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MADtv is a Sketch Comedy show that aired on FOX on Saturday nights at 11:00 Eastern Standard Time note  from 1995 to 2009. The show was based on MAD magazine despite having next to nothing to do with it after the third season. The show was produced for Fox by Warner Bros. Television, a sister company to MAD as Time Warner owns both.

The show, after serving 14 years as Saturday Night Live's rival, was canceled by FOX in 2009, due to low ratings, budget constraints, and the surge in popularity SNL experienced from the 2008 Presidential election.

There were claims that the show would seek new life on cable TV; this first manifested itself as the 2010-2014 Cartoon Network animated sketch show MAD. The CW delivered an actual revival of the series in 2016.

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MADtv aired in reruns on Comedy Central (as a replacement for the Saturday Night Live reruns that once aired on the channel) and the Canadian sister channel Comedy Network until 2010.

The show's first season was available on DVD under Warner Bros. label. Despite a preview for a season two DVD set, Warner Bros. stopped releasing the show due to poor sales note . In 2012, Shout! Factory swooped in and agreed to release MA Dtv's second and third seasons, with (hopefully) more seasons to come (and the iTunes Store has the last season available for anyone who wants it).

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Unrelated to the simulation computer game.


MadTV provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: The mother (Artie Lange) from "That's My White Mama!". Her husband (Orlando Jones) actually loves her dearly, but since she is a Sassy Black Woman trapped in a fat white guy's body, he's understandably grossed out by the prospect of fullfilling his marital duties.
    Wife: You promised me 'For better or worse'!
    Husband: It doesn't get any worse than this!
  • AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle: In "Mike Tyson Grill," a parody of the George Foreman Grill, "Mike Tyson" did this at times throughout the infomercial, such as pronouncing testimonials as if the "mon" rhymed with "con."
  • Acme Products: All the useless or dangerous products provided by Spishak Industries.
  • Addiction-Powered: Stan the Coffee Guy is a coffee addict, though he usually tries to fight his addiction. When he goes berserk in a coffee factory a security guard tries to take him down with a taser, but the stuff has made Stan so hyperactive that he's immune to electric jolts. The confused guard then tries tasering himself and ends up knocking himself unconscious.
  • Adventures in the Bible: Parodied in a sketch where Jesus meets the Terminator. He gets increasingly annoyed because the Terminator keeps interfering to prevent his entire Inspirational Martyr death.
  • Air Guitar:
    • A shop sold those. A thief failed to steal one used by Jimi Hendrix.
    • There was also a reality show parody about wannabe rockers who practice air guitar
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: There are quite a number of sketches making fun of inebriated people.
    • A sketch portraying a drunk man (Michael McDonald) where his perception of his own actions and dialogue is very different from what everyone else is seeing. From his perception, he sounded civil, but everyone else including his girlfriend/date (Nicole Parker) find him rude and offensive. Finally, when he encounters a policeman (Jordan Peele), he attempted to reach out for his gun and got knocked out by the policeman instead.
    • Arden Myrin act as a "wingwoman" for Bobby Lee in his attempt to get to talk to Kat Von D. The problem was: 1) In a previous sketch, Bobby Lee tried that with other girls and Arden drove them away, and 2) Arden Myrin had been drinking heavily. Bobby eventually succeeded with Kat Von D, but not without some ridiculous antics from Arden.
    • Cast member Nicole Parker had played various roles where she was seen drinking or was drunk, and got herself into ridiculous/comedic antics as a result. For instance, she played Rachael Ray who started flirting with the waiter (Jordan Peele) when she got drunk. The idiocy became obvious when one realizes that Rachael Ray is a married woman. Another instance was her playing someone who was left in a hungover state after her late night drinking, as a result screwing up her powerpoint slides and humiliating both herself and her boss (Frank Caeti).
    • Played straight and inverted when a lowly bagel maker (David Herman) goes on a bender that ends with him running for president, winning, and getting a second term. Played straight by the fact that he engages in typical drunken antics, but inverted in that he also becomes one of the greatest U.S. presidents in history (except for the fact that, naturally, alcoholism has become a huge national problem).
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: This trope was used as the main joke in a sketch, where a lipstick lesbian (Arden Myrin) believed that her new lover is a lesbian (Michael McDonald) but is in fact a heterosexual man just looking to score, while a pair of no-nonsense lesbians (Daniele Gaither and Crista Flanagan) could clearly see that "lesbian" for who "she" really is. Back then, the joke clearly wasn't about transsexuals but in today's context its actually a serious matter for discussion.
    Patty: Or maybe you are a man!
    Leslie: Why would a man pretend to be a lesbian?
    Yvonne: Uh, to get some nookie off a pretty but stupid lesbian?
  • Artifact Title:
    • The show never had much to do with MAD to begin with, but at least they tried at first (the Spy vs. Spy animated sketches, Alfred E. Neuman prominently appearing in the opening titles). Before long, though, even these token references were dropped.
    • Nicole Sullivan's Vancome Lady is one, too, referring to the place she worked for (not even all of) her initial sketch in the very first show.
  • A-Team Firing: Parodied in a skit in which a veteran cop gets a new partner who's a rookie. The veteran cop is captured by a thug wielding a blade and the rookie tries to shoot the thug, only to hit his partner... repeatedly. The veteran suggests aiming for him instead of the thug and just ends up getting shot in the nut-sack. He declares that he'd rather take his chances with the blade, which is kind of dull, but the rookie cop insists he's not letting the thug get away. The thug eventually decides to leave the scene and he walks way. The rookie "pursues," but no matter how close he gets, he can't achieve the shot and the ricochet bounces to hit the veteran. The thug picks up a penny off the ground and leaves. The rookie cop calls for medical aid for the veteran, but reaches Domino's Pizza instead.
  • Balancing Death's Books: In one sketch.
  • Big Fun: One episode had a cold open where Will Sasso announces that he lost weight — and as a result, he's not funny anymore. The solution: go on a feeding frenzy throughout the studio by eating from the craft tables, stealing from Girl Scouts, and apparently microwaving a dog. He actually microwaves some ribs and tells the dog that he can't have any.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: In one "Lillian Verner Game Show" sketch, one of the contestants (a prop comic) answers a question with "Hmm, let me see... hmm, what could it be?" while holding up a giant letter C and B. Simeon Dyson, the game show's psychotic announcer, responds by holding up a giant P and U. He then says, "We're sorry, Fox made us change it. We know it's not as funny as 'fuck you.'"
  • Black Comedy / Gallows Humor: Had it sparingly in the first couple seasons, but was packed with it from season 3 to the end. While Saturday Night Live does have its moments of morbid and politically incorrect humor, MADtv was more in-your-face with it and often went to places that not even SNL would (which is why some fans do prefer this show over SNL). The below are just a few dark examples among the many:
    • A commercial where a mother (Nicole Parker) promotes the use of RU-486 (An abortion pill) and making wistful statements about how great it would be if her daughter didn't exist.
    • Will Sasso and Bobby Lee portraying a couple of guys pretending to be gay to score with girls. Over the years, it turned out that Will Sasso's character is actually gay and is just manipulating Bobby Lee's character to continue a homosexual lifestyle with him.
    • Tony Soprano (Frank Caliendo) lost his patience with the appointed translator Bae Sung (Bobby Lee) and murdered him with the Chinese mafia's support. Bae Sung's corpse was then grounded up into meat which became part of a hamburger served to Bobby Lee himself.
    • The many "Demonstration goes awry" sketches which features either Wendy Walker, Paul Timberman or John Madden.
  • Black Comedy Rape:
  • Blackface: Believe it or not, this was used in at least one sketch - and remember this is an American show in the 21st Century. Michael McDonald put on Blackface make-up to portray a weird foreigner with special abilities.
  • Black Is Bigger in Bed: Parodied in the "Flashlight" sketch, where two white guys whose car break down try to get a flashlight to work that requires shaking it for a while in a very masturbatory fashion. When they're interrupted by two cops (one black, one asian) who think they just ran into a bunch of gays trying to get their groove on, the black cop whips out an enormous flashlight that impresses the two white guys. In what can be considered the inverse ethnic stereotype, the asian cop then presents a recharchable penlight.
  • Blaxploitation Parody: Every single one of the "Dolemite" and "Son of Dolemite" sketches, loaded to the brim with Bad "Bad Acting".
  • Bloody Hilarious: The recurring trope in sketches involving Paul Timberman.
  • The Board Game:
    • Parodied in the sketch Grand Theft Auto: The Boardgame. Misaimed Marketing at its finest: The game pieces are criminals such as drug kingpins and pimps, you can snort fake cocaine and get makeshift tattoos, and the game includes guns, drugs, and real cash for the family to fight over. Coincidentally, there was a real life board game based on Monopoly that was sort of like this: "Ghettopoly", set in an inner-city criminal neighborhood. For obvious reasons, there was a public backlash and the game was discontinued.
    • There was also a Monopoly parody they had called Welfare, in which rich people can experience what it's like to be lower-middle class.
  • Bob Ross Rib: One episode had "Drawing With Jerry", in which the artist increasingly suffers a Creator Breakdown over a nasty divorce, which affects the nature of his drawings and ultimately leads to his show getting swiftly pulled off the air.
  • Buddy Cop Show: Parodied with the "Seven Buddy Cops" sketch, which is a massive crossover starring Nick Nolte, Eddie Murphy, Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Tommy Lee Jones, and Will Smith giving shout outs to all the buddy cop movies they starred in while trying to solve the case of the dead prostitutes on the orders of Da Chief. Even Mel Gibson and Danny Glover (aka Lethal Weapon's Murtaugh and Riggs) make a cameo.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Bobby Lee's Yamanashi (in the Coach Hines sketches) and the models in the QVC Fashion show sketches (though they do fight back against the commentators who insult them).
    • Cast member Crista Flanagan often play characters who are the target of mean-spirited sketches. Examples include playing a clumsy skater who is repeatedly given a chance to make a fool of herself during an audition, playing an ugly woman who gets ridiculed by co-workers, Wendy Walker's 3 Minute Meals sketches, pretending to be a failure of a stand-up comedian through the Luann Lockhart sketches, and more.
    • Cast member Bobby Lee's habits, physical appearance and race were often a favourite target for jokes. Examples include him sleeping during morning hours on 24 parody sketches, his tendency to expose his nudity or half-nudity which occasionally disgust other characters, playing Asian stereotypes, the Blind Kungfu Master sketches, and more. Finally, he was often the metaphorical punching bag for Crista Flanagan.
    • John Madden is one in the "Quick Pop Popcorn Popper" sketch. Nothing goes right for him and he ends up getting electrocuted and burned. Driven home by the other guy in the commercial plugging in the gadget without getting shocked, and opening the butter packet with no trouble.
    • Stephnie Weir's Angela Wright when it comes to her social life among her peers. Sketches often portray her as unlikable among her peers. She was the target of bullying by football players and she thought that her obese cousin wouldn't fare any better with them but was proven wrong. She asked a guy to choose the girl he liked the least among the five available (Including her), and from the Answer Cut to a crying Angela it was obvious who the guy chose.
  • Buxom Is Better: Parodied in a Ghost Whisperer spoof where the ghosts are all distracted by Jennifer Love Hewitt's breasts.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: The entire premise of Crista Flanagan's Luann Lockhart, the amateur stand-up comedian who has no idea how to tell a joke.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Bobby Lee’s character, Tank, whose many attempts at scoring with women end in failure.
  • Cat Scare: Parodied in the skit "Apollo the 13th: Jason Takes NASA" (in reference to Apollo 13 being released). An astronaut hears a noise and goes to investigate. Sure enough, he's relived to find that it's only a cat roaming around (never mind that it would impossible for it to get on the space shuttle), only to encounter Jason two seconds later.
  • Chewing the Scenery: This was inevitable given the nature of comedy sketches. Many cast members overact as a way of presenting a ridiculous scenario. Exaggerated crying and shouting matches are the norm in many sketches, and the below are just a few examples.
    • Most prominently seen in the sketches featuring the bickering married couple (Ike Barinholtz and Mo Collins), where the two almost always scream their lines at each other in an over-the-top manner.
    • The camcorder sketch had two quarreling neighbors (Michael McDonald and Mo Collins vs Will Sasso and Stephnie Weir) shouting their lines at each other while holding their camcorders.
    • Cast member Nicole Parker had a few sketches where the comedy was focused on her over-the-top emotional outbursts, examples being her reactions when being told that she should see a doctor for her bad breath, describing Bobby Lee's nudity, or when she was told that her date is two-timing another girl.
    • Inverted in the sketch spoofing Keeping Up with the Kardashians, where the actors/actresses deliberately underact as a way of satirizing how fake both the family and show is.
  • Chubby Chaser: There's a sketch where an incredibly fat woman complains to her boss that one of her coworkers is sexually harassing her, but he's incredibly snarky and skeptical because of her figure. When she produces a tape recording of her coworker coming on to her, it turns out he's a chubby chaser. The boss immediately fires him not for the harassment, but because he can't have someone working for him "who is completely out of his fucking mind".
  • Clip Show: Much like SNL, this show had episodes highlighting the best moments of the series. Unlike SNL, there weren't many of them and they seemed to come on during the show's final two seasons (except for MADtv's "Best of Seasons 8, 9, and 10," which was a DVD-exclusive release). The Clip Show episodes were:
    • MADtv Ruined My Life: The Sketches That Shocked A Nation: A highlight of the show's raunchiest and most outrageous sketches (set up like an episode of The Jerry Springer Show). Also includes information on a deleted sketch from season one called Schindler's Lost that was Too Hot for TV and can now be seen on the Internet.
    • Survivor MAD: A highlight of the show's best TV show parodies
    • I Want My MADtv: A highlight of the show's best celebrity- and pop culture-based sketches.
    • MADtv's Most Wanted: A highlight of the show's best recurring character sketches.
    • Dirty, Sexy Politics: A highlight of the show's political and history-based sketches
    • MADtv's Best of Holiday Sketches Spectacularly Special Spectacular: A highlight of Christmas-themed sketches
    • MADtv's The Best of Michael McDonald: A highlight of Michael McDonald's most popular recurring characters and celebrity impressions.
  • Cluster Bleep-Bomb: Although the show was edgier than SNL, usage of profanity wasn't really that common in sketches and those are either silenced or bleeped out. A rare example would be the Rude Jew sketch where the salesman (Michael McDonald) repeatedly shouted "Go *** Yourself".
  • Comic-Book Time: Eleven years of Stuart sketches, and yet his father always left the family "last Tuesday".
  • Corpsing: Compared to SNL, it may be not-so-prevalent, but the show's definitely had its moments, with Michael McDonald being the undisputed king of making many of his co-stars break.
    • Even Michael McDonald himself breaks character when there is an unscripted event completely out of left field, which can be seen in a Christmas segment where Nicole Parker brought in a pig onto the stage, only for the pig to soil the carpet.
  • Cool Teacher: Or more accurately, cool principal. There was an early sketch where the school principal named Bobby Silcox went into a classroom to sit-in while the teacher was going on a Literature discussion. Ironically, the principal himself was the one who was deliberately causing mischief to the point when the teacher got fed up and send him away back to his own office where he joins two students (Who were earlier sent to his office by the teacher for allegedly disturbing the class) to head to Hooters for "detention".
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: In the Sesame Street parody sketch featuring the bird flu, Big Bird was doused in gasoline and was about to be set on fire with a lighter. His victims are contrast are killed rather quickly and painlessly, judging from the huge amount of bodies that are in the wheelbarrow soon after he gets the bird flu.
  • Crossdresser: There are countless sketches where male castmembers crossdress as female characters.
    • With regards to this trope, Bobby Lee is probably best remembered among the MADtv crossdressers for his recurring portrayal of Connie Chung.
  • Curse Cut Short: There's a spoof where an episode of The Sopranos is shown on a regular network (and for extra hilarity, specifically PAX TV) with all the profanity and other risque material rather conspicuously edited out. At one point there's 20 seconds of uninterrupted profanity between the mobsters, all cut out. The closing lines by the faux PAX TV pointed out that such censorship of The Sopranos will only result in a 3-minute episode which was pretty much how long the sketch lasted.
  • Dating Service Disaster:
    • There's the recurring "Lowered Expectations", which involved some of the saddest, weirdest, or downright scariest people looking for love that you'd never want to meet.
    • They also did a parody "Blind Date" show. The male contestant was O.J. Simpson. He was actually a real gentleman while his date kept expecting him to go Ax-Crazy at any second. At least until he thought he saw her with the maitre d'...
  • Dawson Casting: invoked Parodied and lampshaded repeatedly in "Pretty White Kids With Problems". The actors are obviously way too old to be playing teenagers, which they constantly make sure to point out.
    Actor in his mid-30s: 15 can be a difficult age. And that's how old I am. 15.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Nicole Sullivan as the Vancome Lady and Michael McDonald as Marvin Tikvah
  • Dead Pet Sketch: Michael McDonald runs afoul of this, leading to a Leave No Witnesses situation.
  • The Dead Rise to Advertise: In "Mike Tyson Grill," a parody of the George Foreman Grill, Abraham Lincoln advertises the grill, though it's actually the same guy who is playing Mike Tyson dressed up as Lincoln.
  • Denied Parody: Alex Borstein has flatly denied that Ms. Swan, a character she did, is an old Asian woman, and claims she's based on her Hungarian grandmother. Uh huh. Sure. (The Vancome Lady thinks she's Icelandic.) To her credit, she does speak Hungarian in one sketch.
  • Depraved Bisexual: In the "Sexual Harassment" sketch, a new male employee at an office sexually harasses various coworkers until he gets his comeuppance. Most of his targets are women but it also includes one man.
  • Double Entendre: In a Chips spoof featuring several cast members from That '70s Show, Mila Kunis as Da Chief does a marvelous one:
    Things are gonna be different now that I'm in charge. Cause I'm really hands-on. I'm gonna be on top of you non-stop. I'm gonna be riding you so hard you'll be begging for mercy. There's no pulling out. I'm gonna work you all night long. You will wanna explode. But I won't let you quit until I'm satisfied!
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Parodied in a sketch spoofing Alias, along with the show's hyperkinetic style (read the dialogue about two times as fast as you normally would, and you'll get the idea).
    Sydney: Dad!
    Dad: There's no time. I'm a spy for SD6.
    Sydney: But SD6 is a rogue faction for the CIA.
    Dad: But I'm a double agent for the CIA.
    Sydney: How do I know you're not a triple agent pretending to be a double agent who's pretending to be an agent for SD6 when you're really not an agent at all?
    Dad: ...Now I'm confused.
  • Dr. Jerk: Dr. Phil is parodied to be this in every sketch where he shows up (or just Oprah's lapdog if she's also present). His "advice" usually consists of insulting people or punching them in the face. Also, he's not really a doctor.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Invoked. Done purposely with the Bible Dude sketches (where gays are fried by heat vision and Hillary Duff is a conduit for Satan).
  • Dull Surprise: The entire point of "One True Impact", a spoof trailer uniting Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal in a dramatic film about two brothers reuniting to cope with the impending death of their terminally ill father. Considering these two action stars' limited dramatic range, you can probably guess how this turns out. The trailer's narrator describes it as "a sensitive story about feelings and emotions never before captured on film". And he was ''right''.
    Steven Seagal: [bored monotone] I'm your brother. Why don't you believe me?
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Arguably the sole reason for the existence of Mrs. Campbell, an elderly woman who has a habit of asking inane yet very good questions.
  • Dumb Blonde: The stereotype shows up occasionally, but it was most often portrayed by cast member Arden Myrin.
  • Everything Is Racist:
    • The attitude Bunifa takes whenever something doesn't go her way.
    • In the Malcolm X in the Middle spoof, some of Malcolm X's rhetoric is of this sort when he complains about how pool and brushing your teeth are racist.
  • "For your people, by your people!": Parodied in a sketch. It spoofed Grey's Anatomy, and at one point Dr. Gregory House from House shows up to provide a new pair of eyes on the medical case they are struggling with. He argues with Dr. Grey, and she calls him a sexist pig as she says that Grey's Anatomy is "a show written for women by women". House counters with saying that he finds her hot and points out that he has an erection, and says that House is a "a show written by men for women who like abusive men".
  • Frying Pan of Doom: In the "Sorry Mrs. Jackson" song parody, Mrs. Jackson is shown at least a couple of times approaching Jesse Jackson menacingly with a frying pan.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Kappa Kappa Kappa Sorority. Doesn't help that one of their members (played by Debra Wilson) is black and doesn't see what's wrong with having a sorority house with those letters (in white, no less).
  • Gayngster:
    • The topic of a sketch in which two gangsters are trying to drive each other out of town, but one of them is freaked out when the other makes repeated sexual advances at him during their fight. At the end it's revealed that both of them are gay. The first gangster was just concerned that the other was still involved with another guy.
    • In another, a trio of mafia men are introduced to a new capo, who has a reputation for being scary and ruthless. He repeatedly berates the three of them for certain transgressions, but each time he gradually starts speaking like an effeminate gay man, and when he's finished, leaves the room for a little while. This eventually causes the gangsters to notice that their new boss is certainly scary, but gets a little "elegant" in his tirades. Finally, when the boss threatens to kill one of them they are suddenly interrupted by two policemen, but these also turn out to be camp gay.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Parodied in a spoof of Brokeback Mountain which inverted the genders by making it a secret relationship between two cowgirls. Rather than facing hostility and ostracism, the women's husbands encourage the affair and even get their buddies together to watch.
  • Going Postal: Parodied in the "Postal Workers Gone Postal" sketch. Two postal workers decide to have their murderous rampage on the same day, but of course they don't want to share. They argue about who gets to go on a killing spree, which has the more traumatic past, and which person each of them gets to kill. Then a third guy who was planning the same thing walks in. When a fourth guy walks in, they ask him why he hates being a postman, but he turns out to be a robber. They use their guns to arrest him and are hailed as heroes, and the government makes firearms mandatory for all postal workers.
  • HA HA HA— No: Joyce Behrens, who spent 22 hours preparing deviled eggs on The Food Network and is physically sickened by them at that point, is met with this response when she asks for another recipe.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Keegan-Michael Key's Coach Hines (the psycho Catholic school gym teacher who's actually the heir to the Heinz ketchup company, but gave up that life so he can help out delinquent students).
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Played with in season 14, where there was a sketch featuring a group of fraternity boys who took this trope to such an extreme that it became homosexual. The boys were recalling that one night where they were so drunk that they made love to each other, but see it as an expression of the "bro code".
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Unsurprisingly.
    • The "iRack" sketch had an outtake where the rack in question literally fell apart after Steve Jobs (Michael McDonald) tried forcing things onto it. This clearly ruined the whole sketch that would make improvisation hard if not impossible.
    • One of the show's worst instances of corpsing goes to an outtake for the Sesame Street parody sketches, where Gordon, Sally and Billy (Played by Keegan Michael Key, Crista Flanagan and Bobby Lee respectively) did a dance number about internet pedophiles and prison rape. They completely failed to hold back their own laughter while attempting to sing and dance, as a result flubbing their lines. At the end of the outtake Bobby Lee fell down when he couldn't take it any longer and the Big Bird actor at the back was seen shaking, presumably in laughter too.
  • Hockey Mask and Chainsaw: In the "Apollo the 13th: When Jason Takes NASA" sketch, hockey-mask wearing Jason Voorhees invades the moon shuttle and kills a person with a chainsaw.
  • Hugh Mann: Played to the hilt with the "Smith Comma John - Human Being for President" skits. Sooooo not an alien!
  • Hustling the Mark: In one sketch, a pool hustler and his accomplice try to con someone, but fail because it is very obvious that they’re hustlers. (Actually, they fail more because they waited too long to stop playing badly. The mark for some reason is happy enough with his million dollars and doesn't want to try for five.)
  • Hypocritical Humor: There's a sketch spoofing Law & Order where the Cold Open of random people finding a corpse is either nonsensical or unnecessarily elaborate. It includes a mafia hit man interrupting one of his kills (strangling someone to death with a cord for being a rat) because he's shocked to find a nearby corpse he wasn't aware of.
  • I Am Not Spock: Parodied in-universe in a Halloween Episode featuring Robert Englund, where everyone, much to his growing frustration, keeps referring to him as "that guy who played Willie in V" instead of Freddy Krueger.
  • Idiot Ball: Clearly unavoidable since its a comedy sketch show, there is only so much plot and character motivation one can squeeze into a few minute sketch, if there are any at all. The below are just a few examples.
    • Deal or No Deal sketches had Howie Mandel (Michael McDonald) hosting a few rather idiotic contestants (Jordan Peele and Ike Barinholtz). The contestants would always choose "No deal" to what was clearly a good deal in their situation.
    • There is also a Wheel of Fortune sketch where Pat Sajak (Ron Pederson) was annoyed by the contestants (Stephnie Weir, Jordan Peele, and guest star David Arquette) who were unable to solve a simple puzzle that only had one more letter left to complete.
  • Innocent Bigot:
    • Inside Looking Out sketches had Nicole Parker playing a wife making oblivious racist remarks to her Jordan Peele's husband character.
    • This was basically the whole point of the Average Asian sketches featuring Bobby Lee. His character constantly had to endure other Non-Asian Americans' innocent or even at times well-meaning perception of Asians. It got to a point where he got so offended by his birthday party guests that he embraced his stereotypes by calling the Ninjas in to chase them away.
  • Intercourse with You: There's a Deconstructive Parody of Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous [Girl]" called "Syphillis Girl" that deals with the aftermath. Timbaland discovers he got an STD from having had unprotected sex with Furtado, and they end up concluding it's their own fault. It actually has a good point to make about the likely consequences of holding promiscuity up as a virtue.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: There's a sketch wherein a criminal who's on trial for armed robbery readily confesses a laundry list of crimes that includes assault, murder, arson, drug dealing, counterfeiting, and slavery, but doesn't want to be known as a robber.
  • I Thought Everyone Could Do That: Rusty Miller (Michael McDonald)
  • It's Been Done: A video for The Calling's "Wherever You Will Go" is interrupted by Creed's frontman Scott Stapp, who claims the singer is ripping him off. Then comes Pearl Jam, who Creed is already accused of being a copy of. Eddie Vedder claims victory, but then Ray Charles shows up, saying he's the one who started that singing style.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Raging Rudolph has Rudolph and Hermie hire a hitman to murder Santa after he refuses to let them be part of his gang.
  • Kill the Poor: One sketch had the mayor of a town addressing the press to reveal his new plan for dealing with the poor. He would give them all virtual reality helmets that would show them everything they ever wanted, allowing them to live out their lives in peace. The test subject they put one on sees a beautiful woman in the distance, holding a steak dinner and a bottle of booze. He runs towards her, which leads him into traffic where he is killed by an oncoming truck. It concludes with the mayor declaring "And that's how we'll eliminate the homeless ... problem."
  • Lady Drunk: Cast member Nicole Parker lampooned Rachael Ray's $40 a day show by portraying Rachael as a hard drinker who blew most of the $40 budget on alcoholic drinks and therefore had to give poor to no tips for her meals. When she had no money left for dinner, she was given a complimentary dinner (And a bottle of wine which she just drank from directly) for the sake of completing the show.
  • Latex Perfection: Parodied in a sketch spoofing Arnold Schwarzenegger in his new movie Stolen Identity 3 ("Because sequels make more money at the box office!") where one of the Arnolds tries to tell his clone that he's the real one by pulling off his latex mask... to reveal the exact same face underneath.
  • Long-Runners: At 14 seasons, this show is considered Saturday Night Live's longest-running rival sketch show and the longest-running sketch show ever aired on the FOX network (beating out In Living Color! as longest-running FOX sketch show, which ran for five seasons note ).
  • Major Minor Inconvenience, Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket - Parodied extensively with the Spishak ads, especially the ones that had Josh Meyers as a spokesman (not so much the ones that had Bryan Callen or Pat Kilbane as the spokesman).
  • Mall Santa: In an early Christmas Episode, Nicole Sullivan's Vancome Lady character serves as a gatekeeper to one of these. She turns away one kid for being fat, another for being homeless (she isn't), and another for being Jewish, all with her trademark phrase "Tcha, you know what? Uh uh!" She is, of course, fired, but as a parting shot reveals a bit of the mall Santa's indiscretions with her and then tears off his fake beard.
    Vancome Lady: There is no Santa! Oh, Merry Christmas!
  • Meaningful Name: Bunifa Latifah Halifah Sharifa Jackson. She states that "Bunifa" means "the first of the five".
  • Misaimed Marketing: invoked There's a sketch about an incredibly violent Grand Theft Auto board game marketed to a nuclear family, and the parents and kids all enjoyed themselves playing murderous criminals shooting each other up in gang wars, snorting fake cocaine, and getting makeshift prison tattoos.
  • Misery Poker: The Depressed Persian Tow Truck Man always one-ups stories about people's troubles with comically overblown stories of his awful home life (such as having had his first child when he was eight.
  • Modern Minstrelsy:
  • Mouth Full of Smokes: The Randy Newman sketches had Randy chaining cigarettes continuously, with him finally stuffing an entire pack in his mouth and lighting them all up.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The new Omnibowl from Spishak! It can function as a cereal bowl, AND a small pasta bowl!
  • Murderous Mannequin: A subversion in the recurring sketch featuring a psychotic murderer who everyone (except the Only Sane Man) thought was just a mannequin because he would stand really still whenever anyone was looking directly at him. Anyone else who eventually noticed the mannequin kept changing positions would come to the conclusion the Only Sane Man must have been the one to move it and kill all those people for whatever reason.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Stan the Coffee Man. He drinks coffee so much that he keeps a thermos flask on him, in case something happens to his coffee cup. Though most of the sketches has him trying to kick the habit. It doesn't take long for him to fall of the wagon though. Scientists studying Stan found that he actually pees coffee. And apparently it's delicious.
    Man: You tasted it?!?
    Scientist: Not at first, no.
  • My Little Panzer: Pretty much all the Spishak toys, and some that aren't, like the Grand Theft Auto board game or the Tickle Me Emo doll.
  • Naked People Are Funny: A good number of sketches that Bobby Lee appears in happened to have him half-naked or fully naked. One of the sketches even acknowledged this as a recurring joke by putting Bobby through an "Intervention" program where the other cast members pleaded with him to stop getting naked.
  • N-Word Privileges: Played With. In "Reality Check", the hostesses Tovah and Belma interview Senator Trent Lott and grill him (at least Tovah) on his issues with race relations. He then stated he came on the show to re nig on some of the offensive things he said and done, Belma replies that it would make him a re-....you know. Cue a shocked response from both Lott and Tovah, who then gives Belma a Full-Name Ultimatum with the latter woman stating "I'm black! I can say it!"
  • Overly Long Name: Bunifa Latifah Halifah Sharifa Jackson. note 
  • Parallel Porn Titles: There was a sketch about a fake Saving Private Ryan porno spoof called Saving Ryan's Privates. Hitler is one of the stars. The coke-addicted director spouted off a list of similar films he'd done:
    Director: Many of my films have been inspired by Spielberg. When he did Raiders of the Lost Ark, I did Panty Raiders of the Lost Ark. When he did E.T., I did Eat Me. When he did Jaws... I did Jaws. I just couldn't think of nothing better.
  • Pixellation and Medium Awareness: There's a sketch where a man visits the doctor, complaining that his genitals are blurred. The doctor tells him that it's normal for network TV characters to experience pixellation on their breasts, genitals, rear ends, and middle fingers. Moreover, the doctor knows that he is not a real doctor but just a character, and that both him and his patient exist only so long as the sketch lasts.
  • Place Worse Than Death: There's a skit about words being removed from the dictionary and Detroit is one of those words.
  • Porn Names: The "Bureau of Porn Star Registration" skit has male porn star aspirants register their names, only to get their names rejected because they were already taken.
  • Queer People Are Funny: So many sketches using this trope.
    • One of them was the World's Queeniest Police Chases, where both the police (Ike Barinholtz, Frank Caliendo) and the criminals (Michael McDonald, Bobby Lee, Josh Meyers, Aries Spears) are either effeminate, gay, or both.
  • Race Fetish: The recurring sketches about an interracial couple (played by Jordan Peele and Nicole Parker) who host a call-in show called Inside Looking Out, where they give tips on interracial relationships. The white wife is an unabashed bigot who makes derogatory remarks about her black husband, while the husband ignores the degradation since he's only with her because he wants to sleep with a white woman.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: "Not Lance Henriksen" does this at the end of the Suddenly Millennium sketch. Doubles as a Bond One-Liner, too: "Cue laugh track."
  • Reality Ensues: Sometimes comedy focuses on the minute details of real life, and with regards to that there was a Bobby Lee sketch where he tries to survive in the wild and the camera crew filming him won't lend a hand no matter what. As expected of what would be in real life, he had trouble doing that and had to seek disgusting sources of sustenance.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: On "Reality Check" the hostesses (played by Debra Wilson and Aries Spears) always dish these out to their guests.
  • Revised Ending:
    • Parodied in a sketch which featured supposed "alternate endings" that were shot for Gone with the Wind. It's introduced by one of the actors, "Slave Girl #8" (she's the only one who's still alive), who has to re-enact the racial stereotype of her previous role, which she eventually notes is kind of degrading.
      • In the first ending, Rhett goes on a profanity-laden tirade after Scarlett begs him not to leave, and punches her in the stomach before walking off in disgust ("Audiences didn't like that ending at all").
      • In the second one, Rhett, Scarlett, and some of the soldiers and slaves suddenly break into a dance number.
      • In the third one, Rhett just gets on a broom and flies off, and Scarlett follows him on a jetpack on the advice of Abraham Lincoln and a talking penguin ("It's a mystery to me why they filmed this last ending at all").
    • There was a similar one done with The Sound of Music.
    • There's also a sketch depicting a single alternate ending for The Wizard of Oz; in it Dorothy reacts with increasing levels of anger to Glinda's confessions that she always had the power to get back home and that she wanted to teach her a lesson, culminating in a violent altercation.
  • Running Gag: Several. Most notably, the Spishak guy usually enters with the phrases "But now you can!" or "But now there is!", when neither of those statements would make much sense.
  • Sadist Show: The later episodes, where everyone (usually Bobby Lee, Christa Flanagan, and some old cast members who came back to cameo) was, in some way, treated like crap.
  • Sassy Black Woman:
    • The majority of the comedic black female characters: Bunifa, Belma Button and Tovah McQueen from Reality Check, Ka-Son, etc.
    • Outright parodied with "That's My White Mamma!", which is touted in-universe as "the most offensive show ever televised". A fat black mother gets run over by an equally fat white guy (played by Artie Lange), upon which her soul exits her body and takes over his. She still fulfills the role in her family of an extremely stereotypical Sassy Black Woman, but in a white guy's body. She still dresses the same, berates her daughter and scares of her daughter's boyfriends, frequently accuses her faithful husband of cheating, and can't do without a tuna and cheese sandwich.
    White mamma: Don't make me break my foot off in yo' ass!
  • Satire: While the majority of sketches never really try to go any further than provoking cheap laughs, there are some sketches which makes social or political references, although ultimately the comedy takes precedence first and foremost. Examples as listed:
    • Michael McDonald playing the role of a coach awarding participation trophies to the team even though they had a dismal showing, calling them "snowflakes".
    • Stephnie Weir as awkward teen Angela who conducted social experiments to prove that society is racist/fat-shaming but failed to yield any result besides gradually exposing her own prejudices.
    • Steve Jobs presenting a malfunctioning product cleverly named "iRack".
    • Fox News' coverage of the Iraq War, police killing innocent black civilians in Los Angeles, and the U.S Presidential Election back in 2008.
    • The Bible Dude sketches (Title role portrayed by Michael McDonald) appears to be a parody of Bibleman and more accurately a satire of Christian Fundamentalism.
    • A fat woman (Portrayed by Crista Flanagan) refused to believe that dieting and exercising can help her lose weight.
    • Bobby Lee's Average Asian sketches, which can be potentially misunderstood as making fun of asians but is in fact making fun of American ignorance in perpetuating Asian stereotypes.
  • Save Our Students: Parodied in the sketch "Nice White Lady", which features Nice White Lady teaching in an inner city school where everybody hates her because she's white.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: There's a sketch where an escaped convict invades a home party, only for the residents to creatively interpret his 'demands' (he hadn't even made any yet) as forcing them all to have sex with each other. The confused home invader vehemently protests this, but eventually becomes so disgusted by their antics that he runs off. They decide to keep going anyway just in case he comes back.
  • Selective Obliviousness:
    • Melvin Dufrane (Jordan Peele) debuted in late seasons of MADtv. The character is a stupid crook whose shtick is a combination of this trope with Accidental Public Confession. He would approach the police (Keegan-Michael Key, Dan Oster, or Johnny Sanchez) to report a crime committed by another person, and during the process of describing it he will openly confess to crimes he himself committed, seemingly without understanding his own actions are breaking the law. These sketches ended with Melvin getting arrested and lamenting that he must be the biggest idiot ever. Another sketch featured him in a parody of Chris Hansen's To Catch a Predator, where Chris Hansen (Michael McDonald) confronts him but fails to intimidate him because unlike other sexual predators, Melvin Dufrane freely and shamelessly admitted to his crimes, encouraged Chris to join him for a threesome, and even welcomed the camera crew filming him. This sketch too, ended with Melvin getting arrested but this time seemingly unaware of it.
  • Shallow Parody:
    • Around the Turn of the Millennium, MADtv started making The Price Is Right parodies. By this time, Bob Barker had been hosting the show for over 30 years, so they decided to parody what the show would have been like in the 1970s and the 1980s, if it were filled to the brim with topical references and invoked Funny Aneurysm Moments (particularly seen in the 1980s version, with Josh Meyers as a yet-unknown Jeffrey Dahmer, Stephnie Weir as Martha Stewart dropping hints that she would later get in trouble for harboring inside information, and Nicole Parker as Tonya Harding before she got into figure skating). In reality, of course, The Price Is Right changed so little during Barker's lengthy tenure that the most visible change in 35+ years was his hair colour (from brown to white). Not only that, but Rod Roddy (Artie Lange) is depicted as having announced during the 70s; in actuality, Johnny Olson was the original announcer and remained until his death in 1985; a rotation of guest announcers ensued until Roddy (then known at that point as the announcer from Soap and Press Your Luck) was picked in 1986.
    • In the last season, there was a sketch where Batman (played by Matt Braunger) tries to fight crime with gadgets, but because how bad the U.S. economy has become, Batman's gadgets have become crude and homemade. While it is funny, any Batman fan can (and will) tell you that Batman hasn't been a gadget-heavy superhero since the campy 1960s series with Adam West.
  • Shown Their Work: In contrast to the above, the "Son of Dolemite" sketches show that the writers really studied the films to get the jokes, tone and impressions correct.
  • Sketch Comedy
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: And how!
    • Crista Flanagan, as mentioned in the Butt-Monkey trope is the biggest example among all the female cast members. If a mean-spirited sketch featuring her doesn't make her look pathetic, then chances are that this trope applies. She is the recipient of physical violence in the Krumping sketches, repeatedly being allowed to audition as a skater even when she's performing horribly, or getting injured as Wendy Walker during the 3 Minute Meal sketches.
  • Soap Within a Show: There's a parody of K-Dramas entitled Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive, or Taedo. It featured accidental Brother–Sister Incest, assassins, Fun with Subtitles, doppelgangers, Incurable Cough of Death, and Edge.
  • Sore Loser: One of Crista Flanagan's debut season sketches featured her as a skater who was clearly performing badly in a skating audition. For his own amusement, the judge (Michael McDonald) allowed her to continue her audition screw-up after screw-up, while she repeatedly came up with nonsensical excuses and accused the DJ (Keegan-Michael Key) of sabotaging her audition.
  • Spoof Aesop: They once did a spoof of a "don't have sex without a profilactic" educational short aimed at teenagers starring Avril Lavigne. Her horndog boyfriend BJ tries to get her into it, but she refuses because she thinks she has to wait until marriage. Her rather open-minded parents (apparently suffering a mid-life crisis) tell her that they did the same thing when they were young, but have regretted it ever since. They advise her to do the polar opposite instead: have sex with as many partners as possible, preferably at the same time and while doing cocaine, and never use a condom.
    "Wow... I'm so glad my parents set me straight."
  • Spoofed the Ironic Film Seriously: There's a parody of Jewel's Intuition music video and 0304 pop album, labeling her a pop sellout... except that video and album were satire of the then current teen pop trend. The Intuition original video featured such mockery as texts reading "Jewel's voice sounds much better now that she's dancing" and a pyrotechnics performance that ended with the fire department's arrival.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Bill Cosby when he introduced "Cosby's Crib" took the Huxtable family and turned them into crack-dealers (while keeping the suburban home). It was hailed as capturing how "real" African-Americans are.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical:
    • There was a sketch where Bill Cosby (played by Orlando Jones) was shown proposing a show to prove he was actually black, and not an Uncle Tom. Unfortunately (like Bamboozled), the show becomes a huge success, much to his horror.
    • There's a sketch where a man's siblings stage an intervention because he goes out of his way to behave as a walking Italian-American caricature. When he finally stops doing it—at gunpoint—he instead switches to an annoyingly high-pitched voice, claiming it's his normal one.
  • Stylistic Suck:
  • Subverted Kids Show:
    • CLOPS (where cartoon characters and childhood figures are arrested for various crimes), The Power-Slut Girls (a Powerpuff Girls parody featuring Tara Reid, Brittany Murphy, and Paris Hilton as crimefighting media whores — now a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment due to Brittany Murphy's death), the parodies of the Rankin-Bass Christmas specials (Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town) that always seem to be crossed with violent Mafia films, like The Godfather and Scarface (the 1983 version with Al Pacino), Dennis The Menace To Society, the one-shot sketch The Ring-A-Rounds (a Wiggles parody that put a happy spin on such topics as divorce, post-partum depression, living with alcoholic parents, foster care, and childhood obesity) and the Sesame Street parodies they did during the last few years of the show that dealt with such kid-unfriendly topics as avian flu, childhood obesity, plastic surgery, America's economic decline, sexual predators on the Internet, radiation poisoning, and Donald Trump's greed (which was in fact targeted in Sesame's 25th anniversary special with parody character Ronald Grump).
    • Their Disney Princess sketch starts off like your standard Disney song, but then it's revealed that she's in South Central LA, running into bums, tranny hookers, and gangbangers, before going to a movie set to shoot "Snow White and the Seven Positions".
    • ESPECIALLY the Curious George skit, which ends up being about Animal Testing.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The short-lived reboot of Mad TV in 2016 clearly tried to replicate the relative popularity that former cast member Nicole Parker received back then, by featuring new cast member Carlie Craig. Just like Nicole Parker, Carlie Craig's a photogenic young woman who relies on her singing and theatrical skills to provide comedy.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • Smith Comma John is totally not an alien.
    • Some of the sketches are not at all subtle in their sarcasm/mocking, one of which is Criss Angel (Michael McDonald)'s magic demonstration, where the on-screen audience witnessing the demonstration explicitly denied that they are paid actors who have went through rehearsals of the demonstration.
  • Take Me Instead: One sketch takes place at a funeral, with a woman mourning her husband, screaming "Take me, Jesus! Take me instead!" Sure enough, Jesus shows up, brings the woman's husband back to life, and then asks the woman to go with him. Naturally, the woman wasn't expecting her wish to be granted, and Hilarity Ensues.
  • Take That!: The parody song "What's on TV" (a take-off on Eminem's "Without Me") is one long-winded "Take That!" against pretty much every television series of the late 90s and early 2000s. The targets are Frasier, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson's Creek, Friends, ER, The King of Queens, The Drew Carey Show, Becker, Just Shoot Me!, Touched by an Angel, Charmed, ED, Yes, Dear, Judging Amy, The Practice, The View, 7th Heaven, JAG, Big Brother, According to Jim, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Crossing Jordan, and the channels that show them. It's capped off with "Em" declaring that MADtv is the best show on TV. Wow.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Parodied in "Pretty White Kids With Problems", of the Hot for Student variety with the French teacher.
  • Teen Drama: Parodied in "Pretty White Kids With Problems".
  • Theme Tune Rap: Courtesy of Heavy D, who also performed the themes to MAD's spiritual predecessor In Living Color!.
  • This Song Goes Out To TV Tropes: Their parody of OutKast's "Ms. Jackson," "Sorry, Mrs. Jackson."
    Female Reporter: Reverend Jackson, if you had one thing to say to your wife about your love child, what would it be?
    Jesse Jackson: Well... This one goes out to my baby's mama and her baby's mama and her baby's mahama-drama. Let's do this!
  • Triage Tyrant: Nicole Sullivan, as the "Vancome lady", a nurse. She kept turning people away for stupid reasons. They'd describe their emergency and she'd explain, in chirpy tones, why they should head down the street. One episode had a hemophiliac who was told that Sisters of Mercy didn't support that lifestyle... Link to the episode (until it's removed)
  • Troubled Fetal Position: Stuart retreats into his "dark place" whenever things didn't go his way. He usually has to be coaxed out by his mom.
  • Typecasting:
    • Poked fun at in-universe. Robert Englund played Freddy Krueger in all of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street films and Freddy vs. Jason. Apart from all the makeup it requires, he does enjoy the role. The whole "typecasting" thing was lovingly mocked on MADtv early in that show's run, when Englund did a guest spot for a Halloween Episode. During his appearance, everyone kept describing Englund, as his big claim to fame, his other famous genre role of "Willie", the comic relief alien from V (1983). Englund responds quite angrily, pointing out to each cast member who calls him "Willie", that he played Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street films. But everyone keeps referring to him as "The guy who played Willie on V" instead of "the Nightmare On Elm Street guy", much to his dismay and anger.
    • Cast member Bobby Lee is often the butt of jokes involving Asian stereotypes. Recurring characters Bae Sung and Blind Kungfu Master comes to mind, along with many other one-time characters.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: All of the "Tina" sketches end with her vomiting uncontrollably over herself (it's a character tic). Kicked up a notch in "Tina Gets Married" when she, her fiancee and her father all vomit on themselves at the wedding ceremony.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Bobby Lee is frequently shirtless in sketches, especially the 24 parodies. Unlike most examples of this trope, however, Bobby isn't exactly Mr. Fanservice, and is instead very short and a little pudgy.
  • Wangst: invoked Parodied with the "Tickle Me Emo" doll-Elmo's tortured, angst-ridden counterpart who always cries, curses the world for being too depressing, and whines and moans that no one understands him.
  • Which Me?: In an Arnold Schwarzenegger spoof where he features in a movie called Stolen Identity 3, Arnold and his clones get into endless arguments that basically go "Are you me or am I you?" "I'm not me! I'm you!" "Who am I if I'm not me?!"
  • White Man's Burden: Roundly mocked with "Nice White Lady", which largely parodied Dangerous Minds in terms of the setup.
  • Wishful Projection: "The Average Asian", in which a completely ordinary Asian guy is expected to act like an Asian stereotype. Ironically, this was one of Bobby Lee's few roles that wasn't some sort of Asian stereotype.
  • You Are What You Hate: The Bible Dude sketches which satirizes Christian Fundamentalism often imply that the title character (Michael McDonald) is a closet homosexual. The Bible Dude would sometimes make an offhand quip related to homosexuality, followed by a quick denial that he's involved in it. After that he would kill anyone he encounters who is exposed to be a homosexual.
  • You Didn't Ask: While on date with Nicole Parker, Ike Barinholtz says this to her after she asks him why she didn't tell him about a girlfriend he has. Nicole claims that this actually happened to her.

 
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