Comedy Central is a channel that lives up to its name. It airs original programming, movies, stand-up specials, and TV reruns all day long. The channel also has a history of pushing the limits on what content is acceptable to air.
The History of Comedy Central
When it launched in 1991, Comedy Central did not enjoy early success. Programs like “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and “Politically Incorrect” sustained the network for a few years, but relatively few people had access to the network. It needed a critically acclaimed show to reach more TV subscribers.
“The Daily Show” launched in 1996, but it wasn’t until Jon Stewart began hosting the nightly satirical news program in 1998 that it really took off. Combined with the unexpected success of “South Park,” the two shows suddenly made Comedy Central a must-have TV channel. The network finally passed the 50 percent market penetration point in 1998.
Early in 2009, Comedy Central began providing content in HD. Most new Comedy Central episodes are available in 1080i resolution, and older episodes of “South Park” have also been edited to fit a 16:9 display ratio.
Top Comedy Central Shows
In the past 15 years, Comedy Central has aired more than a dozen hit shows like “Chappelle’s Show” and “Reno 911!” Annual roasts of popular celebrities are also popular as are stand-up specials from comedians like Jeff Dunham and Christopher Titus.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
“The Daily Show” under Jon Stewart is far different from the show under Craig Kilborn, the previous host. Once Jon Stewart began hosting in 1998, “The Daily Show” shifted its focus to timely political topics.
Today, the show airs new half-hour episodes Monday to Thursday and focuses mainly on the hot political topics of the day. The 2012 election cycle provided plenty of comedic material for Jon Stewart and the show’s other personalities.
“The Daily Show” doesn’t shy away from calling out other news personalities for their shenanigans as Jon Stewart is a strong and vocal proponent of hard journalism. Unfortunately for the news media, his coverage of their shows does not paint a flattering picture. However, it does provide fresh comedy gold on a nightly basis.
The Colbert Report
Stephen Colbert was a popular correspondent for “The Daily Show” from 1997 to 2005 and used his experience to host his own nightly show, “The Colbert Report.” Unlike “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report” is a satirical take on political pundit shows. On his own show, Stephen Colbert continues to play the character he had originally developed while on “The Daily Show” and takes it to a new level.
Stephen Colbert plays a hyper-conservative pundit and regularly likens himself to Bill O’Reilly, whom he fondly calls “Papa Bear.” While a typically “The Daily Show” episode will feature several segments from other correspondents, Stephen Colbert exclusively hosts each episode of “The Colbert Report.”
Now in season 16, “South Park” continues to attract over 3 million viewers an episode. For an animated series, the only other series that attract similar audiences are “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.”
Most episodes feature stand-alone stories with little to no continuity between shows or seasons, but the show has had several multi-episode story arcs including “Go God Go” and “Imaginationland,” the latter of which won an Emmy.
“South Park” uses crude language and cartoon violence to great effect. A long-running gag on the show was to murder Kenny, one of the four main characters, in new and shocking ways over and over. At the start of each episode, Kenny would reappear as if nothing had happened.
“Tosh.0” is a newcomer to Comedy Central’s schedule. Featuring amateur videos of shocking or funny incidents found online, Daniel Tosh’s show was inevitable following the rise of the Internet generation.
Like many other Comedy Central shows, “Tosh.0” is willing to push the boundaries of shocking content on television, but with nearly 3 million viewers per episode, Daniel Tosh’s formula appears to be working.
Common videos featured on “Tosh.0” include people attempting dangerous stunts and embarrassing amateur performances. In many episodes, Daniel Tosh will confront the people who made fools of themselves online and offer them a second chance to get it right.