In Living Color is an American sketch comedy television series that originally ran on the Fox Network from April 15, 1990, to May 19, 1994. Brothers Keenen and Damon Wayans created, wrote and starred in the program. The show was produced by Ivory Way Productions in association with 20th Century Fox Television and was taped before a live studio audience at stage 7 at the Fox Television Center on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California. The title of the series was inspired by the NBCannouncement of broadcasts being presented "in living color" during the 1950s and 1960s, prior to mainstream color television. It also refers to the fact that most of the show's cast were black, unlike other sketch comedy shows such as Saturday Night Live whose casts were almost exclusively white.
Other members of the Wayans family—Kim, Shawn, and Marlon—had regular roles, while brother Dwayne frequently appeared as an extra. The show also starred the previously unknown actor/comedians Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Tommy Davidson, David Alan Grier, and T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh, amongst others. Additionally, Dancing with the Stars judge and choreographer Carrie Ann Inaba and dancer Jennifer Lopez (now best known as a singer and actress) were members of the show's dance troupe The Fly Girls with actress Rosie Perez serving as choreographer during the first 4 seasons. The series won the Emmy for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series in 1990.
- 1 Description and history
- 1.1 Opening credits
- 1.2 Live musical performances
- 1.3 The Fly Girls
- 2 Controversies
- 2.1 Departure of the Wayans family
- 2.2 Censorship
- 2.3 The final season
- 3 Cast
- 3.1 Guest stars
- 4 Syndication
- 5 Nielsen ratings
- 6 Crossovers
- 7 DVD releases
- 8 Attempted revival
- 9 Awards
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Description and history Edit
The sketch comedy show helped launch the careers of male comedians/actors Jim Carrey (then credited as "James Carrey"), one of only two Caucasian members of the original cast, Jamie Foxx, who joined the cast in the third season and David Alan Grier (an established theatre actor, who had worked in Keenen Ivory Wayans' 1988 motion picture I'm Gonna Git You Sucka).
The series strove to produce comedy with a strong emphasis on modern black subject matter. For instance, Carrey was frequently used to ridicule white musicians such asSnow and Vanilla Ice, who performed in genres more commonly associated with black people. A sketch parodying Soul Train mocked the show as Old Train, suggesting the show (along with its host, Don Cornelius) was out of touch and only appealed to the elderly and the dead.
Opening credits Edit
For the first half-dozen episodes, an exotic-looking logo was used for the opening credits. However, after the band Living Colour claimed in a lawsuit that the show stole the band's logo and name, the logo was changed to one with rather plain-type letters of three colors.
In the first two seasons, the opening sequence was set in a room covered with painters' tarps. Each cast member, wearing black-and-white, played with brightly colored paint in a different way (throwing globs of it at the camera by hand, using a roller to cover the camera lens, etc.). The sequence ended with a segue to a set built to resemble the rooftop of an apartment building, where the show's dancers performed a routine and opened a door to let Keenen Ivory Wayans greet the audience.
For the third and fourth seasons, an animated sequence and different logo were used. Here, the real-life cast members were superimposed over pictures hanging in an art gallery and interacted with them in different ways (spinning the canvas to put it right-side up, swinging the frame out as if it were a door, etc.). The final image was of the logo on a black canvas, which shattered to begin the show. The fifth season retained the logo, but depicted the cast members on various signs and billboards around a city (either New York or Chicago), ending with the logo displayed on a theater marquee.
The hip-hop group Heavy D & the Boyz performed two different versions of the opening theme. One version was used for the first two seasons and remixed for the fifth, while the other was featured in the third and fourth seasons.
Live musical performances Edit
In Living Color was known for its live music performances, which started in Season 2 with Queen Latifah as their first performer (appearing again in the third season). Some of the other music acts who performed on the show were Heavy D, Public Enemy, Kris Kross, En Vogue, Eazy-E, Monie Love, Onyx, 3rd Bass, MC Lyte, Arrested Development, Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, Tupac Shakur, Us3, and Leaders of the New School.
The Fly Girls Edit
The show employed an in-house dance troupe, known as the "The Fly Girls". The original lineup consisted of Carrie Ann Inaba (who would later become a choreographer and judge on Dancing with the Stars), Cari French, Deidre Lang, Lisa Marie Todd, Barbara Lumpkin and Michelle Whitney-Morrison. Rosie Perez was the choreographer for the first four seasons. Perhaps the most notable former Fly Girl was future actress/singer Jennifer Lopez, who joined the show in its third season.
The Fly Girls would sometimes be used as extras in sketches, or as part of an opening gag. In one sketch, they were shown performing open-heart surgery (in the sketch, the girls are dancing in order to pay their way through medical school). Another routine featured the three original female cast members dancing off beat during the introduction of the show, where it was revealed that the regular Fly Girls were all tied-up and gagged and breaking through the door where Keenan Ivory Wayans enters. The troupe's name is the same as the 1969 book title The Fly Girls by Bernard Glemser, which was popularized by the movie Come Fly with Me (based on the book).
Departure of the Wayans family Edit
Keenen Ivory Wayans stopped appearing in skits in 1992 after the end of the third season, over disputes with Fox about the network censoring the show's content and rerunning early episodes without his consultation. Wayans feared that Fox would ultimately decrease the syndication value of In Living Color. Damon left at the end of the third season to pursue a movie career, though he made a few "special guest appearances" in the fourth season. During the fourth season (1992–1993), Keenen appeared only in the season opener, though he remained the executive producer and thus stayed in the opening credits until the tenth episode. Marlon left shortly after Keenen resigned as producer; and Shawn and Kim both left at the end of the fourth season.
Fox censorship of scripts increased after In Living Color produced a live Super Bowl halftime special (branded by the network as The Doritos Zaptime/'In Living Color' Super Halftime Party). During the "Men on Football" sketch, Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier ad libbed a suggestion that Richard Gere and track and field star Carl Lewis were homosexuals, much to Lewis' dismay. The programming stunt lured 20 to 25 million viewers from CBS' telecast of the halftime festivities during Super Bowl XXVI on January 26, 1992. Also, the originally-aired version of another sketch unrelated to the Super Bowl special ("Men on Fitness" – February 7, 1993) included a simulation of Damon Wayans' character Blaine enjoying receiving facial ejaculation while being sprayed with a water bottle. These two segments were initially cut from reruns, but have been airing on the Centric cable channel. The DVD releases have the Gere and Lewis references cut but retain the facial ejaculation simulation.
Reruns of the program on BET have questionable words and phrases (such as "ho" and "bitch") muted. One line ("drop the soap") during the second "Men on Film" sketch was muted out by Fox censors before ever airing on TV for its implications of prison rape. The DVD releases have the language intact (except for the "drop the soap" line), but have numerous sketches edited to remove song lyrics and music video parodies due to copyright and licensing issues (for example, the "Fire Marshall Bill Christmas" sketch originally had Jim Carrey singing "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" before the house exploded; on the DVD version, the short scene was cut, making it look like the house immediately exploded after the last person ran out).
On the May 5, 1990 broadcast, Keenen Ivory Wayans did a parody of a Colt 45 commercial featuring Billy Dee Williams (in which the purpose of the beverage is to get one's date drunk enough to have sex) that ended with a woman (played by Kim Coles) passed out on her back on a dining table, and "Billy Dee" moving in on her unconscious body to have sex with her. The "Bolt 45" sketch was seen only once during the original broadcast and omitted from repeats due to complaints from censors and viewers that it was mocking date rape. The Season 1 DVD set of ILC did not include the cut sketch from the pilot. This sketch was cut by Fox censors, and the necessary modifications were made to the master tape. Keenen Ivory Wayans accidentally mixed up the master tape of the pilot, and the edited master was broadcast instead. The sketch has never been broadcast since, not even in syndication, on FX, or on BET, and is considered lost forever (although videos of the sketch from viewer tapings have been posted to YouTube). It has been replaced by "The Exxxon Family" (a fake promo for a sitcom about a clumsy Exxon boat captain and his wife, played by Jim Carrey and Kelly Coffield) in syndication and DVD box sets.
The final season Edit
By the fifth and final season, none of the Wayans family had any involvement with the show. The show's reliance on character-driven sketches gave way to an increasing reliance on celebrity cameos and guest appearances, including Nick Bakay (who played the host of The Dirty Dozens game show sketches), Barry Bonds, James Brown, Rodney Dangerfield, Bret Hart, Sherman Hemsley, Biz Markie, Peter Marshall, Ed O'Neill, Chris Rock, Macho Man Randy Savage, Tupac Shakur, and players from the NBA. Kelly Coffield, who, prior to Alexandra Wentworth's arrival in the fourth season was the lone white female cast member, left at the end of the fourth season.
Jim Carrey, David Alan Grier, Tommy Davidson, T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh, and "Fly Girl" Deidre Lang are the only cast members who remained on the show from beginning to end, although Jim Carrey's appearances became very limited due to his rising movie career while Tommy Davidson missed a few episodes for undisclosed reasons.
Guest stars Edit
Chris Rock appeared (as a "special guest star") in a number of skits in the fifth season, and reprised his "Cheap Pete" character from I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. In the early years of In Living Color, Rock was parodied as being the only African American cast member on Saturday Night Live (despite SNL also having Tim Meadows at the time). In an SNL episode honoring Mother's Day, Rock's mother states that she is disappointed in him for not trying out for In Living Color, to which Rock states he is happy with his job on SNL.
Other recurring guest stars in the fifth season include Nick Bakay (for The Dirty Dozens sketches) and Peter Marshall (for several editions of East Hollywood Squares). Rapper Biz Markie also appeared in various roles as a guest star in the fifth season, such as being in drag as Wanda the Ugly Woman's sister or as "Dirty Dozens" contestant Damian "Foosball" Franklin.
Originally produced by 20th Century Fox Television on Fox, the series was in reruns on local affiliates and on the News Corporation-owned FX cable channel, where it was distributed by Twentieth Television.
Reruns of the show aired on BET from 2005–2008, and returned in 2010. Reruns have also aired on MTV2, VH1, nuvoTV, and on BET-owned Centric.
The Best of In Living Color aired on MyNetworkTV from April 16 to June 18, 2008. Hosted by David Alan Grier, it was a retrospective show featuring classic sketches, along with cast interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. The show aired on Wednesdays at 8:30 pm Eastern/7:30 pm Central, after MyNetworkTV's sitcom Under One Roof.
Nielsen ratings Edit
- 1990-91: #58 (10.31 rating)
- 1991-92: #56 (10.37 rating)
- 1992-93: #62 (9.67 rating)
- 1993-94: #71 (7.98 rating)
Note: Ratings data courtesy of TVTango.com
- At the 2006 BET Awards when the show returned from one of its commercial breaks, the show's host Damon Wayans played a character very reminiscent to "Men on ..." critic Blaine Edwards.
- In Living Color alums Damon Wayans, Jim Carrey, and David Alan Grier reprised some of their In Living Color characters on Saturday Night Live:
- Damon Wayans, a featured player during that show's eleventh season, hosted an episode from SNL's 20th season in 1995, where he brought on two of his famous In Living Color characters: homeless wino Anton Jackson and gay film critic Blaine Edwards.
- Jim Carrey auditioned to be one of the repertory members on SNL 's ill-fated 1980-1981 season, but was dropped in favor of Charles Rocket (who later appeared in the 1989 film Earth Girls Are Easy and the1994 film Dumb and Dumber with Carrey). Carrey hosted the season finale of SNL's 21st season in 1996, where he impersonated Fire Marshal Bill during the monologue.
- David Alan Grier first hosted SNL during season 21 and reprised his In Living Color role as "Men on..." critic Antoine Merriweather, which the end of the sketch included a surprise on-set appearance from Damon Wayans as Blaine. Grier hosted SNL on December 9, 1995 (season 21) and March 18, 1997 (season 22).
- Jamie Foxx reprised his role as Wanda in a short segment at the 2009 BET Awards.
- In the 1997 film Liar Liar, Jim Carrey reprised his "Fire Marshal Bill" character (albeit with no lines) in the background of one of the closing scenes.
- The February 10, 2001 episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Jennifer Lopez included a sketch where Lopez "reunited" with the Fly Girls (played by Rachel Dratch, Jerry Minor and Tracy Morgan).
DVD releases Edit
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has released all five seasons of In Living Color on DVD in Region 1. Unfortunately the sets have been edited due to music licensing issues, resulting in some episodes' having entire sketches removed. Additionally (as discussed above, under "Censorship"), the "Bolt 45" sketch (which aired one-time only on May 5, 1990) has been omitted, as has the simulated facial ejaculation scene in the "Men on Fitness" sketch (which aired February 7, 1993), and the "soap" portion of the "drop the soap" line in the second "Men on Film" sketch has been muted.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date|
|Season 1||13||April 6, 2004|
|Season 2||26||September 28, 2004|
|Season 3||30||May 10, 2005|
|Season 4||33||October 25, 2005|
|Season 5||26||April 11, 2006|
Attempted revival Edit
The In Living Color 2012 logo.
In 2011, there were plans to make a reboot of the original series that featured a new cast, characters, and sketches. The pilot episodes were hosted and executive produced by original series creator and cast member Keenen Ivory Wayans. In early 2012, Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo were hired as the choreographers. They cast the new line-up of The Fly Girls and shot pilot episodes for the show which were set to air on FOX, like the original. However, on January 8, 2013, Keenen Ivory Wayans confirmed the reboot had been canceled because he and FOX did not feel that the show was sustainable after one season.
Reported cast members included Cooper Barnes, Jennifer Bartels, Sydney Castillo, Josh Duvendeck, Jermaine Fowler, Ayana Hampton, Kali Hawk, and Lil Rel Howery. In addition, featured cast members were Henry Cho, Melanie Minichino, and Chris Leidecker. Members of the new Fly Girls included Christina Chandler, Tera Perez, Lisa Rosenthal, Katee Shean, and Whitney Wiley.
- Image Awards 1994 for Outstanding Variety Series
- Image Awards 1992 for Outstanding Comedy Series
- PGA Awards 1992 for Most Promising Producer in Television: Keenen Ivory Wayans
- People's Choice Award 1991 for Favorite New TV Comedy Series Tied with The Simpsons (1989)
- TV Land Awards 2012 for Groundbreaking Show: Shared with whole cast
- Primetime Emmy 1990 for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series