HOLLYWOOD—What ever happened to the classic variety shows that used to deliver laughs in the 90s? We still have variety shows, but not the great sketch comedy sitcoms that dominated the 20th century. So you might be asking what show am I referring to? One of the all-time greats was “In Living Color.” That was a series that literally birthed some of the greatest comedians of our time and kept audiences laughing week after week. I recall vividly watching the series every week on FOX and having bellyaches from laughing so hard.
The series was not afraid to ‘go there’ as some variety shows nowadays are a bit tame in my opinion. The series was created by Kenan Ivory Wayans. It was indeed a family affair that included brother Damon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, as well as sister Kim Wayans. Some may be surprised that some of the siblings were funnier than the mastermind behind the creation of the show.
Some of you may be surprised to discover that Jennifer Lopez got her start as a Fly Girl on the series, as did “Dancing with the Stars” judge Carrie Ann Inaba. Its amazing how things come full circle when we least expect; all big time stars get their start from places that we least expect. So why is “In Living Color” an all-time great? Because in 30 minutes, the series had the ability to deliver so many laughs, create kooky characters we all remember and set the groundwork of comedies willing to ‘go there.’ There were a trio of characters like Homey the Clown, who taught kids the cruel lessons about the ‘man’ and how he pushed Homey into the corner that he is on. Homey indeed made a pair of socks a dangerous thing.
Of course that is not the only character that delivered laugh riots. We can’t forget about Blain and Twain who portrayed to gay guys critiquing all things pop culture. What made these characters such a treat were the fact that these characters had some of the best inside jokes that the audience would fall into tears about. Their critique on film, television, art, sports, books, you name it they talked about it. Two iconic characters that will forever be remembered.
Perhaps one of my favorite characters of all time was portrayed by actor Jim Carrey, who was known on the series as James Carrey. He made Fire Marshall Bill an iconic television character. His idea of fire safety involved ‘showing’ the audience what could go wrong, instead of telling them. Not only did Carrey prove his talent for facial abilities, but the voice of Fire Marshall Bill is unlike any other: “Let me tell you something.” Iconic indeed! Another facet was the parodies of popular music videos that included MichaelJackson’s “Black or White,” “Ice, Ice, Baby” by Vanilla Ice and Whitney Houston’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight.”
Audiences will never forget that authentic opening sequence that involved the cast getting creative with some paint and that catchy tune by rapper Heavy D, not to mention the highlight of the Fly Girls with their well performed choreography. Reports ran rampant in recent months, with a possible revival of the series, but it never transpired. I had my fingers crossed because it would have been such a treat to see some all-time comedians back on the small screen. Until that happens, fans of the series can watch re-runs airing on Centric.