22 August 2007

The Comedy Channel

I miss this show. I know its out on DVD but I never really cared for those TV-DVD's for some reason. I guess because I know I'd never sit down and watch them.

But MST3K was the first show that really hit home with my wit and humour. My dad and I would watch this for hours and hours and crack up. They made every joke we would've made. It was awesome.

Most cats don't remember before it became "Comedy Central" it was "The Comedy Channel" which basically started out as like MTV for comedy. They'd play little clips of stand-up comedians like videos and they had hosts and sketch comedy shows in the middle of it all like VJ's.

Most of these shows were so raw and budget; I was hooked. It was like the dawn of cable television; the ground floor! Honestly, 'twas très exciting.

The Comedy Channel had MST3K of course, but they also had The Higgins Boys and Gruber which was awesome; they had Night After Night with Alan Havey, which was like Comedy Central's First Talk Show. This was 1989. Shit was hectic. It was like clubhouse broadcasting... they were making shit up as they went along and you could feel it through the TV. It was really an exciting time.

From a gushing Alan Havey fansite:

"The first incarnation of the channel was composed of an MTV-like plethora of hosts. Rachel Sweet had her show, The Sweet Life.

The Higgins Boys and Gruber hung out in a kitchen (where they drank massive amounts of coffee) and talked in between airings of episodes of Supercar and Clutch Cargo.

Tommy Sledge, Private Eye was an anachronistic look at hard-boiled detective stories. Oh, and his show aired old Batman serials too.

Then there was Rich Hall's Onion World (he was the Sniglets guy), a skewed look at the world around us.

And, of course, there was Allan Havey. Night After Night was on for 3 hours, since all the hosts did VJ duty, introducing video clips from the latest comedy film out in theaters, or some classic comedy routine from Monty Python. But, there was something about Allan. He had the late shift. His set was the most intimate one on the network. When guests started getting booked on the show, the intimacy remained. His studio audience consisted of one person, who soon became known as the Audience (or Audient) of One."

Clockwise from top left, Steve Higgins, Gruber and Dave Higgins (The Higgins Boys & Gruber), Tommy Sledge, Rachel Sweet and Allan Havey are hosts of regularly scheduled weekday programs on The Comedy Channel, HBO's new 24 hour basic cable service.
Photo: Mark Selger. 1989

The Comedy Channel eventually merged with then rival comedy network HA! to become Comedy Central. Out of the many original shows the Comedy Channel had on its roster, only two managed to survive this merge relatively intact. One was the venerable Mystery Science Theater 3000. The other was Alan Havey's Night After Night.

Someone really needs to write a book about this channel and how it got started and what it became...

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