I Wanna Be Literated #221

I Wanna Be Literated #221

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Mr Show: What Happened
Naomi Odenkirk

You want to know the impact Mr Show has had on the comedy world? Well, think of your favorite sketch comedy during or after the 90s and it’s a given that Mr Show has had a huge impact on them. It’s just one of those shows that came together with the right writers, at the right time, and the right talent to really make it special. And after a decade of staleness from SNL, it helped redefine what good sketch comedy could do. As the cast itself to joke, their alternative comedy was their gift to the world.

Mr Show was a cult favorite, beloved by comedians and critics, and was so good that it had no chance of surviving. Nothing this good can. Throughout its four years, it aired an impressive 30 episodes on a shoestring budget, and was shuffled around through HBOs schedule because they simply had no idea what to do with it. It’s a show that has gotten a ton of attention now that it’s gone, which is why Mr Show: What Happened? is such a cool book. It manages to analyze something important while there’s still a chance (i.e. before anyone important has died).

Mr Show: What Happened? is researched and written by Naomi Odenkirk, wife of writer and star Bob Odenkirk, and is definitely thorough in its approach. Throughout this book, Odenkirk (Naomi, that is) paints a picture of how Mr Show came to be, its many previous iterations, and the various struggles and successes throughout its run. She also provides biographies on all the writers, producers, directors, and actors involved with the show, including a short summary of each episode and its sketches. The funnest part, however, is the commentary on the episodes as select cast and crewmembers give little anecdotes on various sketches and provide a fun insider account with fun and informative facts. It’s actually very similar to the audio commentary on the DVDs of the show which, as I’ve always said, are sometimes almost as funny as the show itself.

Naomi Odenkirk has put together an exhaustive analysis of a great show that has stayed relevant decades after it went away and still manages to inspire comedians. For fans, it’s an absolute goldmine of trivia and facts and, as all biographies should do, puts the show in a new perspective.

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