MARINA DEL REY, California — Maybe you’re a fan of the long-running cop comedy “Reno 911!,” or maybe you have fond memories of quirky television shows “Stella” and “Viva Variety.” Perhaps you’ve laughed at indie flicks like “Wet Hot American Summer” or “The Baxter” or faintly recognized a scene-stealing actor in blockbusters like “Herbie: Fully Loaded,” “Hitch” or “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” Even if you’ve only heard vague mentions of an influential “Saturday Night Live”-type sketch show that aired more than a decade ago, you may still want to dip into this groundbreaking news: The State comedy troupe has reunited.
“For the kids who haven’t seen it, we were a very early show on MTV called ’The State’ that ran from 1993 to 1995,” Thomas Lennon, wearing the trademark short shorts of Lieutenant Dangle, said this week on the set of the upcoming feature film “Reno 911!: Miami.” “We were between ’Aeon Flux’ and ’Beavis and Butt-Head’ ”
“There have been petitions, and we get stopped daily, with people asking, ’Why isn’t “The State” released and why can’t I get “The State”?’ ” added Kerri Kenney, now better known as backward-thinking Reno Deputy Trudy Weigel.
Standing with fellow troupe veteran Ben Garant (a.k.a. Deputy Junior), the comedians revealed that they recently filmed a scene for the “Reno” movie that reunited all 11 State members for the first time since their show went off the air. “They’re all in the movie,” beamed Garant, serving triple duty as “Miami” star, co-writer and director. “They all came, and all 11 of us were together.”
“It was incredible,” co-writer Kenney chimed in. “It’s gonna be fun for sketch fans, I think, to see all the State members again.”
The scene, which takes place in a tattoo parlor where “Reno” Deputy Clementine is immortalizing another of her patented one-night stands, was filmed earlier this month. “The scale is pretty big,” co-writer Lennon said of that and other scenes. “The plot is simple, however — your dog at home can follow it. We carefully crafted the plot so that humans and/or dogs and birds will understand what’s happening. It ain’t real complicated.”
What was complicated was reuniting the in-demand members of the troupe, which also includes “Crank Yankers” voice Michael Ian Black and “Drop Dead Gorgeous” director Michael Patrick Jann. After capturing the attention of the pop-culture world (while most were still in their 20s) with kooky sketch characters including sexually ambiguous swingers Barry and Levon, and Louie — the affable fellow who insists on dipping actual balls into things he’s excited about — the group members went their separate ways. According to Lennon, the 11 members hadn’t been in the same room (either on- or off-camera) since the show went off the air.
The three “Reno” stars said members of the State are well aware, and appreciative, of petitions by the show’s long-suffering fans to finally have the episodes released on DVD. Offering them some hope, Lennon said, “There is a rumor that MTV will be releasing ’The State’ on iTunes, and maybe if I mention that now, it’ll help move it along.
” ’The State’ always exists,” Lennon continued, dropping a bombshell. “There’ll probably be, at some point, some other version of the State doing some kind of live show.”
With Kenney and Garant nodding their heads in agreement, Lennon said a reunion would involve some sort of a tour. “The Kids in the Hall are together and about to go on tour,” he said, invoking the name of a groundbreaking comedy troupe with which his is often compared.
“It’s more about schedule than anything, whether we can get everybody together,” Kenney added.
“They’re all really, really funny guys,” Garant said. “And the more we work with other people, the more we appreciate how funny they are.”
Asked about other upcoming plans, Kenney deadpanned, “I’m probably going to take a bath.” Looking her longtime and possibly future collaborators up and down, she added: “Separately.”
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