The State

A Brief History



New York University sophomore Todd Holoubek drops out of the sketch comedy group "Sterile Yak" to form a New Group of mostly freshman. Soon officially named the New Group, they start work on their first show. It will include live sketch, film and video.



"I'm Rubber Your Glue" debuts at the NYU DWP Theatre - The New Group's first show of original sketch material. The first skit is "Child Linguistics" by Michael Showalter and Joe. The Sterile Yak performs its last show. The group does three more shows of all new material by year's end.




The Group opens for Dennis Miller at NYU - the first paid gig: $1000 for the whole group.

Meanwhile, they continue doing original full-scale threatre shows as well as smaller performances in dorms, bars, colleges, the park, NYU events, etc. 


"Enough with the Noise" at the Gene Frankel Theatre - the fifth all new full length New Group show. 



Michael Black (then Schwartz) and David Wain meet with an MTV Development assistant to pitch the group for a series. They are rejected.

Nevertheless, David enlists the group to create some demo segments for a series being developed at MTV called "You Wrote It, You Watch It." MTV becomes interested in The New Group.

After weeks of agonizing and hundreds of potentials, the group chooses a new name: The State: Full-Frontal Comedy.


On Oct 8, 9, & 10 The State: Full-Frontal Comedy debuts "Molt" - a three-night showcase at the Theatre Off-Park produced by Jon Bendis and Steven Starr. The show is loosely structured around a "birth to death" theme, and results in signing with the William Morris Agency.

MTV offers The State a contract to create segments for 13 episodes of "You Wrote It, You Watch It", hosted by Jon Stewart.

The State drops "Full-Frontal Comedy" from its name.

In November, The State begins work on "You Wrote It". It is the first time members of the group earn a living from The State. They produce 28 pieces for no budget, acting as their own cast, crew and staff. 


Over the summer, The State (with Bendis and Starr) create a series concept for MTV. They recruit "Almost Live" producer Jim Sharp for the pilot episode of "The State on MTV". The State theme song is created by Craig Wedren and Eli Janney.

MTV picks up The State for six episodes.

In September Production begins on The State on MTV: episodes 101-108. (Shows 104 & 105 are not aired but are combined into a new show: 107. 108 is a compilation.)

In December, The State appears on MTV's Jon Stewart Show to promote its new show. They destroy his set.




In January, the first cycle wraps and airs. Initial reviews are highly negative, although ratings are good. MTV takes three months to decide to renew for six more shows.

In April, The State shows 201-207 production begins. The ratings for the first cycle curiously increase as the shows rerun.


In July, The State makes the "Miserable Crap" promo that advertises the show's bad reviews.

MTV renews for 13 more shows, which begin production.




In a New York Times article on January 7, The State reveals intentions to go to a broadcast network.

In February, seven members of The State do "Winter on Wheels 1972" - a ten college tour of the east coast. The show consists of live performance and video never before seen on MTV. All the shows are sold out.

In March, Shows 307-313 begin production.

The State notifies MTV that they will not return after the current cycle.

Some Statemembers pull down their pants at a William Morris TV party. It is published in Variety.

On July 15, the final MTV production period wraps, and shows 307-313 are delivered.


On July 18, Variety and New York Magazine simultaneously announce the deal for The State to do a series of specials on CBS, then go up against SNL in the fall of 1996.

On Aug 7, The State begins work in an office in Chelsea for the Halloween and New Years specials at CBS. Much of the MTV production team returns. Founder Todd Holoubek leaves The State, the first personnel change in over four years. The group now numbers ten.

The Halloween Special gets a glowing four-star review from Michele Greppi of the New York Post, who originally gave the MTV series one of the most harshly negative reviews. The review ends "That was then, this is wow." Aside from the Post review, however, there is almost no promotion of any kind for the show.

The State's 43rd Annual All-Star Halloween Special is broadcast on CBS. It gets a low (6.5) share which causes the CBS programming chief (who has not seen the show or the reviews) to decide to cancel the New Year's special, ending any further relationship with CBS.



Details Magazine publishes "They Died Laughing" a article by David Lipsky that tells the story of The State's difficult experience doing the special for CBS.

On January 15, The State begins two weeks at Compass Point studios in Nassau, Bahamas to record a comedy record for Warner Brothers. Eli Janney produces.

After the album, the group starts focusing on individual projects, while developing ideas for a State movie.

The State performs "Hard On Shakespeare" at MTV's Spring Break in Panama City, FL.

Writing begins on the State book for Hyperion Press - a fictional travel guide to the United States.

The group sells out Caroline's comedy club for two barely rehearsed "unplugged" shows, consisting of material from the series, tour, and college shows. Craig Wedren plays music.



The State's book  (State by State with The State: An Uninformed, Poorly Researched Guide to the United States)  is released April 17.





On May 23, The State performs a full length live stage show at the Big Stinkin' International Improv Festival in Austin, Texas.



October 19, Kerri, Tom, Showalter and David perform at the Kennedy Center as part of a tribute to Jonathan Winters.


November 11, the entire group reunites for a performance/retrospective at the New York Comedy Film Festival.


The group reunites in the movies 911! Miami and The Ten.



March: A show of brand new material is performed live by The State at the UCB theater in LA.



Jan: The entire group performs live at the San Francisco Sketchfest.