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In Living Color - An Overview

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In Living Color - An Overview © FOX

Aired:

April 1990 - May 1994

Episodes:

129 (only 127 aired)

Cast:

Keenan Ivory Wayans (Seasons 1-4), Damon Wayans (Seasons 1-3), Kim Wayans (Seasons 1-4), Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx (Seasons 3-5), Kelly Coffield (Seasons 1-4), T'Keyah Crystal Keymah, Tommy Davidson, David Alan Grier, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans (Season 4), Alexandra Wentworth (Seasons 4-5), Anne-Marie Johnson (Season 5), Steve Park (Season 3), Kim Coles (Season 1)

In Living Color Background:

One of the few sketch comedies to legitimately challenge the throne held by Saturday Night Live for three decades, the early 1990s sketch comedy In Living Color made a huge splash on popular culture when it helped launch the then-young Fox network in 1990. Creator and star Keenan Ivory Wayans put together a show that offered a hipper, edgier alternative to SNL, populated by a cast of most African-American actors, and immediately launched new comedy stars (including Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans and Jamie Foxx) and created sketches and characters that were being talked about in the public consciousness. The cast changed throughout the show's run and Wayans eventually stepped down as showrunner due to conflicts with Fox (the network regularly censored content). By the end of Season Four, all of the Wayans family had left. In Living Color ran for only one more season, but was syndicated and repurposed in a number of different outlets over the next 20 years.

Notable In Living Color Characters and Sketches:

  • Homey the Clown - Damon Wayans as a grouchy children's party entertainer
  • Fire Marshal Bill - Jim Carrey as a horribly burned and accident-prone safety instructor
  • Vera de Milo - Jim Carrey as a muscular, deep-voiced female bodybuilder.
  • Wanda - Jamie Foxx as the world's ugliest woman.
  • The Head Detective - Damon Wayans as a private detective (partner to Keenan Ivory Wayans) who is literally just a head with feet.
  • "Men On..." - David Alan Grier and Damon Wayans as flamboyant gay men who review things, often with their signature rating of "Two snaps up."
  • Arsenio Hall - Keenan Ivory Wayans spoofed the popular comedian and talk show host.
  • Anton Jackson - Damon Wayans as a homeless man with a unique philosophy.
  • Funky Fresh Productions - David Alan Grier and Tommy Davidson as two slick con artists trying to turn every event into showbiz garbage.
  • Velma Mulholland - Kelly Coffield as a woman who looks and speaks only as if she's in a 1940s movie.
  • Lashawn - T'Keyah Crysal Keymah as the world's worst customer service rep.
  • Hey Mon - Damon Wayans as the Jamaican head of a family with many, many jobs.
  • Handi Man - Damon Wayans as a disabled superhero.
  • Carl "The Tooth" Williams - Jamie Foxx as a boxer who loses every match.

Additional In Living Color Facts:

  • The only cast members to appear in all five seasons of the show were Jim Carrey, Tommy Davidson, David Alan Grier, T'Keyah Crystal Keymah and Deidre Lang (one of the "Fly Girls").
  • One of the "Fly Girls" (a group of dancers that would open the show) was a young Jennifer Lopez. The group's choreographer was actress Rosie Perez, who would go on to star in movies such as White Men Can't Jump.
  • Comedian Chris Rock (who had previously worked with Keenan Ivory Wayans in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka) appeared frequently throughout Season Five as a "special guest."
  • In 2011, the show was rumored to be returning in 2012 with a series of primetime specials, hopefully leading to a relaunch. Those plans were ultimately scrapped.
  • Though he remained on the show for all five seasons, Jim Carrey's appearances were cut back by the fifth season, as his film career had taken off thanks to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask.
  • The show aired a live Super Bowl halftime special in 1992, during which Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier ad libbed jokes about actor Richard Gere and athlete Carl Lewis being homosexuals. The jokes were cut from syndicated reruns and DVD releases of the show.
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