"Before It Was
a TV Show…" rare footage of their first stage appearance
casts performs a traveling salesman joke as a full-blown musical,
guest-starring Jack Black.
Tech Specs: Full
you've seen members of the Mr. Show ensemble quietly subverting
otherwise normal entertainment. Though they never quite reach a punch-in-the-nose
impact on their own, David Cross and Bob Odenkirk always make their
presence felt. When together, supported by friends like Brian Posehn,
Tom Kenney and his wife Jill Talley, Cross and Odenkirk make you laugh
at things you can't believe you're finding funny. And you still want
Creating a sketch
show as consistently brilliant as Mr. Show takes time and energy,
and after four short HBO seasons, the group called it quits. Never
a ratings blockbuster, HBO let it go without much of a fight. As is
too often the case, a truly great show just didn't get much respect.
Last summer at the San Diego Comic-Con, some of the cast gathered
to hype up their imminent film, Run, Ronnie, Run (still not
released). While there, they lamented how HBO had no idea that they
had fans who wanted the series for their very own.
raised the right clamor in the right place.
Last month, HBO
released the first two seasons of Mr. Show with Bob and David
in a two-disc set with all the respect it deserves. If there's a failed
moment in those two seasons, I haven't found it yet. Even when it's
not funny, you know it's all in the service of building to a huge
punchline, all of it performed with a strange earnestness that both
mocks and respects everything that came before in sketch comedy.
like Saturday Night Live and Mad TV, Mr. Show
doesn't depend on specific cultural references. In fact, when Kenney
makes a topical joke in a sketch, it's jarring. Odenkirk even notes
this in one of his commentaries. Because of it, the sketches remain
as fresh in 2002 as they were in 1995, pointing out painful truths
that just get funnier.
in all are on the discs, each one biting and sprinkled with cameos
from a lot of counter-culture comedians like Janeane Garafalo and
a pre-Tenacious D Jack Black. Having toiled in the trenches of L.A.
and New York for a lot of years (both Cross and Odenkirk wrote for
SNL at different times), the masters of the show had a keen
eye for talent over the ability to generate a catchphrase.
and crewmembers contribute commentary to each episode, necessitating
watching each one twice. The first time around you get to laugh at
the finished product. However, in the commentary track the cast isn't
so interested in providing insight as completely ripping themselves
to shreds. Cross and Odenkirk introduce completely fabricated behind-the-scenes
personnel, improvising new characters on the fly. Most of these faux
participants find the whole experience rather unpleasant. It's like
having a whole other episode overlaid onto the original.
Packed onto the
first disc are some extras that make up for the brevity of the first
season. Here you can find brief bios on Odenkirk and Cross, though
neither are very truthful. Another section offers every promo ever
done for the show; play them all because they're worth it, especially
a lengthy "HBO Behind-The-Scenes" parody. Also included here is a
compilation of episodes, The Best of Mr. Show that HBO Comedy
broadcasts pretty frequently. It will give you a taste of later episodes,
and true to its name, does include some of their best pieces. (Both
NASA's quest to blow up the moon and the lie detector test sketches
are here; if you don't know what I'm talking about, you really
need to watch this.)
The crown jewel
of the Mr. Show output is here, too: Fuzz: The Musical.
Beginning as a parody of COPS, it quickly turns into a documentary
on the documentarian Terry Twillstein (Odenkirk), a British cameraman
who gets the idea of melding the reality series FUZZ with the
brilliance of Broadway musical theater. Focusing on the most arrested
man in the history of the show, Ronnie Dobbs (Cross), Twillstein feeds
into a cycle of domestic violence that is just damned hilarious. And
Cross may look like slightly gnomish, but he has the voice of an angel.
Why include this
now if it HBO plans another DVD release? Because Ronnie Dobbs is the
central character of the first Mr. Show film, the aforementioned
Run, Ronnie, Run. With the film currently stuck on New Line's
shelf, it's clear that putting this classic snippet of Terry and Ronnie
should garner the characters some attention and hopefully get the
movie studio in gear.
By all means,
get this collection. It's the funniest thing you'll see all summer.
Mr. Show - The Complete First and Second Seasons from Amazon
For more information
on Mr. Show, Bob and David, Run, Ronnie, Run, or their
upcoming tour, click here.