Sunday, July 22, 2007

Top 5 Comedy Central Shows (past and present)

Tim's Top 5:
Note: This list does not include shows that Comedy Central simply re-runs, for all you people who love Scrubs so much that you think it excuses Comedy Central from their God-given duty to broadcast The Colbert Report 8 times a day, so it's actually on when I'm there to watch TV.

1) Mystery Science Theater 3000 - This was a struggle, but I gave many years of my life to this show and have now spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars acquiring its episodes, many sight unseen. It was the best concept on television and it was the best writing on television and it was utterly incomprehensible television. The fact that it ever aired in any format is astounding, given that episodes run two hours and aren't readily abridged (the Mystery Science Theater Hour in syndication tried, but it was just a dumb idea as a practical matter). Without this show, most people would never have encountered anything more than Gigli in the world of bad movies...but now one can invoke Manos, The Hands of Fate and actually find discussion partners.

2) The Colbert Report - Where the Daily Show failed by being boringly political -- it doesn't take satire to make President Bush look incompetent, it takes accurate reporting -- the Colbert Report succeeded. It's had its downsides, the special reports are usually not particularly special, but every episode of this show is guaranteed to have something funny in it. It's second on this list -- the fightin' second! -- but it's second to none. Barry Manilow should really return his ill-gotten Emmy.

3) Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist - This is, all told, one of the lamest concepts for a television show ever created. Described in the abstract, you just have to wonder how it ever aired, before realizing the mess that Comedy Central was ten years ago when its primary show was SNL re-runs (sure beats Mad TV reruns, all told). So you take a comedian and have him ask questions as if he were a therapist and all his clients are stand-up comedians who use the questions to do their material. It sounds awful, but it's amazing and never had any chance to jump the shark before it got yanked. It had its weaker episodes -- Dom Irrera is not funny and he's on half a dozen, Joy Behar is annoying, Garry Shandling's not particularly funny -- but it introduced much of the world to people like Todd Barry, Steven Wright, Louie C.K., and so on.

4) South Park - The last two seasons may have undone all the goodwill that Trey Parker and Matt Stone had gotten from surprising me with adequacy for seasons 2-8. I had given up on the show early -- the Mr. Hankey episode was, and is, inane. It's less dreadful now than it was at the time, but it gave me good cause to stop watching. Then DVD solved that problem, and I found out it was pretty funny most of the way through. But Cartoon Wars was pretty damn lame, Manbearpig was the dumbest 22 minutes of my lifetime, and the specter of Timmy is in the distant past.

5) The Daily Show - It was not that good at first, great for a while, and then faded into mediocrity after Stephen Colbert left, joining Steve Carell in the list of people who have gone on to better things. Still, for a channel that was an afterthought, The Daily Show was probably the show that really vaulted it into the ordinary tier on cable packages. Back in my MST3K days, it wasn't uncommon to encounter cable systems without Comedy Central. Thankfully, I did not suffer through that strife for long.

There are no honorable mentions, all that's left is awful, awful, awful. No matter how many people tell me Strangers With Candy was awesome (see, no doubt, Dan's Top 5), I have never been able to force myself to watch more than thirty seconds and I need not reconsider my position. AWFUL.

Ryan's Top 5:

I have a feeling I'd be putting MST3K in here somewhere, as the few I've seen have been brilliant--but I haven't really seen enough to feel good about slotting it in the Top 5. What I have seen I saw about 15 years ago, no less. And also, after looking at this helpful list from what should have been my #1-rated website (, I see that you are absolutely right, Tim, in having no honorable mentions. Mind of Mencia is bad, but obviously so--I had forgotten about the countless terrible shows of yore. That's My Bush! - shudder.

1. The Colbert Report - In my mind, definitely the finest show Comedy Central has ever had a part in. Tim pretty much nails my sentiments, but I'll add that Stephen Colbert gets extra cool points from me for his ability to make conservatives think he's actually on their side. And unlike almost any other talk show, I actually don't change the channel during the guest segments. And the Threatdown, oh man, the Threatdown...brilliance.

2. Chappelle's Show - I don't think this is as brilliant as a lot of its devout fans make it out to be, but when this show's good it's really good. (It can also miss occasionally.) The Wayne Brady episode was classic, and the black white supremacist was pretty good. Negative cool points for inspiring Mind of Mencia, possibly the worst show in Comedy Central history.

3. The Daily Show - If I'm being honest I'd probably rate this #2, but it's really slipped the past few years. It's still one of the better shows on TV, but I's lazily funny. Guess what, if a show has a liberal viewpoint and a decent sense of humor it will get me to watch it. Colbert does the same thing TDS tries to do but with real humor. That being said, some of the newer correspondents are really promising: John Oliver, Demetri Martin, ... that's all that comes to mind.

4. South Park - Used to be a lot better than it is now. I mean, wow--the Oprah episode was 30 minutes of my life that I'll never get back. I'd like to see more Butters, Timmy, and Jimmy.

5. The Sarah Silverman Program - Sure I've only seen a few episodes, but they were really, really good. And it's either this or Win Ben Stein's Money, the last show in which Jimmy Kimmel didn't inspire strangling.

Honorable mentions: Beat the Geeks, VS., Ben Stein's Money. Not Top 5 material but not bad.

Tory's Top 5:

1. Chappelle's Show - As good as my number 2 is, I am not completely politically charged so Colbert isn't able to pull me in quite as much as Chappelle was. I also feel that the two seasons (and a couple of segments from the lost episodes) were the two funniest seasons of any sketch comedy show.

2. Colbert Report - Despite claiming to not have a political charge, I still do love Colbert. Steven vs. Steven I wish was on it more, as well as the threat down... or that they were on whenever I remembered to watch.

3. Crossballs - It is a true shame that this wasn't watched by too many people, because it was just as poignant as Colbert, and shared a lot of the same themes ie getting others to believe that a comedian was actually a professional on whatever subject. The episode about marijuana was one of the funniest things I've ever seen when you take into account the comment ticker going throughout the show.

4. Man Show - I am a huge Adam Carolla fan, even if Jimmy Kimmel is not that funny, this show survived on the antics of the two together; specifically the episode when Adam takes his mother out on a date under the guise that every man wants a woman like his mother.

5. Insomniac - Dave Attell is hilarious. This show starts out with a very short stand up from him. The remainder of the show isn't extremely comical, but it does succeed in being one of the most interesting/intriguing show on comedy central.

Honorable mentions: Daily Show, Jon Stewart kept this from being on my list; South Park.

Dan's Top 5:

1. Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Everything Tim said is correct. I had actually forgotten that this had switched over to Comedy Central before making the jump to the SciFi channel (to date the only reason I'd ever watch the latter.) The only reason I'd ever not love an episode of this program is if the movie in question was just too painful to watch (Manos, the Hands of Fate was the only one to pass my movie pain threshold and still remain enjoyable due to good comedy). Notable favorite episodes include: Pumaman, Manos the Hands of Fate, Jack Frost, Space Mutiny, and The Sinister Urge. Of course, a majority of these aired on SciFi, but hey, it's the same series.

2. Strangers with Candy - I'll admit that for the longest time, the commercials for this program just struck a sour note with me - it just didn't seem like something I'd want to watch at all. However, after recently watching the series on DVD and learning that both Amy Sedaris and Stephen Colbert are geniuses, I love this show. The humor isn't the best in the world, but I feel the highlight is the delivery, primarily by Colbert and Greg Hollimon. Sorry, Tim, but I like this one.

3. The Colbert Report - Whenever I visit home, I use my laptop in the den, where the TV is, and for a while I'd be forced to watch the O'Riley Factor. Having to actually watch that shit really made me appreciate Colbert so much more.

4. Win Ben Stein's Money - A nice, moderately hard television quiz show. The series was full of things that I like: a face-off round with isolation booths, pop song references at the top of the show, innuendo in category titles, and Jimmy Kimmel getting the boot and being replaced with a hot chick.

5. Insomniac with Dave Attell - Thanks, Tory. I was about to consider The Daily Show as #5, but this is a better choice. This wasn't a side-splitting show, but it was unique and entertaining enough.

And now a variation of honorable mentions: Good shows that have declined too much for inclusion - The Daily Show, South Park.


Vulpes Ryanis said...

Alright, fine, on second thought make TDS #2. But I'm not editing it--that is your punishment, Mr. Stewart, now please make a better product.

Roughly Speaking... said...

I'd forgotten Beat the Geeks and Win Ben Stein's Money. Neither is a great show, but could arguably land at #5 on this list.