The State


The State is a group of ten writer/filmmaker/performers who have created sketch comedy together in various media starting in 1988.

The group was formed in October of 1988. We were freshman and sophomore film and drama majors at New York University. We performed in theatres, clubs and colleges while also making films and videos for our shows. In 1992 we were hired by MTV to contribute segments to "You Wrote It You Watch It", a series hosted by Jon Stewart. As a result of our work on that show, The State was hired to create its own pilot then series for MTV.

The MTV show premiered in January of 1994, at which time it received some extremely bad reviews, which were proudly displayed in the highly talked about "more miserable crap" promo on MTV. Since then, the series was renewed twice, garnering increasingly good ratings, reviews and feedback as the critics and audiences caught on. (including being one of the top 10 shows of the year in the Wall Street Journal and highest rated sketch show in Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone.)

The words to the theme song on MTV were "Boys and Girls - Action." The words to the CBS State theme song are "El Estados Es Amour" (french/spanish for The State Is Love). Both themes were done by Craig Wedren of the band Shudder To Think and Eli Janney of the band Girls Against Boys. Both bands have many great CDs, although neither State theme is available for purchase at this time. Craig's Website

We did 26 episodes of The State on MTV in the mid 90s and they stopped showing them long ago. 

The DVD will be released July 14th 2009.

We (the eleven original members of The State) have worked closely with MTV to provide you with the best possible representation of our series.  We want this to be the high quality DVD that so many of you have been asking for over the last ten years. To that end we have provided commentary from a different selection of us on each episode, and a treasure trove of extras, including more than an hour's worth of unaired sketches (many of which should never have seen the light of day) never-released interviews from the time, promos, outtakes, our original (unaired) pilot and more.

The episodes on this DVD are exactly as they aired originally, with two exceptions:

1) Back in the free-wheeling 1990s, we had access to a huge library of popular songs to use as a soundtrack for the show. Today, licensing this music for the DVD would have cost us millions of dollars, and most of it was unavailable to us at any price. However, we have worked very closely with original series composer (and consummate rock star) Craig Wedren to carefully replace certain tracks, while maintaining the spirit of the original sketches as much as possible. The only moment in the whole series that we could not include on the DVD is a 15-second "link" where characters are singing a Pearl Jam song which we could not get the rights to.

2) A few brand names and images had to be blurred or replaced for legal reasons. Latest info at our home page  and at MTV's page.

Contrary to rumor, The State WAS NOT cancelled by MTV. We decided to leave the network for many reasons, one of which was a desire to establish ourselves as an entity that exists apart from any particular employer or TV Network. 


The State was not assembled by a producer, casting director or corporation. The members of the State created the group and the show, and we wrote, directed, edited and performed our material ourselves. 

The State was based in New York City.  Now the members all live in L.A. and/or NYC. 

Our network debut, the CBS special ("The State's 43rd Annual All-Star Halloween Special") aired on October 27, 1995.  Musical guest was Sonic Youth.  The reviews were great, but there was no promotion nor ratings, and CBS decided not to renew us. So ended The State on TV. 

It's unlikely there will be another State series, but State projects may happen again someday. 

Yes - it's 

There are many unofficial fan sites, but they come and go.  Best to google the state mtv

The site is updated (VERY occasionally) by David Wain.  The original design was done by Sam Stinson, a fan who graciously volunteered his time.

We have no mailing address anymore.  Best bet is e-mail or write c/o Principato-Young Entertainment, 9465 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills CA 90212. 

If you want MTV to play the old episodes, please get in touch with MTV programming because we have nothing to do with that!

MTV Programming
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036 

Sorry, but we are not set up financially or logistically at this time to send autographed photos. And there is no State merchandise right now. 

Kevin Allison 
Michael Ian Black 
Ben Garant 
Todd Holoubek 
Michael Patrick Jann 
Kerri Kenney 
Thomas Lennon 
Joe Lo Truglio 
Ken Marino 
Michael Showalter 
David Wain 

Nothing in particular. 

Wall St. Journal - June 20, 1994 p. A12 (Top 10 TV Shows of the Year) 
USA TODAY - March 31, 1994; Oct 27, 1995 (review) 
SMUG Magazine - March 1995 (cover story) 
Hollywood Reporter - Oct 27, 1995 (review of CBS special) 
Entertainment Weekly - January 27, 1995 (10 Stupid Questions) 
New York Times - January 8, 1995 - (extensive article) 
Daily News TV Guide January 16, 1994 (negative review: "It's so terrible it deserves to be studied. Every scene and performance should be examined in detail so that MTV is sure never, ever to produce anything like it again...a historic mess.") 
Mademoiselle November 1995 - Photo spread of us naked. 
PAPER Magazine Review Oct. 1994 
Chicago Sun-Times - Jan 21, 1994 
Details Feb 1996 (very extensive article w/photos) 
GQ - May 1995 (Photo spread of us modeling raincoats) 
Saks Fifth Avenue Men's Sportswear Catalog Spring 1995 (The State modeling Izod shirts)


In the Antonio The Foreign Exchange Student sketch, did Thomas really frontflip? I think he did.
No - we hired an olympic gymnast to do that stunt, and he coincedentally bared a slight resemblence to Thomas Lennon, so the shot turned out great. The gymnast does the flip and we cut right to Tom coming up.

Who is the goofy bald guy in the 'Roughing It' and 'Leonard Harris Show' skits (to name a few)?
That's The State's longtime friend Craig Wedren. He's the voice you hear at the end of the State Theme, which he created with Eli Janney. His latest album with his band Shudder To Think ("50,000 B.C.) is out now, and Craig also does all sorts of other musical stuff including some upcoming movie soundtracks. Shudder To Think also appear on an upcoming Viva Variety!

In the "Doug and Dad" sketch, when Doug says, "Well, understand this dad, I'm Doug." Then he says something like "'soda meant a" Doug". What exactly does this mean?
"Solomente Doug." That's Spanish for "only Doug."

In the Norwegian cruise sketch, why did you take out the cats that were originally thrown into the ocean on the later episodes? let me guess...the aspca...or maybe just dr.crank's friend terry calling from backstage?
You guessed right. We had to pull the cats after the sketch aired once, because MTV received 1 (one) call from an animal rights organization.

Was that REALLY Ben Garant on the Buzzkill episode with "Butts Across America?

If there was even a remote chance of the state returning to MTV or Comedy Central -- say, for a marathon -- would you ever consider showing the episodes that were not released to MTV? (i.e. the pilot)
We have nothing to do with any of that. MTV owns all of the episodes, as well as the pilot and the many unaired sketches. The only television work that's owned by The State is the CBS special and the skteches we made for CBS and didn't air.

What is that thing/skit going on during the credits of one of the later episodes... it's Joe and Ben dressed as ambulance guy's or something, and Ben keeps cracking up. In the end it has Thomas Lennon dressed as a preast talking to Joe about Rosemary bleeds. What is that man!!?
That's our tribute to the 70's comedy movie "The Cannonball Run" starring Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLouise. It's a shot-for-shot, line-for-line reenactment of the closing credit sequence where they showed bloopers from filming, mostly of Dom DeLouise cracking up.

Will other cast members from "The State" beside the ones already mentioned make an appearance on that new "Viva Variety" show on Comedy Central? I remember the skit it was based off of contained the entire cast (or most of them, at least).
Aside from Michael Ian Black, Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant and Kerri Kenney, no other statemembers are scheduled to appear on Viva Variety at present time, with the exception of a cameo appearance in one episode from Kevin Allison.

Who wrote the Strip Battleship skit, and how did Michael and Thomas feel about performing it?
Michael Black and Tom wrote the Battleship segments, and that it felt great to be naked in front of a camera crew.

Tom and M. Ian Black: Did you really use $240 worth of puddin' for the Barry and Levon skit, and how did it feel to stick your butt in it?
Yes it was real pudding, and, again, it felt great.

Was Science Fiction Laboratory originally meant to seem as if it was written by a small child? Or did you just realize it seemed like that and added the dying boy skit before it later?
You guessed right. The "link" with the little boy came after all the skit in the show were finished and put in order.

In one sketch, David Wain explains that the members of The State have different specialties, and his is editing. Is this true, and if so, who does what? Who writes, who directed the episodes, who produced the sketches?
David did a lot of the editing of The State on MTV and CBS, as did Michael Patrick Jann and Mark Perez, the supervising producer. Michael Jann directed the larger scale film and video sketches and David directed the smaller scale ones. The sketches were written by all the members of the group. Ben Garant was "head writer" on the CBS special. The sketches were produced, at different times by Jim Sharp, Mark Perez, Michael Jann and David Wain. But the entire supervised all creative aspects of the production.

Why is The State movie on the back burner for the moment?
Because in order to do a movie, we have to find the right match of all our schedules, a good idea and a company that wants to pay for it and it hasn't happened yet.

Why was the CBS special so un-publicized? Did the entire cast return to be in it? Is there any chance you could air it again, maybe this time on Comedy Central?
CBS seemed to have lost interest in us even before the special aired. Todd left the group before we did the CBS special, but the remaining ten were still there. At this time there are no plans to air it again or release it on tape.

What, in your opinion, was the best skit or piece of work by the State?
Speaking personally, some of my (David Wain's) favorites are Cannonball, Taco Man, The Jew, The Italian & The Red Head Gay, Cutlery Barn, Leonard Harris, Restaurant, Ride, MTV Sports, $240 Pudding, Dixon: Guidance Counselor, Balogna Feet, Porcupine, Pope's Visit, Hits from '70s, Bearded Men, Louie/Last Supper, Bikini Thong, Cavanaugh, Prison Break, Free Market & Ros Fanaroff. Other statemembers' favorites will be posted as soon as they are submitted.

How many of you will be at that book signing in April?
We don't know - whoever's in town at the time. It could possibly be the whole group.

Was Michael Ian Black in the movie Speed?

Do you know of a release date for the CD? Do you know when Ken Marino's pilot will be aired on the WB?We don't know when or if either of these things will happen but as soon as we know, we'll post it on this site!

1. In what towns were the scenes shot that took place at a house or in a residential neighborhood?
2. Did Chelsea ever respond?
3. In the episode with the fan names, were those really names of fans?
4. Could you put my name in something?
5. Exactly what do muppets taste like?
1. They were shot all over the tri-state area: Westchester, Brooklyn, Long Island, New Jersey etc.
2. No.
3. Yes.
4. Yes it's in our webpage.
5. We didn't really eat them. And they weren't real Muppets.

In the "Doug and Dad" sketch (solamente Doug), when his dad asks him about the condoms in his room, why does he say something like: "I put them on my DICKUS when I want to have sex!"

What is that word? Is it just a slurred speech of dick but you couldn't let him say dick on the air?
The word is "dinkus", pronounced DEENG-kus. It's slang for dick. We thought it was funny.

What was the name of the sketch where everyone was looking for prom dates and they would freeze and talk directly to the audience about how they really felt?
That's called "Asides" and was written by Michael Showalter.

Yet another Science fiction Laboratory question...What is the last line that Kerri says in the end? It sounds something like "Dame's ooh berries" ???
"Them's the berries" which means: that's the way it goes and ain't nothing we can do about it.

Who wrote the music for Porcupine Racetrack?
That music (based on Tom Lennon's lyrics and basic melody) was written and almost entirely performed by Teddy Shapiro , our friend who composed the majority of the original music on The State. The remainder of the music on the show was composed by Craig Wedren.

Is MTV planning Skits and Stickers 2?
MTV has no plans now to release another State video -- but the more demand they have the more likely it is they will release another video and/or re-air the episodes.

On the episode where you pretend that Ken Marino dies someone says that his full name is Kenneth Joseph Margaret Marino. Is this true? Also were those his real parents in the sketch?
The "Margaret" part was a joke and yes those are his parents....

I just saw a little movie called "The Waiters" on the cable channel Bravo. After I was done watching I was left with one question: What the hell was that? It looked like you guys made that in college since it said something about NYU at the end. Is that where you guys met and could you give me any info about this extremely strange (and funny) movie. And what was with the waiter at the end? I didn't see the whole thing.
"The Waiters" is a student film written and produced by Thomas Lennon, associate produced by David Wain, and worked on also by Joe Lo Truglio, Kevin Allison and Michael Patrick Jann. It features among others, Joe, Kevin and David. It was directed by Ken Webb, who was a member of the group before it was called The State, when all of us were at NYU.

In the Prom Skit it is said that most of you guys couldn't get a date to the prom (espically David). Is that true? Also how did you end up finding 11 people to go to the prom with in the skit?
The "David can't get a date" joke was included because the prom sketch was directed by David, who was also one of three camera men gathering up hours of material at the real prom. It was shot at the prom for the high school Mike Black went to, and after having gotten many real fan letters asking us to various proms, we arranged for us to get ten dates at this high school. They were volunteers from the list of students who bought tickets to the prom but didn't have dates.

I recognize the place where you shot the car stealing mime sketch... it was in a town called Pine Plains in upstate NY which is where I graduated high school from in 1994! Am I right??? Also, when was it shot and how did you decide to shoot there?
Yes it's true -- and we shot almost every skit in a small town or in the country there in Pine Plains. The town has always been hospitable to us and we love going there. And they have everything you'd want to find in a small town!

Did anyone respond to the "Lunch with the State" contest and the "Sleep with the State essay concept"??Yes - but they all thought it was a contest where THEY would get taken out to lunch - not where they have to take US to lunch - at a restaurant and time of our choice. Of the many responses we got, not a single one got it right.

If the State had nothing to do with the "Skits & Stickers" video, what did they think of it? Could it have been better?
One problem was that MTV didn't have the rights to put on the home video a lot of the music we used in skits on the show, which prevented them from being able to include many of the music driven/montage pieces. Also everyone has favorites so it's tough to choose one tape's worth from 26 episodes.

How'd you get the mailbox to move like that in "Taco Man"? Was the mailbox supposed to fall down?
Ken Marino was lying on the ground moving it. It was not planned. He just did it.

Were those real meatballs in Monkey Doin It II?

On the cover of your new book "State by State with The State", there is a reflection of some guy in ben's sunglasses. Who is that? Was that intentional? Is that another Satanic message?
That's an unintentional reflection of the photographer's assistant.

In the sketch "International Symbols", what is up with the part about "the waiter is dyslexic, so he brings a wheelbarrow full of radishes"? I was never able to figure that one out.
It's a joke.

Every time when Louis comes out, he has his 'balls.' What kind of balls are they? Are they golf balls?
You are correct.

I was wondering if you guys liked the Kids in theHall (another sketch show) and if you were inspired in anyway by them.
We started doing together at about the same time as KITH debuted on TV, so we weren't influenced by them like we were by Python, SNL, SCTV, etc. Also in college we didn't have HBO so we didn't get a chance to see much Kids In The Hall till we were already doing our own show. We all respect KITH; some of us enjoy them more than others.

Was that Ken Marino on ABC's Spin City tonight as the embarassed date at the bar?

Who's Idea Was the Amish And Gang Fight? And who performs the music playing in the background?Michael Showalter wrote that sketch. The music created from samples by Craig Wedren, who did the State theme.

How was "State by State" written? Did everyone collaborate, or was each state (and each little aside) written by different members?
Each member wrote different little articles and we all read each other's stuff and put it all together with photos we took. Joe and Showalter drew pictures. And our friend Cindy helped us put it all together.

Who wrote "Monkey Torture" and what kind of monkey was it?
Monkey Torture was written by myself (Tom) and Michael Black. I have no idea what kind of monkey it was, maybe a gibbon, it was however two hours late to the set.

Here's a few questions about "State By State With The State": 1. It seems as though you make a lot of Jewish jokes, which of the original 11 'State members are Jewish. 2. On the cover M. Black is holding a beer bottle in one hand, what is in the other? 3. Also on the cover, Thomas Lennon seems to be wearing Mickey Mouse ears. Is there any special significance for this?
1. Black, Wain and Showalter (1/2). 2. Dunno 3. He's owned and licensed by Disney.

On the State by State With The State book Ken Marino suppossed to be taking a crap? It looks like it, but you see his pants,on,sticking out behind Joe. Are there any other mistakes on the cover?
That's no mistake. He's taking a crap in his pants

(1) Was Ken Marino ever in the movie Class of Nuke'm High? (2) I caught the "Hard On Shakespere" sketch from Shut Up and Laugh. Considering the point of the sketch, did MTV ever ask you to change anything about it? (3) I am still looking for a copy of Skits and Stickers. I was wondering what sketches are on the tape?
1. NO 2. They made us change it

Were there any sketches you made, but Mtv wouldn't air them for being to vulgar, or explicit?
There were a few. We did a sketch called "Tar Baby" where a senator gives a press conference with a tar baby doll on the podium with him, and is repeatedly asking the press to ignore the tar baby that he eventually reveals is his lover. They also cut a lot of explicit things (usually references to guns or drugs) in the scripting and shooting stages.

How many members of the state have actually been naked on the show?
All the members have been naked on the show, and you can see a two page naked spread of us in the November 1995 issued of Madmoselle magazine. (No joke!)

What are your favorite Monty Python sketches? The Pythons used to say that different members had different styles, some wrote more physical comedy, others wrote more verbal stuff. Is that true in the State? Who writes what and are there little clues (like words that are worked into sketches) that we can look for?
Yes, it's true that we all wrote different types of stuff. A subjective, incomplete answer to your question: Showalter wrote a lot of dialog driven, more naturalistic sketches; Ben was most directly influence by Python and other British comedy (Tom too); Marino wrote a lot of the bigger full cast physical concept pieces (Hormones/PMS etc)...

When are the birthdays for all The State members?
Kevin Allison - Feb 16 Michael Ian Black - Aug 12 Ben Garant - Sep 14 Michael Patrick Jann - May 15 Kerri Kenney - Jan 20 Thomas Lennon - Aug 9 Joe Lo Truglio - Dec 2 Ken Marino - Dec 19 Michael Showalter - June 17 David Wain - Aug 1

Was that Kerri I saw in a Calgon ad?
Yes it was.

In the episode where you were all camping indoors, was Craig Wedren in it?
Yes he was.

(1) Did the group enjoy doing recurring characters, or did you think that they were a waste of time? (2) Has Hyperion expressed any interest in a second book?
(1) We liked the ones we did OK, but we wouldn't have used them as often were it not for pressure from MTV. As we hope was obvious from the show, our main interest was in creating new characters for each sketch. (2) Right now they're just hoping not to lose money on the first one. So buy more copies!

In the 3rd Do You Know Where Your Children Are? skit, what is Tom saying in Spanish, or is it made up?
Tom answers: I'm saying "welcome to the United States" in Spanish. 

On the Halloween Special, in the skit with the Hebras and Manzelles, are the Manzelle's antlers supposed to fall off when he is attacked by the Boyote?
That was a mistake that happened while we were filming that we thought was funny and left it in.

Who wrote the potato chowder sketch,and has anyone in The State ever known people like that?
That sketch was an actual conversation that happened between Showalter, Joe, Ken and Tom at the MTV cafeteria one day. They typed it out right after lunch.

I was looking at The State episode guide, and noticed in the pilot that never aired, some titles were familiar, like Chair Wresling, Hormones, and Sid & Nancy. Are they the same sketches that were in later 1st season episodes?
Yes - although "Hormones" was reshot for the series.

Was that actually Alice Cooper in the skit about the guy who just finds out about the word "And?" If so, how did you get him, was he a fan? Did he contact you or did you ask him?
Yes that's him, and he was in town doing something for MTV, so we grabbed him outside the MTV studio for two minutes. He told us he had seen the show and liked it.