Comedy Central is an American basic cable television channel, currently part of MTV Networks. Its programming include original and second-run sitcoms, comedy talkshows, animated programs, stand up comedy and sketch shows, and other comedy airings.
Founded on April Fool's Day 1991, it began as a combination of HBO's The Comedy Channel and MTV Networks' Ha!. The Comedy Channel had the distinction of being the first television channel devoted entirely to comedy programming, while rival Ha! was started a year later to broadcast reruns of sitcoms and stand-up comedy. After only a couple years as competitors with limited markets, Time Warner and Viacom agreed to merge their ventures into one network that was initially titled CTV: The Comedy Network. Because the two networks were owned by two separate media conglomerates, both retained equal power over the network.
The network dwelled in obscurity for most of the beginning of its life. Overall, the channel was a depository for stand-up clip shows and dated comedy specials from the previous decade. In its early years, Comedy Central found small success with some original programming, like Mystery Science Theater 3000 (acquired from Sci-Fi), the initial run of Politically Incorrect, The Kids in the Hall and Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. However, it wasn't until 1997 that the channel became popular with the production of South Park. As word-of-mouth spread about the cartoon, cable television company requests for the addition of Comedy Central exploded, and it was available in over 50% of American homes by 1998.
In 2003, Viacom bought out Time Warner's half of the company, making it a purely MTV Networks owned channel. In the 2000s, the network has been brought back into the spotlight because of such breakout hit shows as Chappelle's Show and the massive increase in popularity of The Daily Show since Jon Stewart took over the reins in 1999. Other staples of programming include the Secret Stash—a block of uncut programming (often a movie or a stand-up act) airing Saturdays at Midnight—and Friday Night Stand-Up.
Since 2002, the channel has also taken to producing DVDs and CDs under the label Comedy Central Records. They have released albums and DVDs by comedians such as Lewis Black, Mitch Hedberg, Dave Attell and Dane Cook. The network has also taken to signing larger deals with comedians like Jeff Dunham to produce stand-up specials, TV series, live tours, CDs and DVDs under a single all-over contract.
On January 13, 2009, MTV Networks launched Comedy Central HD, a 1080i simulcast of standard definition Comedy Central programming. Although most of the network's programming is SD and stretched to fit a widescreen display, several original series have been broadcast in HD, including South Park, Michael & Michael Have Issues, The Sarah Silverman Program. and Reno 911!. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report both began broadcasting in HD starting in 2010.
- Program Listing: A complete listing of shows that aired new episodes on Comedy Central.
- Syndicated Program Listing: A complete listing of syndicated shows aired on Comedy Central.
- Special Program Listing: A complete listing of specials and events aired on Comedy Central.
Shows in Limbo