Mr. Show

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Bob Odenkirk and David Cross


"Hey everybody, it's Bob and David!"


Mr Show was a highly influential sketch comedy show starring and written by Bob Odenkirk and David Cross. The show aired on HBO for four seasons in the mid-to-late 90's. It is noted for its edgy, cynical, and oftentimes cruel sense of humor as well as the way the sketches would transition into each other, much like an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus. The show filled its ranks with performers and writers from the alternative comedy scene, and served as a career springboard for many up-and-coming comedians. The show never obtained a great deal of popularity, and was eventually dumped into a poor time slot before getting canceled. However, the show earned a loyal cult following and has proved to be one of the more influential comedy shows in recent decades.

After its cancellation, the show was spun off into the feature film Run Ronnie Run, starring one of its recurring characters. The film spent years in Development Hell before getting dumped straight to video.

Tropes used in Mr. Show include:
  • Authority in Name Only: One sketch is opened with a ribbon-cutting by the Mayor of Television.
  • Biting the Hand Humor: The commercials that Bob and David made to advertise their new time slot of Mondays at midnight criticize the shittiness of the slot.
    • In one commercial, David asserts that the show will try to infiltrate the homes of Americans while they aren't watching. "Mondays at midnight! A busy work night when everyone's asleep. Who watches television on Mondays at midnight? Exactly!"
    • In another, Bob and David try to decide when they'll get together to create Mr Show. David suggests Monday at midnight, and Bob likes it, because that way it will be "just for us!"
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Just about every other sketch. Each episode begins with the hosts addressing the audience, which quickly gets sidetracked into the first sketch. In the first episode of the series, David transitions almost seamlessly from his dialogue in a sketch to start bitching about the poor location that HBO gave them to tape their show, then transitions right back into his sketch dialogue.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The "package" at the beginning and end of "Rudy Will Await Your Foundation."
    • A lot of the episodes contain jokes which seem to tail off without an ending, only for the ending to burst into another sketch later in an episode.
    • At the opening of one episode, David Cross grabs a banana and jokes, "Hey, who wants a banana?" as a pointless aside. At the end of the episode, some space apes watch the opening and freak out when David waves the banana around.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In a rare sketch comedy example, the swear jar from "Please Don't Kill Me".
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • John Baptiste Philouza.
    • Also, F.F. Woodycooks. Now who wants ice cream?
  • Completely Missing the Point: NAMBLA isn't a bad organization... because they don't have serial killers as members.
  • Crossover Punchline: A stereotypical 80's comedian introduced in an episode is shown on an episode of Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist doing the show's typical shtick of having a comedian deliver some of his punchlines at a psychiatry session.
  • Dead Baby Comedy: Broadcast on HBO, the show pushed the envelope of taste on many occasions.
  • DVD Commentary: The show's DVDs all contain creator commentaries. Many of them feature the cast members performing impromptu bits in various characters.
  • Fantastic Racism: "Racist in the Year 3,000" is about the last white human in the universe, who's equally racist against all manner of aliens because they're not white either.
  • Finger in the Mail: Parodied in a sketch in which a kidnapper calls the wealthy father of the boy he's kidnapped and demands to know whether he received his son's toe in the mail to prove his serious intent. Except he forgot to mail the toe. And he appears to have accidentally removed his own toe, instead of one of the kid's. And he's already released the kid. And the police are able to track his call while he's dithering about all of this. The kidnapper ends up trying to sell the father his own toe for $50.00. Obviously, he's not a very effective kidnapper.
  • Global Ignorance: In the pilot episode, David reveals that Bob believes that there are only five U.S. states, and one of them is called "Chim-Cham." In another episode, a group of kids on an MTV show claim to have traveled all over the world, showing a crayon map of the places they have gone. The "world" is in the shape of the continental United States, divided up into countries such as "Germany" and "Europe."
  • Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death: The Return of the Curse of the Creature's Ghost!
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck: Used in the "Pallies" sketch in a parody of when movies are edited for television.

Anthony: "I'll tell you what, the both of yous can grab one of my BOOKS and MOTHER-FATHERS, CHINESE DENTIST"

  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Tom Kenny, before becoming a well known voice actor, was a regular cast member.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug: In a sketch, an undercover police officer uses a variety of very poorly disguised cameras and microphones in an attempt to bust a criminal.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: A few sketches. One in which the only survivor of a plane crash reveals that he ate all of the other survivors only hours after they landed. In another episode, a popular restaurant chain is revealed to be selling human meat.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Incredibly self-aware, many of its jokes were based on mocking the common tropes.
  • Leather Man: One sketch features a band playing Fire Island, with an audience completely consisting of leather men.
  • Look, Ma! I'm on TV!: In an award show, one of the presenters, who is stationed in the audience, suddenly becomes amazed when he can see himself and his fellow presenters on the big screen. He begins shouting and waving at the presenters onstage trying to get them to acknowledge him.
  • Method Acting: Parodied in a season 1 sketch where a reporter (Odenkirk) highlights an actor (Cross) who spent months studying crowds for an extra part in a crowd scene, attended medical school for two years to play a doctor with one line in a Mel Brooks film and has now had the frontal lobe of his brain removed and replaced with bubble wrap to play a lobotomized mental patient as realistically as possible.
  • The Musical: One episode includes an entire musical based on an old traveling salesman joke.
  • Overly Long Gag: The Everest sketch involves a character repeatedly falling into some shelves and knocking over his mother's thimble collection, again and again and again. In the commentary, the cast recalls how agonizing it was to reset the stage each time.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Sarah Silverman, Jack Black, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Paul F Tompkins, and Brian Posehn all got their start here. Also somewhat applicable to David Cross and Bob Odenkirk. The show also features the very first appearance of Puscifer, Maynard James Keenan's avant garde side project band.
  • Rock Opera: Parodied with Jeepers Creepers, "The Biggest Failure in Broadway History."
  • Scary Black Man: The Men's Club of Allah.

"When you need security, look for the symbol of the friendly, scary black man. The Men's Club of Allah."

  • Sketch Comedy: A serviceable representation of the genre.
  • Smug Snake: William Vanlandingham III, leader of the fat kid's camp and enemy of the Dalai Lama.
  • Space Jews: Menocu in "Racist in the Year 3,000," though he insists that he's only half Jewish.
  • Strawman Product: Used a number of times in various parody ads.
    • In one ad war, a mom-and-pop grocery store is repeatedly slandered by a massive corporate chain, which insinuates that rats infest the produce and your children will get kidnapped by white slavers.
    • Another ad campaign for Mayostard, a bottled mayo-and-mustard combo, goes to absurd lengths to suggest that getting sandwich spreads from two different bottles is an unbearable waste of time and effort. Then a competing product, Mustardayonnaise, enters the picture. Then the post-credits gag introduces Mustmayostardayonnaise, because having to apply Mayostard and Mustardayonnaise is such an enormous time sink, it will cause you to miss your daughter growing up, graduating college, and then growing older than you and dying.
  • Tech Marches On: Party tapes, DAT players, and probably more.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: Outside the studio is a sign saying "TV Taping in progress; Shut up, bitch!"
  • Title Drop: The title of each episode is actually a line from the show that the writers select on a whim. However, sometimes the line is from a sketch that gets cut from the actual episode. The show also uses its own name very often due to its self-referential comedy.
  • Too Hot for TV: Parodied with "The Car Wash Change Thief Action Squad: Too Hot For TV".
  • Transparent Closet:
    • Wyckyd Sceptre, who insist that having all-male orgies is not gay at all, it's just a party.
    • In another sketch, a "Scared Straight" councilor appears repeatedly on a Christian chat show to talk about his most recent lapse into "homosinuality".