IN LIVING COLOR‘S INNOVATIVE SKETCH ARTISTS DREW A COMEDIC BLUEPRINT FOR THE ’90S
Jim Carrey is just the beginning. The alums of In Living Color (now seen in reruns on FX, daily, 10-11 p.m.) are everywhere. The riotous Fox variety show that started the catchphrases ”Homey don’t play that” and ”Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money!” ran only four and a half years and was never a top 30 hit, yet it might be the premier sketch-comedy training ground of the decade. Forget the long-over-the-hill SNL — ILC‘s only competition was Fox’s even shorter-lived The Ben Stiller Show, which launched Stiller (who directed Carrey’s The Cable Guy) as well as Janeane Garofalo (The Larry Sanders Show), Bob Odenkirk (Mr. Show), and Andy Dick (NewsRadio).
Executive producer/host Keenen Ivory Wayans was ILC‘s weakest comedic link — he always seemed more concerned with looking cool than being funny — but he was a gifted talent scout. The show’s sprawling, multiracial cast has spread out into nearly every area of the media (Jamie Foxx even released an R&B CD):
MOVIES: Back when he was known as James Carrey, the Rubberband Man contorted himself into such grotesque figures as Fire Marshal Bill and female weight lifter Vera De Milo. He broke out of the ILC pack as the series was winding down in 1994 with his surprise smash Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Now he’s part of Hollywood’s elite $20 million club, but he’s far from the only ILC vet to hit the big screen. Four Wayans brothers (Keenen, Damon, Shawn, and Marlon) have headlined films ranging from action (The Last Boy Scout) to satire (Don’t Be a Menace to South Central … ). Steve Park had a memorable cameo in Fargo, and Jamie Foxx and Tommy Davidson costarred in the immortal Booty Call. Even two members of ILC‘s scantily clad dance troupe, the Fly Girls, have become respected film actresses: choreographer Rosie Perez (Fearless) and Jennifer Lopez (Selena).
PRIME TIME: ILC vets dominate Fox’s entire Thursday-night lineup, with Kim Coles costarring in the long-running Living Single, Tommy Davidson stealing scenes in the new sitcom Between Brothers, and Damon Wayans executive-producing the drama 413 Hope St., which features Kelly Coffield as a teen-crisis-center counselor. Two of The WB’s biggest hits also spotlight ex-ILCers — The Jamie Foxx Show and The Wayans Bros. (starring Shawn, who started out on ILC as DJ SW-1, and Marlon, who lasted only one season). Sister Kim Wayans hangs with LL Cool J on UPN’s In the House. And one alum is even a regular on a Big Three series: T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh plays Bill Cosby’s daughter on his eponymous CBS sitcom.
LATE NIGHT: Keenen Ivory Wayans once did a vicious parody of Arsenio Hall (replete with a prosthetic butt) on ILC; now he’s hosting a self-titled syndicated talk show, which he hopes will capture Arsenio’s old audience. Meanwhile, some of ILC‘s ex-writers work on Fox’s SNL challenger, Mad TV, and Chris Rock, who jumped ship from SNL to join ILC shortly before its cancellation, hosts what may be late-night’s hippest talker, HBO’s The Chris Rock Show. Furthermore, with tasteless Damon Wayans characters like Handi-Man (a disabled superhero), ILC was politically incorrect long before Politically Incorrect.