The iconic 90s sketch comedy show is getting a 21st century makeover. In mid-April, two half-hour specials will air on FOX to celebrate the network’s 25th anniversary, which will feature a new cast. But even with Keenan Ivory Wayans as producer, these noobs are going to have some pretty big Homey D Clown shoes to fill. The original, which aired from 1990-94 was unapologetic and irreverent, and its ensemble frequently pissed off censors by skewering black and white culture, while introducing mainstream audience to hip-hop. In this politically correct world where whites consume more rap than blacks, it’s going to be hard to pull the same punches
Jamie Foxx: From Drag Queen to Oscar’s Leading Man
Who would’ve ever thought that acting as crazy, cross-eyed cross-dresser would pave the way to winning an Oscar? Ugly Wanda’s misguided ug-mug sexy confidence was an character tribute to the late-great Redd Foxx (where Jamie took his stage name). While making Tommy Lee Davidson the object of Wanda’s desires, was the height of physical comedy.
Jim Carrey: From Rubberfaced Clown to (Semi) Serious Actor
“Lemme tell you something!” He may have been the original melanin-challenged castmember, but Jim Carrey’s mark was indelible. With characters like a ‘roided-up female bodybuilder with equine tendencies to Firemarshall Bill, Carrey test-tubed all his rubber-faced, hyperactive antics on the small screen, before catapulting to filmstar fame. It may have started with the beyond silly low budget Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and Dumb and Dumber, but dramatic gems like The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind showed Carrey’s enormous range.
Damon Wayans: From Breakout Star to Family Man
Before there was Dave Chappelle’s Tyrone Biggums, there was Anton Jackson, Damon Wayans’ recurring character as homeless addled crackhead who carried a lone pickle in a jar, among other crackish behavior. And his Homey D Clown fueled the catchphrase heard in offices and classrooms everywhere: “Homey don’t play that!” Damon went on to a few big film roles and became a family man on TV with the sitcom, The Damon Wayans Show.
Shawn & Marlon Wayans: Little Brothers Who Fueled the Legacy
With big brother Keenan as executive producer and Damon as the show’s breakout star, it was hard to imagine that the quiet, fine Wayan behind the turntables known as SW1 and the scrawny baby bro on the sidelines could break out on their own. But the pair went on to create their own brand of parody, including the Scary Movie franchise
Jennifer Lopez: From Fly Girl to the Flyest Diva
Sure, Rosie Perez was the Fly Girls choreographer with street cred, but Season 3 introduced the masses to a the Bronx boricua diva-in-training Jennifer Lopez. These days, Her Royal Ricanness is just a sliver of her former bodaciousness, and some would argue, the thicker version is flyer!
Pushing the Boundaries & Pissing Off Censors
With the Men on Film sketches, the over-the-top sissiness of Antoine Merriweather (Grier) and Blaine Edwards (Wayans) would never fly in this PC world. And just when you thought the jaunty mini headgear couldn’t get any jauntier, this duo would double-entendre their gay way to the next level. The 1992 Super Bowl halftime stunt yanked 25 million viewers’ johnsons with a simulated facial ejaculation. Can’t top and bottom that!
Unparalleled Music Video Parodies
Since hardly any channel shows music videos anymore, it’s hard to imagine a comedy troop spoofing pop stars as regularly, and brilliantly, as the In Living Color cast did. Kim Wayans take on Tracy Chapman’s window-ledge observational lyrics was hilarious, but mashing up the admittedly dance-challenged Whitney Houston with rhythm queen Janet Jackson was epic.
Introducing Hip-hop Guests to the (Mainstream) Masses
The late Heavy-D’s booming flow opened every show in the opening credits, but the musical guests included the pre-actress Queen Latifah, Arrested Development, Leaders of the New School, Public Enemy, and even Tupac Shakur. Can that roster be even rivaled?