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10 SHOWS THAT NEVER SHOULD HAVE LEFT COMEDY CENTRAL

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There’s a reason creative types often smear network executives as know-nothing suits. It’s because they know nothing and they wear suits. All they care about is money, and sometimes great things die because a network executive needs a new suit. Here are 10 shows on Comedy Central that absolutely ruled, but were taken away from us well before they should have been.

The Ben Show
Air dates: Feb. 28, 2013 – April 18, 2013

In 2016, Ben Hoffman released a country album that peaked at No. 9 on the U.S. Country chart. The album was titled “Redneck Shit,” which should give you a clue as to his unique brand of comedy. A Jew from Lexington, Kentucky, Hoffman premiered on Comedy Central with “The Ben Show,” a mix of sketch comedy and man-on-the-street encounters.

What made “The Ben Show” special was its unforced authenticity, basically a charmingly lackadaisical series that felt as if you were hanging out with Hoffman himself. Sometimes he brought gold (Football Coach), while other times he produced corny paleface R&B anthems about black women hugging (Black Women Hugging). At all times, however, you were on the edge of your seat waiting for the next 24-karat nugget of comedic genius.

As one unimpressed college student at the University of Michigan wrote in a column, “The format doesn’t make sense….This show doesn’t cater to immature 12-year-old boys, nor is it brimming with intellectual wit for more sophisticated audiences.” Exactly! That’s exactly right. And it’s why the show garnered cult status among jaded twenty-something humor aficionados tired of the status quo. Unfortunately, it’s also why it was canceled.

Chappelle’s Show
Air dates: January 22, 2003 – July 23, 2006
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Between 2003 and 2006, audiences — both black and white (and yellow and green and magenta) — guffawed on a weekly basis at the ingenious spectacle that was “Chappelle’s Show.” It took on cultural taboos that no one would go near, including a “Racial Draft” and recurring human interest pieces on the life and times of one Tyrone Biggums. Audiences loved it, and would laugh freely at these touchy subjects without an ounce of discomfort. But alas, it would end, because the only person uncomfortable in this equation would be Chappelle himself.

In June 2004, Chappelle was performing standup in Sacramento, CA, when audience members began chanting, “I’m Rick James, bitch!” He left the stage in a heat and said, “The show is ruining my life.” The man who seemingly solved racial issues in America was a victim of his own fame. Chappelle cited burnout, loss of creative control and an uncomfortable work environment as reasons for his departure. Plus, the 20-hour workdays, he said, took time away from his true passion of stand-up comedy.

Those who believe Chappelle went nutty and flew to Africa to cope are completely absent to the fact that Chappelle hit grand slams in every sketch, in every episode. That type of perfection is only possible through a monopoly of creative control, something he lost more and more of as his show went on. In one blogger’s opinion, me, Chappelle simply didn’t want to tarnish the masterpiece he created, and instead of continuing down a path of creative surrender, he booked it.

Important Things With Demetri Martin
Air dates: Feb. 11, 2009 – April 15, 2010

When it premiered in 2009, “Important Things with Demetri Martin” raked in 2.4 million viewers, the greatest turnout since 2003 when “Chappelle’s Show” drew 2.5 million. So why, oh why, did Comedy Central cancel it after its second season? Because they’re assholes, that’s why.

Only Martin’s unorthodox, heady brand of comedy could produce such an unconventional show. Basically, it was “The Jeselnik Offensive” with brains. Each show had a theme, or “important thing,” and sketches were in the form of vignettes. In an interview, Martin offered his thoughts on the show’s cancellation: “It wasn’t so tough because even after the first season, I was exhausted and wasn’t sure I wanted to keep doing it. It was 80 hours a week and I made it harder for myself because I wanted to put so many segments in each episode.” One must wonder how Daniel Tosh is able to do it if a Yale graduate couldn’t.

Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time
Air dates: Oct. 12, 2010 – Nov. 16, 2011
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“I regret to inform everyone Pretend Time is over. The ratings were solid but it was too expensive for the network and tough creatively. I thank all who supported it.” – Nick Swardson via Facebook, 2012

If a show produced by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions featuring a cocaine-addicted cat, a gay robot and a masturbating sniper can’t survive the death clutches of Comedy Central, where’s the hope for anyone else? Following the standard format of Comedy Central sketch shows, Swardson began each episode with his gregarious goober standup routine and proceeded to feature sketches bordering on the absurd. If you like “Grandma’s Boy,” it has the same feel — gross, immature, and undeniably awesome.

The Man Show
Air dates: June 16, 1999 – June 19, 2004

In the summer of 1999, two unapologetic louts by the names of Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel captured testosterone-addled hearts everywhere with juggies and beer. But juggies and beer weren’t the only redeeming qualities of “The Man Show.” Who could forget Kimmel and Carolla campaigning to end women’s suffrage? And what about Bill Foster, the legendary beer drinker who would down a pint in less than two seconds? And that talking deer on the hood of a car?

Featuring live pranks and sketches, “The Man Show” was the impetus for catapulting two hairy assholes to national stardom. The show could’ve gone on, but Kimmel had higher ambitions, as he told the Observer in 2002, “The idea that I am this guy who runs around snapping people in the ass with a towel, that’s not really me. I like to think there is a little more to me than that. I know there is.” It’s a shame, but “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” remains freshly edgy to this day and in 2011, “The Adam Carolla Show” became the most downloaded podcast of all time.

Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn
Air dates: Dec. 9, 2002 – Nov. 4, 2004
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In New York City, there’s a standup club called the Comedy Cellar. In the Comedy Cellar, there’s a legendary table where all the regulars sit and rip each other to pieces. It’s basically a rite of passage for newbies, but a veritable home for comedians like Jim Norton, Nick DiPaolo, Hannibal Burress, and the late, great Greg Giraldo and Patrice O’Neal. This table, and the conversations held there, inspired Colin Quinn’s one and only show on Comedy Central.

Unpolished, unrehearsed, and as a result, controversial as hell, “Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn” was basically Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect” with balls. Guests spoke of race and politics without a hint of fear, often berating each other until Quinn stepped in to right the ship. Sometimes stars like George Carlin and Jerry Seinfeld showed up, but the panel usually included DiPaolo, Giraldo, Norton, O’Neal, Rich Vos, Keith Robinson and Judy Gold. As is the case with most brash and racy shows, it was canceled due to battles with network executives over content issues.

Insomniac with Dave Attell
Air dates: Aug. 5, 2001 – Nov. 11, 2004

One could consider Dave Attell a degenerate Anthony Bourdain, a man whose show “Insomniac” involved traveling to more than 40 American cities and partying with the locals. After performing sets, Attell would head out with a camera crew and hit up clubs, bars and landmarks. Rumor has it he canceled the show himself to avoid getting too popular, so that he could remain unrecognized in order to continue mingling with normies without pretense.

Reno 911!
Air dates: July 23, 2003 – July 8, 2009
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Lieutenant Jim Dangle was at the helm, and the rest were a ragtag crew of inept Nevada officers wholly incompetent at even arresting a paraplegic pedophile. Mockumentary-style, “Reno 911!” was a satire of “Cops” starring comic actors. Like “Cops,” it dealt with subjects like race, substance abuse, mental disorders, sexual orientation and rape. Little do many know, it was mostly improvised with very little scripting. In 2009, Thomas Lennon announced via Twitter that Comedy Central had canceled the show, stating, “Won’t be wearing the shorts again.”

Key & Peele
Air dates: Jan. 31, 2012 – Sept. 9, 2015

After watching “Luther, Barack Obama’s Anger Translator,” the president himself replied, “It’s pretty good stuff — it’s good stuff.” But it isn’t like ex-MADtv cast members Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele needed the endorsement. They already won critical acclaim and Emmy nominations — not to mention a Peabody Award — for “Key & Peele.”

The show was the first to utilize YouTube as a conduit for advertising without giving a hoot, putting nearly every sketch on the medium. Some sketches, like Substitute Teacher above, received tens of millions of views. In 2015, the duo was canceled. Not because they didn’t have a choice, but because they decided to move on.

The Burn with Jeff Ross
Air dates: Aug. 14, 2012 – Feb. 5, 2013
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Jeff Ross is something of an enigma. He’s basically anonymous, but he kills every time he’s live on TV. It makes you wonder why he’s anonymous until you look at his face. In 2012, “The Burn with Jeff Ross” premiered, and as expected, it featured Ross’ specialty of roasting everyone and anything. It involved segments such as “Speed Roasting,” where audience members requested to be roasted, and “Friendly Fire,” where Ross and his panel of comedians would sling zingers in hopes to break each other. Surprisingly good, “The Burn with Jeff Ross” ended in early 2013 with a 7.8/10 rating on IMDB.

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