Cheap Seats without Ron Parker (commonly shortened to Cheap Seats) was a television program broadcast on ESPN Classic hosted by brothers Randy and Jason Sklar. The brothers appear as fictional ESPN tape librarians who amuse themselves by watching old, campy sports broadcasts and wisecracking about them.
Cheap Seats debuted on February 4, 2004, with an episode that showed ESPN sportscaster "Ron Parker" (played by Michael Showalter and supposedly the intended host for the show) getting buried under a shelf full of tapes, forcing the Sklars to fill in, as they were behind Parker on the "hosting depth chart." Ryan Leaf was behind the Sklars on the depth chart. Cheap Seats was originally an hour-long program. There were about 10 one hour-long episodes in the first season, all of which were subsequently cut down to fit a 30 minute time slot.
Some other regularly featured highlights include a Breakdown (in which ESPN analyst Sean Salisbury will comedically break down an athlete's performance in a previously hosted segment), Do Not Lend Tapes to This Person (which is usually a pre/post-commercial close-up shot of a poster featuring a notorious celebrity as in Vince McMahon or George W. Bush , athlete or fictional character such as Big Foot or Freddy Krueger), What to Look For (in which the Sklar brothers point out certain happenings that they find ironic or personally amusing), Cheap Shot of the Week (which usually showcases an athlete featured earlier in the show at their worst), and What Got Cut (which shows the viewer at home what didn't make the cut due to time constraints, and also an acknowledgment that the show once ran in hour-long episodes, rather than the latter half-hour).
The show is influenced chiefly by Mystery Science Theater 3000 and MTV's Beavis and Butt-head, as the hosts comment on the material in the style of a peanut gallery. The "Creative Breaking/K-1 Fighting" episode featured Mike Nelson, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot from Mystery Science Theater 3000, in their "Theatre" silhouette form, cracking wise on sketches the Brothers performed.
Cheap Seats was shot in New York City (with segments filmed in Los Angeles) and had made use of local comedians as guest stars in its sketches, including Ed Helms of The Daily Show, Michael Showalter of The State and Ian Roberts of The Upright Citizens Brigade. Most of the bit parts were played by stand-up comics whom Jason and Randy met during their years on the road as standups themselves.
ESPN Classic broadcasted an all-day marathon of Cheap Seats episodes on Thanksgiving Day 2004, an homage to the similar marathons of MST3K that were frequently run on Comedy Central during Thanksgiving in the first half of the 1990s.
Many other comedians have made cameos on the show as characters, including Brian Posehn, Patton Oswalt, and Zach Galifianakis, who took a break from the Comedians of Comedy tour to tape their parts during the summer of 2005.
It should also be noted that the episodes with the live audience have since been re-edited in the sound department so that they cannot be heard, or minimally heard, during the regular segments of the show. Repeat telecasts of episodes produced prior to and during this period still contain a graphic instructing viewers to go to the Cheap Seats website to obtain tickets for the show.
During Season 3, Cheap Seats went to Hillsborough, New Jersey, after a contestant won a contest for the Sklars to do an episode on her couch. The episode was titled Cheap Seats' on the Road: A Fan's Couch'.
after 77 episodes, we're bringing Cheap Seats to a close by cleaning out our video closet in a very special series finale.The finale aired on November 19, 2006 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time and included racquetball, amateur bowling, curling, model airplane racing, and ping-pong. The episode's main focus was on the Sklars fictitiously getting a job as anchors on ESPN's SportsCenter. However, it turned out they weren't hired to be anchors, but as errand boys to the anchors. In the last sequence of the show, it featured New York Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon (a Cheap Seats fan) and the character the Score Settler as the apparent new hosts of the show, but it was a short stint because Damon stole one of the Score Settler's lines. Before the last episode, ESPN Classic presented 12 previous episodes in a six hour "finale-a-thon."
Cheap Seats was added back to ESPN Classic's schedule on September 16, 2007 with a day long marathon. It is now shown on weeknights at 2:00 AM EST on the network and sporadically at 1:00PM and 1:30PM on weekdays. Selected episodes from the first season are still available for purchase through the iTunes Store.