A title card announcing "A Message from National Entitilitus Foundation" appears on screen, followed by a shirtless guy with a baseball cap named Ronnie Dobbs sitting in a rocking chair, announcing that "by the time you see this, I will have passed." (This will not be the case; Dobbs will, in fact, go on to achieve fame and fortune, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.) He stumps for sponsoring somebody for the Talk Backwards for One Day to Raise Awareness for Entitilitus Day, then suggests that people wear condoms in their ears, because "I think it's funny." Then a crude drawing of grotesque, smiling stick figure in heels comes on screen, as what sounds like a merry-go-round song played at the wrong speed fills the soundtrack. And with that modest, WTF-did-I-just-see cold opening, comedy was about to experience a profound paradigm shift, courtesy of something called Mr. Show.
Twenty years ago today, David Cross and Bob Odenkirk's HBO sketch-comedy show premiered, treating viewers to dim-witted convenience store employees, one-man musicals about Adolf Hitler, and the single most filmed Cops arrestee of all time. Some four seasons and 30 episodes later, the series left behind a small but devoted comedy-nerd cult following, tons of quotable lines ("I ain't got no flyin' shoes!"), and, as bootlegs circulated, a growing reputation as being Generation X's answer to Monty Python's Flying Circus. Now, it's rightfully considered one of the funniest and most influential sketch shows of all time. And when W/Bob and David premieres on Netflix on November 13th — a miniseries that the duo insist is not a "Mr. Show reunion" so much as a collection of sketches featuring the old cast and channeling the original's anarchic spirit — their new show will be greeted like the second coming of Jeepers Creepers Semi-Star.
In honor of Mr. Show's platinum anniversary, we reached out to several collaborators, fans and cast members to ask them about their favorite sketches, how it inspired them and the way that its legacy left an impact on comedy. Happy birthday, Mr. Show. Terra da-loo!