Long before Comedy Central came into its own as a network with Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, South Park, and The Colbert Report, the fledgling cable network resembled something quite different. From the ashes of Ha! and The Comedy Channel rose Comedy Central, which was pretty much just cobbled together from episodes of Two Drink Minimum, Short Attention Span Theatre, and the undeniable charm of Joe Bolster. Paul Provenza’s Comics Only was not a line of windbreakers perfect for the stage à la Members Only, but the place for comics to come out and do stand-up while sitting down.
Host Provenza has been uploading segments from the show on his YouTube page and a clip featuring a young Louis CK has been making the rounds, thanks to Reddit. CK is still a young man, so he hasn’t grown into the grumpy, perpetually aggravated comedian that audiences have come to love from his more recent stand-up specials and his work on Louie. The seeds of his voice are certainly planted when he works a bit about pissing on things in New York City, but grumpy young men are apparently not as funny as grumpy older men. CK doesn’t even seem too bent out of shape that Provenza keeps mispronouncing his name. Paul Provenza’s YouTube channel also features appearances by young comedians Bill Hicks, Ellen DeGeneres, and Biff Tannen himself, Thomas F. Wilson.
Comics Only lasted for 165 episodes, and the comedian retooled the format for Showtime’s The Green Room With Paul Provenza in 2010, which featured a round table of comedians discussing the craft and lasted for two years.