The funniest sketch-comedy series since SCTV, In Living Color is also the hippest show on TV.

There’s nothing radical about the structure of In Living Color; it’s a series of sketches-parodies of TV, the movies, and pop music; and takeoffs on events in the headlines — broken up by brief performances from a troupe of booty-shaking dancers. But In Living Color has its own sharp-witted yet friendly point of view and provides a showcase for more first-rate black performers than any program since The Richard Pryor Show, which lasted for just over a month in 1977.

In Living Color‘s point of view comes primarily from the show’s chief writer, executive producer, and star, Keenen Ivory Wayans, who oversaw 1988’s hilarious feature-film blaxploitation parody I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.

Wayans wants, above all else, to make you laugh, and I haven’t laughed harder in a year than I did at In Living Color‘s parody of The Love Connection featuring dead-on impersonations of Mike Tyson (Wayans) and Robin Givens (the beautifully rubber-faced Kim Coles) as the dating contestants. And Jim Carrey is an extraordinarily elastic embodiment of host Chuck Woolery.

But Wayans also wants to explode a whole set of current cultural clichés. Here, for example, is a half-hour that actually grants you enough intelligence to think of rap music as something other than rude noise, and then goes on to lampoon rap’s worst excesses without being racist about it.

There’s no predicting whom or what Wayans and his crew will take on next, or what attitude they’ll take toward their target. For its genial obstreperousness alone, In Living Color is worth tuning in to every week.

In Living Color
  • TV Show