10. The Ben Stiller Show
If you liked sketch comedy and SNL wasn’t you’re cup of tea, you had very few alternatives in the early 1990’s. One of these was “The Ben Stiller Show,” which featured Stiller of course, Janeane Garofalo, Andy Dick, and Saul Goodman. The show was offbeat, sarcastic, and vaguely pessimistic…just like the early 1990’s. It’s run would last only a short period of time, but very well might have laid the groundwork for later works like “Chappelle’s Show.”
9. The Kids in the Hall
Canadian comedy at its best…and most twisted, “The Kids in the Hall” were pioneers in sketch. Sure, not all of their outings were a success, but most hit the mark. The show was also the forerunner for many of the shows on this countdown. Somewhere, Dave Foley smiles…
8. The Muppet Show
People forget that this was one of the first mega-successful sketch comedy shows. While “The Muppet Show” was not geared towards adults, like many of these on the countdown, the humor was often quite edgy. Mix in some huge cameos and musical numbers, and you’ve got a hit show.
7. Mad TV
Fox was always on the lookout for quality late night TV. “Mad TV” afforded them just that in the 1990’s. The show was a lot more off-the-wall than SNL. This resulted in huge peaks and valleys in program quality. Nonetheless, when it was firing on all cylinders, the show was excellent.
6. In Living Color
“In Living Color” was the perfect alternative to SNL. Fox had an idea for sketch comedy, but with a rebellious edge that would forever change the rules of what was acceptable on network TV. The show left us with dozens of memorable characters and really launched the careers of Jim Carey and the Wayans brothers.
5. The Carol Burnett Show
The variety/sketch comedy show that started it all. Her brand of humor may not hold up perfectly today, but it was pretty revolutionary for its time. Add in some mega-star guest appearances, and you’ve got a hit of historic proportions. Burnett would remain a comedy icon, but would never match the success of the show.
4. Monty Python’s Flying Circus
I’m not sure the current generation can fully appreciate the comic genius that was Monty Python. In addition to the masterful “Flying Circus,” the comedy troupe made a number of hilarious films. “Holy Grail” was their masterpiece, littered with memorable lines and scenes.
Saturday Night Live’s quirky cousin to the north, SCTV launched the careers of John Candy, Rick Moranis, Eugene Levy, and Martin Short…just to name a few. During many seasons, it was even superior to SNL, yet is too often forgotten today.
2. Chappelle’s Show
Much of Chappelle’s Show’s run was absolutely groundbreaking and fantastic. There is one sketch though, that towers above all others. That is Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories: Rick James. What started out as a seemingly random sketch, became one of the most iconic segments in modern TV comedy. Chappelle was masterful as “The Superfreak” himself, Rick James. Charlie Murphy was also excellent.
1. Saturday Night Live
When it started in 1975, SNL was essentially mainstream viewers’ first glimpse of sketch comedy and improv. While the show didn’t always fire on all cylinders, the live nature of the show made it daring and often controversial. It looks incredibly artificial and packaged today, but SNL is still a revolutionary show.