What a lot of people didn’t know until very recently is that Fox’s SNL competitor Mad TV remained on the air well after the era of those god-awful reruns on Comedy Central. I was one of that number who raised mildly interested eyebrows upon hearing the news that Mad TV had in fact been cancelled, only it didn’t happen in 1998.
After 14 seasons–the bulk of which I assume consisted of increasingly psychotic UBS Guy skits and spiralling alcohol abuse–Fox finally, mercifully dropped the big hammer on the show in November of last year. This opens two excellent avenues of discussion.
The first is that Mad TV could have been good with only a few minor changes.
The second is that now that it’s over, we can empirically prove1 how terrible it was.
What we have here is the aforementioned Jaq the UBS Guy, played to some sort of abominable perfection by one Phil Lamarr, who either revelled in the chance to portray an impossibly annoying Asperger’s sufferer or employed California’s cruelest acting agent. Jaq the UBS Guy all by himself could be the worst thing ever.
But there’s more.
Coffee Guy. Holy fucking cats, Coffee Guy.
Coffee Guy is what your nightmares would look like if you were raped by Robin Williams: methamphetamine-manic, shameful in the way we think of Yakov Smirnov as being shameful, and utterly devoid of humor.
Did you know caffeine makes you jittery if you ingest too much? Did you know that? Are you sure? Because Mad TV doesn’t seem to think you get that reference.
Kenny Rogers, as portrayed here by Will Sasso, was not necessarily a bad character. There were moments of blissful idiocy and almost-heavenly levels of silliness where the inebriated country singer seemed like the second coming of Will Farrell’s hilarious Harry Caray impersonation.
Of course, the writers at Mad TV were not content to let a good thing be and the actor himself certainly did nothing to help things.
Rampant overacting and cheap, flimsy jokes killed what could have been Mad TV’s finest hour. Instead of being true to their subject and calling out the real Kenny Rogers’ idiosyncracies–which is something satire requires of its writers–Sasso’s version became a grossly exaggerated Barney Gumble.
That’s enough. Instead of sitting here kicking this long-dead horse, I’ll just rest my case. Mad TV is the worst thing ever.
1. By which I obviously mean ‘make cheap jokes about’.