Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Salute to TV writers: ‘In Living Color’

I was a fan of “In Living Color” during its early years. But it’s fair to say that the show’s strength was its cast, not its writing.

(By contrast, “Saturday Night Live” and “SCTV” had writers to match their players, while “Fridays” was burdened with a second-rate cast plus weak writing.)

One of my favorite “In Living Color” sketches didn’t even come from the writing staff. “Black World” was written and performed by cast member T’Keyah “Crystal” Keymah.

I interviewed Crystal in 1991, and she acknowledged that “Black World” owes a debt to Gilda Radner, who did a similar little-girl sketch on “SNL.”

“I think Gilda Radner’s pieces are classics,” she told me.

“Black World,” on top of being an acting showcase, is a fine piece of character writing and social satire. It was one of Crystal’s audition pieces for “In Living Color.” And it’s the one that got her hired.

To hear “Black World” on my Vox audio stash, click here. It was originally broadcast on May 12, 1990.


dubbleu said...

Loved In Living Color when I was a kid. Would sit down and watch it every Sunday over my grandmothers house.

I heard the writers were back in serious negotiations and that there might be a resolution this week, Good Luck!

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Thanks, Wanda. The negotiations are "informal," but supposedly they're making a lot of progress.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS! She was always one of my faves, plus she rocked natural hair. It was weird watching her play a mom on That's So Raven...

Ann Brock said...

UBM great article, that is the 1st comedy that I really enjoyed watching thanks for the article. I liked her as Raven mom.

Anonymous said...

You think SNL has strong writing? SNL is like Janet Jackson. I thought it was unfunny in the mid/late 80's but come realize how much funnier it was when compared to now.

kid said...

Actually the writers were better than the actors. One of the writers on the show was Paul Mooney, the guy that wrote for Richard Pryor and Homey D. Clown

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Okay, name another writer. And not Franklyn Ajaye... he only got, like, one sketch on the air.

Keenan wanted jokes about tampons, picking boogers and passing gas.

Meanwhile, the cast included future movie stars!