10 – “TENEMENT” [MTV LINK]
It’s debatable about which member of The State ended up being the most successful, but in terms of network television work, Ken Marino probably has ruled that area more than the rest of his sketch comedy kin. “Tenement” is a good example of how he can command a studio audience and the television viewership with great comedic deliver and physical work. Also, any time The State says they’re doing something highbrow, you’re likely to see a classic, as Marino, Kerri Kenney, and Ben Garant turn a profanity laden play into a goofy string of swear substitutes. I have no idea if Tenement is actually a play, but I kinda don’t want to look it up and ruin the mystery.
BEST QUOTE: “Poopy. Another poopy day. I took number two from every dumb-dumb in this mickey-fickey neighborhood today.”
9 – “THE POPE-A’S VISIT” [MTV LINK]
The premise for this skit sounds pretty stupid: hyper-exaggerated Italian stereotypes make a mess of their clothes and restaurant right before the pope visits. However, it’s so overdone that it comes around to being one of the best physical skits in the history of the show. Everyone’s over-the-top accents are funny enough, but they’re amplified when they deliver exasperated exposition directly to the camera. And then there’s the huge mess featuring gallons of spaghetti sauce, red wine, waste oil, mustard, and grape soda. Again, Ken Marino shows that he’s capable of taking a physical sketch to its zenith by whipping a full pot of marinara about 15 feed high against the wall.
BEST QUOTE: “Where am I gonna put the waste-a oil?!”
8 – “THE BARRY LUTZ SHOW” [MTV LINK]
Tom Lennon played a slimy jerk better than any other members of The State, and his slimiest performance was as Dr. Martin Crank, the world’s most renowned practitioner of… monkey torture. His recounting of his favorite monkey torture moments are hilarious, and the ending of this skit is one of my favorites of the entire series. Michael Ian Black also deserves commendation for managing to fit so many weird quirks into Barry Lutz with such little material. This skit wouldn’t be half as good if it didn’t feature MIB slyly reading from the teleprompter, excerting a strange brand of vanity, and being into the idea of… monkey torture.
BEST QUOTE: “This country is full of what I call ‘Bleeding-heart liberals,’ who I guess are turned off by the idea of torturing monkeys for no good reason.”
7 – “SERVICE WITH A SMILE” [MTV LINK]
This is one of the most perfectly cast skits in The State history; Garant as the unhinged screamer, Lo Truglio as the straight man, and the woefully under-utilized Todd Holoubek as the sympathetic punching bag. Garant’s increasing rage combined with some funny physical work that never fazed Holoubek made for one of my favorite State skits ever, and the madcap ending is icing on the cake.
BEST QUOTE: “Chicken Sandwich, Carl!”
6 – “GRANDMA’S POTATO CHOWDER” [MTV LINK]
Here’s the kind of skit that you’d only see on The State. From the anachronistic costuming to the lunch-table tradition of getting incessantly mocked for saying one wrong thing, to the shock ending, this discussion of potato chowder among schoolmates is something that you’d only see from these basic-cable sketch comedy renegades. And once again, Ken Marino throws in insane physical comedy that adds just a tad more hilarity to the proceedings.
BEST QUOTE: “Sure, man. You go over there once a year and you slurp on some of your grandma’s creamy po-ta-to chowder!”
5 – “BACON” [MTV LINK]
The State is more than just a groundbreaking comedy troupe; they’re also trendsetters. Nearly a decade before the internet declared its eternal love to the bacon, Ben Garant delivered the ultimate love letter with a largely one-man skit dedaced to breakfast treat. I probably sing “Bacon, bacon, bacon I’m makin’ the moves on you! You’re bacon!” to myself on a weekly basis, and I don’t even like bacon all that much!
BEST QUOTE: “I’m feelin’ mopey today, bacon.”
4 – “CERIALIST COMMERCIAL”
The State had a special knack for lampooning television commercials of the 1970s and 80s, from the jingle-driven “Little Brown Dog Food” to the basic menswear showcase in “Betty’s No Good Clothes Shop and Pancake House.” One of the best ad parodies in The State history was done with the use of just one word. Without saying anything but “duh,” this skit touches on the sad kid, problem-solving mom, and deus ex machina milkman tropes of kid-focused commercials that would pepper Saturday morning cartoons. Plus, this is one of the easiest State skits to quote.
BEST QUOTE: “Duh duh duh!”
3 – “PORCUPINE RACETRACK” [MTV LINK]
Here we have my personal favorite State skit. Is it their funniest sketch? Far from it. However, it tells a great story, features incredible set and costume design, and comes with a very catchy tune. I loved this skit so much that I helped to convince three friends (and fellow State fans) to name their band Porcupine Racetrack.
BEST QUOTE: “God, if you’re above, and it’s orphans that you love, then please help the porcupine I chose…”
2 – “DON LAW”
Here’s my all-time favorite State ad parody (arguably the troupe’s strongest suit). Having watched hundreds of low-budget injury attorney commercials during daytime television programming, I love how this skit nails the “anything to please you” pitch of those ads with solutions to increasingly weird problems. This is Michael Showalter’s finest work on The State, as he nails the New York accent prevalent in those ads while pantomiming goldfish-feeding and potato salad-making.
BEST QUOTE: “Are you tired of the same old potato salad? Do you need someone to make you some new potato salad? I’m Don Law. I can make you some new potato salad.”
1 – “CUTLERY BARN”
I’m a big fan of surreal comedy, and the entirety of this classic is wall to wall weirdness. In front of a void of darkness, a pair of diners, a waiter, the manager, and a talking sandwich discuss eating and the new Cutlery Barn without changing their high-pitched non-fluctuating staring-into-space delivery. It’s roughly a minute of calm insanity and it’s single-most hilarious State skit in my personal opinion.
BEST QUOTE: “Hey. You can’t talk to us like that. We want to see the manager.”
What are your thoughts on this list? Is your personal favorite State skit online anywhere? If so, share a link or comment below!