The State Overview:
The State (which is both the name of the comedy troupe and the MTV sketch show they appeared on) began at New York University, when Todd Haloubek decided he wanted to start a sketch comedy troupe. The group that eventually formed was called The New Group, which over the years shifted and changed until it become the 11-member ensemble that, along with a name change, would make up The State.
In 1992, The State became performers on the MTV show You Wrote It, You Watch It, hosted by Jon Stewart. The show was quickly cancelled, but MTV gave The State their own show beginning in 1993. It ran for three seasons.
Noteworthy The State Sketches:
- "Barry and Levon" - Lennon and Black play two super-smooth swingers skilled in the art of seduction.
- "Doug" - Showalter plays a slacker that insists on being misunderstood but usually fails.
- "Louie" - Marino plays an overeager guy with a single catchphrase: "I want to dip my balls in it!"
- "Porcupine Racetrack" - A full-scale parody of old Hollywood musicals set around a porcupine race.
- "Monkey Torture" - Lennon hosts a call-in show where the topic is, as it sounds, the psychological torturing of monkeys.
The State on MTV:
The State debuted as a half-hour sketch comedy on MTV in 1993. Though not a huge hit with critics, the show quickly found an audience and became a hit on the network. It ran for three seasons and 26 episodes.
After three seasons, major networks began courting The State for a Saturday night slot against Saturday Night Live. The group eventually agreed to move to CBS for a series of specials that could eventually become a series. The last show on MTV aired in July of 1995.
The Move to CBS:
The State's Legacy:
After the failure of the CBS series, The State remained together for two years before parting ways to pursue other projects. Some of the projects to come out of The State include:
- Reno 911! - The Comedy Central COPS spoof began in 2003 and features cast members Lennon, Kenney-Silver and Garant. Many episodes have been directed by Jann. In 2007, the show spawned a film, Reno 911! Miami, which featured all the members of The State. Lo Truglio joined the cast in 2009.
- In 2009, Showalter and Black created Michael and Michael Have Issues for Comedy Central.
- Wet Hot American Summer - Member David Wain turned to directing feature films, and WHAS featured Black, Marino, Showalter (who co-wrote), Lo Truglio and Kenney-Silver. Wain directed two more films, The Ten and Role Models, both featuring several cast members of The State.
- Stella - Wain, Showalter and Black formed the comedy troupe Stella in 1997, shortly after The State ended. The group performed regularly in New York City before getting their own Comedy Central series in 2005. The show lasted only one season. Stella continues to perform and tour occasionally.
- Garant and Lennon have written several successful screenplays, including Night at the Museum and Herbie: Fully Loaded. In 2007, they wrote the comedy Balls of Fury, which Garant directed.
- Black became a regular contributor to VH1, as well as a stand-up comic and author. He directed the film Wedding Daze in 2006 and wrote Run, Fatboy, Run in 2007. His first stand-up album, I Am a Wonderful Man, was released in 2007.
- Showalter wrote and directed the film The Baxter in 2005 and started a career in stand-up. He released his first album, Sandwiches and Cats, in 2007.
Additional The State Facts
- The State released a compilation on VHS, called Skits and Stickers, in 1995.
- A book by The State, called State by State with the State, was published in 1997.
- The group also recorded a comedy album of all new material, called Comedy for Gracious Living. It was shelved by Warner Bros. for unknown reasons and was finally released by Rhino Records in November of 2010, more than a decade after it was recorded.
- After several years of completed DVDs of The State languishing on the self, it was announced that the complete series would finally be available in July of 2009.
- In 2009, The State reunited for the first time in over 10 years at the San Francisco Sketchfest.