The 10 Best Moments of All the Upstarts Who Debuted on ‘Mr. Show’
Mr. Show with Bob and David acquainted America with Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, purveyors of an anti-SNL brand of alt-sketch comedy. But while those two guys were the stars — you can tell because their names were in the title — Mr. Show also introduced us to an impressive lineup of (mostly) unknown funny faces. Here are 10 well-known celebs who got their comedy feet wet on Mr. Show — and the sketches that made us laugh along with them for the first time…
Paul F. Tompkins, the ‘Oh You Men’ Episode
Tompkins appears in a ton of episodes, though he rarely got the spotlight. That said, one of his more memorable turns was in the “Lie Detector” sketch as the guy who tests the machine only to discover the repressed horrors of his childhood.
And a special shout-out to “Drugachusetts,” where a masked Tompkins scores as the mayor of that Altered State, officially proclaiming pizza to be “awesome.”
“I love that Paul decided to do his one line as mayor of Drugachusetts as James Mason,” David Cross said in the oral history Mr. Show: What Happened?. “Did anyone catch that? No? Then fuck you.”
Sarah Silverman, Indomitable Spirit
Next up is a band who are “a little different from you and me, but let’s remember, that doesn’t make them freaks. It just means you have to try a little harder not to let them make you uncomfortable.”
Silverman stars as Fran, the lead singer of can-do band Indomitable Spirit. The band that rides the small bus features Cross as a drummer with half of his arms missing, the equally armless John Ennis as a guitarist who solos with his feet, and Jay Johnston as a flute-playing, disembodied head. Fran’s disability? She’s a woman.
Jack Black, Jeepers Creepers Semi-Star
The Jesus Christ Superstar parody features a tour de force performance from a mostly unknown Jack Black, starring as Jeepers Creepers, the indecisive maybe savior who’d rather get high and play video games. The Guardians of Intellectual Property have removed all the Jeeper Creepers clips from YouTube but it’s worth your time searching out this star turn on HBO Max.
It’s likely the most ambitious Mr. Show sketch ever, requiring a 16-hour filming day in the desert. “It went like lightning,” remembered Black. “David, at the end, gave me a strange note. He said I should just look into the camera, wait a beat — just be myself and then walk off. Be myself?! I didn’t know what to do. I just sort of looked into the camera and did something with my upper lip. And the next day I thought of something much better I could have done there. So I am waiting for the remake of 'Jeepers Creepers.’”
Scott Aukerman, It’s Insane, This Guy’s Taint
Comedy Bang-Bang maestro Aukerman contributed mightily to Mr. Show as a writer, but he also pops up in sketches now and again. He’s never more hilarious than as taint model Theo Brixton (with an unknown Scott “30 Rock” Adsit as his photographer). How can you not love a guy who stars in the porno musical Taint Misbehavin’? “The part I played in ‘Taint’ was originally written for Bob,” explained Aukerman. “He acted like he was doing me a big favor when he said I was going to play it, but I’ve always suspected he just didn’t want to be flashing his balls around yet again.”
Mary Lynn Rajskub, ‘Coupon: The Movie’
Larry Sanders Show and 24 regular Rajskub turns up in 10 episodes over the first two seasons of Mr. Show. She even appears twice in Coupon: The Movie, first as the best friend and then again as someone who “enjoyed” the movie (with a well-shorn Jack Black).
But she told The Daily Beast last year that her departure from the show coincided with her breakup with David Cross, who she was dating at the time. Her account of the exit? “I think they decided that I was no longer funny to have around, and so I did not have that job anymore,” she says. “It was a different time.”
Jerry Minor, Lifeboat
The future SNL cast member confirmed to Vulture that Cross and Odenkirk essentially discovered him. “They were just starting to workshop Mr. Show as a live show and were working with HBO to get it on air, but it wasn’t a show yet when I did my first sketch with them,” Minor explained. “They sent me an early cut of it, and I was like, ‘Uh, good luck.’ But now when I think about it, it was a really good early concept of what they wanted to do.”
Dino Stamatopoulos, The Audition
Community’s Starburns co-wrote this classic sketch, in which he plays one of the casting directors who keeps ruining Cross’ audition. “I wrote a play that I directed in Chicago at the Annoyance Theater. After the show, my friends and I would do fake auditions to make each other laugh,” Stamatopoulus recalled in a Reddit AMA. “That was one of the bits that just flew out of my head. That was the best way to write — just hang out with friends and make each other laugh.” Paste named “The Audition” the best Mr. Show sketch of all time.
Patton Oswalt, News Family Anchors
The name “Famous Mortimer” is tossed around plenty on Mr. Show, apparently a show-business legend behind several TV programs, music videos and films — including Coupon: The Movie as you can see above. But for all of his mentions, we only get to meet Famous Mortimer once, in a sketch featuring an extended desk full of extraneous members of a forlorn news team. For this night, that crew included an impossibly young Patton Oswalt as Famous Mortimer. While this was Oswalt’s only on-camera appearance, he would do stand-up to warm up the studio audience before show tapings.
Janeane Garofalo, GloboChem Ad Campaign
Janeane Garofalo wanted to be in Season Four’s “Lifeboat” sketch with Jerry Minor, but Odenkirk thought she was too famous. “At first we said yes, but then we realized her presence would pull people out of the scene,” he explained. Apparently, she wasn’t quite as well known three seasons earlier when she appeared as a housewife overwhelmed by an abundance of bags in a GloboChem ad campaign.
Judd Apatow, Thrilling Miracles
In the “Thrilling Miracles” infomercial sketch, host Pat Franks (Cross) asks the ladies in the studio audience if they’re sick and tired of constantly cleaning all those pots and… hey, there’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-him Judd Apatow!