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The Comedy Channel (USA)

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Title: The Comedy Channel (USA)  
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Subject: Ernie Kovacs, Joel Robinson, Short Attention Span Theater, Comedy
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The Comedy Channel (USA)

The Comedy Channel
The Comedy Channel logo from 1989-1991 before merging with HA! to become its current form, Comedy Central.
Launched November 15, 1989
Closed April 1, 1991
Owned by Home Box Office, Inc.
(Time Warner)
Slogan Something Funny's Going on Here

The Comedy Channel was an all-comedy cable television network owned by HBO, a division of Time Warner. It premiered on November 15, 1989 at 6 p.m. ET, and merged with Viacom's HA! to become CTV: The Comedy Network (later renamed Comedy Central) on April 1, 1991. Most of the programs were produced in the HBO Downtown Studios on East 23rd Street in Manhattan.


The format prior to the merger included several original and unconventional programs such as Onion World with Rich Hall and Mystery Science Theater 3000, as well as laid-back variety/talk shows hosted by stand-up comedians, including The Sweet Life with Rachel Sweet, Tommy Sledge, Private Eye, Night After Night with Allan Havey, Sports Monster and The Higgins Boys and Gruber, the latter of whom performed sketches in between showings of vintage television serials like Supercar, Clutch Cargo, and Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.

Standard format

The standard format for these shows usually involved the various hosts introducing clips culled from the acts of stand-up comedians as well as classic comedies of the 1970s and 1980s, such as Young Frankenstein and Kentucky Fried Movie, presented in a style similar to music videos. In the early days, certain hours of the day when clips were shown without "host segments" were dubbed Short Attention Span Theater. In 1990, hosts under this title, Jon Stewart and Patty Rosborough, were introduced. Comedian Marc Maron also hosted the series.

In the final months before the merger, the channel developed an eight-hour programming block that was shown three times during a 24-hour period, including such things as reruns of Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Ha! and Comedy Channel merge to create Comedy Central

In 1990, The Comedy Channel and Ha! agreed to merge their operations and create a new channel called CTV: The Comedy Network, which made its debut on April 1, 1991;[1] prior to the merger, both channels each had fewer than 10 million subscribers, The Comedy Channel in particular not only suffered both commercially but also critically with negative reviews by critics of its hodgepodge of clips of comedy films and stand-up comedy acts interspersed within its programming.[2] In order to avoid confusion and trademark issues with Canadian over-the-air broadcast network CTV, now owned by Bell Media, which is a subsidiary of BCE Inc, the name of the network was subsequently changed to Comedy Central on June 1, 1991.


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