Anyone who grew up on MTV in the 90s can quote lines from the short-lived cult sketch comedy show, The State. Even casual fans are familiar with the classics like Michael Showalter’s rebel-without-a-cause character, Doug, and his famous line, “I’m outta heeeere.” Or Barry and Levon and their $240 worth of puddin’. And of course, Louie, the guy who comes in and says his catchphrase over and over again: “I wanna dip my balls in it!” But most of these popular recurring characters were actually written in at the suggestion of MTV. In fact, when the cast was pressured by the network to incorporate more catchphrases into the show, they wrote the “I wanna dip my balls in it” line as their giant middle-fingered response. And while ironically, those have become the lines and characters that people remember most, the show was also chock full of one-off skits with incredibly bizarre premises that are often lost in the foggy memories of 90s television nostalgia. Here are 20 sketches that aren’t usually the first things people think of when discussing The State but are still hilarious and weird in their own rights. These non-classics may not be as quotable as the Porcupine Racetrack or have the character recognition of Captain Monterey Jack, but they’re all worth revisiting.
20.“Rug Brothers” (Season 3, Episode 6)
“Rug Brothers” was a skit proving that less is more. It was about two characters who loved a rug. Like, really loved a rug. To the point where they were having sex with it.
19. “Tuxedo” (Season 4, Episode 3)
“Tuxedo” was a mock hidden camera-style prank show where the gag was that the prank was totally innocuous and involved seeing people’s reactions to someone wearing a tuxedo in public. If nothing else, it was a great excuse for Michael Ian Black to ham it up.
18. “Race” (Season 4, Episode 1)
With only one female member, the male cast of The State would often crossdress in sketches and it was always hilarious. But even more hilarious was when they portrayed children. “Race” is an incredibly violent skit where a friendly father-son race took a dark turn when the two turned the competition violent. It ends with the father (Michael Showalter) kicking his son (Ben Garant) in the crotch.
17. “Slinkys” (Season 4, Episode 1)
If you like elaborate demonstrations of Slinkys set to music, boy is this the sketch for you.
16. “Senator Cavanaugh” (Season 4, Episode 2)
It could be argued that the premise for this sketch about a ridiculously over-the-top campaign ad starring Michael Ian Black was recycled later on Black’s even shorter lived Comedy Central show, Stella, when his character ran for president of the residency board in his apartment building.
15. “The Howard Report” (Season 4, Episode 1)
The Howard Report was an absurd talk show where topics of national interest were discussed with men named Howard. Also, doing the crabwalk was Henry O. Washington Anson Radcliffe Davis (put them together, they spell Howard).
14. “Crackers” (Season 1, Episode 3)
The “Crackers” sketch almost feels like The State were sitting in the writers’ room and said, “Oh, let’s just have a bit where the characters have mouths full of crackers so we can call it a day.” And that’s all it was. But it still made for a great visual gag.
13. “Bologna Foot” (Season 2, Episode 4)
Tim “Bologna Foot” Bolster was a character that could’ve easily been a recurring one but luckily, The State used him once and then retired him. That’s probably just as well. How much can you really say about a kid with bologna sandwiches for feet?
12. “High Brow / Low Brow” (Season 2, Episode 2)
In an effort to appeal to both high brow and low brow crowds, The State made this skit which simultaneously features fart jokes alongside an anecdote about Winston Churchill.
11. “First Election” (Season 2, Episode 4)
“First Election” was one of The State’s best opening skits. It documented a town who elected its first mayor in over 100 years. Their choice: a red balloon.
10. “Where’s the Mousey?” (Season 3, Episode 3)
This sketch asked one very important question, namely “wheres the mousey?” After several minutes of repeatedly asking where the mousey was, a giant mouse dropped down from the ceiling and that was the entire sketch.
9. “Copy Shop” (Season 2, Episode 2)
“Copy Shop” was a great example of a weak premise with a strong delivery. The gag is that the copy shop will mimic anything you want for a fee. But seeing Ben Garant bodypainted as a three-color copy totally saves the skit.
8. “Sal and Frankie” (Season 4, Episode 3)
Mean Ass Sal and Frankie the Pig were characters who sat by the highway and waved at cars. That’s all they did. And they were never used on the show again. Mainly because they died at the end of the skit. They just shouldn’t have sat that close to the highway.
7. “Tough Choices” (Season 4, Episode 7)
As its name implies, this skit featured a game show that asked contestants to make some really tough choices. Choices like, “Which would you rather do: Lick a cow’s ass or make out with your mom?” or “Lick a cow’s ass or massage your dad’s butt?”
6. “Laupin Variety Programme” (Season 4, Episode 3)
People often forget that the short-lived Comedy Central Euro programming spoof show, Viva Variety, was based on this sketch, which originally featured a character named Ape Man and the popular song, “Don’t Break My Hands.”
5. “Sportsbeat” (Season 4, Episode 2)
“Sportsbeat” was an incredibly dry, sometimes dark sketch modeled after a roundtable-style talk show where sports writers give their hot tips for basketball prospects. Except the prospects included an oily rag, a 218 year-old-fetus in a jar, and a man who’d been cut in half in an elevator accident in the 1940s.
4. “Tenement” (Season 4, Episode 1)
In a mock attempt to appeal to MTV’s more highbrow audience, The State acted out a scene from the William McGuire’s drama Tenement. They had to soften the language though, which resulted in amazing one-liners like “farty nonsense,” “tinkle-tinkle contest,” and “fudge-eating nickel pinchers.”
3. “The Pope’s-a Visit” (Season 3, Episode 2)
While this wasn’t the show’s most popular sketch featuring absurdly exaggerated Italian accents, it was still a great use of tomato sauce and a terrific excuse to trash the set and pour wine on the pope.
2. “Taco Man” (Season 4, Episode 2)
“Taco Man” is not a particularly visually appealing sketch, given that it is a 4 minute-long absurd conversation between a guy and his mailman who has been delivering tacos to his house. But for sketch comedy nerds who appreciate good dialogue, this is about as good as it gets.
1. “Cerealist Commercial” (Season 1, Episode 2)
Possibly the funniest State skit ever “written.”