We all love Amy Schumer, everyone knows how brilliant Key & Peele are, and you’ve watched Will Ferrell’s classic SNL sketches countless of times. But in this weekly column Sketchy MVPs, The Laugh Button shines a light on comedians from our favorites shows and troupes who don’t often get rightful credit for their contributions to sketch comedy.
Ok, so Mr. Show was the brainchild of Bob Odenkirk and David Cross. So obviously most of the sketches centered around them. However, during its four seasons on HBO, Mr. Show had a strong supporting ensemble of actors, including Paul F. Tompkins, Jay Johnston, Jill Talley, John Ennis, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Brian Posehn, Scott Aukerman and more (even Sarah Silverman and Jack Black regularly appeared in the first season). If one supporting cast member made as big of an impact on the show as Odenkirk and Cross, though, it was Tom Kenny.
Kenny had already made the sketch comedy rounds in the early 90s with the short lived The Edge (which also featured the female lead in that Leprechaun film… and think she also starred in a sitcom…). But it was on Mr. Show that the comedian really shined, playing any zany character that neither Odenkirk nor Cross could handle. He played roles that were remarkably absurd, yet still somehow had traces of realism.
Nowadays, Kenny is better known for voicing some of your favorite modern cartoon characters, most notably SpongeBob SquarePants… That’s right, there was a time that SpongeBob SquarePants, Saul Goodman and Tobias Fünke appeared on a comedy show together! But anyways, let’s take a look back at three of our favorite moments from Kenny’s time on Mr. Show.
The idea of witnessing the founding fathers of America (plus Abe Lincoln) devise a plan to create a flag that’s literally impossible to crap on is bizarrely hysterical in and of itself. Yet Kenny’s depiction of Lincoln, giving him a wise-guy demeanor, makes this sketch even funnier. It’s an example of how easy it was for Kenny to add even more flavor to Mr. Show’s bits.
“The Hail Satan Network”
Here, Kenny and Jill Talley (who are actually married in real life) play televangelists spreading the word of the almighty Satan. Sure Cross’ portrayal as Kevin, the young man too lazy to do anything and wishes to see people perform bestiality for him, is hilarious. But what makes Kenny and Talley the true stars of this sketch is how realistic their portrayal of televangelists is (with the only obvious difference being which lord their praising). That’s one of the reasons why Kenny has called it one of his favorite sketches.
Another one of Kenny’s personal favorites, we first meet “Kedzie Matthews” during a bit where Odenkirk needs someone to fill in for him while he runs errands. Kenny perfectly captures the type of loud, hyperactive comedian that somehow draws huge fanfare, despite being quite unfunny and downright obnoxious. Mr. Show loved calling out the comedy climate’s bad traits, and Kenny’s character perfectly did just that.
BONUS – “Sam and Criminy Kraffft present Drugachusettes”
This is a straight up parody of Sid and Marty Krofft’s H.R. Pufnstuf, showing what the kids show would be like if it was even less subtle about its drug influences. Just watching Kenny’s “Professor Ellis D. Traills” freaking out during a bad trip makes this sketch a classic.