The State (TV series)

The State (TV series)

Infobox Television
show_name = The State

caption = "The State" title card.
genre = Sketch comedy
picture_format = 4:3
runtime = approx. 30 minutes per episode
creator =
producer = Michael Patrick Jann Mark Perez Jim Sharp David Wain
executive_producer = Jonathan K. Bendis Steven Starr
starring = Kevin Allison Michael Ian Black Ben Garant Todd Holoubek Michael Patrick Jann Kerri Kenney Thomas Lennon Joe Lo Truglio Ken Marino Michael Showalter David Wain
opentheme = "Boys and Girls – Action" by Craig Wedren
country = USA
language = English
network = MTV
first_aired = December 17, 1993 – July 1, 1995
last_aired = 1995
num_seasons = 3
num_episodes = 26
list_episodes = List of The State Episodes
related = "Viva Variety" "Reno 911!" "Stella"
website =
imdb_id = 0130421
tv_com_id = 524

"The State" was a half-hour sketch-comedy television show, originally broadcast on MTV between December 17, 1993 and July 1, 1995. [ [;title;1 The State at] ] The show combined kooky characters and bizarre scenarios to present sketches that won the favor of its target teenaged audience. The cast consisted of 11 twenty-something comedians who created, acted, wrote, directed, and edited the show.

Several memorable characters were created for the show, and for a short time their catch-phrases entered into popular lingo. Often, the cast would appear as themselves and address the audience to promote fake "contests" or to deliver mock public service announcements. Much like Monty Python or "Mr. Show", "The State"'s sketches were sometimes "linked" to each other in some way: a punchline or image that ended one sketch often provided a lead-in to the next.

As with many MTV shows, each episode featured clips of popular alternative music of the time, used as background music to various sketches. Copyright and royalty issues stemming from the show's popular music soundtrack were cited for many years as the reason why it had not seen a home video release; however, in 2007, all legalities relating to the show's background score had been resolved, and a DVD encompassing the entire series was completed by the members of "The State". Several times release dates were announced and later pushed back; MTV has now apparently shelved the entire project for no real reason. [ [ The State's official news page] .] The show's official site currently explains that it is now in the hands of the fans to write MTV and Comedy Central and urge the companies to release the episodes. [ [ The State's official FAQ] .]

Members of "The State" have gone on to write, act in and/or direct such notable shows and films as "Wet Hot American Summer", "Reno 911!", "Stella", "The Baxter", "Viva Variety" and VH1's "I Love the..." series. A "State" film featuring all of the original troupe members is in the works, but it was delayed by the recent writers strike, and no release date for the project has been announced. [ [ IESB Interview with David Wain] .]

About the show

"The State" is not only the name of the television program, but also of the comedy troupe that made up the cast of the show, as they have continued to successfully work together on film, television and in the world of journalism in various groupings. A book, "State by State With the State" was a best-seller. An album titled "Comedy for Gracious Living" was recorded for Warner Bros. but was shelved for unknown reasons.

"Contrary to popular belief", says the troupe's official FAQ, "the show was never canceled." [ [ The State's official FAQ] ] For a variety of reasons, including network television politics, "The State" decided to pursue other interests and "establish ourselves as an entity that exists apart from any particular employer or TV Network." [ [ The State's official FAQ] ] However, CBS optioned to buy the show after its second year on MTV in hopes of increasing viewership among younger demographics and potentially providing competition against NBC's "Saturday Night Live". CBS intended to test the waters with "The State's 43rd Annual All-Star Halloween Special," which aired in prime time in 1995. The special received generally good reviews (including some from critics that gave them harsh ones earlier), but due to little promotion, it received low ratings. The show was not picked up for further broadcasts.

The entire cast was featured or made a cameo) in 2007's David Wain-directed film, "The Ten". On March 15, 2008, most of the cast reunited for a special reunion sketch show at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles.

"The State" DVD release

"The State" has been heavily promoted by devoted fans of the series for a DVD release, but MTV has apparently remained hesitant to distribute the show.

One of the most notable delays in the release of the series was that the troupe used many popular songs as background music in the original broadcast versions of nearly every episode. "The State" was produced during a period when MTV had deals with various record labels, via which the network could easily use many songs that had a video aired on the network in their original programming without having to pay royalties to the labels; "The State" heavily used popular music as the background music for countless sketches, utilizing hits like The Byrds' "Turn! Turn! Turn!", The Breeders' "Cannonball", Liz Phair's "Supernova" and Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing". [ [ List of songs used in The State] ] Due to the large royalty fees each company would likely demand, the soundtrack as originally aired would have cost many times the amount that video sales would recoup, and "The State" was forced to re-record much of the backing music with soundalike songs.

The first season of "The State", digitally re-mastered along with a new musical score, was made available on Apple’s iTunes store on September 26, 2006. Several episodes have recently been made available on Amazon Unbox as well as the Xbox Live Marketplace. The State themselves said that MTV would be watching sales closely and releasing further seasons if the demand warrants it.

On March 10, 2007, David Wain announced at a screening of "The Ten" at SXSW that a DVD of "The State" is currently in production. At a later Philadelphia screening, he claimed it would be available in the fall of 2007. On May 18, 2007, during the 24-hour "Human Giant" marathon on MTV, Michael Showalter announced that a DVD set containing the entire series would be released by MTV sometime this year. He stated the set would contain every episode (some re-scored), commentaries, extras, and some sketches that never made it to the air. A new sketch was produced for promotion of the new release.

The State's official website reported in November that the DVD set was completed, but that their distributor, MTV, has "chosen not to release the set at this time. We don't know why." [ [ The State's official news page] .] As of January 29, 2008, Michael Showalter has confirmed that MTV is still delaying the release: "They have it. We've made the DVD, and it exists. It's out of our hands, and I know who has it, but I don't know why they're waiting... we've done the commentary and the deleted material and all that stuff, but I just don't know when it's coming out. " "The State"'s official FAQ currently states:

"There is NO WAY to get any episodes of The State on tape, unless you trade with other fans or buy bootlegs on eBay. The only other recourse is to beg MTV to rerun the show or to release episodes on video. Try writing MTV Home Video, 1515 Broadway, NY NY 10036, or MTV Programming Dept, same address. Or write to Comedy Central, 1775 Broadway, NYC, 10019." [ [ The State's official FAQ] ]

Reviews says many of "The State"'s "sketches remain funny to this day and - unlike most shows of the age - would not be considered dated or stale... Even the few mediocre sketches on the show are better than 99% of today's sketch comedy." [ [;title;1 review of The State] .] In response to MTV's apathy towards releasing the series on DVD, says, "If you have copies of this show on tape, back them up, digitize them, preserve and cherish them." [ [;title;1 review of The State] .]

"The State" film

The State are "reuniting for a movie about American history" for Comedy Central, but the movie has been delayed "because of the writers' strike", so a release date is not yet available.cite news| publisher=The Onion A.V. Club| url=| title=Michael Showalter| author=Sean O'Neal| date=2008-01-29]

Cast list

* Kevin Allison
* Michael Ian Black
* Ben Garant (now sometimes credited as Robert Ben Garant)
* Todd Holoubek (left the group after the MTV series ended)
* Michael Patrick Jann
* Kerri Kenney (now Kerri Kenney-Silver)
* Thomas Lennon
* Joe Lo Truglio
* Ken Marino
* Michael Showalter
* David Wain

Theme song

The opening sequence was set to "Boys and Girls – Action" by Craig Wedren of Shudder To Think and Eli Janney of Girls Against Boys. The song is built around a sample of the Nation of Ulysses song "The Kingdom of Heaven Must Be Taken By Storm".

Recurring characters and memorable sketches

The cast (most notably David Wain) have repeatedly said that they were not really interested in creating recurring characters, but were repeatedly pressured by the network to emulate "Saturday Night Live" in this manner. Ironically, these characters are probably what their fans remember most.
* Louie, played by Ken Marino, was one of the more ironic characters on the show, parodying sketch comedy characters who rely on stupid catchphrases for cheap laughs. Louie was a genial fellow with a strong desire to dip his "balls" (actual golf balls, not testicles, although the innuendo was certainly intentional) in various things. His catchphrase, naturally, is a very enthusiastic "I wanna dip my balls in it!" One of the more memorable Louie sketches placed him at The Last Supper. In this sketch, Louie and his catchphrase distract the Twelve Apostles from Jesus's speech concerning his fate. It ends with them hoisting Louie onto their shoulders and carrying him away triumphantly. As they exit, two Roman soldiers enter and proclaim that they have a warrant for the arrest of Jesus of Nazareth to which Jesus (Thomas Lennon) replies "He just went that way, he's wearing a short-sleeved shirt and a tie, and he's yelling about his balls."
* Doug, a wannabe rebel and his usually pointless struggles against surprisingly permissive and understanding authority figures, played by Michael Showalter. Doug's catchphrase is a wan "I'm outta heeeerrre." A memorable sketch has Doug's father (Thomas Lennon) questioning him on his drug use. Doug replies "Drugs?! Hey man I'm Doug, not Bob Dylan." His father asks him if he even knows who Bob Dylan is. Doug replies "No...but I know he died of drugs." Doug's father then tells him Bob Dylan is alive and well, and that he in fact produced several of his recent albums, to which Doug replies, "Oh, you mean Uncle Robert?"
* The Jew, the Italian and the Redhead Gay, good-naturedly broad stereotypes (first roommates, later "Charlie's Angels"-styled crime fighters), played by David Wain, Ken Marino and Kevin Allison, respectively.
* Barry and Levon, suave swingers of ambiguous sexual orientation, played by Thomas Lennon and Michael Ian Black, respectively. Their most notable moment was a sketch in which they had purchased and prepared $240 worth of pudding, which sat in a pile that they proceeded to sweet-talk and dance with. This is another sketch which fell victim to a compromised soundtrack when released on iTunes. It was originally accompanied with "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye. It would also appear that the music was played on camera, as the dialogue between Barry and Levon is clearly overdubbed, most noticeably with Thomas Lennon's character.
* Capt. Monterey Jack, a nonsense-spewing motivational speaker (a parody of similar anti-drug or alcohol abuse spots aired on MTV at the time) played by Michael Ian Black. "And remember, bbbbring, bbbring... Hello, cheese? NO! Cheese can't dial a phone."
* James Dixon, a conniving, hard-driving ex-Hollywood agent who lands himself very unlikely careers (high school guidance counselor, Catholic priest, Jedi talent agent) and applies his showbiz tactics to his new positions (Thomas Lennon). "You can't bargain with God. But you can bargain with me, and I can bargain with God."
* Old-Fashioned Guy, a country man (Thomas Lennon) who clings to antiquated, sometimes primitive beliefs, which seem absurd in modern society. "Call me old fashioned ... but I think we should worship the sun and moon as powerful gods, and fear them."

Some memorable one-off sketches include:
* Blueberry Johnson, a behind-the-scenes veteran in the Television industry (Showalter) who happens to have a high squeaky voice a large blue afro, and is shaped like a blueberry. He pitches his new show called "Blueberry Muffins in the Morning with Blueberry Johnson" to his producers but they unanimously decide that somebody else is perfect for the job... Richard Dreyfus! "I'M A FREAK OF NATURE BRUCE! I can not honestly believe that you're being this much of a moron. I have a decade of experience in children's television, I'm a tireless worker, kids love me, and to top it all off, I LOOK LIKE A F***ING BLUEBERRY! Whoa! whoa! whoa!"
* The Bearded Men of Space Station 11, in which the titular men attempt to convince their commanding officer that men can grow beards in space, and that they are thus not aliens.
* Porcupine Racetrack, a short musical in which the slowest porcupine in town attempts to win a race and thereby save an orphanage. During the introduction, Thomas Lennon claims that MTV specifically asked the cast not to perform this sketch.
* Monkey Torture (aka "The Barry Lutz Show"), in which scientist Thomas Lennon describes his experiments involving the (mostly psychological) torture of monkeys to interviewer Michael Ian Black, saying that he has proven that "They hate it."
* Kabuki Doug, an adaptation of Chikamatsu Monzaemon’s "The Love Suicides at Sonezaki" ("Sonezaki Shinjū" 曾根崎心中) for many of the show’s recurring characters; including Barry & Levon, as well as Louie, performed entirely in Japanese with English subtitles.
* Mean Ass Sal and Frankie the Pig, a pair of old ex-gangsters who like to sit by the freeway and watch cars drive by, but they sit too close to the highway.
* Barry Toink and Gil Noonan, a young high-school jock on a quest to find the word for "one who loves books" and his dysfunctional guidance counselor. "Have you tried Bibliophile?"
* Grandma's Potato Chowder, after their friend mentions he enjoys his grandmother's potato chowder three friends make constant sexual innuendo. Their jokes are halted when their friend freely admits to sleeping with his grandmother, however after a beat they ignore this revelation and continue to make giggling insinuations.
* Sid and Nancy on $20,000 Pyramid , Ben Garant and Kerri Kenney portray Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. The notorious punk couple participate in a game show (hosted by Thomas Lennon). However, they cannot wrap their minds around the concept and fail miserably. Memorably Nancy recalls a dream in which the couple owns a puppy that they "loved so much, that they ate it." Later, Sid cannot remember lyrics to Sex Pistols songs and they lose.
* Pants, Michael Ian Black plays a man unlucky with love until Ben Garant lets him in on a little secret. He will have a better chance meeting women if he were to try wearing pants, a concept Black has previously not heard of. Upon visiting a clothing store, the salesclerk (Kerri Kenney) introduces him to life with pants. Notably, this sketch was accompanied by the song "Cannonball" by The Breeders. It was one of the several sketches who's soundtrack was compromised when MTV did not secure the rights to the original music.
*Mouse Problem, Kerri Kenney and Michael Showalter portray housewives who are tormented by Slash, at the time most famous as the guitar player for Guns N' Roses. They chase him throughout the house, eventually capturing him by placing a bottle of Jack Daniels in a giant mouse trap. Again, the original soundtrack has been removed from the iTunes as the sketch climaxed with the end solo of Guns N' Roses' "November Rain." An undisclosed amount of time later, Kenney's character discloses to Showalter that Slash is finally gone but now they have Fleas, which of course turns out to be Michael "Flea" Balzary, the bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
*The Laupin Variety Show, the skit the forms the basis for the offshoot comedy series Viva Variety. This skit is a spoof of variety shows from the Eastern Bloc of Europe.

Other shows featuring the cast

* "Viva Variety" (Kenney, Lennon, Black, Garant)
* "Reno 911!" (Kenney, Lennon, Garant, Jann)
* "Random Play" (Black, Showalter, Wain)
* "Stella" (Black, Showalter, Wain)
* "Ed" (Black)
* "Reaper" (Black, Marino)

ee also

* "Wet Hot American Summer" - Directed by David Wain, and co-written by Wain and Showalter, features many of the cast members (Marino, Showalter, Black, Lo Truglio)
* "The Baxter" - Written and directed by Michael Showalter, features many of the cast members (Showalter, Wain, Black, Lo Truglio, Marino)
* "I Love the 70s & I Love the 80s & I Love the 90s" - features commentary from many State members, including Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter and David Wain
* "" - A movie based on the Comedy Central show of the same name reunites all eleven original members in a scene for the first time since the ending of The State.
* "The Ten" - A movie that features ten of the eleven members of The State, all of them except for Michael Patrick Jann.


External links

* [ Official Site] run by David Wain
* [ The State Scripts Archive]
* [ UGO interview with Thomas Lennon by Daniel Robert Epstein]
* [ I Love The State] Fansite

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