We’ve all grown up with sketch comedy shows. When we were young kids, we’d watch All That on Nickelodeon. Now that we’re adults, we watch Saturday Night Live. But when we were teens, thinking we were basically adults but acting more like kids, we watched MADtv. While All That focused on fart jokes and elementary school humor and Saturday Night Live prefers political satire and more adult themes, MADtv was a perfect blend of both that focused primarily on pop culture satire and just enough slapstick humor to keep us entertained.
Even today, we’ll occasionally hear a quote or reference from the iconic show: “Can I have your number? CAN I HAVE IT?” and “he look-a like a man” are just a couple of the most recognizable examples. We all knew and loved the characters from MADtv, and when we see the actors in films and television shows today, we still recognize them and laugh at what they bring to the table.
But wait, where are those actors today? MADtv ended back in 2009. Not too long ago, but long enough for a lot to have happened in the lives of these comedians. It’s rare for a comedian to find a steady gig, one that doesn’t involve constantly booking new gigs. The cast was all very fortunate to have had the opportunity to stay with the same group of comedians for years. Now that they’re on their own again, how have they adjusted to solo flight? Let’s find out – here’s fifteen stars of MADtv you forgot about!
15. Ike Barinholtz
Ike was another frequent straight player on MADtv, though he played a decent amount of outlandish characters as well. One of his most popular sketches was as one of the “Gay Straight Guys,” the bros that would hang out to watch the game and celebrate by making out.
Ike’s also done his share of unsavory film work since MADtv ended, with roles in movies like Meet the Spartans (the 300 parody), Disaster Movie, and Vampires Suck, but he’s also landed recurring roles on a lot of well written and highly watched shows, like Eastbound & Down (Ivan Dochenko), The Mindy Project (Morgan Tookers), and The League (Frank ‘The Body’ Gibiatti). Perhaps most interesting is his unannounced but deadly serious role in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie; the production team won’t name his character and Barinholtz, though unable to reveal many details, has said, “[I’m] probably not who you think [I am]. He is definitely someone that people will not like.”
14. Aries Spears
Aries Spears is known best for his amazing Eddie Murphy impersonation, but he’s also done hilarious impressions of Kobe Bryant, LL Cool J, Denzel Washington, Queen Latifa and R. Kelly. He was on MADtv for eight years and did a lot of great impressions, and he made a lot of very memorable skits (“Denzel Washington Needs an Oscar,” “R. Kelly and the Girl Scout,” and “Behind the Music With Eddie Murphy”).
Lately, he’s still been working in on series like Turbo FAST (Mr. Tinfoil), TripTank (various roles), The Boondocks (Lord Rufus Crabmiser), CSI: Miami (Oscar Monahan), and Black Dynamite (Laurence Tureaud). He, like many other of his fellow MADtv grads, is still on tour doing his own stand-up. He’s got appearances already scheduled out through the end of 2016, and he’s likely to schedule more before long.
13. Debra Wilson
Debra Wilson had one of the craziest personalities on the show. She was perhaps one of the most memorable cast members, starring in skits like “Can I Have Your Number,” where she played Daryl, “Whitney Houston Screws Up the Classics,” where she played Whitney (it was before she died- it was still in good taste at the time), and “Love Muffin,” a crude and lewd Mariah Carey spoof. She also did a hilarious spoof music video of Beyonce leaving Destiny’s Child.
These days, Debra has been busy in both comedic and serious acting roles. Some of her most popular comedic roles have been in Black Dynamite, The Cleveland Show, 2 Broke Girls, and Family Guy; some of her more serious and dramatic work has been in Avatar, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, Midlife, and Scrubs. Definitely keep your eyes out for Debra Wilson’s work because she’s still plenty busy in the entertainment industry.
12. Michael McDonald
Michael McDonald played perhaps one of the most beloved MADtv characters, the oversized man-child Stuart. Stuart appeared with his mother in many skits including “Stuart Goes to School,” “Stuart Goes to his Dad’s,” and “Stuart Gets a Rival.” Another recurring character of his was Larry, an over-obsessive film fanatic that worked at a movie rental store.
So what’s he up to nowadays? Michael is definitely still very engaged in the film, television, and comedy scenes. Most recently, he’s been in movies like The Boss (Bryce Crean), The Heat (Julian), and Spy (Patrick). He’s been in many more television series such as Scrubs (Mike Davis), Community (Insurance Adjuster), Web Therapy (Ben Tomlund), Newsreaders (James Jordan), and Cougar Town (Wayne Gibbons). He’s got a large twitter following and occasionally makes comedic appearances, so monitor his social profiles to catch where you might see him next!
11. Alex Borstein
Miss Swan is certainly Alex Borstein’s most famous character on MADtv, with such famous sketches as “Miss Swan at the Candy Store,” “Miss Swan at the Drive Through,” and “Miss Swan on the Sex Line.” While Miss Swan was an Asian character played by a White woman, which is inadvisable and pretty racist, Alex was pretty damn hilarious and Miss Swan is known as one of the most iconic characters of the MADtv world.
So where did Alex go? Um, Alex has been everywhere. You’re most likely to recognize her in one of her many voice acting roles in Family Guy (Lois Griffin, Tricia Takanawa), Bordertown (Janice), Robot Chicken (Wonder Woman), and The Cleveland Show (Hadassah Lowenstein). Though you’ve certainly also seen her acting since MADtv in projects like Workaholics (Colleen Walker), Getting On (Dawn Forchette), Love the Coopers (Angie), Shameless (Lou Deckner), A Million Ways to Die in the West (Millie), and Ted (John’s mom).
10. Crista Flanagan
Crista played in a lot of skits. Some of her most memorable skits and characters were Yvonne in the “Can I Have Your Number?” skit and a customer/straight player in the “Bon Qui Qui” skit. In fact, she played the straight player, the character who has the voice of reason in an outlandish situation, many, many times in the MADtv skits.
Crista’s stayed active in the comedy entertainment industry since MADtv ended, but she’s never graduated far above the level she was at with the sketch comedy group. Her most notable appearances have been in Vampire’s Suck (the Twilight parody movie; she played Eden), Mad Men (one of her few serious roles as Lois Sadler), and Disaster Movie (an obvious parody where she played a comical Juno character). She still books a lot of work, but mostly in small roles that give the audience a familiar, but not distracting, face.
9. Phil LaMarr
Remember Phil? One of his most memorable sketches was “Ms. Swan on a Plane.” Though he was a consistent member of the cast, it was rare that his characters made reappearances. He was better known as being a supporting actor in other well-known sketches.
So what’s he been doing ever since? You likely haven’t seen Phil in a lot of shows since then, but you’ve heard him. Phil dove into voice acting, and he voices some truly beloved characters on television, including Nick Fury (Shaded), Ollie Williams (Family Guy), Hermes Conrad (Futurama), and J.A.R.V.I.S. (The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes). That’s not even to mention his work in video games, including Injustice (Aquaman), Dead Island Riptide (Sam), and Lego Marvel Superheroes (Gambit, Blade, War Machine, and more). Though he has made appearances in movies and shows like Veep and The Millers, you’re much more likely to have heard him than seen him.
8. Keegan Michael – Key & Jordan Peele
They’re two separate people, each with amazing sets of sketches. Keegan’s well known for his “Coach Hines” sketch, and Jordan is best known for his “R. Kelly Trapped in the Cupboard” sketch. So why are they listed here together? Because their chemistry together on MADtv inspired an entire show that is all theirs.
Key and Peele is a hilarious sketch comedy show featuring the two comedians’ witty banter. Some of the most memorable sketches they’ve done have been “The Valet Guys” (heads up, it’ll spoil all of Game of Thrones for you), “Georgina and Esther and Satan,” and “Gay Wedding Advice.” They’ve each had a lot of success outside of their sketch show too, with appearances in such popular shows as Angie Tribeca, Parks and Recreation, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, and Children’s Hospital. The two are staying incredibly busy; while MADtv was a great start for them, they’ve gone on to better and brighter things!
7. Nicole Parker
Some of Nicole’s best known moments on MADtv included “The Ashlee Simpson Show,” her Ellen DeGeneres parody of “I Kissed a Girl,” and all of her various Britney Spears skits, especially the “Me Against the Music” parody. She did a shocking amount of singing on the show, considering she wasn’t a remarkably good singer.
These days Nicole isn’t so busy anymore. Maybe she made her riches already, maybe she got tired of the entertainment industry, or maybe it got tired of her. In any case, you’re not likely to see her in anything new – she hasn’t acted since 2014. Her last roles were on Hot in Cleveland (Jessica) and It Could Be Worse (a super-fan). As much as we loved Nicole’s music video parodies, we’re not likely to see her produce anything new anytime soon.
6. Frank Caliendo
Frank Caliendo played many caricatures of real life people on MADtv, including John Madden in skits like “John Madden for The Popcorn Popper,” “John Madden for Ace Powertools,” and “John Madden for Vagisil.” A lot of his time on the show was spent doing fake infomercials that went horribly awry, ending in cheap bloody effects that worked for a few good laughs.
These days, Caliendo is staying busy with stand up comedy and the occasional film gig. His current comedy tour goes through July. If you want to see more of his sketch comedy, check out his latest #IfTrumpWere videos, where he puts his caricature version of Donald Trump in the shoes of different professionals, including a kindergarten teacher, a tarot card reader, and a basketball coach. You might also have seen him in episodes of Sullivan and Son (Ralph), Hot in Cleveland (Kenny), or his own sketch show that lasted a year, Frank TV.
5. Stephnie Weir
Stephnie Weir was always a little weird, from her looks to her characters. She played in many memorable skits as many memorable characters, but perhaps her most popular was Dot, an overexcited and not too wise eight-year-old, who appeared in such skits as “Dot on Oprah,” “Dot and the Psychiatrist,” and “Dot Reunited with Karen.”
Stephnie has kept very busy since MADtv turned off their cameras. She’s been working consistently in the film and television industries. Some of her most recognizable roles have been on Key & Peele, alongside fellow MADtv alumni, Children’s Hospital, Modern Family, Fun With Dick and Jane, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. She has three projects that will all likely release within the next year and a half: movies Fist Fight and Standby, as well as the television show Dream Corp LLC.
4. Will Sasso
Will Sasso is the memorable heavy-set White man from the stages of MADtv (it’s actually impressive how diverse the cast was, in retrospect). Some of his most memorable skits were “Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Sound Studio,” “Entertainment Tonight with Steven Seagal,” “JackAss with Kenny Rogers,” “Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino Get Ice Cream,” and “Date Line with George Lucas.” His impressions were shockingly spot-on and very entertaining.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, he’s busier than ever now that MADtv is over. Thus far into 2016 alone, he’s already booked over ten film and television projects, including such hits as Children’s Hospital (Tucker/Officer Balint), Shameless (Yanis), and Hashtaggers (Himself). He’s also a lead in the already announced sequel to The Three Stooges movie (check him out as Curly). Finally, he’ll be in the greatly anticipated movie Henchmen, an animated movie about the bad guys that do all the work behind a villain’s plan.
3. Nicole Sullivan
Nicole played a lot of crazy characters in a lot of wacky skits on MADtv, including her crazy character of Antonia in “Free Pizza,” “Word Association,” and “Christmas with Antonia.” She also played the ridiculous character of Lida in skits like “Melina and Lida Get Robbed,” “Karaoke,” and “Melina and Lida at the Fire Station.” Her characters are completely outrageous and hilarious to watch.
Recently, she’s stayed very busy with her film and television career. You might recognize her from her work in shows like Blackish (Janine), Grey’s Anatomy (JJ), and Bones (Joanne DeMarco), or from movies like Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday (Shelly), Heaven’s Floor (Karen), and All Stars (Jill Levitan). She also has quite an impressive voice over career. Her very recognizable voice can be heard on such popular television shows as Family Guy, BoJack Horseman, and The Penguins of Madagascar (specifically as Marlene).
2. Mo Collins
Mo Collins was arguably one of the most hilarious actors on MADtv. She played the crotchety old lady Lorraine Swanson in skits like “Lorraine in the Second Hand Store,” “Lorraine on Price is Right,” and “Lorraine Buys a Bed.” She also played Carol Finney on the “Lillian Verner Game Show” skit. Her impression of Shakira was hilarious, and her role as Stuart’s mother in the Stuart sketches left us rolling in laughter.
These days, she’s keeping the laughs going with her very busy comedy career. She was one of our favorite side characters in Parks and Recreation (Joan Callamezzo, the local talk show host), a hilarious topic of an episode of Modern Family (Denise), and a great addition to the new cast of a new comedy show, Fresh Off the Boat (Christa). She also does a ton of voice over work with her peculiar voices she would do on MADtv, including shows like Family Guy, Sheriff Callie’s Wild West, F is for Family, and Clash-A-Rama.
1. Bobby Lee
Bobby was the only Asian-American actor on MADtv, and it earned him a lot of great (though sometimes very racist or politically incorrect) roles in the show. Some of his better known characters were himself in “24 with John Cena, Triple H in the “High School Wrestling Match” skit, a scientist in “North Korea Science,” and the translator in the “French Airport” skit.
These days, Bobby is still busy in comedy. He’s currently on tour through June of this year. He’s also been busy in other mediums. You may have seen him in NCIS: Los Angeles, Love, The League, Arrested Development, or The Comedians. You may also have heard him doing voiceover work in Nature Cat, The Awesomes, or TripTank. He’s also done a few short films, such as Out of Love and The Comments. No matter what form of television or film your enjoy watching, you can find Bobby Lee still hard at work.