Like a lot of the lists we do here at Paste, this one could have been at least five times as long as it is. That’s just how good Mr. Show was and remains to be. The short-lived HBO sketch show from the late ‘90s was destined to be a cult favorite considering the network’s inability to keep it in a regular time slot or really understand how to promote it.
At the same time, the folks at HBO also gave creators Bob Odenkirk and David Cross complete artistic control, letting them try anything they wanted to. With that spirit and the help of their many talented friends, the two left behind an amazing legacy, with four seasons worth of smart, riotous sketch work that has inspired a new generation of comedy talent. And by all accounts, the pair’s new Netflix series W/ Bob & David is going to be a continuation and deepening of their place in the comedy firmament.
With the debut of this new series today, we decided to take a look back and choose our 10 favorite sketches from Bob & David’s first run as showrunners together. As it should be, we could easily have swapped out each one of these sketches with a dozen or more different bits from Mr. Show, but for today, these are the best of the bunch.
10. “Goodbye” (Season 4, Episode 10)
A sadly apropos sketch as it came at the very last episode of the final season of Mr. Show. Again, a simple situation—in this case, two old friends parting ways and then running into each other again after they’ve said their farewells—escalates and escalates into something strange and sublimely funny.
9. “Lie Detector” (S03E03)
What sells this relatively lightweight sketch about a job interview that involves a lie detector and an applicant who has had the most unbelievable life experiences is that rapport between the five men performing in it. Cross, Odenkirk, Tompkins, Johnston and Brian Posehn look like they’re having so much fun playing out this very silly premise as a group.
8. “Megaphone Crooners” (S02E06)
As farcical and cynical as Mr. Show often was, the writers often injected a premise with a surprising amount of poignancy and heart. While most folks would point to the “Recruiters” piece from this same season, it’s even more apparent in this delightful piece that looks back at the battle for megaphone singing supremacy that went on between Dickie Crickets and Kid Jersey in the ‘20s.