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How Girls Took Over Comedy Central: A Timeline

How Girls Took Over Comedy Central: A Timeline

By Megan Angelo

People tend to think of Comedy Central as a male-skewing network. The legacy of The Man Show's beers and bouncing babes—not to mention the '90s heyday of Girls Gone Wild infomercials—looms large in our collective pop culture memory. But the numbers too back up the boys' club assertion: Comedy Central's audience remains roughly two thirds men. Which is what makes the rise of female-driven hits on the network even cooler. Especially with juggernaut Inside Amy Schumer (which returns tonight and was renewed for a fourth season this morning), it may seem like the revolution is a sudden one. In reality, though, women have been killing it on Comedy Central since the beginning.

1991: Two networks, The Comedy Channel and Ha!, merge to create CTV: The Comedy Network. The name quickly morphs into Comedy Central.

1996: The Daily Show (hosted by Craig Kilborn) launches. It’s cocreated by Lizz Winstead, who serves as one of the original contributing correspondents, along with Susie Essman, Caroline Rhea, and Beth Littleford. (Original executive producer Madeleine Smithberg is a cocreator as well.)

1998: Before it's known as the theater that launched a thousand careers, Upright Citizens Brigadedebuts as a Comedy Central sketch show, starring a young unknown named Amy Poehler.

1998: Wanda Sykes is the first stand-up to headline a classic Comedy Central Presents half-hour special.

1999: Strangers With Candy, starring Amy Sedaris as a deranged junkie going back to high school, premieres. (Watch it here if you’ve never seen it.)

2003: Samantha Bee joins The Daily Show (now hosted by Jon Stewart). She’ll go on to become the program’s longest-running correspondent.

2003: RENO 911! premieres. Thanks to Niecy Nash, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kerry Kenney-Silver, and Mary Birdsong, it has a nearly gender-equal cast.

2004: The short-lived Wanda Does It premieres. The Wanda Sykes series was a kind of reality/stunt hybrid—after a problem in Sykes’ life cropped up, she’d learn a new trade, like gambling like a pro or being a repo agent. It lasted six episodes.

2004: Comedy Central hires network president Michele Ganeless, who remains at the helm today.

2007: The Sarah Silverman Program premieres. In its three seasons, the show touches on sexuality, mental illness, pregnancy, abortion, blackface, immigration, 9/11, homelessness, drugs, pedophilia, the Holocaust, and light bestiality. It runs until 2010.

2011: Workaholics premieres. It chronicles three grody male roommates and features butthole jokes (read: it’s a guy-audience slam dunk). But it also features meaty, hysterical roles for Maribeth Monroe and Jillian Bell.

2012: Amy Schumer’s hourlong special, Mostly Sex Stuff, notches the second-highest ratings for a Comedy Central special ever.

2012: Comedy Central hires development executive Brooke Posch, who follows in the footsteps of programming heads like Deborah Liebling and Lauren Corrao. The first project Posch pushes forward is a female-driven BFF comedy based on a successful Web series: Broad City.

2013: Kroll Show, from the mind of Nick Kroll, premieres. Jenny Slate and Chelsea Peretti—on their way to Obvious Child and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, respectively—have major recurring roles.

2013: Inside Amy Schumer launches. It quickly develops viral resonance, a reputation as good for feminism, and insane ratings. In fact, it’s the show men choose most in its time slot.

2014: Broad City premieres and quickly becomes a cult sensation.

2014: Sarah Babineau replaces Posch, who leaves to run Poehler’s production company, as head of development.

2015: Two generations of Comedy Central royalty collide when Glazer and Jacobson appear on The Daily Show and geek out over Stewart. (Basically, I just love this clip and think it deserves a place in history.)

TODAY: Comedy Central will unveil Another Period, starring Riki Lindholme and Natasha Leggero as narcissistic Victorians, and Idiotsitter, starring Jillian Bell as a grown brat and Charlotte Newhouse as her nanny, later this year.

Inside Amy Schumer returns tonight at 10:30 P.M. ET. Click here to relive season two's best moments and here to read our Q+A with head writer Jessi Klein.