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A Legend of the Comedy World
Comedy Central is one of those television networks that many of us grew up with. For the past 30 years or so, this channel has kept us laughing and poking fun at the world with some of the finest comedy content ever recorded. They brought the world some of the most iconic sketch comedy shows of all time, such as Chapelle’s Show, Key and Peele, Inside Amy Schumer, Crank Yankers, The Man Show, and The Kroll Show. They have been responsible for some of the most critically acclaimed and influential comedy series, like South Park, Reno 911, Drunk History, Broad City, and Workaholics (just to name a few).
The network is also responsible for creating the satirical news show that changed the world, The Daily Show. And, of course, there are the iconic and hilarious Comedy Central Roasts that are held every so often and give comedians and celebrities the opportunity to pay homage to (and eviscerate) some of the most notorious figures in show business – Donald Trump, Justin Bieber, Alec Baldwin, James Franco, Bob Saget, and Flavor Flav, for example, have all been on the receiving end of savage jokes hurled by a star-studded dais.
Of course, this is not all that Comedy Central has done for the world of comedy. It has also launched countless careers thanks to its many exclusive standup specials. Almost every comedian in the game, at one point or another, has performed standup for Comedy Central. The catalog would be far too long to parse out, but it is extensive and a very fun trip through the history of standup comedy, at least from the 90s to today.
Comedy Central actually started out with a different name. In November of 1989, Time-Life (who owns HBO) launched The Comedy Channel – the world’s first all comedy cable channel. Meanwhile, two years later, a rival network was created by Viacom called Ha! Eventually, however, The Comedy Channel and Ha! would merge, which resulted in the very first iteration of programming that looks like the Comedy Central that we know and love today.
Prior to the merger, Ha! specialized in airing syndicated reruns of situational comedy series and sketch shows. This is where The Comedy Channel would acquire its syndication power (an asset that has served Comedy Central well to this day). In the early days, shows on The Comedy Channel tended to be more talk show oriented – comedian hosts interviewing guests or telling jokes between sketches – with a few exceptions, like the unique and unconventional shows, Mystery Science Theater and Onion World with Rich Hall.
Upon the merger, The Comedy Channel also changed its name. This time it was to be called The Comedy Network. Not a huge shift in branding, surely, but one more step towards the Comedy Central of today. The finalized name change, however, did not happen until around 1991. And with it came a slew of new and exciting programming. Early successes on Comedy Central include Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher (which was swiftly snatched up by ABC), Mystery Science Theater, and the original iteration of The Daily Show (hosted by Craig Kilborn).
Comedy Central is also responsible for the birth of the comedy game show as a mainstream genre of television programming. During the network’s initial era, between the years of 1991 and 1997, Comedy Central introduced shows like Win Ben Stein’s Money and brought Whose Line is it Anyway? to an American audience (and we all know what a smash that show would end up becoming).
In 1997, everything changed. This is the year when South Park aired for the first time. Suddenly, with the addition of this game-changing and controversial animated series, everyone wanted Comedy Central added to their cable services. By 1998, 50% of US homes had access to Comedy Central. It was only a matter of time before Comedy Central was to become a staple of all cable networks in the US. And with the turn of the millennium, Comedy Central continued to create quality content – bringing the world John Stewart’s Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and introducing Dave Chapelle to the scene through his classic sketch series, Chapelle’s Show. And with that, a lynchpin to the comedy industry was born; Comedy Central is here to stay.
From Unknown Cable Channel to Streaming Giant
Today, though, most people that view Comedy Central’s content, of course, do not do so through cable TV. In the era of streaming, every network worth its salt has a streaming service of their own. And Comedy Central is no exception. The central difference, however, is that Comedy Central’s streaming site is actually really good. Unfortunately, not every network can say the same.
In order to access Comedy Central’s streaming service, however (at least in order to unlock the entirety of the site and app), you do still need to be a cable or satellite service subscriber. Sadly, that is the only way to log into Comedy Central’s streaming site. Comedy Central accepts cable and satellite customers of AT&T, Century Link, Spectrum, COX, DirecTV, Dish, Frontier, Mediacom, Optimum, SuddenLink, Verizon, and Wow. If you are not a customer of one of these companies, unfortunately, you cannot stream all of Comedy Central’s content.
And that would truly be a shame, too, because there is a ton of it to be enjoyed. Not only can you stream entire episodes of all your favorite shows (new and old alike), you can access Comedy Central’s enormous back catalog of canceled shows, old standup specials, short-form Comedy Central online skits, and Comedy Central Roasts. Of course, you can also watch Comedy Central programming live in real-time. If it’s ever been on Comedy Central or is currently airing on Comedy Central, the network’s streaming service will enable you to watch it.
Not only does Comedy Central’s streaming site have plenty of award-winning and iconic shows to enjoy until your eyes can’t take it anymore, there is also some classic and beloved syndicated programming for viewers to enjoy. For example, you can stream full episodes of Netflix’s Bojack Horseman, The Office, and Parks and Recreation (just to name a few). As far as content is concerned, there is no arguing with Comedy Central’s penchant for quality, that is for sure.
There is so much to love about Comedy Central. And I could go on for pages and pages about everything that is great about it. But what about drawbacks? Is there anything that Comedy Central could work on improving about the site, the functionality, the features, and the streaming quality? Well, let’s dive in and take a look, shall we?
Time to Roast this Site
Right off the bat, I have to say that I am very torn on how I feel about the site’s overall design. It is certainly professional looking, don’t get me wrong. It is sleek, classy, you might even say ‘elegant.’ It is not, however, the easiest or most streamlined site in the world. So, as far as site design is concerned: it looks incredible, but it leaves a little bit to be desired in the way of practical functionality.
For instance, every show has its own tailormade site design and layout. Clicking on South Park, say, will bring you to basically an entirely different site. But clicking on Chapelle’s Show stays in step with the rest of Comedy Central’s site design. It is a little confusing, to be honest … maybe it’s just me, but I like my sites, especially ones that peddle such a large quantity of content, to be consistent. I want to be able to quickly and without much thought begin watching the show that I want to watch. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Comedy Central.
The other thing that is a big downside when it comes to this site is the fact that there is no really easy way to simply browse content. All Comedy Central’s programming is archived alphabetically. Which is fine if you are looking for a very specific show and know it by name. However, it is not ideal when it comes to looking through the catalog for something new to watch. Unlike Netflix or Hulu, Comedy Central does not recommend content based on your viewing history. Nor does it break the content down into sections by genre or comedian. A better organizational structure, on the whole, would do wonders for this otherwise great streaming site.
Other than that, though, Comedy Central streaming is great. Crystal clear picture quality (even on live TV), tons of classic shows, and rare standup specials with some of the most legendary comedians of all time all add up to make this an impressive streaming site experience overall. If you already have cable or satellite, what are you waiting for? Go over to comedycentral.com now and log in to start streaming the laughs.