The cult comedy group reunited at Jack Black’s Festival Supreme, and ironed out their qualms about readopting sensational characters onstage in a very unique way.
When The State reunited for Jack Black’s Festival Supreme, there hung in the air the question about bringing back famous characters from the show such as Doug the rebellious teenager and Louie with “the balls”; and at first, the 11 members of the cast were hesitant, maybe for the same reasons that Tom Petty, who has been playing the same set of radio rock songs since anyone can remember, doesn’t want to play “Last Dance with Mary Jane” or “Runnin’ Down a Dream” anymore. Why reunite just for the hits?
But then, one member of the original cast brought up a great point, playing devil’s advocate to this notion of reunions based on career high points. Todd Holoubek, the comedy group’s founding member, compared a reunion without Doug and Louie to a Billy Joel concert without “Piano Man” , saying that it would kind of be a “shitty concert”. And so, out came familiar characters, lead by Barry and Levon to appease the fans of The State, and Billy Joel’s fans as well, covering the well known song in character. Barry and Levon, who are suave singers dressed to the nines, were known on the show for their sexual ambiguity. As the verses of the song unfold, more characters that the audience of The State would easily recognize come on stage and trade off singing and substituting lyrics using their signature voices and antics to apply that good rub of comfort in knowing and recognizing what people on stage are doing. Each character is in costume. Towards the end, they’re all out there, belting away in their individually recognizable voices, reiterating the memorable catchphrases, such as “We’re gonna pump you up” and “Hello Newman” and “ We’re all in the mood for a melody..and everyone please..and I’m gonna dip my balls in it” (in character, they are actually golf balls) This is brilliant, in a way, because it gives the audience what they want, using the territory of a removed situation, such as Billy Joel concert to suggest that imagining a reunion without the hits is possible, but no one would like it.
The State was formed in the 1980s out of NYU, where Todd Holoubek had grown dissatisfied with traditional comedy group routine and sought to form a revolutionary collective with each character influencing the others. The troupe changed roster, adding and deleting different members until they found their preferred chemistry, and although they were never fully supported by the larger networks such as CBS, they gained a cult following to which they performed at the Festival Supreme to what sounded in the video like great acclaim. Members have subsequently been involved in Wet Hot American Summer, Reno 911!: Miami and I Love You Man. Check out more on the Festival Supreme, and learn more about what The State is up to.