Many have argued that the 1990s comedy troupe Stella, comprised of comedians David Wain, Michael Ian Black, and Michael Showalter, created the template for the ultra-popular YouTube skits that pop up on our news feeds every other day. (And truthfully, those viral Lonely Island Digital Shorts probably wouldn’t exist either if it weren’t for Stella). Stella themselves reminded us that they’re the forefathers of low-budget absurdist comedy this week, when they released their first online sketch in almost ten years.
In the five minute “Rip Van Winkle,” the permanently suited-up Wain, Black, and Showalter wake up in a “San Francisco” hotel room (the clip first debuted in January, when the trio reunited at the San Francisco Sketch Fest). Like with most Stella sketches, everything initially seems to be relatively normal, (other than the fact that the beautiful “San Francisco” view is clearly nothing other than a green screen projection) but soon takes an absurd turn.
After dismissing the room’s flat screen TV as an avant-garde art piece, flipping desperately through the channels to look for Oprah, tinkering with a thermostat to try to find Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” on the “transistor radio” and eventually looking at an actual calendar, the three come to the only logical conclusion---they’ve been asleep for 20 (or 21) years and have woken up in the year 2017. The discovery is clearly distressing, but they cheer up again when they realize that there’s probably still breakfast in “the future.”

Rip Van Winkle from David Wain on Vimeo.

Though the sketch doesn’t feature any of Stella’s famous cameos (unless you count the unidentified rando silently checking his phone in the background), the clip still serves up a heaping dose of nostalgia---it starts and ends with the same “Get On Your Feet” sound-alike sting that Stella’s always used, and ends off with a series of pieced-together segments from some of the trio’s older videos.
If you’re eager to delve further unto the Stella vault, check out their
Vimeo page and reminisce about the brief period of time when Bradley Cooper used to look like the long lost sixth member of NSYNC.