Viacom, the company that owns MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central, has been responsible for discovering and cultivating some of the biggest talent in entertainment, including musicians, reality stars, actors and especially comedians. However, while our record is long with great talent, we’ve also had those ill-advised moments where we’ve killed a show whose principal star then went on to be phenomenally successful and hilarious elsewhere. Whoops!
Please accept the following five encomiums as our public mea culpa.
Zach Galifianakis has become one of America’s favorite comedic stars via roles in “The Hangover,” “Dinner for Schmucks” and “Due Date.” While it’s impossible not to see his talent now, Viacom made the mistake of canceling him not once, but twice. In 2002, he hosted of his own VH1 talk show called “Late World with Zach.” It was hilarious and weird and lasted only a season. In 2006, he starred alongside Matt Walsh, A.D. Miles and Andrea Savage in the scripted/prank show “Dog Bites Man” on Comedy Central. Again, totally original, totally funny and totally lasted only one season.
It may not be “hip” to laugh at ventriloquists. However, Jeff Dunham has become one of the highest-earning comics in the world. He’s right there behind Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld, and he’s done it without a hit sitcom or movie. In 2009, Comedy Central began running “The Jeff Dunham Show.” A mixture of sketch comedy and Dunham’s stand-up, it had higher average ratings than any other show on the network, but we still canceled it after one season.
The edgy and beautiful Sarah Silverman is a favorite among comedy nerds and Hollywood elites like Matt Damon. Her Comedy Central series “The Sarah Silverman Show” earned her a Primetime Emmy nomination for her acting, something that happens rarely for the network. Unfortunately, we didn’t know how to handle the good news and canceled her show.
Paul F. Tompkins
“Best Week Ever” was a comedy staple on VH1 for five years. In 2008, the show changed up its format, making series favorite stand-up comic Paul F. Tompkins the main host. Tompkins continued being hilarious, but the show’s format change through viewers off, so we canceled the show. Now Tompkins’ dedicated fans rally on Facebook just to get their favorite comic to come to their cities.
“The Adam Carolla Podcast” is the most downloaded podcast ever. It holds the Guinness World Record with 59,574,843 unique downloads in two years. Adam Carolla has control over his fans rivaling that of Howard Stern. Unfortunately, part of the reason Carolla has so much time to work on the podcast is because we canceled him three times. His show “Loveline” ran on MTV four years before getting the ax. And on Comedy Central, his talk show “Too Late With Adam Carolla” lasted one season. “Crank Yankers,” a show he created with Jimmy Kimmel, made it four seasons.