For 14 seasons, Fox’s MADtv served as the top sketch comedy show alternative to SNL and helped launch the careers of Artie Lange, Michael McDonald, Alex Borstein, Keegan Michael Key, Jordan Peele, and many others, not to mention former writers like David Wain, Patton Oswalt, SNL’s Bryan Tucker, and Up All Night’s Emily Spivey. While MADtv may be just another ghost of Sketch Shows Past since its cancellation in 2009, many of its memorable recurring characters are still on the internet waiting to be revisited. Here’s a look at eight of them.
No list of MADtv characters can start without Michael McDonald’s famous oversized toddler Stuart, who sports a rainbow plaid shirt, rosy apple cheeks, and fierce childlike desire for independence and adoration, exploding into excited dance spasms followed by the catchphrases “Look what I can do!” and “Let me do it!” Mo Collins plays his overbearing but impressively patient single mother Doreen, who never forgets to mention that Stuart’s father left them on Tuesday. (Fun Fact: Stuart made 38 appearances on MADtv.)
Nicole Sullivan’s weirdest and most unnerving character Antonia made 18 appearances on the show including two “Lowered Expectations” dating line sketches. Whether she’s just a shy idiot or a reincarnated member of the Lollipop Guild, Antonia’s always good at frustrating various low-level supervisors and managers with her lack of mental comprehension. And she has a cat named Cece.
Before Amy Poehler as Kaitlin there was Stephnie Weir as Dot Goddard, the batshit crazy young twin daughter of parents played by Mo Collins and Michael McDonald, who like to pretend she isn’t their own. She appeared 17 times.
The UBS Guy
I was too young to get a lot of the humor when I first started watching MADtv, so Phil LaMarr’s hyperactive “UBS” delivery guy Jack was the first character I remember liking on the show. Just a delivery guy who’s always, very literally, on the move. Like Dot, The UBS Guy made 17 appearances.
When it comes to MADtv’s most remembered character, Stuart’s only competition is Alex Bornstein as the annoying slowpoke Ms. Swan – who also rocked the rainbow plaid look with her trademark jumper (and appeared 44 times!!). Bornstein’s talent with voices would lead to roles on Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show.
The Depressed Persian Tow Truck Man
Since he’s the longest-tenured MADtv cast member (with 10 seasons), Michael McDonald deserves another nod to one of his riskier characters Mofaz “The “Depressed Persian Tow Truck Man.” Every sketch is another sad passenger whose problems end up blown out of the water by Mofaz’s crushing life details.
Mo Collins has always been my favorite MADtv cast member, and Trina’s one of the show’s most fragile-funny recurring characters. All of Trina’s actions revolve around her inability to conceive a child, and she follows every punchline with her creepy wound-up sputter laugh.
Will Sasso’s sketches as Randy Newman might be classified as a celebrity impersonation more than a recurring character, but his perfectly sloppy voice, predictable Newman piano melodies, and overflowing ashtrays are too hilariously on point to ignore.