Bob Odenkirk: 20 Must-See YouTube Videos With the Better Call Saul and Mr. Show Star

Bob Odenkirk

On Tuesday, we presented you, dear reader, with an exceptionally (and probably unnecessarily) long examination of Bob Odenkirk’s recently released Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama: A Memoir. The post included a list of facts and details likely unbeknownst to even the most devout fans of the actor/writer/director/sketch-comedy icon.

Unusual for a memoir, Odenkirk provides as many insights and opinions on his projects that never saw the light of day (or bombed) as he does on the projects that skyrocketed him to mainstream success. Odenkirk’s reasoning, according to the memoir — especially in the cheekily titled chapter called “Development Heck” — is that too many aspiring artists give up hope in the face of criticism.

He encourages writers, directors and comedians to respond not by giving up but by doubling down and working even harder at their craft. The entertainment industry is fickle, cruel and nonsensically organized in such a way that artists with the most talent are often looked over due to random bad luck.

In addition to reviewing Odenkirk’s tireless career, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama incorporates brief exchanges he recently had with his peers and friends, to make sure he wasn’t misremembering any key details. Actors and collaborators like David Cross, Jack Black and Judd Apatow all make guest appearances in the book. Relentless comprehensiveness is one of the traits that distinguishes Odenkirk from many of his peers — that, and abstaining from drugs (and alcohol too, mostly). Dedication to his work is one of the others.

Look no further than the approach Odenkirk took for Nobody, the commercially and critically beloved action flick that stars the comic (and now dramatic) actor: He spent two years training for the film and performed his own fight scenes. (And the film features a lot of fight scenes.) Odenkirk’s work ethic was once again validated in March, when 87North Productions announced a sequel is in development.

That mainstream film was, in many ways, the reward for Odenkirk indefatigably working on dozens of lesser-known projects, regardless of whether they successfully showcased his talents or turned out to be of questionable quality. One of wiser bits of advice Odenkirk imparts in his memoir is that even the most talented artists and entertainers often put as much time and energy into their failed endeavors as they do into their projects that hit the jackpot.

So what happens to those former projects, even if a multi-hyphenate as prolific and skilled as Odenkirk participated in their creation? In most cases, they get filed away and forgotten about in studio warehouses, because it’s actually the companies or financiers who ultimately own the projects — not the creators. In Odenkirk’s case, the sheer volume of discarded material he has amassed over the years could only fit in a warehouse the size of the one in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

To be sure, someone relatively unfamiliar with Odenkirk could spend weeks upon weeks watching his greatest achievements: Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Mr. Show, W/Bob & David. If that person likes what they see, they could then explore the dozens of hours’ worth of unaired scenes, bloopers, cast interviews and other ancillary material easily discoverable on YouTube.

That doesn’t mean all Odenkirk-related videos are quickly locatable with just a couple of clicks, though. In fact, YouTube is so oversaturated with Odenkirk videos, the cream doesn’t necessarily rise to the top, and some of the best videos related to him are buried deep.

Below is an array of mostly harder-to-find videos that also serve as a primer about him. They are presented chronologically so as to reflect how Odenkirk evolved from a writer (and, briefly, a stand-up comedian) to an unforgettable guest star on cult-favorite TV shows to a highly sought-after “serious actor” who now regularly grants interviews of substantial length. (The blue ribbon goes to Odenkirk’s appearance in September 2012 on Kevin Pollack’s Chat Show.)

With that in mind, let the tribute begin:

1. The A-List (February 1992): “My act was a mishmash of absurd trifles, relatable whimsies, and comical musings,” Odenkirk reflected in Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama: A Memoir. “I knew very quickly that I wasn’t built for stand-up. For me, it was just a place to trot out some comic premises, maybe do a ‘voice’ (not an impersonation), take a riff and push it around, and get some nice chuckles. Also, I didn’t care enough to try that hard.”

2. Comics Only with Odenkirk and his “nephew” Andy Dick (1992): “Andy and I had shared some really fringe stages back in Chicago,” Odenkirk wrote. “Andy had a delightful zaniness that paired well with my yelling at him. We’d invent improv setups backstage and serve ’em up hot, right off the brainpan, and some of those bits became solid scenes that we did for the next few years.”

3. Comedy Product, hosted by Janeane Garofalo (1995): “Janeane dragged Judd [Apatow] to see my show with Andy Dick, then she dragged us all up the street to see David Cross at the Improv. (I nodded politely as his so-called ‘act.’),” Odenkirk said in his book. “Basically, Janeane cast The Ben Stiller Show with her comedy crawl on that night. She had incredible power at that time, and she used it well.”

4. A montage of Bob Odenkirk yelling on Mr. Show (1995-1998): “I inherited … ‘thermonuclear emotional latitude’ from [my dad],” according to Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama. “I can go from zero (calm, grinning, friendly) to eighty (sputtering, red-faced, dynamite) in zero-point-zero seconds. This can be useful in acting. In real life, it can be unnerving. It’s amazing to me how often it’s unintentional and doesn’t reflect my actual state of mind, but is to me some kind of fun-house mirror exaggeration of my actual feeling. And I suppose it’s about as fun as a funhouse mirror to see this distorted rage spring forth unexpected, as in ‘not very fun at all.'”

5. Odenkirk as “The Nicknamer” on Late Night With Conan O’Brien (circa 1996): Rare is the Odenkirk appearance on a late-night program that doesn’t involve a character or sketch that he created. Chris Elliott took a similar approach with his frequent appearances on David Letterman’s shows; in fact, Odenkirk (and Charlie Kaufman) briefly wrote for Elliott’s short-lived black-comedy show Get a Life.

6. Waiting for Huffman deleted scene (January 1997): A cutting-room-floor cameo so beloved by some that Paste wrote a 900-plus-word article about it.

7. Bob and David at the Aspen Comedy Arts Festival (March 1997): The Mr. Show commanders performed at HBO’s request after hitting their stride a year and a half after their program debuted. HBO probably didn’t expect the sketch to turn out this way, even if they were an “edgy” cable network.

8. Bob and David review CDs for MTV News (December 1998): This segment ran a few weeks before the final episode of Mr. Show aired on HBO.

9. Bob and David (and Bill Maher) at the Academy Awards (March 1999): “You were always such a great supporter of me and David doing our Mr. Show on HBO,” Odenkirk recently told Maher on his Real Time program. “You’re right: I was the biggest fan,” Maher replied.

10. Next! (January 2001): One of Odenkirk’s many pilots that didn’t make it to air, this one was especially remarkable because he made it as funny as Mr. Show without resorting to any profanity. Odenkirk was so proud of this program that, after it didn’t make it to air, he occasionally dusted off the tapes and showed them to small audiences in L.A. It’s also chock-full of guest starts, including Fred Armisen, who used his work on the show to secure a spot on Saturday Night Live. Below is the first episode; the second episode, and a lengthy deleted-scenes video, are also on YouTube and worth watching. “We got good laughs from the live audience … but once it was put together, it just came across as a giant ball of comedy, hurtling and smashing into a million pieces, overloading the test audience with faces and ideas,” Odenkirk insisted in his memoir.

11. Odenkirk as Robert Evans as God (2003): One of the few impersonations Odenkirk would occasionally pull out of his sleeve, he played the role of the eccentric Hollywood mogul if he were the Almighty Father. Odenkirk performed the impersonation at live events, in a sketch on Mr. Show‘s final season and resurrected it five years later on Real Time With Bill Maher.

12. Miller Lite ad (2004): Hey, you gotta pay the bills, right?

13. Odenkirk on Dinner for Five (April 2004). If you can stomach the constant, groan-inducing pretension of Jon Favreau and his snobbier-than-thou show, you’ll see a charming version of Odenkirk that explains how he developed oodles of respect and camaraderie among his peers.

14. Odenkirk as Danny Mothers on Tim and Eric Nite Live (November 2007). Odenkirk repeatedly mentions in his memoir how much he loathes breaking character, saying it takes the audience out of whatever story is being told. Nowhere did he break character harder and more times than when he played an … idiosyncratic, let’s say … movie reviewer on Tim and Eric Nite Live, a SuperDeluxe web series starring a comedic duo that Odenkirk injected into the mainstream.

15. “The Happiest Place on Earth” at UnCabaret (November 2008): Unreleased online until 2015, this appears to be the only video of Odenkirk performing at the elite, intimate comedy show booked by Beth Lapides and Greg Miller. They required performers to only tell stories they hadn’t publicly shared before. “One show ruled them all,” Odenkirk mused about UnCabaret. “If you weren’t there, then you missed it, and no amount of me telling you about it will make it as great and powerful as it was.”

16. Set List: Stand-Up Without a Net (May 2013): While the title of this live comedy show sounds like it came from the mind of Byron Allen or Tim Heidecker, it’s actually spot-on: Comics perform improvised stand-up routines on topics given to them on the spot.

17. Odenkirk on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (February 2017): The two smartest comedians of their generation catch up and reminisce with each other a bit — before launching into an extremely complicated meta sketch that few, if any, other comedians could execute.

18. A Conversation with Bob Odenkirk Moderated by Fred Armisen (April 2017): By a long shot, this is the best and most revealing interview of Odenkirk online. Better yet, it’s conducted by the incomparable Armisen, who Odenkirk helped break into the biz.

19. Odenkirk on The Howard Stern Show (February 2022): In this clip, Odenkirk talks publicly for the first time about the heart attack (or “incident,” to be technically accurate) he suffered on the set of Better Call Saul last year.

20. Bob Odenkirk in Conversation with Jack Black at Live Talks Los Angeles (April 2022): Similar to the above, this interview is more insightful than just about any other, and covers topics Odenkirk usually doesn’t discuss, due to his decades-long friendship with one-half of Tenacious D.

Bonus: Last but not least, here’s a video of Cross talking both sincerely and hilariously about Odenkirk at his Walk of Fame induction event in Hollywood on April 18:

For more Odenkirk videos, carefully follow these (hopefully) easy-to-underdstand steps:

  1. Turn on your computer.
  2. Wait for your computer to load.
  3. Open an Internet “browser,” which will allow you to search for “websites.”
  4. In the Navigation Bar (the long horizontal strip at the top of your screen), type “Bob Odenkirk.” Click the enter key.
  5. Review the “results” rendered by your search, pick one and click on it.
  6. Watch the video.
  7. Don’t forget to have fun!

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