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Where Are They Now? The Cast of The State

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It's one of the most highly regarded sketch comedy shows in television history, but few people have seen The State, which ran on MTV from 1993 to 1995 and featured talented comedians who would go on to such successes as Reno 911, Stella, and Role Models. Fans of the show have a reason to rejoice (as well as the friends-of-fans, who've been listening to us yammer on about the greatness of The State for years) because the entire series will finally be available on DVD on July 14, 2009. In honor of this momentous event, let's take a look at where the cast has been hiding for all this time.

1. Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant

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Lennon and Garant appeared together as the Inbred Brothers on The State, and have stayed connected at the waist throughout their careers. Together, they created Reno 911, where they appear mustachioed as Lt. Jim Dangle and Deputy Travis Junior. They penned a few flops (Jimmy Fallon's Taxi, The Pacifier, and Herbie Fully Loaded) before striking gold with Night at the Museum and its subsequent sequel. Thomas Lennon has also lent his deadpan face to films like Memento, I Love You Man, and 17 Again.

2. David Wain

David Wain played a lot of smaller roles on The State (for example, The Jew in "The Jew, the Italian, and the Redhead Gay"), but he was more often found behind the camera. That hobby paid off, because he's currently living the life of success with his films Role Models, Wet Hot American Summer, and The Ten. He also appeared alongside Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black in the short-lived sitcom Stella on Comedy Central, and he recently won a Webby Award for his webshow Wainy Days, which is currently in its fourth season on MyDamnChannel.com.

3. Michael Showalter

After his character "Doug" was "outta heeere," Showalter stayed in the limelight as 1/3 of Stella (with David Wain and Michael Ian Black). He also wrote and starred in Wet Hot American Summer. His directorial debut, The Baxter, is quite possibly the best movie you've never seen. He is also the host of the most aptly named web show, The Michael Showalter Showalter, which airs on Collegehumor.com. His stand-up album, Sandwiches & Cats, hit shelves in 2007, and his comedic memoir, tentatively titled Mr. Funny Pants, is due in stores by the winter of 2009. This July, you can see him alongside Michael Ian Black in Michael & Michael Have Issues on Comedy Central. (I recently attended a taping of the show. Set your TiVo.)

4. Kerri Kenney

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The State's only female cast member starred on Comedy Central's Viva Variety, a faux-European variety show along with Thomas Lennon and Michael Ian Black (co-created by Ben Garant). After the show's premature demise, Kenney fronted the all-female indie rock band Cake Like, and tried her hand at voice acting (her father, Larry Kenney, is a veteran voice actor, most famous for his role as Lion-O on ThunderCats), appearing on shows such as Invader Zim, Kim Possible, and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. Nowadays, she stars on Reno 911 as Deputy Trudy Weigel.

5. Ken Marino

"And now, Louie! The guy who comes in and says his catchphrase over and over again!" Soon after The State, Ken Marino sought out a career in acting, appearing on shows like Will and Grace, Angel, and Men Behaving Badly (no, not the good one). He landed a few recurring appearances on shows such as Dawson's Creek, Veronica Mars, and Reaper (along with The State co-star Michael Ian Black), and recently wrote his first screenplay for the film Diggers, starring the "honorary" State cast member Paul Rudd. (And, as several readers have pointed out, he's also starring in Party Down, an original series on Starz.)

6. Michael Ian Black

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The most visible alum of The State, Michael Ian Black has had recurring roles on Viva Variety, Ed, Stella, Reaper, and VH1's I Love The"¦ series. In 2005, he directed his first film, Wedding Daze, starring Jason Biggs, and then wrote the screenplay for Run Fatboy Run. He's got a stand-up album (I Am a Wonderful Man), a book of comedic essays (My Custom Van), and a children's book (Chicken Cheeks). And as I mentioned, his new TV show Michael & Michael Have Issues premieres in July on Comedy Central. That's a lot of work for a guy who got his start by dry humping $240 worth of pudding.

7. Kevin Allison

After The State ended its run, Kevin Allison took a break from performing to focus on writing, and he only returned to the stage a few years ago. He spends most of his time these days as the Artistic Director at the People's Improv Theater in New York City where he teaches and performs. He also had a one-man show called F*** Up, which I regret having missed.

8. Joe Lo Truglio

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Joe Lo Truglio has become one of "those guys" who you see in small parts in a lot of movies but can't quite place. He's appeared in Superbad, The Station Agent, Pineapple Express, Role Models, Wet Hot American Summer, I Love You Man, plus a few more you might've seen. More recently, he grew a mustache and joined his fellow State alumni as the newest cast member on Reno 911. If that wasn't enough, he wrote the brand new web series Hot Sluts, which you can view on Atom.com (and if you're anything like me, you'll click on anything with a name like that).

9. Michael Patrick Jann

Like David Wain, Michael Patrick Jann preferred to sit behind the camera rather than on stage. He was responsible for the brilliant film Drop Dead Gorgeous, as well as the majority of Reno 911's episodes. Since then, he's directed episodes of Flight of the Conchords, Little Britain USA, and the doomed Emily's Reasons Why Not.

10. Todd Holoubek

After The State's cancellation from MTV (but before their subsequent CBS special), Todd Holoubek left the troupe and took a slightly different route by teaching web design and designing furniture. Thankfully for the die-hard fans, he rejoined the cast for their reunions in The Ten, Reno 911: Miami, and their recent live show in Los Angeles.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 

PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.

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