Thursday, August 03, 2006

Boys and girls... ACT-I-ON! ACT-I-ON!

So, after finding the "Die Hard 12: Die Hungry" clip on YouTube for the last post, I thought it would be a good waste of time... er, I mean, "good blog post" to link to my favorite "Ben Stiller Show" sketches. Problem is, only a handful of the really good ones are on YouTube: Counting with Springsteen, Lucky Clovers, "Manson," Mohican Master 2000 and, my personal favorite, "The Last Stand of Yakov Smirnoff", the only sketch in the history of the show that Stiller felt the need to apologize for afterwards, it's so mean. ("I am cold! I am frightened! What will the new world order bring for Yakov?")

So, instead, I started poking around to see what I could find of the other seminal sketch comedy show of my college years: The State. And bless my heart, but some people have been awfully busy posting VHS clips (the show has yet to be released on DVD, due to music clearance rights; reportedly, the DVD is finally going forward, but with an entirely new soundtrack) to the best procrastination place on earth. Some of my favorites, after the jump:
  • The tacos... or the mail: This sketch (in particular, his delivery of the line about how much he loves the tacos) single-handedly kept me from hating Michael Ian Black for four years of playing Phil Stubbs.
  • Eating Muppets: Exactly what the title promises, only moreso. Its absence from the "Skits and Stickers" best-of videotape is baffling.
  • Pants: I can't explain it, or why it's funny. I just know that no other State sketch will suffer more from having the original music removed for DVD. Without that Breeders song, there is no "Pants," as far as I'm concerned.
  • Bacon: Another one that makes me really wish I had studied psychoanalysis so I could figure out how the hell Garant thought of it. Marian and I still use the phrase "I'm a little mopey, bacon" if we're having a bad day.
  • Father/son race: I don't think this one ever aired, but it's on "Skits and Stickers," and the bit where Showalter is spitting so much that his fake mustache almost falls off always kills me.
  • Cutlery Barn: Another one that I can't explain, and one that Marian and I frequently quote from when we're bored.
  • Carl and the grape soda: Sadly, I've worked in places like this.
  • Copy shop: Using almost the identical set from the grape soda sketch. A rare left-field idea that didn't have me questioning the writer's sanity.
  • Not-so-great escape: As with so many State sketches, really only one joke, but it's so bizarre that it carries you through the whole thing. (And, when you get bored, there's always the random Jewish high holiday references.)
  • Blueberry Johnson: I wish Showalter was still capable of being this angry on screen. And I wish Blueberry really did get his own show, so I could watch it with Julia.
  • The Inbred Brothers: Hillbillies are funny.
  • Monkey torture: Torturing monkeys? Also funny (especially this way).
  • Sideways House: Mostly works because of Michael Ian Black as the wacky neighbor.
  • Tenement: I've interviewed a lot of the castmembers in the years since the show ended (thanks to "Viva Variety," "Reno 911," "Stella" and all of the many, many shows Ken Marino has killed), and a constant theme is how much they started to chafe under having to write for 12-14 year-olds. This is one of the best examples of how they dealt with that.
  • Louie at the Last Supper: And this is another. The best sketch featuring any of the recurring characters MTV kept asking them to bring back long past the point of usefulness.
  • Porcupine Racetrack: Not funny, but they weren't trying to be. The most obvious sign that they had outgrown MTV -- though, unfortunately, that led them to...
  • International signs: ... CBS, where they had the horrible luck to get hired, like, five minutes before the guy who hired them was fired and replaced by Les Moonves, who didn't think they were funny at all. This is the only sketch I could find from their one and only CBS special, though it's far from the funniest. ("What Am I Saying?" is the classic of that bunch.)
  • The Bearded Men... of Space Station 11: I don't even like this one that much, but my old college editor Mike Tuhy would kill me if he ever stumbled across this blog and didn't see this on the list. (Hi, Mike!)
Enjoy (I hope).


CM said...

Alan Sepinwall, I think I love you.

dark tyler said...

This is... uuh... seriously, I think I'm about to cry.

And there I thought I was actually going to do something productive today.

Anonymous said...

Good lord. These episodes are 13 years old...And yet I remembered the punchline to the Taco sketch. Eating Muppets, Tenement, Pants...I even rediscovered Origami (available as "oragami" on youtube), openly gay dan, and the Hollywood agent guidance counselor sketch. I forgot just how great their take on high school was.

Why oh why is there no DVD, so I can see Thomas Lennon wish, once again, to be Boz's Bitch?


eightk said...

Thanks, Alan. I don't think I'm going to be getting any work done this afternoon at all. I love The State so so much.

Daniel said...

Speaking of your college years, I don't suppose you notice that Little Scottie Neustadter and his writing partner were signed to write the sequel to "The Pink Panther."

Funny old world.

lady t said...

I love the Carl skit,it's one of my favorites-"POOR Little Carl! With the puppy dog eyes!!". My sister is a huge fan of the State and shares the same worry that you do about the change of music. What is with the music industry? Every time there's a DVD delay,it's due to getting the damn music rights(It held up the release of Heavy Metal for a long while).

I just wish you had put up a Barry and Levon skit and maybe a Doug("I'm Doug. Solomente Doug!")one,too:)

Anonymous said...

I might be the only one, but my favorite remains the "I WANT WANDA!" sketch. I don't know the title of it. Dagnabit, I used to have a site bookmarked with all the sketches on it. . .