Comedy Central is a cable television channel in the United States. As its name implies, the channel carries predominantly comedy programming, both original and syndicated. While once a small cable network that few watched, in recent years it has grown to be one of the most popular cable channels, earning the praise of many entertainment-based media along the way.
Comedy Central began on April Fool's Day 1991, after Home Box Office, owned by Time Warner, merged its Comedy Channel with MTV Networks' HA! comedy channel, owned by Viacom. Viacom bought Time Warner's half in April 2003 for $1.225 billion. When the merged channel first aired, it was known as Comedy TV or CTV for short, but trademark issues with the Canadian network CTV forced the name change to Comedy Central.
With the exception of cult favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000, the channel had a relatively small viewership until South Park premiered on the then-fledgling channel in 1997. As word of mouth spread, the number of people who requested that Comedy Central be added to their cable systems increased, and the channel became available in over 50% of American homes by 1998.
Much of Comedy Central's programming consists of 1980s through mid-1990s comedy movies and stand up comedians. Once a week, they show an unedited movie or comedy special. They call this the "Secret Stash." They advertise that it comes on Saturdays at 1 AM, though technically it airs Sunday at 1 AM, not Saturday. Comedy Central also hosts original programming, including Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, a satirical half-hour "fake news" show poking fun at modern-day media and politics.
In late 2004, it was reported that the top four rated shows on Comedy Central, in order, were the following.
South Park is an animated series created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Distributed by and airing on Comedy Central since 1997, it follows the surreal adventures of four young boys who live in the small town of South Park, Colorado. South Park satirizes many aspects of American culture and current events, and challenges deepset convictions and taboos, usually using parody and black humor.
Chappelle's Show begins with Dave doing a short stand-up which serves to introduce the upcoming skit in front of a live audience and then moves into a pre-recorded skit where the screen is on Dave's left. The show was famous for its handling of the topic of race, with Chappelle casually using the word "nigger" and the way that many skits dealt with race in relations to such concepts such as politics, the entertainment industry, anti-celebrity, and music, all in a comedic way with a touch of surrealism.
The Daily Show is a half-hour satirical news program produced by and run on the Comedy Central cable television network in the United States.
Reno 911- the show features the members of a fictional Washoe County, Nevada sheriff's department (based in Reno), who are videotaped by a camera operator during the course of their duties, sometimes addressing the camera directly as though being interviewed. The joke, of course, is that they are terrible cops who cheat, lie, drink, steal, plant evidence, brutalize citizens and display general incompetence at their jobs. The force also has problems with racism, unrequited attractions, promiscuity, passive-aggressive feuds, drug use, and other dysfunctional troubles that supply a lot of the show's humor. The show is not written with specific lines for the actors to say; rather, they are given general guidelines and improvise the details. This enhances the illusion of reality. This is called "retroscripting".
Shortly thereafter, Dave Chappelle recived a gift show but famously backed out of the anticipated third season of Chappelle's Show; meanwhile, The Daily Show continued to climb in ratings. In October 2005, on the occasion of a new three-year contract for South Park and the launch of The Colbert Report, it was reported that South Park and The Daily Show were the two highest rated shows on Comedy Central. Comedy Central chief Doug Herzog was reported as saying that he hoped to continue to air new seasons of South Park forever; and that The Colbert Report fulfilled a long-held plan to extend the Daily Show brand.