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From unknowns to not-quite household names, The State comedy troupe reunites for Denver show

MTV helped launch their careers 30 years ago
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Posted at 10:20 AM, Aug 29, 2023

DENVER — They may not be “household” names by Hollywood standards, but comedy fans are familiar with the work of Thomas Lennon, Ken Marino, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Joe Lo Truglio, Michael Ian Black, David Wain, Kevin Allison, and Michael Patrick Jann.

The actors started performing together as students at NYU in 1988. That eventually led to a sketch comedy show on MTV called “The State” in the mid-90’s. Now they’re reuniting for a 30th anniversary show at the Paramount Theatre in Denver on August 30.

“I love all these people, except one of them,” said Ken Marino, during an interview with Denver7. Michael Patrick Jann quickly chimed in, “the person he doesn’t love is himself.”

The rest of the interview was pretty much more of the same, with the longtime friends cracking jokes, often about how famous, or not famous, some of them are.

“One of the blessings about The State as a comedy group is that everyone from the group ended up getting so busy with film and television that it’s very hard to get us back together again, because everyone’s on a million projects... especially Ken,” said Thomas Lennon, referencing Marino.

Lennon is actually among the most recognizable from the group, having starred as Lt. Jim Dangle in Comedy Central’s “Reno 911.” All of the former members of “The State” have long lists of credits on IMDB.

Ironically, the reason they’re able to perform together right now is that none of them can work in productions, because of the Screen Actors Guild strike.

“There’s not a lot that we can do right now besides being on the picket lines, which we’re doing and that’s all great, but to be able to have this time where we can do theater together is a blessing,” said Kenney-Silver.

"The State" comedy troupe reunites for show in Denver

David Wain pointed to the similarities between working on an MTV show 30 years ago to the state of the industry now.

“At the time MTV hadn’t done a lot of programming, and we were non-union from top to bottom and had no protection of any kind and so they were able to pay us literally anything they want,” Wain said.

A portion of the proceeds from Wednesday night’s show at the Paramount will go to a fund for striking actors. The performance will feature some references to old sketches from the MTV series, as well as new comedy, music and even some dancing, judging by Monday’s rehearsal.

“It feels like we’re prepping a show back at NYU, like we’re in one of those black box rooms getting ready all over again,” said Kevin Allison, before Lennon grabbed the microphone and added “well less of us smoke now, at the time about 90 percent of the group was chain smokers.”

The State: Breakin’ Hearts and Dippin’ Balls Tour is at Denver’s Paramount Theatre Wednesday, August 30 at 8pm.


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