A Look Back At 'The Edge': Fox's Bloody, Peak-90's Sketch Show
A few years before Mad TV made it (moderately) big, FOX tried to nudge its way into the sketch comedy format SNL has dominated for around two centuries with The Edge–not to be confused with… whatever, it’s not like anybody cares about U2 or obscure Alec Baldwin thrillers. The Edge ran for just one season–from 1992 to 1993–and it is a mostly forgotten attempt at sketch comedy characterized by its dark humor featuring decapitations, accidents, body horror, workplace shootings, and singer/comedian Julie Brown at her Julie Brown-est.
I mean it’s not the Lonely Island, but you can still sense talent lurking there somewhere.
Although apparently you can get DVDs of The Edge on some lurid corners of the internet, many episodes can already be found on YouTube. And except for the sort of awkward race, gender, and even fat jokes you could expect from a 90s show, it hasn't aged that badly.
Of course, the topical bits are kinda dated, remember Herman’s Head? Or for a less obscure reference, consider the Beverly Hills 90210 parody in the second episode, whose jokes about Tori Spelling claiming she could do whatever she wanted because it was ‘Daddy’s show’ actually angered Aaron Spelling–something that helped the show gain notoriety back then. Brandon and Dylan having a ‘hair fight’ is somewhat amusing though.
Your average episode featured plenty of interconnected sketches, which actually contributes to every episode feeling complete. Not necessarily ha-ha funny (canned laughter does not work on a sketch show), but at least complete. And the show is indeed very bloody. For example, every episode starts with the entire cast being killed off in wacky ways, back in the innocent 90s when the US was in its denial stage over structural violence and that it could be considered hilarious.
Yet sometimes the violence does try to make something of a point, if you look at it from afar and squint. For instance, The Edge featured a parody of gun culture called the Armed Family–and, yup, they’re gun-obsessed, an armed family, if you will. The point is that the show did feature some smart gags on important issues, like the baboon ass epidemic (damn you, capitalism!). Also, this sketch is, erm, prescient:
Oh, hello, Newman.
Which brings us to the talent. We’re not gonna lie, even if the humor of The Edge is all over the place and many (many) jokes simply don’t land, the cast is amazing, even ignoring the already amazing Julie Brown. First, yes, that is Wayne Knight, whom we don’t have to introduce, dude’s a legend, he’s the decade of the 90s incarnated. Also, the show features an even bigger name: a pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston, and you won’t be surprised to know every time she’s on the screen she just owns the show. Lady dude’s been honing her comedic craft for decades, she truly deserves much more love than she usually gets for her contributions to comedy, and you can totally see her talent all over The Edge.
Besides Aniston, here’s a list of every other ‘hey I know that face!’ face on the show. There’s Tom Kenny and Jill Talley, both also known for their work on Mr. Show and SpongeBob SquarePants; there’s also Rick Overton, from Seinfeld, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Bad Teacher; Paul Feig, who later worked as a director in Freaks and Geeks and Bridesmaids; and even the great Alan Ruck, Cameron from friggin’ Ferris Bueller and the douchebag (so, uhm, Ferris Bueller?) from the action classic The Bus That Couldn’t Slow Down. Finally, one other talent that cannot go unmentioned when talking about The Edge is Bill Plympton, a legendary, Academy Award-nominated animator who contributed surreal shorts peppered all over the show. Seriously, just the amount of funny people here make it worthwhile. Well, kinda, if you squint.
This one’s funny, and SNL would try the same joke years later.
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