The Comedy Channel (United States)

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The Comedy Channel
The Comedy Channel logo.jpg
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; A World of Comedy Under One Roof

The Comedy Channel was a television comedy cable channel owned by HBO, a division of Time Warner. It premiered on November 15, 1989 at 6 PM ET. In 1991, HBO agreed to merge the channel with Viacom's competing channel, Ha!.[1] The new network, CTV: The Comedy Network, premiered on April 1, 1991, but rebranded to Comedy Central on June 1, 1991.

Most of the Comedy Channel's original programs were produced in the HBO Downtown Studios on East 23rd Street in Manhattan.[citation needed]


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; Alan King: Inside the Comedy Mind; 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. Commercial breaks often included "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey," which would later be featured on Saturday Night Live.

Standard format[edit]

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, and was one of the few shows that survived the network merger.

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[edit]

In 1990, The Comedy Channel and Ha! agreed to merge their operations and create a new channel called CTV: The Comedy Network, which debuted on April 1, 1991;[1] prior to the merger, each channel had fewer than 10 million subscribers. The Comedy Channel struggled both commercially and critically; critics derided the hodgepodge of clips from comedy films and stand-up comedy acts that filled the long gaps between original programs.[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.

Current Ownership of "The Comedy Channel"[edit]

The registered trademark for "The Comedy Channel" is owned by The Comedy Channel (a California corporation), which has been owned by Mitzi Shore since 1982, which distributes in-house performances from Shore's well-known Sunset Strip comedy club, The Comedy Store. The trademark was licensed to HBO just before the Ha!/Comedy Channel merger after a period of time where Shore sued HBO for trademark infringement on the Comedy Channel name.[3][4][5]


  1. ^ a b Carter, Bill (1990-12-19). "2 Comedy Channels Will Merge". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-03-16. 
  2. ^ Ernest Tucker. "The comedy cable clash // Who will laugh last?", Chicago Sun-Times, April 1, 1990. Retrieved March 2, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
  3. ^ "The Los Angeles Times, Legal File". May 24, 1989. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  4. ^ Rea, Steven (May 30, 1989). "Two Cable Nets To Joke Around The Clock". The Philadelphia Inquirer (Interstate General Media). Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  5. ^ "U.S. Patent and Trademark Office". Retrieved September 4, 2014.