I was young and unaware of just how important In Living Color was in turning mainstream television on its head.
Author David Peisner’s behind-the-scenes look at the history of the show chopped into short, easy-to-digest chapters make Homey Don’t Play That!: The Story of In Living Color and the Black Comedy Revolution a must-read for anyone who appreciates sketch comedy, fans of the show or not, white or black.
ILC was a show unlike any other and was inspired by Richard Pryor, Carol Burnett, and a few others, the show basically introduced us to the likes of Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey, David Alan Grier, Jennifer Lopez, and a slew of the Wayans family, just to name a few.
It took a rogue network (FOX) to launch the show, a show that introduced mainstream America to the hip-hop culture – artists Black Sheep, Heavy D, Public Enemy, Tupac, Mary J. Blige, Onyx, among many others, all performed on the ILC stage, jump starting many careers. It showed that even a black-centric television show could be enjoyed by the masses.
The show also paved the way for other TV comedies such as Sister, Sister, Chappelle’sShow, and even Key & Peele, to name a few. There also would’ve been no Friday without ILC. And if you’ve seen the show, you probably still remember skits like “Homey D. Clown” or “The Homeboy Shopping Network,” even “Men on Film” and definitely “Fire Marshal Bill.” The show has definitely stood the test of time.
Keenan Ivory Wayans came across as a real hard ass to work for, but it all paid off for many involved. This book shows how important he was as both the creator of ILC and the way how it moved black comedy from the background into the spotlight.
I actually watched a few clips the other day just for the hell of it. Funny is funny, and this show, especially in the early days, was funnier than any.