of prominent Jewish comedians like Ike Barinholtz, Nick Kroll, and Sarah Silverman. Like "History of the World, Part I," which featured an extensive cast of familiar faces such as Cloris Leachman, Hugh Hefner, Bea Arthur, and John Hurt, "Part II" is a "Where's Waldo?" of notable actors and comedians. Like its parent film, the Hulu series is an eclectic mishmash of hits and misses with enough strong moments to make it popcorn-worthy. Break out your best toga as we take a look at the funniest sketches in "History of the World, Part II."


Although she's only been appearing on television for a few years, Ana Fabrega is easily one of the funnier young comedians gracing the small screen today. A gifted stand-up comedian and sketch comic, Fabrega has appeared in "Portlandia," "The Jim Gaffigan Show," and "At Home With Amy Sedaris," among other roles. She also co-created HBO's hilarious bilingual supernatural comedy series "Los Espookys," in which she stars as the quirky Tati — a deadpan weirdo whose various side hustles include breaking in other people's shoes and hand-turning the second hand of a clock tower. Although her appearance in "History of the World, Part II" is brief, it's one of the gems of the series thanks to Fabrega's offbeat delivery.

Set in Mesoamerica, the sketch stars Fabrega as a virgin bound to a rock as two men prepare to sacrifice her to the sun god. As they ready the sacrificial blade, their victim swears she isn't a virgin at all in an effort to talk her way out of it, dubiously claiming, "I've had so much sex" before launching into a less-than-believable list of sex slang to prove her case. Fabrega's signature wide-eyed and straight-faced comedic approach is as endearing as ever here, and it's easy to imagine Tati herself trying to talk her way out of a similar scenario.


Months after the last emperor of Russia, Tsar Nicholas II, was imprisoned by the Bolsheviks in the wake of the October Revolution in 1917, his entire family was executed –- kids and all. But for decades after, rumors and speculations circulated around the purported survival of the young Duchess Anastasia, with several individuals claiming to be her even popping up over the years. The rumor mill was finally (mostly) put to rest after the collapse of the U.S.S.R. revealed that the Soviets had confirmed Anastasia's execution way back in 1976. But that didn't stop "History of the World" from serving up a different take on her whereabouts.

In a three-episode-spanning sketch series starring Disney alum Dove Cameron as the Romanov princess and Danny DeVito as her tsar dad, the show lays out its version of the royal family's fate. Here, Anastasia is an influencer updating her social media pages as the Kardashian-resembling Romanovs hide out from the Bolsheviks, cluelessly confident they will be restored to the throne eventually ("I"). As the revolutionaries arrive to execute her family, the young duchess is too focused on her latest makeup tutorial video to notice at first –- something that saves her life. The absurdity of the lost princess updating her subscribers and plugging her video sponsor Putzmates while hiding in a chicken coop ("III") makes this one of the funnier sketches in the series.

Curb Your Judaism

One of the things that make "History of the World, Part II" worth watching is how it manages to capture the spirit of the original while also infusing the comedy with modern references. Perhaps the finest example of this is found in the Episode 2 sketch "Curb Your Judaism," which beautifully manages to parody both "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and the New Testament at the same time. The scene opens with J.B. Smoove's Luke finishing off a pint of Dulce de Leper ice cream, making it clear this will be a promising sketch. Also starring Nick Kroll as Judas and Richard Kind as Peter, the sacrilicious parody finds the disciples complaining over minutia like Jesus' obsession with foot-washing and the lack of meatballs at the last supper.

When the Roman centurions show up and suggest that the person who sells out Jesus will be "richly compensated," it becomes clear that Judas is the Larry David figure in this morally flexible morality tale. Like David, Judas makes some questionable moves, but it's ultimately his own lack of insight that leads to the trouble in the tale -– in this case, the accidental betrayal of Jesus after tentatively considering it. Scored with the sad Italian circus music of its source material and elevated by a pitch-perfect Larry Davidesque performance from Kroll, this sketch group alone makes the series worth watching.


One of history's most notoriously bizarre figures, Grigori Rasputin served as the personal mystic of the Romanov family. Born to Siberian peasants, the erstwhile wanderer was known for a number of things, not the least of which were his curious religious beliefs, strange hold over the royal family, alleged healing powers, and assassination. Like everything else surrounding the Romanovs, Rasputin's life and death were surrounded by scandal and rumors.

The frequently farting Rasputin of "History of the World, Part II" first appears alongside the Romanovs as they wait in hiding ("I"). He appears to diagnose their youngest son –- badly coughing and miserable due to what Tsar Nicholas casually refers to as "leaky blood" — as "being hunted by Maldovan demons." He later shows up in an episode of "Jackrasp," complete with the "Jackass" music, as the nobles begin their assassination campaign. The fact that "History of the World" takes such a darkly absurd and complicated story and reimagines it as the Russian Revolution's answer to "Jackass" is absolutely perfect. Throw in Johnny Knoxville as Rasputin and fellow "Jackass" cast alumni Jason "Wee Man" Acuña (in a tutu, no less), Preston Lacy, Chris Pontius, and Lance Bangs, and you've got comedy gold.

Jesus and Mary

One stand-out sketch in "History of the World, Part II" explores the long-hypothesized romance between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. A prominent figure in the four New Testament gospels, the Biblical Mary is part of Jesus' entourage — present at his crucifixion and burial and the first person to testify about his empty tomb after the resurrection. Generally believed to have been a real historical figure, Mary has long been a target of speculation in secular circles, with plenty of scholars, writers, and armchair historians positing her relationship with Jesus went beyond just washing his feet.

"History of the World, Part II" delves into the amorous potential of this Biblical pair, first imagining their meet-cute at a busy market where the Magdalene sisters are selling eggs ("IV"). When Mary catches his eye, Jesus hits her with the not-so-righteous pick-up line, "You look like you need saving." A parody of "The Notebook" complete with the romantic kiss in the rain scene, the sketch is framed by a grandma (Jenifer Lewis of "Sister Act") reading her inquisitive grandchild a story à la "The Princess Bride." As Mary and Jesus, Zazie Beetz ("Atlanta") and Jay Ellis ("Insecure") make a pairing so pure they should be cast immediately in a romantic comedy. But the cherry on top of the sketch is watching J.B. Smoove's Luke and Quinta Brunson's Martha Magdelene discover that bunnies and eggs are the perfect combo for celebrating Jesus' death and resurrection.

The Pyramids

Fred Armisen has been honing his comedic voice for decades, and the unique brand of whimsically absurd comedy he delivers with every performance is a testament to all of the work he's put in. Like his "Los Espookys" co-writer and co-star Ana Fabrega, we don't get nearly enough of Armisen in "History of the World, Part II," but every second we do get is pure gold. Set in 2200 B.C. Egypt, his sketch stars Travis Bennett, AKA Taco ("You People") and Mitra Jouhari ("The Big Sick") as a couple strolling through the market.

When Sonora shows Ahmed a pretty basket they can't afford, a little guy named Glorp –- clearly an alien –- steps up with a perfectly predatory MLM pitch for a literal pyramid scheme called AfterALife. "You get two friends to build a pyramid and then you sell them the materials," he begins. "Then they get two friends to build pyramids, and so on, and so on." Just when he's nearly got them hooked with a promise that they can be their own Pharaoh and earn a cool pink cart, an unsatisfied customer shows up to complain.

The episode plays on History's "Ancient Aliens" mythos, and Armisen is his adorable self as the sketchy alien. Some viewers have compared his character to another green-faced figure from a Mel Brooks production, the 1987 "Star Wars" parody "Spaceballs," in which Brooks played the iconic Yoda parody figure Yogurt.

The Civil War

While many viewers have loved "History of the World, Part II," some have complained that a few of the recurring sketches tend to drag on. Unlike the Jesus sketches, which change tone and direction dramatically enough that they stay fresh throughout the series, the Civil War and Russian Revolution sketches start to wear on a bit by the end of the series. But like "Jackrasp" and "Anastasia," a few of the Civil War sketches are stronger than others and easily rank in the top tier for the series.

The first sketch in the series, "The Civil War," begins with an interaction between Abraham Lincoln (Timothy Simons of "Veep") and Ulysses S. Grant (Ike Barinholtz of "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent"). And of the many sketches in the series, the Civil War scenes are perhaps the most useful for gleaning any semblance of a real history education, with factoids about Grant's notorious affection for alcohol and his wartime work relationship with Robert Todd Lincoln.

Some of the funniest scenes in this series find Union soldiers trying to stay alive behind enemy lines. When the booze-swilling Grant gets busted during a saloon game of "I never," the Union army sends three heroes after him –- Private Mason Dixon (Tyler James Williams), Lieutenant Henry Honeybeard (Tim Baltz), and Mingoes (Zahn McClarnon). The trio's chemistry and banter elevates their otherwise middling sketches, making them nigh worthy of their own spin-off.

The Last Supper Sessions

No matter how much truth may or may not be behind it, the idea that Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles has become a key piece of music history. In a parody of the Beatles' demise, "History of the World, Part II" continues the tale of Jesus and his entourage by imagining them as the band in its final days, as told in Peter Jackson's 2021 documentary "Get Back." Dubbed "Jesus and the Apostles: The Last Supper Sessions," the sketch finds Jesus and his followers in the recording studio after Judas has left the band. Just as the real Yoko lurked around the Beatles' sessions, Mary serves as a hilarious canary in the coal mine for the apostles. Ever focused on their craft, the band manages to shift around Mary's unhelpful commentary and musical contributions, but it's clear that the magic is waning.

The sessions are already eventful between Lazarus' arrival and Mary's interruptions, but when Judas comes back around –- now sporting problematic dreadlocks and a Liverpudlian accent –- they find room for everyone. The musical number at the end of the session is a solid finale to the Jesus series, even if Judas does eventually turn on his old friend in a parody of George Harrison's "Get Back" exit.


The story of Kublai Khan begins in "History of the World, Part II" Episode 1, which recounts his efforts to establish trade with a visiting Marco Polo (Jake Johnson of "New Girl"). Unfortunately, Marco doesn't have much of value to offer outside of a pocketful of seasoning called "shaky red," the skull of a goat blessed by the Pope, and a game he calls "Marco Polo" ("II"). The first sketch in the series is a fairly amusing parody of "Punk'd" called "Khan'd," but it's far from the funniest in the Khan series. That honor goes to "Khancestry.com," a parody of an Ancestry.com ad inspired by the fact that Genghis Khan and his grandson Kublai are the ancestors of millions of humans alive today.

A fur-clad, long-haired Ronnie Chieng plays the surprisingly charming Kublai Khan as he pitches his DNA test in front of a clip art globe background. As in the Ancestry.com ad, a series of Khancestry customers discuss their burning genetic questions: Who am I? Why do I like the things that I like? Things quickly escalate from wondering why they're allergic to dairy or enjoy riding horses to why they've always had the urge to conquer and unify Eurasia or cheat on their wives. Bobby Lee even shows up to discuss his ponytail –- a theme that also comes up with his "Reservation Dogs" character. By the end of the sketch, there's even some loose talk about the spawn of Khan unifying the Golden Horde ("VI").

The Real Concubines Reunion

In "History of the World, Part II" Episode 7, the Khan story continues with another winning sketch, "The Real Concubines of Kublai Khan Reunion." The sketch is brimming with talented Asian comedians, including Kimiko Glenn (Brook Soso in "Orange is the New Black"), Poppy Liu ("Sunnyside"), and #dropchallenge-inventing stand-up comic Atsuko Okatsuka. The sketch even has its own actual real housewife, Crystal Kung Minkoff of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," who appears as herself.

After the opening sequence pans out, revealing thousands of Khan's wives including a sheep named Flopsy Khan married as a joke, the women get into their petty bickering over what went down at the Blood Moon Festival Charity Gala and who Khan is and isn't giving bedroom time to. Fans of reality TV will notice the reunion is even hosted by Bravo's Andy Cohen. In between the concubines' catty bickering and clips from the Blood Moon Festival, the wives manage to make up -– even if things devolve into fighting again when they start promoting their businesses. It's enough to make anyone wonder how the Khans managed to keep things civil in the Golden Horde with so many complicated family dynamics.

The Council of Nicaea

These days, Bibles are pretty standardized when it comes to their basic content, even if the language varies slightly from one version to the next. But there once was a time when the Christian holy text and doctrine were quite literally all over the place. A major effort to sort through it all and come up with a common religious doctrine came during the Council of Nicaea, which convened in 325 A.D. And according to "History of the World, Part 2," that's where Jesus got rebranded from a peace-loving person of color to a super swole white dude who inspired crusades and other testosterone-fueled bloodbaths ("VIII").

Man-bun-loving Instagram model Brock O'Hurn stars as Swole White Jesus, making him the third Jesus in the "History of the World" series after John Hurt and Jay Ellis. The sketch imagines the Council of Nicaea as a marketing focus group that feels Jesus is great but would be better if he was white and less wimpy. While they're at it, they pitch the idea of switching out Romans for Jewish people as the villains of the story and reimagining Mary Magdalene as a sex worker. A hilarious and scathing rebuke of the way organized religion has changed the narrative, the sketch also stars Jillian Bell as the exasperated focus group coordinator.


Taking up a hefty chunk of screen time in "History of the World, Part II" is the Wanda Sykes-starring sketch "Shirley," which explores the story of 1972 Black presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm. A parody of 1970s sit-coms, this series of sketches finds its protagonist balancing the everyday frustrations of life as a married woman with the lofty goal of impacting the world through political change. "Shirley" imagines its heroine as a no-nonsense woman whose enduring determination and singular focus carry her through the campaign, even when those around her are less than committed. As the competent, spirited Chisholm, Sykes is marvelous.

The parody boasts perfectly appointed sitcom sets, catchphrases, and wacky scenarios, like Chisholm's efforts to balance a romantic weekend with her hubby Conrad while sneaking off to win the endorsements of Gloria Steinem and Jesse Jackson. While there are moments where it feels like the theme runs a bit long, Sykes' performance and bright spots like the DNC musical number make it a well worthwhile. It's also just an important story of a brave figure who isn't talked about enough these days.