Giving birth

When In Living Color debuted on Fox television back in 1990, it pretty much bitch slapped Saturday Night Live and quickly established itself as TV’s best sketch comedy. Creator Keenen Ivory Wayans, accompanied by many of his siblings (Damon, Kim, Shawn and Marlon in later seasons), had a comedic edge previously unseen in primetime television. When the smiling, tuxedo-clad Keenen and Damon picked up their cello and guitar for The Brothers Brothers Variety Show, called themselves Uncle Toms, and blasted Bill Cosby’s safe sitcom, they sent out a clear message that everything wasn’t all upper-middle class and fancy sweaters for African Americans. The show blazed a trail for black entertainers such as Chris Rock, who would finally rise to prominence after wasting his time on the milquetoast SNL. And with all of its trailblazing, the show will probably be best remembered for shining a big spotlight on the talents of one James Carrey (later to be called Jim), the rubber-faced, elastic-limbed “white guy” on the show. While Carrey had his share of memorable characters, it was Damon Wayans who offered up the most impressive roster, with Homey the Clown, Anton the Homeless Guy with a pickle jar for a toilet, and a dead-on impersonation of Redd Foxx. The show was strong out of the gate, but lost its punch when Keenen departed in ’92.

Special Features: All 13 episodes are contained on three discs. A half hour documentary featuring cast members David Alan Grier and Tommy Davidson looks back on the birth of the show, and Davidson offers up an episode commentary. Rosie Perez, choreographer for the Fly Girls, stops by to discuss her inexhaustible work ethic in coming up with eight dance routines per show.Show: B+

Special Features: B-

DVD Geek Factor: 5