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Real Talk: Did You Grow Up with 'In Living Color?'

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I don’t think you understand how excited I was to hear “In Living Color” was making a comeback on FOX. An updated version of the landmark sketch comedy show will air as two half-hour specials in the spring of 2012. The show will feature a new cast of "fresh, young talent," according to a FOX press release, and will be hosted by Keenan Ivory Wayans, the original series creator and executive producer of the coming edition.

“In Living Color” was my guilty pleasure, literally, in high school. I had to sneak to watch it with my bedroom door closed and the volume turned down because my mother thought it was crass. But how could I miss it, when everyone would be quoting or re-enacting all the memorable lines and characters? Or even better, when everyone was talking about what singer or rapper or group -- Mary J. Blige, Tupac, Jodeci -- would be performing on the show. 

Back then, I didn’t realize just how good “In Living Color” was. So there’s a Black cast of comedians, and they’re funny? Great. Why wouldn’t they be? And who knew we were watching the work of Hollywood’s next A-list every Thursday night? “In Living Color” featured Jamie Foxx (a future Academy Award winner) and Jim Carrey, and the whole Wayans clan and Jennifer Lopez and choreographers Laurie Ann Gibson and Rosie Perez. It would take the ten years between “In Living Color’s” ending and the beginning of “The Chappelle Show” for me to realize what I had taken for granted.

Everyone isn’t so excited by the comeback though. “It’s official, the networks have finally run out of ideas,” one commenter wrote. “As much as I like Keenan Ivory Wayans, can’t he come up with something new and fresh?”

With none of the show’s original cast returning, I’m optimistic that the show can run, for at least two episodes, with a similar premise and a different cast. But can even the most talented newbies top the classics?

Hmm. Admittedly, my Top 5 (in no particular order) will be hard to match:

Benita Butrell (Kim Wayans): a neighborhood woman who airs her neighbors' dirty laundry after they pass by her... but she "ain't one to gossip, so you didn't hear that from me."

Homey D. Clown (Damon Wayans): an ex-con on parole who lashes out by hitting people on the head with a tennis ball-filled sock when they ask him to perform the standard antics of the role. Classic line: “Homey don’t play that.”

Men on... (Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier as Blaine Edwards and Antoine Merriweather): A pair of effeminate gay men, review films. "Hated It!" and variations of "two snaps up" finger-snap gesture became enduring  cultural catchphrases.

Wanda (Jamie Foxx): The most unattractive woman ever who promises, "I'm gon' rock yo world."

Oswald Bates (Damon Wayans): an eloquent prison inmate whose vocabulary is full of misused and inappropriate big words.  

Are you excited for the return of “In Living Color”? Who were your favorite characters?


Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk
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