From 1985 to 1999, the talented cast of Almost Live! made fun of just about every community in the Puget Sound region. And we loved it.
The show on KING-TV, originally hosted in a talk show format by Ross Shafer, became a cult classic when John Keister and company converted it to a wild late night collection of sketch comedy. With Pat Cashman’s voice and the craziness of Tracey Conway, Nancy Guppy, Bob Nelson, Bill Stainton, Steve Wilson, and others, the cast delivered catch phrases (“Lame!”) and recurring features (The John Report). They routinely mocked Seattle’s contemporary hi-tech, coffee, grunge, and yuppie cultures. And Almost Live! produced unforgettable parodies of Seattle’s neighbors — most often targeting Ballard, Kent, and Enumclaw.
Sure, New York had a national live comedy, but Seattle often packed more laughs into its shorter local product. It also launched a few nationally-recognized figures. Bill Nye was a regular Almost Live! comic cast member who occasionally dabbled in noisy or messy science demonstrations. Those routines led to Disney’s Bill Nye The Science Guy (1993-98). In later seasons of Almost Live!, you might spot Joel McHale, who has since become known as host of The Soup on E! and a star of NBC’s Community.
Gathering a list of favorite Almost Live! sketches was on our minds before WA-List even debuted as a website. But it was no quick and easy task to sift through the nearly 200 sketches we found on the Internet. We passed the nominated clips to a group of WA-List friends and asked for their opinions. After two months of viewing and voting, our reviewers submitted the names of their favorite clips. Although laughter was often heard, we can happily report that no one suffered an overdose of the 1990s during this process. We tallied the votes and can now present you with our group’s 35 favorite Almost Live! videos. We’ll obnoxiously stamp the list as Almost Definitive. If you have different favorites, though, please let us now. Comment below on this page OR share your list on WA-List’s Facebook page.
OUR Almost Definitive! 35 FAVORITE ALMOST LIVE! SKETCHES
- Ballard Driving Academy (The near-unanimous choice of our voters.)
- Roscoe’s Rug Emporium (A devastating parody of a real local commercial.)
- Politically Correct Seattle
- WSU Orientation
- Bill Nye as Speed Walker
- Studs from Microsoft
- Green Riverdance
- COPS in Kent (One of many COPS spoofs: Ballard, Leavenworth, Mercer Island, the U-District, etc.)
- How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Kingdome? (ala Julie Andrews)
- Lynnwood Beauty Academy
- Seattle is a Changing (ala Bob Dylan)
- US Bell – New Area Codes
- Pike or Pine (One of many game show parodies.)
- Ineffectual Middle Management Suck-Ups
- Nature Walk with Chuck (Chuck went on several Northwest “nature walks.”)
- Seattle Drivers in Snow
- East Side Story (Leonard Bernstein, Bellevue-style.)
- Billy Quan: Yard Sale of Fury (One of many Bruce Lee-inspired parodies.)
- High Five’n White Guys (The first in a series of …. Well, we can’t quite explain it.)
- Dressing Up in the Northwest
- Street-walking Lawyers of Aurora Avenue
- High Five’n White Guys Catch Mariner Fever
- Gilligan Therapy (The Professor lived nearby and was a fan.)
- Billy Quan: Enter the Bowler
- Worst Girlfriend in the World (One in a series.)
- Sluggy Come Home
- Bill Nye the Science Guy: Balloons and Bubbles (One of many Science Guy demos before kids knew him.)
- Unsolved Mysteries of Seattle
- Underpants Crafters
- Vasectomy Clinic
- Weather Update
- Alonzo’s East Asian Floor Coverings
- Ode to Renton
- Ballard Files (An X Files spoof.)
NOTE ON THE VIDEOS: This list links to existing YouTube videos simply because they’re available and they grant us a chance to watch them again after all these years. WA-List did not post any of these videos nor do we know any of the individuals who did. But thank you, whoever you are!
SOURCES: The rankings derived from our wonderful team of reviewers. They put in a lot of time watching video clips and choosing 10 or more favorites each for our final list. Big THANK YOUs go out to John, Kari, Maria, Mark, Mike, Sean, Stuart, and Tim! The WA-List editor did not vote, but broke a few ties for a straight up-and-down list. Most of the information within the article were from WA-List files or the clips themselves. Information about Bill Nye The Science Guy and Community were gleaned from the Internet Movie Database.
IMAGE: We made the simple television graphic in-house. The original TV show logo (not shown here) is the property of KING-TV.
GLIMMERS OF A SEQUEL: John Keister and Pat Cashman have made efforts this summer to revive a sketch comedy series in Seattle. See hints of their efforts at The (206). If the reprise doesn’t make it? Lame!