My Summer Lair Chapter #103: What’s Your Favourite In Living Color sketch?
You know that tension with popular tv shows like The Daily Show and Last Week Tonight…are they comedy shows or journalism shows? Just what are we doing here?
In Living Color existed in a similar tension: being black in America and trying to make a significant commentary on that painful experience vs the struggle with Carol Burnett type comedy: go for the laughs rather than the commentary.
For example Handi-Man’s fascinating because it flows outta the same comedy space as being black in America and ridiculing racism. There’s an underlying aspect to racism that is humourous…I’m clearly not referring to the more dangerous aspects of institutional racism like cops shooting black kids, bombings etc.
Rather hate baked in deep ignorance reveals the underlying stupidity that courses through racism; it’s what gives racial comedy its electric charge. “Stupid is as stupid does,” according to Forrest Gump who isn’t all that bright and based in the South much like Jeff Foxworthy’s You Might Be a Redneck If….
There’s no real difference between a You Might Be a Redneck If… and Homey D. Clown and Handi-Man it’s all essentially the same funny joke. But does that alleviate or address the racism of living in America aspect or is that too much to expect from a show with Fire Marshal Bill sticking his finger into an electrical socket?
In Living Color is an American sketch comedy television series that originally ran on Fox from April 15, 1990 to May 19, 1994. Keenen Ivory Wayans created, wrote and starred in the program which is what gave the show its spine; its focus and attempt to reconcile being black in America with humour.
Writer David Peisner covers this debate and tension in his outstanding book Homey Don’t Play That! which has an intriguing subtitle: The Story of In Living Color and the Black Comedy Revolution. This is more than just Men on Film.
As for my favourite sketch? The Wrath of Farrakhan is pretty solid.
Host Sammy Younan
Recorded: Tuesday February 19, 2019 at 7:00 pm
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