The Most Influential Comedy Troupe Of The Last 25 Years Finally Gets Their Story Told
In the summer of 1994, I spent hours studying a sketch comedy show. I’m talking hours. I had several reasons, the first being I was a bored high schooler with plenty of free time but also because the show was unlike any I’d ever seen before.
The State ran for two seasons on MTV, from 1993 until 1995. At one point, the show ran on continuously, almost every few hours at one point. I watched it every single time, some episodes up to 20 times, not just because it made me laugh so hard but because it seemed to push the boundaries of what I thought sketch comedy was “supposed” to be. SNL, The Kids In The Hall, SCTV all had sketches and premises that occasionally went off the rails but none of those shows ever introduced characters so sophomorically absurd.
Louie, the guy who liked to dip his balls into things.
The motivational ways of Capt. Monterey Jack.
The old fashioned guy.
Barry, Levon and two hundred pounds of pudding.
It was also impossible, at least for me, to pick a favorite performer. Unlike the other sketch shows, everyone on The State had the ability to become my favorite in that moment, that joke, that sketch. There were performers and sketches on SNL and SCTV that I didn’t care for but I’d watch any sketch, any premise and any character at any time.
Though the show had a short run on the music channel, the cast never went away. They moved on to become the creators and stars of countless comedic masterpieces. Reno 911 and Wet Hot American Summer are the first time spring to mind but there also Viva Variety, Stella, Michael And Micheal Have Issues and too many others to list. The shows were finally released on DVD a few years ago and the cast has had mini-reunions here and there — most notable San Francisco Sketchfest — but the troupe has never had their SNL Live From New York-style story told….until now.
The Union of The State is an oral history of the acclaimed troupe’s creation, dissolution, reinvention and reunion, told by all members of the group: Kevin Allison, Michael Ian Black, Robert Ben Garant, Todd Holoubek, Michael Patrick Jann Kerri Kenney-Silver Thomas Lennon Joe Lo Truglio Ken Marino Michael Showalter David Wain.