Come and join us on a trip down memory lane. Join us on a trip down memory lane and review some of our top comedy sketches from 2019. You can laugh and learn English at the same time.
We’ll also plan the videos we want to make in 2020 and you can let us know your thoughts too. What would you like to see?
This video is longer than normal because we’ll look back at our favorite English comedy sketches. Play along with Jay and see if you can name them. (You might beat Jay!)
We’re publishing this video as a premiere, so if you’re watching at 1 pm New York Time on December 31st, Jay and Vicki will both be live in the chat, responding to questions and comments. The great thing about a premiere is we can chat in real time!
Hello everyone. I’m Vicki
And I’m Jay.
And welcome to our 2019 review video.
We’re publishing a little early this week, because we wanted to catch the end of the year.
And wish you all a very happy 2020.
Every year we look back on what we’ve done, and look ahead to the next year.
And make plans.
So come and join us because you can help.
Thank you all so much for your support in 2019.
And a big welcome to all our new subscribers.
A warning before we begin. This is going to be a much longer video than normal, so you might want to get a cup of tea and make yourself comfortable.
We’re going to be looking at lots of the comedy sketches we made this year.
And we’re going to play a game.
Yes, I’m going to show you a clip and you have to name the video it came from. What language point were we talking about?
Well this sounds like fun. You can play along too.
OK, Let’s roll the first clip.
Do you have a fever, stuffiness, sore throat?
It’s cold season again. Have you protected yourself against this year’s germs?
Are you ready to fight against coughs and sneezes?
Nothing protects you from a cold like a big steel pan.
And when you’re all done your steel pan rinses clean.
Call or go online to get your big steel pan today.
I don’t know what we were teaching but I remember we had a lot of fun shooting it!
It was a parody of a cold medication commercial.
A parody is when you copy the style of something for comic effect.
And you don’t know what language point we were teaching?
Something about steel pans?
No. It was vocabulary for talking about illnesses and sickness.
There has to be a better way to cure a cold than that steel pan.
How’s your headache?
I’ve recovered. OK, give us another clip.
Do we have a meeting with Kathy, today?
Yes, this afternoon.
Oh, what time is it? I can’t be late again.
Oh yes. She was furious last time.
When is it?
Let’s see. Three fifteen.
Three fifty. I’ll set an alarm for 3.40 so I won’t be late. What?
Oh nothing. See you there!
See you there.
You’re so mean to me!
Yes. The meeting was at 3.15, but when I said 3.50, you didn’t correct me!
I must have misheard you.
Right. I know what the language point was though.
It was about the pronunciation of numbers that people often confuse, like fifteen and fifty.
Correct! OK, let’s see if you get the next one.
There’s something wrong with that thermostat.
You know, I’ve noticed that too. The temperature keeps shooting up.
Did you say up?
That’s weird. I thought it went down. It should be 75 degrees.
Why do you want it to be 75 degrees?
It’s a comfortable temperature.
Yes, for you. But I like it at 65.
Yes, but you can take your jacket off if you get too hot.
Why don’t you wear more clothes?
65 is freezing!
I have no idea what we were teaching but I recognize the argument.
We have different opinions about the temperature in our house.
65 degrees is good. I’m right, aren’t I?
And you don’t know what we were teaching?
I’ll give you another clue. This clip came from the same video.
Is this the design?
Oh nice! You should do it in colour.
I like black and white.
No, you don’t. You’re only saying that because I suggested colour.
Well, you’re always wrong.
So whatever I say, you’re always going to disagree?
You know, you’re absolutely right.
Yep. Black and white is perfect.
You think so?
Yeah. Don’t change a thing.
Then I’m going to make it in color.
What just happened there?
I’m the victim of reverse psychology – and I still don’t know the language point.
It was the video we made about how we disagree.
Then how would I know. We never disagree!
That’s true because I’m always right.
Give me an easy one now.
OK, this is really easy.
Now settle down children. We’re going to do some grammar. Who threw this sock?
Whose sock is this?
It belongs to him. miss.
Who, whose and who’s. I knew that one!
Well I should hope so. The words were on the screen.
I liked your wig. You should wear it more often.
It covers your face.
Speaking of wigs, I have another one for you.
With all this choice, I’m never going to get fed up with wearing the same wig again.
I’m amazed at the prices. They’re very reasonable.
There are lots of other beauty products here. I’m not very good at makeup.
This one would be excellent for Halloween.
Do you know what we were teaching?
I’m not sure.
We were looking at adjectives.
I was going to say that, because we said reasonable, excellent, amazed…
‘Amazed’ is interesting because we have amazed and amazing and they’re both adjectives.
Some adjectives can end with -ing OR -ED.
I have another clip for you about that.
Imagine you’ve found a great book. It’s so good you can’t stop reading it.
You can’t put it down. What would you say about it.
I’m very interested in this book.
I’m very interesting in this book.
We use interested to say how we feel. We use interesting to describe the person or thing that causes the feeling.
This is a very interesting book.
And I’m very interesting in this book.
This is a book about me.
That was about the adjectives interesting and interested
Saying ‘I’m very interesting’ is a very common mistake and it sounds funny in English.
But we shot that scene in bed when we were much younger.
We made a series of three videos this year called ‘how good is your English’, and they were all quizzes about common mistakes.
And sometimes we used clips from old videos.
Yes. That series was very popular.
I think we should make some more quizzes like that next year.
I’ll put it on our list. I’m actually thinking of writing a book about common mistakes.
Hey, what about your book? Tell everyone how it’s going.
Mmm. Not well. I’m afraid I’ve been slow!
I think you were overambitious.
I started out wanting to tackle English grammar – which is an enormous topic.
You were trying to do too much
Yeah, I just need to rethink and work on smaller segments.
But you’re still going to write a book?
Oh yes. So please stay tuned everyone.
And we’ve had a lot of other things happening this year so we’ve been busy. Like we decorated the house and we went on vacation.
Speaking of which, I have another clip.
If your flight is departing from B or C gates, please board the next available train from either platform. The first stop will be for all B gates and the second stop will be for all C gates.
The tech is getting more and more advanced.
Her eyes seemed to follow me as I moved around. But the funniest signs were in the subways – the exit signs that tell you how to get out.
You loved them.
Yeah. They made me think of hippies in the 1960s. When something was cool they’d say it was ‘far out’ or ‘way out’.
It’s far out man. Way out there.
I know this one. It was about funny things about England. England’s a very strange country.
But what grammar point were we looking at?
I don’t know. I’m the video guy. Not the language guy.
It was comparative adjectives.
And we went to Spain and shot some video there too.
That video’s in the works. First I thought it should be about adverbs but then I thought it should be about passives.
What would you like most?
Tell us in the comments.
So what’s next?
It’s very short, so pay attention.
Oh, do you need a hand?
Well it’s quite heavy.
Oh, all right.
I know this. It was the ‘quite’ video and how we use the word differently.
I’m American so for me quite means ‘very’, but for you…?
It can mean ‘very’ in British English, but often it means fairly.
What did you think of my report?
It’s quite good.
Did you want to make some changes then?
No, it’s quite good. You can send it to everybody now.
But it needs to be VERY good.
It is. It’s good to go.
Quite is the trickiest word for me to understand in America.
We used to misunderstand one another a lot with this word.
Well, words are very interesting things.
What do we call this in our house, Jay?
This is a mug.
And why do we call it a mug?
Because it has a handle and I drink coffee out of it.
OK. What’s the difference between a mug and a cup?
Well a mug doesn’t have a saucer and it’s taller.
OK. Then what’s this?
Well, this is what we call your coffee cup. Cup!
But it doesn’t have a saucer and it’s tall.
Yes, but it has curved sides and mugs have straight sides.
So we call this a cup because it has curved sides. OK, what’s this?
This is a bowl.
And what’s this?
That’s a bowl too.
So size doesn’t matter.
Well size always matters but in this case what’s important is that they have curved sides.
OK. What’s this?
That’s a bowl.
But it has straight sides.
Yeah, but it’s a bowl.
It isn’t a mug?
No. Cups and mugs have handles and bowls don’t.
OK. So this isn’t a bowl?
Yes, I’d call that a bowl because it’s bigger than a cup.
But you just said size doesn’t matter for bowls.
I don’t know what video that was but I’m really confused now.
It was about prototype theory and how we grade words in categories.
Oh yes. Words don’t have clear boundaries.
Yes. OK, see if you can guess this one.
Super Agent Awesome!
That is me. You mess with the lady, you mess with me.
Thank you Super Agent Awesome. If it hadn’t been for you, he’d have gotten away.
If I’d been faster, he wouldn’t have caught me.
If I hadn’t stopped him, he would have escaped.
I know this one – the third conditional.
And you saw Super Agent Awesome and his Dad.
A lot of you asked if Super Agent Awesome is our grandson.
And he is.
He’s been in a lot of our videos recently, because we made a series about British and American words.
We published a lot of them in the last two months because of COPPA – that’s the Child Online Privacy Protection Act.
It’s a law and its goals are really good.
Under COPPA, you can’t track children online. In fact you can’t collect any data about them without their parents agreeing first.
It had big implications for YouTube. Officially you can’t sign up to YouTube and watch videos unless you’re 13, but in practice, a lot of kids did.
And YouTube tracked what they watched, so it could deliver more videos they’d like, and also deliver advertising that targeted them.
So then the FTC got involved.
The FTC is the Federal Trade Commission. It’s a government agency that protects consumers
They said hey YouTube, you can’t track kids. That’s illegal and YouTube agreed to pay a penalty of $170 million.
And then, for 2020, YouTube changed its rules. For each video that’s uploaded, you now have to say if it’s directed at children.
At first we thought, this isn’t relevant for us, because we make videos for adults, not children. But when we read the first guidelines, we were confused.
They had a list of things that could appeal to kids. For example, music.
We love music.
And play acting.
We act out a lot of comedy sketches so you can learn English grammar and vocabulary in context.
And child actors.
Usually we have adults on screen but sometimes Super Agent Awesome appears.
And they also listed games.
We love games too.
It was worrying. It seemed that if we said a video was for adults but the FTC said it appeals to kids, we could get fined $42,500.
$42,500 per video!
We just couldn’t risk that!
So we thought, crikey. We should stop making videos until we understand what this means.
But then, just before Christmas, the FTC gave clearer guidelines.
It doesn’t matter if some children watch our videos as long as they are designed for adults. So we can carry on using music and acting out scenes and playing games – just like before.
It was like an early Christmas present because it meant we could carry on making videos.
Yeah. So are you ready for another clip?
Do you remember this?
Kerfuffle. I… I heard this years ago from Vicki and it really confused me. It means something that’s very, very difficult. So, if
something is very complicated, it’s a kerfuffle to do.
Ah, nice try. No. No, it’s when there’s when there’s a lot of noise and activity and commotion and for no good purpose. It, it’s…
There’s lot of disturbance and making a fuss and getting excited about things. So like when Jay’s cooking a meal in the kitchen,
there’s often a lot of kerfuffle. There’s a lot of activity and commotion but nothing much gets done.
I always thought it was because I had so many things happening at once. I had rice here, I had water here, I had pasta here. That’s a
That is a kind of kerfuffle when you’re in charge. A kerfuffle is when there’s a lot of noise and activity and excitement. And it’s an
unnecessary fuss. We might ask, ‘what’s all the kerfuffle about?’ And it’s like asking ‘what’s all the fuss about?’
I know that one. It was about British English and you tested me on slang expressions.
My British English was quite good.
He means quite in the British sense.
I was just kerfuffling along.
You can’t use kerfuffle like that. It’s not a verb.
Hmm. Now didn’t I test you on American slang?
Yeah, we made two videos on British slang and one on American.
Then we need to make another American one next year.
Write it down!
Here’s your next one.
Oh, this is a good one. Um, John Hancock. And it means, I think, your signature. So you might put your John Hancock on a document.
Exactly. But do you know who John Hancock was?
Oh, I think so. I think he was the first person to sign the declaration of independence. So he was the first traitor in America.
Well actually, he was president of the continental congress right here in Philadelphia in 1776. And when the declaration was first printed, he signed his name so large, the legend goes, so that King George III could see it without his spectacles.
So he was the first traitor to commit treason and betray his country.
He was a great American patriot.
We have a different view of American history.
Yes, I think they taught some of the stories a little differently in English schools.
We live in Philadelphia and it’s an important place in American history.
I think we should make some videos about it because we can show you some of the sights.
And it could help people who are taking the US citizenship exam.
And it’s interesting too.
Then put it on your list with a question mark and let us know what you think.
OK. Next one.
I need to know about my job interview. What questions are they going to ask me?
Oh this is interesting. Well I never!
Is it good news?
Yes. Do you have shares in Acme Corp?
Well buy some.
I can’t. I just gave you all my money.
That’s a shame. They’re going up tomorrow. Well, that’s it then.
But you haven’t told me about my job interview.
Just let make a note of that. Buy Acme Corp ….
I remember. We had fun shooting that one!
Yeah, but what grammar point was it?
And you were a fraud. You didn’t answer any of my questions.
I wasn’t a fraud.
You took my money.
My crystal ball may have been faulty. The video was about going to, will and the present continuous.
So how to talk about the future.
OK, let’s have another clip.
What’s your favourite room in your home?
And why’s that?
I like it.
And is it a large room?
Jay’s answers are too short here. One way to extend your answers is to give reasons.
I like my bedroom because it’s where I keep my pet spider.
You were a terrible candidate
That came from a series we made about the IELTS exam.
We made it with Keith from IELTS Speaking Success.
Have we finished the series?
We’ve done part one and part two but Keith and I would like to make another couple of videos about part three.
We should do that. A lot of you have written to us and told us they’ve been very helpful.
It’s on my list.
English exams can be very stressful.
And we love it when we can help.
There’s a shot at the start of those videos where it looks like you and Keith are in the same room, but in fact he was in Spain and you were here in Philadelphia.
We used a green screen, so I could put me in his shot. It worked fine.
Green screens are terrific
We use our green screen a lot because then we can put different backgrounds behind us.
It’s quite big, but it just about fits in our living room.
You know another funny thing happened to us this year. A local television station made a video about us.
Oh yeah. We live on Arch Street in Philadelphia in a little row home.
That’s a little terraced house in British English.
And channel 10 moved in just up the street, into a big new skyscraper, so I welcomed them to our street.
He was very cheeky. He sent them an email saying welcome to the new kids on the block from the old video production studio on Arch Street.
I was playing around because Simple English Videos is tiny. It’s just Vicki and me, and Channel 10 is enormous.
It’s owned by the Comcast empire. But they watched some of our videos and then brought their news cameras along to make a news story about us.
In a world filled with millennials making money by posting videos online (Hi. Hi.) You can consider them above average. (Hello everybody. I’m Vicki and I’m British. And I’m Jay and I’m American.) A couple who spent decades carving out their own careers found a new way of showcasing their wealth of knowledge. And now they’ve got a worldwide reach. (Oh no, what happened?) And now in their sixties and seventies, Jay Silber and his wife Vicki Hollett are senior YouTubers and they teach people how to speak English properly on their channel called Simple English Videos. (So I said two nice things here.) For now they’re just happy helping new English speakers sound their best.
People tell us how we’ve changed their lives, how we’ve helped them, and in fact there’s a long queue, to borrow a British English term, developing now of people who want us to be their grandparents.
Of course. You’re lovable.
How awesome is that?
Well Jay has a career creating instructional videos and even reported for NBC 10 many years ago. Vicki has a background in English speaker training and writing textbooks, so you see people of all backgrounds are getting in on YouTube.
They took up the angle of us being old, but young at heart.
Yeah, I like the young at heart, but I’m not sure how I feel about the old bit, but it was fun to have them here.
I liked the boxing clip they used. I didn’t have to go to the gym that day because I worked out on the set.
That came from this video.
Now before we start the conference, there are some people whom we must thank. There’s Mr. Jones, who sent the invitations and Mrs. Smith, who organized the accommodation. And then there’s Mr. Peters, whom you will meet later when he will explain the conference schedule. And then there’s something green in your teeth.
Did I get that green thing out?
And I know the language point too. It was about when we use who and whom.
If you find who and whom hard you’re not alone.
Lots of native speakers find it difficult too.
I’ll put a link here.
OK, next clip.
You’ll know this one.
I can’t come home yet. I’m literally up to my ears in work.
It was so funny, we literally died laughing.
No wait. It’ll literally only take me two seconds to get to you. See! Literally two seconds.
OK that one was about how we use the word literally.
And possibly overuse it.
But it’s very common these days.
We had some really interesting comments on that video.
We get lots of really interesting comments on our channel. And thank you so much to everyone who writes to us. It’s really motivating.
Someone wrote a comment last week saying we should also make a video about the word basically.
Oh that’s interesting, because that’s another word that some people think is overused.
We try to respond to all the comments we get, but it’s become harder this year because there are a lot of them.
But we read them all and we really appreciate them.
And we love it when you give us ideas.
I’ll put the word basically on our list and research it.
So basically we’ll try to make a video about that!
And please keep sending us ideas. It means a lot to us.
And telling us what you like helps us to plan.
Yes. Some of our most popular videos this year were these.
Youth…sss, Youth-s. Yous. Ah, it’s kind of difficult this one.
Yeah, it IS difficult.
What does it mean?
A youth is a young person and the plural is youths.
We often say youths when we disapprove, so we might complain about a gang of youths who started a fight or something.
Oh my god. Youths.
They pronounced it very well.
This word is like work out for your mouth. It gets your face muscles moving.
Have we made a video about that ‘th’ sound yet?
No, but it’s on my list. We know you want it and we’ll try to make it.
The YouTube algorithm seems to love videos like that and it recommends them to lots of people.
And we love it when you recommend tricky words. We’ve had such good suggestions in the comments.
People sometimes wonder how we make those videos.
What happens is we go to a place that’s popular with foreign tourists.
We’re lucky because people from all over the world come to Philadelphia.
We set up our camera in front of the Art Museum.
That’s a popular tourist destination because the Rocky statue is nearby.
Then we put up a sign that says if you’re a non-native English speaker, please stop and talk to us.
Then we explain what we’re doing and the fun begins.
But sometimes we wait for ages and nobody talks to us.
But if we get one person to stop then other people see that we’re having fun and then they stop too.
Yeah, it’s very unpredictable, but we’ll try to make more of these videos.
It has to be a nice sunny day with good weather. Not too hot but not too cold. The summer is best.
And we’ve met such nice people.
Thank you to everyone who has stopped and talked to us. We really appreciate it.
OK, Next clip.
Hey, it’s looking good in here.
Yes, I’ve been getting the room ready for Kathy’s seminar.
You got all the chairs out.
Yes, I had to find eighteen of them.
And what’s this? Slides?
Yeah, I made a PowerPoint presentation for Kathy.
You’ve been working very hard.
You must be tired. Have you had lunch yet?
No, I’ve got to tell Kathy the room’s ready.
I can do that for you. Why don’t you go and take a break? You deserve it.
Well, thank you very much. That’s very nice of you.
What were we teaching?
Was it how to thank people?
And what happens next? I can’t remember, but I’m sure something bad happens to me.
I’ll show you.
How did Kathy’s presentation go?
Oh very well. How was your lunch?
Oh Kathy, how did you like the PowerPoint slides?
They were excellent.
Thanks for making them, Vicki.
I’m so glad you liked them.
And thanks for getting the room ready. It was great.
It’s nice to work with someone who’s so helpful and supportive. I really appreciate it.
But I made the PowerPoint slides and I got the room ready.
Yeah, thanks for doing that.
You got me again! You’re always getting me into trouble or putting me down!
Some of you have asked me when I am going to get Vicki back for all the trouble she gets me in and I’m working on it.
It’s never going to happen. Dream on! OK, next clip.
Take me out to the ball game. Take me out to the park.
You’re in a good mood.
Well, The Phillies are playing the Dodgers today and I’ve got tickets to the game. Oh, do you want to come?
Oh yes! But I thought it was an afternoon game.
It is. If we leave at 2.30, we’ll be there for the start.
But what about the office? If we left at 2.30, Kathy would go crazy.
Nah! She won’t care.
She never lets us leave early.
Kathy. Can we go to the Phillies game today?
Absolutely not! Forget it.
I love that sketch but I’ve no idea what language point we were teaching.
It was the second conditional.
Of course. If we left at 2:30, Kathy would go crazy.
That’s it – the imaginary situation. There was another funny sketch in that video, so I’ll put a link to all our conditional videos where you can watch it.
We’ve done the zero, first, second and third conditionals now. Are we finished?
Officially yes, but I’m wondering about adding another video about mixed conditionals.
They’re tricky. Let us know in the comments if you’d like to see a video about them next year.
Yeah. OK, we’re near the end now and I’ve been saving my favourite sketch for last
Uhuh. It’s very long, so I’m just going to show you part of it.
Hey, I have a meeting with management in five minutes.
It’s my performance review.
Have you had yours yet?
Yeah, I had mine yesterday.
I want to do really well. Do you have any tips?
What are they going to ask me?
Well, the first question is always ‘Have you achieved your goals this year?’
Oh no. I know what’s going to happen now. You’re going to give me such bad advice.
But what was the grammar point? It was a really useful one.
I can’t remember.
I’ll give you another clue.
I’ve met all my sales targets. In fact, I’ve just won the top sales person award.
What’s wrong with that?
Well, you’ve got to be careful. You don’t want to appear too big-headed.
Yes, you don’t want to sound like you’re boastful or conceited. That’s very bad.
Then what can I do?
Tell them your co-workers have helped you achieve your sales targets.
Yes, it shows you’re a team player.
Oh I get it. Praise the team.
Exactly. Say you couldn’t have done it without them. Management will love that.
You’re going to get me in trouble again, but I know the grammar point now. It’s the present perfect.
You’re right. Good job. When we’re making videos, Jay’s focused on the video production and I’m focused on the English so that’s why he doesn’t remember a lot of these. But you did well there.
It was a funny video.
You were very gullible.
I believed everything you said. I should never trust you, but next year, perhaps I’ll get my own back.
So keep watching folks.
So 2019 has come to an end. Thank you so much for all your support and we hope you’ll stick with us in 2020.
We wish you all a very happy new year and we want to help you take your English to new and wonderful heights.
We have a list of ideas to start us off, but please add your ideas for videos you’d like to see in the comments.
Now, how should we finish this video.
We need Super Agent Awesome.
He’s so amazing at sign off messages.
Yeah, when I’m working with him. I never know what he’s going to say, but he’s always so funny.
Then let’s let him sign us off today. Bye everyone.
Bye…wait! We almost forgot something really important.
The subscribe button.
Oh. Could you tell them about that?
Yes. Hi ladies and gentlemen. Super Agent Awesome here. If you really like our videos and you want to stay informed on this channel, then hit the subscribe button below this video. It’s the red button. Do it in Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Did you hit it yet? Congratulations. You just subscribed and you’re a new member of Simple English Videos. And that’s the end of the video. We are about to say goodbye. Super Agent Awesome signing off. PEACE!