Thursday, January 15, 2009

You Won't Be Watching MadTV

The news was buried in an article on Spike Feresten in the Times on December 20.

MadTV is no more.

Defamer got the scoop.

Always the scrappy underdog to Saturday Night Live, MadTV, though never earning much respect or ratings, still managed to make a pop culture dent. After all, a guy at work did dress up as Stuart for Halloween this year, and my cousin, far from being on the tip of the zeitgeist, is known for having a wicked impression of Miss Swan, two characters that were mainstays on the program.

MadTV never could compare to SNL, partly because it was a taped program. They did not focus on news or politics, but on funky, oddball characters, but their biggest strength was by far their music video parodies, which they were able to be so successful at precisely because the show was taped. SNL copied them with their digital shorts, right around the time Andy Samburg was hired. Madonna, Britney Spears, John Madden, Whitney Houston and Kenny Rogers “starred” in many of their most well-known skits, and they also frequently mocked Apple (see “iRack”). Yet looking back over many of the highlights, a real sense of the pop culture of the last decade shines through, and there were times when they were right on the money—Feist’s "1234", “Trapped in the Cupboard”, and the Abercrombie kids mocked the absurdity that each brand was trying to sell.

Like SNL, the show did have musical guests perform, although the one thing that stood out about them was that they weren’t cool or big enough to go on SNL. Most didn’t make it that far—the artists didn’t upgrade and the viewers switched over or off before the act even began. The acts always seemed superfluous, tacked onto the end because it was some rule that variety shows had to have them. We all knew cast members contorting their voices and bodies to play real stars were far more entertaining.

MadTV had the fortune to start at 11, which meant a half-hour of their best stuff followed by viewers flocking in droves to their cooler counterpart. I’ve lost many arguments comparing SNL to MadTV, but the truth of the matter is, SNL always got the clout, even when they didn’t deserve it. SNL’s best asset, as they showed last year, was in political comedy. MadTV’s best asset was ripping upon the nation’s favorite television shows, music, and celebrities. Despite being on the air for fourteen seasons and having a syndication deal on Comedy Central for the last few, the show never got any respect, even though some of their impressions and parodies are on par if not better than SNL's best. Nicole Parker's Britney Spears, for example, is the best I've ever seen.

I’ve spent quite a few hours in my life amusing myself with MadTV parodies on YouTube. I’m including some of my favorites below.

I never get tired of this, ever.

A newbie but a keeper. Her Hannah Montana is spot-on.

My dad is obsessed with this clip. It's probably one of the most-watched videos in my household.

Again, spot-on dis of the concept and what Christina was trying to do. Purposefully dressing as skanky as she could possibly be for this video was the wrong tactic.

JT was begging for this.

Chingy’s “Holidae Inn” was never used for something better.

Doesn’t make much sense, but who doesn’t love an “Umbrella” parody, especially with Nicole Parker?

The only thing good about “My Humps” was that this was created.

I could have just linked this above, but this is seriously one of MadTV's best.


John said...

I didn't see a mention of the "Can I have your number?" sketch, which is a little surprising since it's the only other sketch (besides Miss Swan) that I've heard anyone mention or quote in casual conversation. There are even tons of Facebook bumper stickers and flair about it!

MediaMaven said...

It's up there on YouTube, John.

By the way, this post isn't finished--IE crashed on me twice while editing it. I was hoping to fix it before anyone noticed.

MediaMaven said...

Whoo, finished!! BTW, IE needs to die when it comes to links and videos...too many crashes and to much wasted time.