90's Sketch Comedy Pt. 3

Mr. Show with Bob & David: Mayo, Mustard and Mayhem
July 30, 2008

In parts 1 & 2 of this marginally successful series on the wackiest and most memorable sketch comedy shows of the 90's we took a look at ABC's brave/brief offering entitled The Dana Carvey Show and MTV's quirky gem The State. Although I've received a lot of requests to cover Canada's resident madmen in mini-skirts the Kids In The Hall, I'm going to have to leave that task to someone else.

"The Kids" never caught my fancy or my funnybone and I don't have any fond memories beyond that skit where the guy pays people to dance in front of him and take off their clothes as he grumbles, "More, more!" I think he was also the same character that tried to squish people's heads between his fingertips as he stared at them from a distance. But that's all I've got besides enjoying Dave Foley on Newsradio and Mark McKinney on SNL.

What I can offer today is my deepest regard for an American classic brought to us by the good folks at HBO entitled Mr. Show with Bob and David. These two titans of comedy are Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, though you may not recognize the names immediately you have certainly seen their work. Almost all of the current comedy stars of today have crossed paths with these two on some project. Everyone from Jack Black to Ben Stiller to Sarah Silverman have shared a joke or two with these funny fellows.

But it is their work as the titular stars of their own show from 1995-1998 that we are here to celebrate today. Being on HBO these funny fools were able to get away with a little more swearing and racy content than the network shows, but in the end the comedy was derived from the wild, often nonsensical situations which were brought to life in each skit.

I don't own any of the seasons on DVD so these are just recollections of my favorite skits to give you an idea of what kind of hilarity they were unleashing on the unsuspecting public.

The shows often contained a recurring story that weaved its way through the rest of the skits during the show's full hour of tomfoolery. One such series was a group of mock commercials for a mustard/mayonnaise hybrid that begins its life with the brand name: Mayostard and eventually becomes Mustmayostardayonnaise .

Starting in a mild-mannered kitchen, we find a father casually spreading Mayostard on pieces of bread preparing sandwiches. His young daughter arrives and says "Daddy, come out and play with me" The father responds matter of factly, "I'm sorry Honey, I have to keep spreading". Each time we return to the kitchen throughout the course of the show, the father is a little bit older and so is the daughter.

Next the daughter arrives in her graduation robes, "Dad, won't you come to my graduation?" Apologetically he looks to the bread and keeps spreading. The now adult daughter arrives with a baby her arms, "Dad, don't you want to see your grandson?" Unable to pull himself away from his harsh condiment master, the father continues to spread.

Finally we are presented with the elderly daughter as she arrives sadly stating, "Dad, I'm dying", as the gray haired father looks on pathetically, forever continuing to spread. The final image is of his daughter's tombstone and a jar of Mustmayostardayonnaise.

Another ad in the series showed a chain gang in a dark prison trudging along with slices of bread in their hands. Suddenly Abe Lincoln in a white and yellow striped suit, busts down the door with a giant machine gun in his hand looking like an action hero.

Abe guns down the gaurds and shouts to the prisoners, "Let's get the hell out of here!" They carry Ol' Abe down the street in triumph. Such was the unpredictable madness of Mr. Show.
I didn't have premium cable, so most of the episodes of the show I saw were part of a series of VHS tapes that were meant for Emmy consideration. My friend's dad was an actor who you will probably remember most as the stuffy, British neighbor on Mad About You or Rachel's boss at the department store on Friends, and was at that time part of the voting panel for the Emmy awards.

Given this distinction he had a big pile of shows to watch and vote on. It was funny because all the tape sleeves had the gold stamped slogan "For Your Consideration" on them. I always felt like I was breaking the law or something since I wasn't an authorized viewer.

Emmy consideration aside, those yucksters at Mr. Show never seemed to run out of wacky ideas to throw at the audience. In a parody of 1970's B-movies like The Warriors, Mr. Show brought us "Streak Dome '97". The basic premise being that there is a new kid in town who wants to be tough and join up with a gang. But in this town the toughness of the gangs is based on their ability to streak aka run around naked. (I won't be posting too many pictures for obvious reasons-YIKES!).

The new kid goes to a bar, where everybody looks hardcore, but behind their gold chains and mad-dog scowls they're naked. It is revealed that the top Streaker is named "Coco" and he doesn't want anybody challenging for his title. Coco's gang takes the new kid out to the alley to teach him a lesson. They beat him up and as he cries in agony they throw a pile of clothes on him shouting "Put your clothes on!"-The ultimate insult. Of course, the new kid rises above to become the King of the Streakers.

Other skits deserving a quick mention are:
-A shady guy selling speakers out of a back of a van, who always says "I know a guy" and eventually takes the customers to his parent's house for dinner.
-The mad scientist who is holding a telethon to raise money for his next major plan to take over the world, who insists that he is doing it "For the Kids".
-Dougie, who has established his own sovereign nation in the backwoods of Montana, heads out to visit the USA, even though he is already in the USA.

Definitely not your traditional sketch comedy show, but that's what makes it so special. All of the seasons are available on DVD and ready to be enjoyed by the curious few who have never heard of it. Check it out, you'll be glad you did.

Also worth mentioning is The Jenny McCarthy Show on MTV. Even though it only ran for one season in 1997, this sketch comedy show was unique in the fact that it starred a Playboy playmate, who aren't really know for being intentionally hilarious. The general consensus is that the show was neither funny "ha-ha", nor funny "hoo-hoo", but I enjoyed it for more than just the eye candy.

Most of the skits revolved around Jenny, but she had a great supporting cast who filled in the gaps well. I remember a skit about a guy with a Mullet (before that was standard fodder pop culture jokes), Super Jenny needing to find a toilet and one that featured Jenny playing a country girl who had her Daddy capture people along the highway and bury them from the neck down in the front yard so she could have friends.
The show also had interviews and performances by musical guests who were hot at the time like The Verve Pipe, Bloodhound Gang and Hanson. So as you can see, it deserves to be remembered.

Actually, I lied. This show is not worth mentioning and should not be remembered. I tried to look back on it fondly because Jenny McCarthy can be funny at times, but this show wasn't. Beavis and Butt-Head were a higher class of entertainment than anything that ever found its way onto The Jenny McCarthy's juvenile junkyard of comedy. But Mr. Show with Bob and David, that was comedy gold for the ages, well worth your time and the calories you'll burn while laughing.
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