Mad TV

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A Sketch Comedy show that aired on FOX on Saturday nights at 11:00 Eastern Standard Time [1]. It was on the air for 14 seasons, running from 1995 to 2009 on the FOX Network. The show was based on Mad Magazine despite having next to nothing to do with it after the third season.

The show, after serving 14 years as Saturday Night Live's rival, was canceled by FOX in 2009, citing low ratings. There have been claims that the show will seek new life on cable TV, though, as of 2012, the only evidence of a Mad TV revival on cable is in the form of a Cartoon Network animated sketch show called MAD, which, unlike its live-action predecessor, is a little more faithful to the source material and is set up as a 15-minute show allegedly for children.

Mad TV aired in reruns on Comedy Central and the Canadian sister channel Comedy Network until 2010.

Unrelated to the simulation computer game.

Tropes used in Mad TV include:
  • Acme Products - All the useless or dangerous products provided by Spishak Industries.
  • Air Guitar - A shop sold those. A thief failed to steal one used by Jimi Hendrix.
    • There was also a reality show parody about wannabe rockers who practice air guitar
  • Artifact Title: The show never had much to do with Mad Magazine to begin with, but at least they tried at first (the Spy vs. Spy animated sketches, Alfred E. Neuman prominently appearing in the opening titles). Before long, though, even these token references were dropped.
  • Balancing Death's Books - in one sketch.
  • Bloody Hilarious - The occurring trope in sketches involving Paul Timberman.
  • Butt Monkey - Bobby Lee's Yamanashi (in the Coach Hines sketches), the models in the QVC Fashion show sketches (though they do fight back against the commentators who insult them), and any character played by Crista Flanagan.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke - The entire premise of Crista Flanagan's Luann Lockhart, the amateur stand-up comedian who has no idea how to tell a joke.
  • Casting Gag - One episode had Christopher Meloni play a resident of a gated community at a community meeting... who also happened to be a serial groper harassing one of the female residents.
  • Clip Show: Much like SNL, this show had episodes highlighting the best moments of the series. Unlike SNL, there weren't many of them and they seemed to come on during the show's final two seasons (except for Mad TV's "Best of Seasons 8, 9, and 10, which was a DVD-exclusive release). The Clip Show episodes were:
    • Mad TV Ruined My Life: The Sketches That Shocked A Nation: A highlight of the show's raunchiest and most outrageous sketches (set up like an episode of The Jerry Springer Show). Also includes information on a deleted sketch from season one called Schindler's Lost that was Too Hot for TV and can now be seen on the Internet.
    • Survivor MAD: A highlight of the show's best TV show parodies
    • I Want My Mad TV: A highlight of the show's best celebrity- and pop culture-based sketches.
    • Mad TV's Most Wanted: A highlight of the show's best recurring character sketches.
    • Dirty, Sexy Politics: A highlight of the show's political and history-based sketches
    • MADtv's Best of Holiday Sketches Spectacularly Special Spectacular: A highlight of Christmas-themed sketches
  • Comic Book Time - 11 years of Stuart sketches, and yet his father always left the family "last Tuesday".
  • Dead Baby Comedy / Gallows Humor- Had it sparingly in the first couple seasons, but was packed with it from season 3 to the end.
  • Deadpan Snarker - Nicole Sullivan as the Vancome Lady and Michael McDonald as Marvin Tikvah
  • Flanderization - Bobby Lee. Initially, his skits simly involve him getting into awkward situations. He gradually becomes awkwardness incarnate.
  • Fun with Acronyms - The Kappa Kappa Kappa Sorority
  • Gayngster: The topic of a sketch in which two gangsters are trying to drive each other out of town, but one of them is freaked out when the other makes repeated sexual advances at him during their fight. At the end it's revealed that both of them are gay. The first gangster was just concerned that the other was still involved with another guy.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper - Keegan-Michael Key's Coach Hines (the psycho Catholic school gym teacher who's actually the heir to the Heinz ketchup company, but gave up that life so he can help out delinquent students).
  • I Thought Everyone Could Do That - Rusty Miller
  • Kill the Poor - One sketch had the mayor of a town addressing the press to reveal his new plan for dealing with the poor. He would give them all virtual reality helmets that would show them everything they ever wanted, allowing them to live out their lives in peace. The test subject they put one on sees a beautiful woman in the distance, holding a steak dinner and a bottle of booze. He runs towards her, which leads him into traffic where he is killed by an oncoming truck. It concludes with the mayor declaring "And that's how we'll eliminate the homeless ... problem."
  • Long Runners - At 14 seasons, this show is considered Saturday Night Live's longest-running rival sketch show.
  • Modern Minstrelsy - Ms. Swan
    • Some of the sketches featuring the black cast members do fall under this (like "Real Motherf***ing Talk" and BET's "Reality Check").
  • Pixellation - There's a sketch where a man visits the doctor, complaining that his genitals are blurred. The doctor tells him that it's normal for network TV characters to experience pixellation on their breasts, genitals, rear ends, and middle fingers.
  • Refuge in Vulgarity - Played for Laughs with Emcee Esher's "----- In The ------".
  • Sadist Show
  • Save Our Students: Parodied in the sketch "Nice White Lady", which features Nice White Lady teaching in an inner city school where everybody hates her because she's white.
  • Shallow Parody - Around the Turn of the Millennium, Mad TV started making The Price Is Right parodies. By this time, Bob Barker had been hosting the show for over 30 years, so they decided to parody what the show would have been like in the 1970s and the 1980s, if it were filled to the brim with topical references. In reality, of course, The Price Is Right changed so little during Barker's lengthy tenure that the most visible change in 35+ years was his hair colour (from brown to white).
  • Shirley Template: A sketch in Mad TV had parodies of both Temple and Bill Robinson in "The Littlest Hoochie", taking place in a high school setting.
  • Sketch Comedy
  • Subverted Kids Show - CLOPS (where cartoon characters and childhood figures are arrested for various crimes), The Power-Slut Girls (a Powerpuff Girls parody featuring Tara Reid, Brittany Murphy, and Paris Hilton as crimefighting media whores -- now a Funny Aneurysm Moment due to Brittany Murphy's death), the parodies of the Rankin-Bass Christmas specials (Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town) that always seem to be crossed with violent Mafia films, like The Godfather and Scarface (the 1983 version with Al Pacino), Dennis The Menace To Society, the one-shot sketch The Ring-A-Rounds (a Wiggles parody that put a happy spin on such topics as divorce, post-partum depression, living with alcoholic parents, foster care, and childhood obesity) and the Sesame Street parodies they did during the last few years of the show that dealt with such kid-unfriendly topics as avian flu, childhood obesity, plastic surgery, America's economic decline, sexual predators on the Internet, and Donald Trump's greed.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Smith Comma John is totally not an alien.
  • This Trope Is Bleep - Aries Spears played a character called "Emcee Esher", a rapper whose music was so heavily censored on MTV that it consisted almost entirely of bleeps for offensive language.
  • Triage Tyrant - Nicole Sullivan, as the "Vancome lady", a nurse. She kept turning people away for stupid reasons. They'd describe their emergency and she'd explain, in chirpy tones, why they should head down the street. The only one I remember was a hemophiliac who was told that Sisters of Mercy didn't support that lifestyle... Link to the episode (until it's removed)
  • Uncle Tomfoolery - Played straight with Bobby Lee (the show's only Asian cast member, as Bobby Lee is Korean-American) and just about any character played by Debra Wilson. Even when playing Condoleeza Rice she starts to act like Bunifa.
  • Wishful Projection: "The Average Asian", in which a completely ordinary Asian guy is expected to act like an Asian stereotype.
  1. a full 30 minutes before Saturday Night Live, a fact that was lampshaded on a "MADtv" cold opening sketch where George W. Bush [played by Will Sasso] calls out SNL's Chris Kattan for his movie "Corky Romano"