DAR TV: In Living Color

Introduction by @TrueGodImmortal 

-April 15th 1990. The marking of the first episode of In Living Color. Following an episode of Married With Children, over 22 million people stay glued to their television to watch the beginning of a truly amazing saga that took place. The beginning of the Keenen Ivory Wayans created show that set out to push boundaries and truly take things to a much higher level in black comedy. Armed with someone of the funniest yet mostly unknown talent in the world, Fox and Keenen began to create something truly amazing. With stars like Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey, David Alan Grier, Shawn and Damon Wayans all really getting their big starts via this program, the sketch comedy format got a much needed shot of adrenaline as Saturday Night Live was far too boring and had become truly hit or miss regularly. With a new brand of sketch comedy that attacked and perpetuated stereotypes, as well as gave viewers some characters to identify with, the show captivated viewers during its time on television. Today, we take a look back at the legendary show, some of the characters, the funniest sketches, and more. Let's get into it.

Where do I even start with In Living Color? Keenen Ivory Wayans was a genius to me. He had a vision and ran with it. There aren't too many shows that came out in the 90s that I'll still watch, but that's one of them. Your favorite's favorite got his/her start on that stage and there's no debating that.

I liked the fact that Keenen brought his family on board. Damon, Shawn, and Kim had regular roles on the show and they each had something different to give to the show. Jamie Foxx, Kim Coles, Jim Carrey, Jennifer Lopez, and more...their careers catapulted after being a part of In Living Color. Rosie Perez was the choreographer for the Fly Girls. David Alan Grier and Tommy Davidson are classic comedians. This group will always share this common ground.

There were so many hilarious sketches that the show produced. But one that will forever stick out is Damon Wayans's character as Homey D. Clown. His famous line "Homey don't play that" brings tears to my eyes every time. Kim Wayans as Benita Buttrell is a good one, too. She had all the neighborhood gossip, but she made sure to cover herself with "but you didn't hear that from me." Oh man, I almost forgot about Jamie Foxx as Wanda! Cross eyed, blonde hair, big lips and hideous! Jamie made that character come alive in all her ghetto fabulousness.

I like how the show always ended with the cast coming together on stage. They were out of character and just being themselves. Keenen made sure to bring everyone together and that's dope. In Living Color was original and hilarious. It embodied the 90s as well as my childhood.

All I know is that J. Lo was a Fly Girl.

Still with me after the trollage? Good. In Living Color was more than just "Black SNL," especially since Jim Carrey, one of the biggest stars from the series, doesn't seem to be all that black. A new approach to the sketch comedy series with just the right amount of real shit in it, In Living Color helped not only promote FOX as "the hip network," but also helped propel the Wayans family to new heights. Sure, because of that, we get 50 Shades of Black in 2016, but hey. The good outweighs the bad. And without In Living Color, where would many of the modern sketch comedy shows be? From kids' fare like "All That" to the late, great Mad TV and even components of SNL, much of the sketch comedy of the 90s and 2000s had In Living Color to thank for upping the proverbial ante.

Have I fit my cliche quota for the day, yet, or should I keep gushing over the excellence of the show? Stop reading me and go find some reruns of it. Well, don't entirely stop reading me, but you know what I'm getting at.

I think the 90’s was all about pushing the envelope when it came to comedy (maybe we have Eddie Murphy to thank for that). It was like the perfect excuse to go in on pretty much anyone and get away with it. The world was generally less sensitive (it seems) so people got away with a lot, and “In Living Color” did just that. The mastermind behind the project, Keenen Ivory Wayans executed the vision of this perfectly and casted what would be the best mix of people and humor to make a TV favorite. In its run from 1990-1994, the show was a hit and would incorporate African-American culture, hiphop, dancing and who can forget the infamous “Fly Girls”.

The cast was probably one of the best, among them were the Wayans siblings, Jim Carrey, Kelly Coffield and Jamie Foxx (amongst others) would make a hilarious combination, and of course Jennifer Lopez, Lisa Marie Todd, Carrie Ann Inaba (and a few more) who would make up the beautiful, talented fly girls.

I think the great thing about this show was not only the parodies of popular people of the time, but what this show was known for was that it never restricted its cast members, it was hilarious and minimally scripted. The cast did most of their skits by improv and each fed off the energy and humor of the other.

I think it's safe to say that this show would be considered groundbreaking in comedy as it reached a wider demographic than others and had a brilliant variation of skits that would become recurring (thank God) like Jim Carrey with "Fire Marshall Bill Burns" and even the name is funny considering he was very ironically an absolute disaster. Damon Wayans and his "Homey D. Clown", as well Keenen and Damon's "Homeboy Shopping Network" showed these guys pretty much had dope skits to match their styles and humor. Brilliant.

In Living Color didn't stop there, it seemed that this show also had the absolute best musical appearances of all time which include my all time favorite artists like KRS, Tribe, MC Lyte, Eric B & Rakim, Queen Latifah, and that's just a fraction in the 4 years the show was running. Honestly it had everything you could possibly want for incredible entertainment.

In Living Color was a show intended to bring comedy and a good time to viewers. It not only achieved that, it also would be the reason that many Hollywood careers would be kickstarted. It incorporated exactly what was missing in TV in 1990 and it was executed well. Honestly the Wayans were powerhouses in TV back then and with good reason. They knew exactly what to do and what voids to fill. It's upsetting to think some people will never know about this show.

Outro by @TrueGodImmortal

-May 19, 1994. The final episode. By this time, the Wayans had all left, including show creator Keenen, and the show had lost the majority of its appeal. During the big run for the show, there was nothing but controversial that surrounded the program, and they even garnered a NFL Super Bowl Halftime segment(which was live) in which they called out both Richard Gere and Carl Lewis for possibly being gay. In today's overly sensitive society, the show might have been canned and taken off the air. In the 90's? 5 million more people tuned in afterwards. I was never a fan of Wanda, the Jamie Foxx character, as I've never been a fan of men, especially my fellow black men, dressing up as women for cheap laughs. Regardless, Jamie owned the role and it would lead him to eventually become a star and be the launching pad for a now Oscar winner. Damon Wayans managed to shine in his multiple characters that he played, David Alan Grier definitely owned any role he was given, and I still remember Tommy Davidson and his hilarious portrayal of Michael Jackson on the show. It was moments like these, sketches like those, and laughter like that which fueled the show's popularity. It paved the way and was a true trendsetter. Some likely don't even know that the show attempted to reboot in 2011-2012, but the idea was nixed in 2013, which was likely a good thing. This was special so you can't ever try to duplicate something like that. Regardless, In Living Color is one of the most important shows in black culture history, and the true pioneer for black sketch comedy and sketch comedy in general honestly.



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