Sure, the MTV sketch comedy show The State
went off the air in 1995, and the group dissolved in 1997. Despite this, its members have continued to crank out great comedy long after the group dissolved. Check out this list of the five best things to come out of the late sketch comedy series.
David Wain's Directing Career
© 2008 Universal
wasn't the most recognizable member of The State
: he didn't have any popular characters and didn't take center stage as often as cast mates Tom Lennon or Michael Ian Black
. But since the group broke up, Wain has become one of the best comedy directors of the new millennium. He made two excellent and overlooked comedies, the summer-camp spoof Wet Hot American Summer
in 2001 and The Ten
in 2007, before his big breakthrough came in 2008 with Role Models
, his first film for a major studio. The movie was a critical and commercial success, meaning Wain will hopefully be bringing his State
sensibilities to Hollywood for years to come. Studio comedies will be better for it.
Photo by Seth Olenick/© Comedy Central
After the failure of their first post-State
effort, the short-lived Viva Variety!
, members Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon and Kerri Kenney-Silver created this COPS
spoof about a totally inept sheriff's department in Reno, Nevada. It began airing on Comedy Central in 2003, and has been successful enough to inspire a leap to the big screen with 2007's Reno 911!: Miami
. The show pulls off the tricky feat of being sketch comedy but with the same cast of characters. Various members of The State
have shown up over the years, and the entire group appeared in the feature film. Reno
isn't as progressive as The State
, but it is always funny. Sometimes, that's enough.
Michael Ian Black's Solo Career
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Michael Ian Black is probably better known as a talking head on every incarnation of VH1's I Love Every Aspect of Pop Culture than for his time on The State. Now that he's over that slightly annoying, ubiquitous period in his career, Black has become an accomplished solo comedian. In 2007, he released a surprisingly polished stand-up album, I Am a Wonderful Man; a year later, he published a book of funny essays called My Custom Van. He's had a few stumbles (directing the direct-to-video Wedding Daze or writing the disappointing Run, Fatboy, Run), but his stand-up album is genuinely excellent and he remains a prolific and unique voice in comedy.
Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images
While a number of State
alum went on to Reno 911!
, members Wain, Black and Michael Showalter
went off to create the absurdist troupe Stella in 1997. Originally a New York club act, the three eventually began shooting Stella
comedy shorts and ultimately got their own Comedy Central series, which ran for only a season. The style of humor embraced by Stella
recalled The State
at its most eccentric, meaning it was destined to alienate a lot of people. Though the group basically disbanded in 2005 and remains the Wings to The State
's Beatles, consider this: how many people can you think of that were able to create just one funny and successful comedy group/series -- let alone two
For their first post-State
project, Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant, Kerri Kenney-Silver and Michael Ian Black created this short-lived faux-variety show (hosted by Easter European characters with a loose grasp of American culture) for Comedy Central. Ultimately, Viva Variety!
was a little too "meta" to appeal to a wide audience; so much of the humor was conceptual, where the idea of what they were pulling off was funnier than a lot of the content. Amazingly, the show still ran for two years. It's on the list because it was a total original and, yes, funny. Plus, it paved the way for Reno 911!
, which totally eschewed the conceptual in favor of joke-telling. Those State
folks sure can learn their lesson.