During its 14-year run on Fox, MADtv put out some seriously strange and daring sketch comedy. The series often took things way too far, and it likely would not survive in a climate where audiences are more aware of prejudice and stereotyping in the media, even in a comedic setting. That said, when the show was firing on all cylinders - like it was with the following MADtv sketches that aged well - it was untouchable. Many of the best MADtv sketches weren't attempting to capture anything in the zeitgeist; instead, they were just trying to be funny while doing something different. Even though the series was hit-or-miss, the audience could always count on being surprised.
Many of these funny MADtv sketches feature cast members who went on to find major fame, and it's fun to watch the actors and comedians work out their kinks before rocketing to stardom.
MADtv cold opens were often Trojan horses for weird comedy. In this post-Thanksgiving episode opener, Keegan Michael-Key is trying to warm up the crowd when Crista Flanagan shows up, bloody and bruised from a Black Friday expedition. "But look, I got a thumb" may be one of the greatest lines ever uttered on television.
Through the character Angela, Stephnie Weir tapped into the mind of a teenage know-it-all to create a snapshot of the awkward nightmare that is being 13 and weird. This sketch shows the character at her most pathetic, which makes for riveting television.
This early parody of late-night infomercials showed the unnecessary and nefarious side effects of buying DIY products like the Hair Made and the Flowbee.
The story of King Henry being thrown forward in time so he could learn how to be a nice person is so weird that it dares you not to laugh. By the time Henry murders his boss, the audience is fully on board with the sketch's absurdity.