You are here

The State's Legacy

Early cast photo

After the deal with CBS ended, members of The State found themselves without the regular television exposure necessary to support their various side projects. Throughout the winter of 1995-1996, the troupe embarked on a college tour and collected material for a book, State by State With the State: An Uninformed, Poorly Researched Guide to the United States (initially titled Roadkill). In January they adjourned to Chris Blackwell's Compass Point studios in the Bahamas to record a comedy album for Warner Bros., Comedy for Gracious Living, that was not released until 2010. Various attempts at extending the life of The State brand fizzled or lingered in development throughout the late 1990s, including an Internet series not unlikeYou Wrote It and several film projects (many of which, proposed by David Wain, resembled the tone of the troupe's 2001 cult hit, Wet Hot American Summer). Most importantly, the CBS debacle exposed fissures in the troupe's egalitarian working methods, and various members began leaving to pursue their own projects. Garant, Lennon, Kenney, and Black spun-off a State sketch into Viva Variety (1997-1999) on Comedy Central in early 1997, and similar clusters of State alumni would continue on the network into the 2000s with StellaReno 911!, and Michael and Michael Have Issues and on film with Night at the MuseumThe Ten, and Role Models.

The July 2009 release of The State on DVD has rejuvenated interest in the group, and it occasions an opportunity to revisit the program with the benefit of hindsight. With the troupe's dogged avoidance of topical shtick, many of the sketches seem as fresh and inventive today as they were over twenty years ago.  While the DVDs feature a mostly new soundtrack (lack of rights to the pop music made available by MTV in the 1990s prevented a more timely DVD release), Starr's collection contains all episodes of the series' MTV run with the original music intact. These materials, of interest to fan, academic, and historian alike, underline television's crucial role in negotiating the cultural identities of its various audiences and highlight the especially contentious nature of comedy as a site for that negotiation.

Digital Documents

Roadkill intro

Liner notes to Comedy for Gracious Living

Internet series proposal

Hello, Puberty! film project

Related Links

Jen Chaney "State of 'The State'? Funny," DVD review.  Los Angeles Times, 28 July 2009.

David Downs, "A More Perfect (Re)Union: The State Return to the Stage." Rolling Stone, 22 January 2009.

Chris Martins, "The Bizarre Exuberance of a Thing Called The State." Filter, 15 October 2007.

NPR interview with Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter about their 2009 Comedy Central program Michael and Michael Have Issues.  

Corey Scholibo, "The Redhead Gay," an interview with cast-member Kevin Allison.  The Advocate, 24 July 2009. 

"The 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches of All Time" Nerve.com. 7 April 2008.