Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

‘Almost Live!’ lives on

Love letter to greatest Seattle sketch show of all time
Trayton Pike watches almost live as a young child. (Courtesy of Trayton Pike)

There are only so many pieces of media that both capture the culture of a place in the world perfectly, while also being a work of art. The first example that comes to mind for me is a sketch show that ended two decades ago.

“Almost Live!” was a comedy show that was created and aired in Seattle from 1984 to 1999. KING-TV spent those 15 years creating some of the most creative and funniest moments in sketch comedy history like “Billy Quan” and “The John Report.” 

When I was growing up, my parents were kind enough to introduce me to some of the episodes of the show. In my younger years, I loved the more cartoonish recurring sketches on the show, like “Billy Quan,” a parody of Bruce Lee’s movies, and “Speed Walker,” a superhero whose sole superpower is pretty easy to guess. I watched clips of the show constantly on YouTube from then on. 

Years later, after I became an official Seattleite with my enrollment in Seattle Pacific University, I began to watch “Almost Live!” regularly again. It was at this point that I started enjoying the show on a whole new level  — not that I’m above childish humor now because, for the record, I am not. 

Even though “Almost Live!” revels in absurdist humor, the show really shines in picking apart Seattle culture and turning it on its head for ways residents of the city can enjoy.

For example, one of the recurring segments on “Almost Live!” was a parody of the TV show “Cops,” with each episode showing a unit in a different area of Washington. Each segment plays on certain stereotypes of the area, most of which I did not get as a kid, but find hilarious now. One of my personal favorites is “Cops in U-District,” which humorously mocks the University of Washington and fraternity life. 

A lot of other sketches take place throughout different famous locations, like “Speed Walker,” whose adventures have taken him from the University of Washington to Dick’s Drive-In to the Kingdome — all of which were hilariously made. Other sketches parody events in Seattle in the 90s, like one tackling an area code change with a press conference full of idiots announcing the change. It sounds mundane, but I promise it is anything but.

“Almost Live!” is, despite its appearance, an incredibly cultured show about Seattle and its many quirks, but the thing I love most about it is that at its core it is incredibly funny. On top of all the sketches I have already mentioned, there are so many that still make me laugh no matter how many times I have seen them: “The John Report,” “Man on the Street” and “The Worst Girlfriend in the World,” are just a few on my list. 

I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the more notable contributions to entertainment that “Almost Live!” is responsible for. The show had a lot of great cast members during its run who went on to become big stars, with two in particular being Joel McHale and Bill Nye, with the latter getting the name, “Bill Nye the Science Guy” on the show. Anyone who has ever watched an episode of “Community” or got to watch Bill Nye during school has “Almost Live!” to thank.

Unfortunately, “Almost Live!” hasn’t been almost live since the ‘90s, and exists mainly through home recordings and YouTube uploads. There were two unsuccessful attempts to revive the show in recent years in the form of the shows “The (206)” and “Up Late NW,” but both ended fairly quickly. Though some may say 15 years is a long run for a TV show, I could not agree less in this situation. If the quality stayed up, “Almost Live!” had an eternity of great shows left to air.

Even though it’s been gone for some time now, I hope that KING-TV may someday grant us all a miracle and bring it back. I grew up with the show, loved it then, and I love it even more now. Not only that, but I see the importance it had and the role it can serve today. As long as there are people with a sense of humor, or at least people in Seattle – and last I checked, there are — there should always be a place on TV for “Almost Live!”

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About the Contributor
Trayton Pike, Features Editor
My name is Trayton Pike. I'm a history major. My hobbies include hanging out with friends, watching movies, and listening to the Beatles.
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