The State was a sketch comedy tv show on MTV in the 90s. It was vastly influential in the way that modern American sketch comedy is made, especially video, and it has influenced the style of the entire modern indie comedy scene. Their tone and style is in the vain of modern greats like Zach Galifianakis - who is the same age and was performing at the time the State was on air, though he is most popular today. The State is to comedy video, as The Upright Citizens Brigade are to improv (without a school). Both have important peers and predecessors but their reach, identity, following, relevancy and tone have the same powerful impact.
The original castmembers/writers are all famous today, and you have probably seen them in movies and tv (such as Wet Hot American Summer, Reno 911, Wainy Days, Stella). They have a comedy career that is the stuff of fantasy - collaborating with whoever they want, including their friends most of the time, and successfully creating great pieces of work in countless formats, from plays, to live shows, tv, movies, books and music. The amount of freedom they have is extremely unusual, and they manage to both have a cult-like fan following, and fly under the radar and lead modest lives at the same time.
What they created was good, often "edgy" and truly spoke to comedy's great ability to highlight the nuances of our silly lives. Some of their stuff may seem outdated, but that's because it was copied so many times. As influential as they are, it's amazing how young they still are - it's all so current, but creative culture progresses so exponentially - as we are well aware considering information technology - hense their ability to be so influential in such short time.
In 1996 when I was a sophomore in high school, I went into the city to a book signing in Union Square for the State's hilarious book (one of my most prized possessions). The entire cast was there and when asked what they were up to, they mentioned that they had a live show called Stella at Fez. From that point on I'd see this show every year. I'd bring groups of friends when we came home from college for winter and thanksgiving breaks. It was there that I saw many famous and amazing comedians perform in a small little room and I knew exactly what I wanted out of life.
I want to find, develop, and share my comedic voice - and hopefully end up with a comedy career unique to my strengths - and am able to get whatever is valuable in there out of me. The State, and all of the castmembers work after the show, has inspired me more greatly and specifically than anyone else's work.
Here is a video that I made with Kevin Allison, one of the cast members of the State:
And here is a State Sketch:
Here's some exerpts from the TV SQUAD review:
Frustrated fans and even members of the show's cast have been clamoring for Viacom and company to sign off on a DVD box set of MTV's most under-appreciated show The State. Miles of red tape and nearsighted executives prevented any ounce of hope from shining through the dark void the show left on television. MTV's new five disc set for release on Tuesday, news we broke back in April, has corrected the mistake and earned everyone responsible for its hold-up some karma points for their crimes against hilarity.
The State box set, however, keeps their hardcore and extremely patient fans in mind the most. The first thing you'll see when you unwrap the plastic and slide the plastic cases out of the cardboard is a note from the cast explaining their involvement in the development of the box set and some of the changes that had to be made due to licensing and copyright issues. It's one of many personal touches and tweaks that make
it clear everyone involved had the most dedicated fan in mind while they were re-recording dialogue on a Barry and Levon sketch or blurring a trademarked image in a detailed back-drop.
It is the first DVD box set in recent memory that puts its fans ahead of fiscal concerns or financial constraints. If you've been praying to see The State go to DVD in your lifetime, prepare a goat sacrifice to thank God for heeding your call.