And so, I've been living with the regret of unknowingly canceling IFC for a while now. But there's just no going back now; if anything, I should continue slashing away at my disgustingly hog-bodied cable bill. Well, that decision will become even more regrettable with the news announced today that IFC will be bringing classic subversive 90's comedy series to its late night lineup.
Starting in the new year, IFC will begin airing reruns of HBO's The Larry Sanders Show as well as Mr Show with Bob and David, and FOX's The Ben Stiller Show. Given that we have just posted a lengthy love letter to Mr Show ( which you can and should peruse here) I won't rehash that show's brilliance here. The Ben Stiller Show, on the other hand, is a much lesser known sketch series, which had a brief 12-episode run in 1992, and starred Stiller, Andy Dick, Janeane Garofalo, and Bob Odenkirk. The show is a sort of progenitor to Mr Show, with David Cross and Odenkirk both writing and performing in it, as well as Mr Show writing mainstay (and currently known as Star-burns on Community) Dino Stamatopoulos. Interesting to note, Judd Apatow was the show's co-creator along with Stiller, and also shared writing duties. For comedy nerds, this is like finding a demo tape from The Quarrymen, before they became The Beatles.
For those who've never seen The Larry Sanders Show, you've missed out on a truly original series. It broke new ground in terms of what a comedy show can do, and without it, shows like The Office might not have ever happened. Created by Garry Shandling, the show ran for 6 seasons on HBO from 1992 to 1998, detailing the behind the scenes chaos of a late night TV show, and the neurotic characters who ran it. The interplay between the main actors, Shandling, Rip Torn, and Jeffrey Tambor is simply incredible, and it often featured Mr Show and Ben Stiller Show regulars (see a pattern here, people??) Bob Odenkirk, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Sarah Silverman, and Janeane Garofalo. Shandling pioneered the uncomfortable, awkward humor that Ricky Gervais would later be known for, and, in fact, there's an excruciatingly awkward interview show Gervais did with Shandling, which you should watch here.
Later in the year IFC will also be bring Jay Mohr's short lived series, Action, to it's slate of reruns. I vaguely remember that show as being pretty good.
So yeah, IFC, as Alex Navarro put it in conversation yesterday "is kind of killing it lately."