I have this crazy idea. Back in 1985, my family got cable TV for the first time and it included HBO. I think at the start they just played stuff from 5-10pm and eventually they played stuff maybe 12hrs a day, but I seem to recall they'd just repeat 2 or 3 movies a few times a day and whatever deadspots they had, they filled it by running Bill Cosby's Himself.
I watched Bill Cosby's Himself probably 2 or 3 times a week for a good several years in my early teens. I know the entire thing by heart and can quote you almost any line if you give me a couple words.
There's this popular held belief about the birth of Skateboarding:
In the mid-Seventies, two events coincided in Southern California that gave rise to skateboarding as we now know it. The invention of the urethane wheel and the drought that emptied the pools across the city allowed the kids to ride their new boards in an entirely new way
It was covered well in the movies Dogtown and Z boys and Lords of Dogtown. I mention it because I've been a fan of stand-up comedy for three decades now and we're in a boom these past few years that feels much like the brick-backdrop comedy TV boom of the late 80s. We have comedy podcasts galore, huge comedy communities like A Special Thing, we have an entire website dedicated to short videos of just comedy, and we have stuff like The Onion going mainstream with video on demand and their popular website. Not to mention popular late night comedy talk shows are joined by The Daily Show and Colbert Report, which meld comedy with news. Fans of comedy are getting their daily fix like never before.
So here's my crazy idea: the boom in comedy these last few years is due to two things that go together well, the internet, for making the dissemination, publication, and promotion of comedy way easier than waiting for a TV network to give you a show 20 years ago, and the fact that a generation of kids got to watch Bill Cosby Himself every day after school for several years before HBO figured out how to gather enough programming to stop repeating themselves.