More than 20 years later, Bob and David’s iconic sketch series is still lodged in our hearts. But what were the greatest scenes Mr. Show ever did? We count down our 15 favorites…
Every generation of comedy nerds have a series they look to as the one that began their love of humor, and for mine, it was Mr. Show. It was something you heard about from a friend, then taped off TV, then watched until you memorized it, then rewatched the DVDs until you memorized them. Mr. Show not only made stars of Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, but of so many other cast members and writers that it would be too long to list them all. And, being comedy nerds, it’s hard to resist making a list of the shows best sketches, impossible as it may seem.
We limited ourselves to the 15 you’ll see below, ranked after long conversations around a pizza table. So many fantastic scenes missed the cut, and for that we’re sorry. If you’re angry we missed Mayostard or The Tear Drop Awards, feel free to discuss our wrongness in the comments. But now, let’s get on with the countdown, starting with a season one favorite…
15. Pit Pat
I won’t tolerate any bad-mouthing of Mr. Show in either the comments or the real world. If you don’t understand its importance, that’s okay: You weren’t there. Your observations are entirely irrelevant! However, when I say its first season is the weakest, I’m coming from a place of pure love, adoration, and respect. The show got better as it went on, is that so fucking uncommon?! But we wanted to have one clip to represent Season 1, and it’s hard to do better than “Commercials of the Future.” HBO allowed cursing, but Mr. Show had used potty mouth somewhat sparingly up until this skit in its second episode.
“It’s so big, it’s fucking great.”
This was the most R-rated an American sketch comedy show had ever been (a good one anyway. Anybody who mentions Hardcore TV in the comments is getting banned.) and everyone I knew was talking about the show immediately following this sketch’s airing. In description, it seemed impossible this show existed and before there ever was an internet, this was the closest something could get going “viral” based purely on word of mouth at school. Cool kids were christened overnight (were they fortunate enough to have taped the episode), as everybody in my friend circle considered this a must-see moment and we hosted almost daily screenings of the show after that. Of course, to give you a better understanding of the size of my “friend circle,” Mr. Show is still relatively obscure and was canceled after 30 episodes. – Chris Antista
I like to imagine that Adam’s Song by Blink 182 (a touching tune about struggling with suicidal thoughts) was at least titled as a comedy nerd tribute to Mr. Show. This sketch was where Mr. Show’s writer/performers got to really show their love for dark depths of heavy metal, creating the Metallic-alike Titanica. The real star of the piece, though, is David Cross as Adam, the doggedly upbeat Titanica fan who is determined to throw himself into acid.
“I just wanna air out a little.”
Unlike most bands who deny any suicidal intent in the lyrics of moody songs, Titanica actually intends it, and Adam’s attempt resulted in an impossibly shrunken body from dipping in a vat of acid. The audience roars with shock and surprise at the prosthetic arms and legs Cross flails about to amazing effect. The dark close of the piece is pure Mr. Show as well, with a song pre-dedicated to the fan that they finally convinced to do suicide right. I think the lyric “head first this time” did the trick. – Henry Gilbert
13. Eat Rotten Fruit From A Shitty Tree
After four seasons of practice, both Bob and David had built up both an incredible chemistry and an easy affability at playing total assholes. But usually they aren’t both playing the macho jerk, as they do in this sketch that begins at a bar. Like the best of their skits it starts with a familiar scenario (two douches threatening to start a fight), then immediately heightens it (they get married and spend the rest of their lives together fighting).
It gives Bob and David so much space to be furious at all times – mowing the lawn with rage, tearing open presents with loud indignation. There’s even time for the two to show real care for each other in whatever their relationship is supposed to be. Of course the greatest moment of wisdom comes at the end, as Bob’s character wins the battle against David’s deceased character, but at the cost of his youth. Since watching it, “My life…” has become shorthand for wasting time in pointless squabbles. – Henry Gilbert
12. Mom & Pop Porn Shop
As the title of this season 2 skit indicates, “Mom & Pop Porn Shop” has the kind of subject matter you wouldn’t see on an advertisement-driven network. Instead of just relying on shock value, the jokes cover a lot of ground between mocking old family sitcom dynamics, introducing absurd Mr. Show-style twists, and some good old physical humor.
“An entire wall of nothing but hardcore gay anal sex. If that doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, then you’re the one who’s inhuman!”
Bob Odenkirk, Jill Talley, and David Cross shine as the eponymous shop’s stubborn father, doting mother, and rebellious son as they show how life can be as the proprietors of pornography. Missing chores, checking on regular customers, and making sure your children stick to the friendly confines of traditional smut are just part of the Applesway’s daily grind, but the skit becomes even more legendary when Paul F. Thompkins enters as the ghost of great great great grandfather Applesway who seeks to set things right in the quarreling clan (while also getting some quarters to use in a jerkoff booth). Putting traditional TV character types in such a weird setting as they spout off fuck film names like “All Anal Action” or “Lactating Mamas” would be enough to catapult this skit to classic status, but little things like Cross’ character being reprimanded with a dildo to the face or the awkward movement of Tompkins on the shoulder of an uncoordinated partner make this one of the all-time best.
Great skit! …actually, could I get a few more quarters? – Dave Rudden
Bob and David came from a world with more direct film parodies than Mr. Show usually indulged in, though Taint is a welcome exception. Made not long after Boogie Nights, this ’70s porno bio pic tells the tale of fetishizing one of the least sexualized parts of the anatomy. Scientifically known as the perineum, David Cross’ Garry Flank is obsessed with the “taint,” and future Comedy Bang Bang creator Scott Aukerman plays his fresh-faced ingenue Theo Brixton in one of Mr. Show’s longest (and greatest) bits.
“These are the days!”
The sketch’s exploration of wonderfully grimy world of low stakes porn is fantastically done, from the brash camera testimonials, to smaller parts like Gary’ ex-Vice Principal, who hangs around for no discernable reason. And it stays strong all the way to the end, as the tragic end comes in the form of Captain Tragedy, an unexpected pro wrestler who leaves Gary as a head in a bowl. Just like the doctor played by Jay Johnston, we’re not sure how it works, but it really does. – Henry Gilbert
Telling lies and blowing up the moon are just a taste of what’s to come on the the next page!