The Undisputed Ranking of Every ‘In Living Color’ Cast Member
The sketch show revolutionized network comedy and birthed a new generation of stars. You know we had to play that.
On January 26,1992, In Living Color changed television. “We decided to do a live episode during halftime of the Super Bowl in 1992,” recalled the show’s creator and host Keenen Ivory Wayans in a 2019 Hollywood Reporter oral history of the landmark series. “Before we did our halftime special, it was just marching bands. That was the time during the game when everybody went to pee. But after our special, the next year, they hired Michael Jackson.”
Indeed, Fox’s idea to present TV’s most dangerous sketch comedy series as savvy counter-programming opposite America’s most watched sporting event woke up sleepy football fans with a punch to the face. Cast members Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier’s “Men on Football” sketch — which featured ridiculously camp, effeminate culture critics Blaine Edwards and Antoine Merriweather — let off a barrage of innuendos, joked about actor Richard Gere’s urban-legend dealings with a gerbil, and speculated about Olympic track great Carl Lewis’s sexuality. Censor lights exploded. Advertisers grumbled and threatened to pull money. But by the time the controversy dissipated, the special live episode had drawn an astounding 25 million viewers away from Super Bowl XXVI’s 79.6 million viewers.
In Living Color, with its mostly Black cast, was already the coolest, boldest, funniest show on television. Now it was a pop culture monster. It was just what Keenen planned when he first assembled the classic lineup of himself, brother and sister Damon and Kim, Grier, Tommy Davidson, Jim Carrey, T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh, Kim Coles, and Kelly Coffield.
From ’90 to ’94, the Emmy-winning show took dead aim at the more established, mostly White Saturday Night Live. Maybe it was because Damon Wayans had been fired from the long-running series in 1986. Many of his same characters that didn’t make it out of SNL’s writer’s room popped up later on his big brother’s bold experiment. Vaunted sketches and characters like…