'In Living Color' turns 25: Star Tommy Davidson picks his top 5 sketches
With a packed lineup of vibrant characters like Homey D. Clown, who hit kids over the head with a sock, and nosy neighbor Benita Butrell, who “isn’t one to gossip,” In Living Color was an urban sketch comedy show that took risks. Who else could pull off a skit like “The Dirty Dozens,” a game show based on “Yo Mama” jokes?
The sketch series also helped launch the careers of recognizable faces including Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, multiple members of the Wayans family, Tommy Davidson, David Allen Grier, and Jennifer Lopez. Former writer Larry Wilmore even landed his own show on Comedy Central.
As the show celebrates its 25 anniversary, Davidson spoke to EW about how it remains close to his heart. “None of us had been able to match that experience because it was so much,” he said. The comedian also revealed his top five sketches, listed below in no particular order.
The Ugly Woman
A massage is usually meant to ease stress—but for Davidson’s character, this visit may have “rocked his world” a little too much. Wanda (played by Jamie Foxx), the world’s ugliest woman, exuded sheer confidence. She described herself as looking like Vanna White; much to Davidson’s surprise—and our amusement—her claim was wholly unfounded. “We were perfectly matched,” Davidson said of his chemistry with Foxx. If only that were true for their characters.
MC Hammer was wildly popular in the early ‘90s, championing baggy pants and hyper-energetic moves. Davidson took the singer’s outrageous act a step further, falling over himself and stripping down to his boxers. While he grew to love the bit, the actor and comedian wasn’t too happy when he first had to do it. “I was mad. They were trying to pull my pants down in front of everybody,” he says. Looking back on it now, Davidson describes it as “one of the hottest sketches.”
This bold parody of Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” music video is just one example of the many times Davidson poked fun at the King of Pop. Though some might find it intimidating to take the singer to task, Davidson says he wasn’t nervous at all: “He’s an icon. Period. If you can do him, you’re a badass motherf—ker.”
The BS Brothers
The BS Brothers, Clavell (played by David Alan Grier) and Howard Tibbs III (played by Davidson), were the fast-talking entrepreneurs behind Funky Finger Productions. It didn’t matter what the would-be moguls were selling: their elaborate yet poorly executed sales pitches left everyone shouting “BAM!” The sketch “epitomized every jive dude that tried to sell you something,” says Davidson.
Fire Marshal Bill
Jim Carrey is known for his library of zany characters, and one of his wildest was Fire Marshal Bill Burns. While most instructors accompany their safety tips with PowerPoint slides, Burns took a more literal approach— like setting a picture on fire and endangering everyone in the process. It’s hard to imagine such a risky sketch, which Davidson described as “terrifyingly funny,” making it to TV today.
In Living Color