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Mr. Show with Bob and David - Profile

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Mr. Show with Bob and David - Profile Photo courtesy of PriceGrabber

Aired:

Mr. Show ran from November 1995 - December 1998.

Episodes:

30

Mr. Show Cast:

David Cross, Bob Odenkirk, John Ennis, Jay Johnston, Tom Kenney, Brian Posehn, Jill Talley, Paul F. Tompkins

Background:

Mr. Show with Bob and David aired for four seasons on HBO in the late 1990s. The show, a combination of live sketches and pre-taped films, was the brainchild of stand-up comic David Cross and former Saturday Night Live writer Bob Odenkirk. At the start of each episode, Cross and Odenkirk would appear as themselves to welcome the audience (both the home audience and the live audience in the restaurant/theater where the show was taped) before segueing into the sketches. Like it's clearest predecessor, Monty Python's Flying Circus, sketches were all linked together with some clever connecting device.

Mr. Show Overview:

The comedy in a given episode of Mr. Show was so layered that it practically demanded multiple viewings to catch everything -- there were jokes buried within jokes, jokes on top of sight gags, jokes on top of sight gags buried within jokes. It was bold, edgy and laser-focused in its satire. It also had the capacity to alienate viewers not in tune with its sensibilities. It didn't have the broad appeal of a Saturday Night Live, but for fans of intelligent, groundbreaking sketch comedy, there was no better show during its run.

Noteworthy Mr. Show Sketches:

Mr. Show never repeated sketches and rarely repeated characters, but here are a few standouts.
  • Ronnie Dobbs, the world's "most arrested" man (who would go on to have his own feature film -- see below), appeared throughout the show's run and even got his own musical ("Fuzz: The Musical").
  • "Druggachusettes," a parody of '70s Sid & Marty Krofft children's shows.
  • "Titannica," a heavy metal band that visits their number one fan -- a kid whose body has been burned away by acid.

Run, Ronnie, Run!:

After Mr. Show ended in 1998, Cross and Odenkirk set out to make a feature film based on the character of Ronnie Dobbs. Their intent was to use Dobbs as the framework to loosely hang a series of sketches on -- similar to the HBO show. After shooting was completed, the director, Troy Miller, blocked Cross and Odenkirk from editing and gave them little say over the finished product. The two have disavowed the film, expressing disappointment with the end result. New Line Cinema shelved the film for a few years before releasing it directly to DVD in 2002.

Life After Mr. Show:

Cross continued his stand-up and acting careers, and releasing two comedy albums and starring on the excellent FOX sitcom Arrested Development. Odenkirk moved behind the camera to direct feature films like Melvin Goes to Dinner, Let's Go to Prison and The Brothers Solomon. Though Melvin is quite good, none of Odenkirk's other directorial efforts could match the brilliance of Mr. Show.

Legacy:

Mr. Show's clearest progeny are the MTV sketch show Human Giant and Cartoon Network's Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!(which Odenkirk has frequently appeared on). Both shows feature a similar sense of inspired absurdity and a focus on original characters and sketches. The Sarah Silverman Program on Comedy Central also features a number of Mr. Show alum, including Jay Johnston, Brian Posehn and even Silverman herself.

In 2008, Cross and Odenkirk reunited to shoot a new pilot for HBO -- a sitcom called David's Situation.

Where to Find Mr. Show:

Comedy Central ran heavily edited episodes of Mr. Show for a time, but the best way to watch the series is on DVD. All four seasons are available, and include commentary tracks from Odenkirk, Cross and several cast members.

Additionally, Odenkirk's wife Naomi wrote a book about the creation and dissolution of the show. Published in 2002, Mr. Show: What the Hell Happened provides an excellent supplement to the series and should be read by any fan.

Additional Mr. Show Facts

  • In 2002, several original cast members reunited for a live show, Mr. Show: Hooray for America!, that toured the country. It included sketches originally performed on the show combined with new material.
  • Several well-known comedians and actors appeared on the show throughout its run, including Ben Stiller, Sarah Silverman, Jack Black, Janeane Garofalo and Jeanne Tripplehorn.
  • Cross and Odenkirk used their clout at HBO to produce the musical comedy series Tenacious D, which launched the comedy duo and the career of Jack Black.
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