In Living Color aired from 1990 to 1994 and the sketch comedy was a launching pad for a generation of comics, giving them a platform to bring their own sense of funny to America’s mainstream audiences. The show stood out because the majority of the cast was Black, which was—and still is—unusual in a world where shows like Saturday Night Live dominated the landscape. In Living Color paved the way for Black comics of a new era, opening doors for future shows such as Mad TV, The Chappelle Show, and Key & Peele, and later shows like Wild’n Out.
Created by brothers Keenan Ivory and Damon Wayans, the FOX-aired show was an instant hit. It won the Emmy award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series in 1990. The show’s stars went on to enjoy legendary careers, putting the entire Wayans family—Keenan, Damon, Kim, Shaun, and Marlon—on the map. David Alan Grier, Jamie Foxx, Tommy Davidson, Jim Carrey, and T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh became household names, while Jennifer Lopez and Rosie Perez showcased their dance and choreography.
The show had its moments of controversy, as its comic portrayal of issues happening in the Black community and “the ghetto” caught flack during the time of the Rodney King beating and subsequent riots. But the show was a staple for many who grew up during the early ’90s.
So while the “Finesse” video takes us back to the days of In Living Color, we look back at some of our favorite skits and performances from the legendary show.
Damon Wayans as Homey The Clown
This list can’t exist without Homey the Clown. Damon Wayans was everyone’s not-so-favorite substitute teacher clown, Homey. The kids would soon learn Homey’s style of education was a tad bit…forceful. He was always ready to give life’s lessons in his own way, and we all quickly learned that when it came to doing wrong, “Homey don’t play that.”
Jamie Foxx as Wanda
Before his time as Ray Charles, Django, and Willie Beamen, Jamie Foxx starred as Wanda, a very “colorful” young lady who made sure she was always the life of the party. One of her most famous skits found her trying to “rejoin” popular R&B group En Vogue, but things didn’t go quite as planned. Foxx used his platform on In Living Color to create his own self-titled show, and quickly became an A-list star.
Jim Carrey as Fire Marshall Bill
Jim Carrey went on to be one of the biggest comedians in Hollywood, but before he achieved that stardom, he was known as James Carrey, one of just two white original cast members on the show. Carrey was best known for his character Fire Marshall Bill, a government employee who never let a fire get him down, no matter how big the inferno or how bad the damage.
Keenan Ivory Wayans and Damon Wayans as Milli Vanilli
One of the most classic skits in the history of sketch comedy, Keenan Ivory and Damon Wayans’ portrayal of hit-pop-stars-turned-sham group Milli Vanilli was a tearjerker back in the 1990s. The show did an amazing job of working in current events, and this sketch was living proof.