My Friends Have Never Heard of ‘In Living Color’: A Throwback Recommendation


Sketch Comedy| 5 Seasons| 22-24m

Created By: Keenen Ivory Wayans
Starring: Jim Carrey, Kelly Coffield, Kim Coles, Tommy Davidson, Jamie Foxx, David Alan Grier, Anne-Marie Johnson, T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh, Jay Leggett, Reggie McFadden, Steve Park, Carol Rosenthal, DJ Twist, Damon Wayans, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Kim Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Alexandra Wentworth, Marc Wilmore, Jennifer Lopez, Rosie Perez

In a recent conversation with my friends, I made a reference to the sketch “Homey Don’t Play That” from the Keenan Ivory Wayans’ sketch comedy series, In Living Color, and I was amazed that they had no idea what I was talking about. It was one thing that they didn’t get the reference, but they had never heard of the show at all. Situations like this always amaze me even though they shouldn’t. I mean, I can’t expect everyone to have seen every show that I grew up on, but I don’t think its too outlandish to expect people to recognize a television series that launched the careers of so many people.

In the 90s, the Wayans family was like black entertainment royalty. This family is filled with directors, screenwriters, comedians and actors who have created a number of successful, and not so successful projects together. Keenan Ivory Wayans is the producer and director on most of his siblings projects and he was the co-creator and host of In Living Color. The sketch comedy series put a number of up and coming comedians on the map, such as Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Tommy Davidson, David Alan Grier, and T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh. The show even featured, a then unknown, Jennifer Lopez as one of The Fly Girls–the show’s dance group. This show was so intentionally ghetto-fabulous that it pissed off a number of black activists and hoteps, who were upset that their own would portray the community in such a manner. I never viewed the show that way. What I saw as a child was a bunch of people trying to make people laugh and it was effective. The show was extremely popular.

I remember being a child and staying awake until 1am-2am with my brothers, so we could watch reruns of the show on BET. We thought it was the greatest thing on television. I would sit there watching, imaging how great the series must’ve been when it first came out. I would visualize the look on the audience faces when they did sketches like Umbilical Barry, a sketch where Jim Carrey played Barry, an adult man who was still attached to his mother via umbilical cord. Yes, that’s how twisted this show was.

The Wayans are a creative bunch and they are responsible for some of my favorite films and television shows. From The Wayans Bros to White Chicks (2004), I cannot thank this family enough for gracing the world with their artistic talents and ridiculous sense of humor. I only wish that everyone would venture out to find their seemingly infinite amount of work.

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