Time capsule: HBO’s 15th Annual Young Comedians

Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, HBO produced and broadcast a special devoted to young comedians. Not all of them hold up quite so well. One year introduced Steven Wright, but the rest of the hour makes you wonder what happened to America’s sense of humor. Then there was 1992, and the 15th annual special, taped at the Tempe Improv, hosted by Dana Carvey, introduced Judd Apatow, Bill Bellamy, Nick DiPaolo, Janeane Garofalo, Andy Kindler and Ray Romano.

Yeah. Quite a lineup there. I mention it because the special aired over the weekend and shows up on HBO Comedy again tonight, then again on Jan. 24 so you can take a look for yourself.

As host, Carvey managed to trot out most of his SNL character voices and impersonations for easy crowd pleasing. Bellamy is wearing a red suit, as if to make viewers think of Eddie Murphy. Apatow, whom you know now as a big-shot comedy producer and writer, wore a buttoned-up shirt without a tie. Romano noted up front that he was 34 at the time and asked if that still counted as young. Watching them all, you can see that Romano, Kindler and Garofalo had found their comedic voices that still make you laugh today. And if you think DiPaolo sounds bitter onstage today, just watch and hear his mood on the night of his big break! A few circumstantial pieces of evidence of HBO special bonding: A) Apatow and Garofalo immediately worked together on The Ben Stiller Show, B) they again worked on The Larry Sanders Show, with Apatow also writing an episode that had a part in it for Kindler, C) who also showed up a decade later as a recurring character on Everybody Loves Raymond.

Also filed under fun facts, the pre-show interviews with the comedians, which knowing where they all are 16 years later, is why these quotes should be filed under fun facts…

DiPaolo: "It means a lot. It means I’m going to be a big star someday. Either that, or I’m going to be next week working in St. Louis at Yuk Yuk’s again. For minimum wage."

Garofalo: "I have no self-esteem left, and I hate to be the girl comic that talks about those types of things and I never thought I would be, but I’m a beaten man."

Kindler: "I’m going to do a new thing where I just sell my paintings after the show. Along with the T-shirts and the coffee cups and the Andy Kindler signature crock pots that are available, in the lobby, and the Andy Kindler comedy video, which is always available, in the lobby, after the show. And I’d leave the record tab in, so if you want tape Murder, She Wrote over it, who really cares."

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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