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NOSTALGIC FEELS! 'In Living Color' Reunites & Shares How They Duped FOX Into Airing Inappropriate Jokes

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"In Living Color" - arguably the best comedy sketch show to hit television - reunited recently and spilled tidbits about how they were able to get some of their inappropriate jokes on air. See their reunion flicks and find out how they duped FOX inside...

If you grew up in the 90s then you KNOW "In Living Color" was the best comedy variety show on television. That's not up for debate.

The cast was made up of a group of black entertainers who served up endless laughs with their comedy sketches that poked fun at EVERYBODY. Oh, and we can't forget the show introduced us to the Fly Girls and had us dressed in neon trying learn every move they did on that fake rooftop.

Honestly, we doubt "In Living Color" would survive on television now with as many inappropriate jokes that were tossed around. However, it was a groundbreaking show that tested boundaries. And we're grateful to have been able to witness it.

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Twenty-five years after the finale, the cast reunited, including creator and star Keenen Ivory Wayans (above), at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC to take a trip down memory lane about how the hit show became a classic. Several cast mates joined Keenen, including his brother Shawn Wayans, his sister Kim Wayans, and co-stars Tommy Davidson and David Alan Grier.

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"In Living Color" did exactly what it was supposed to do - "push the envelope." But, it took some genius strategizing to get some of the more inappropriate jokes on air.

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“We knew what we were doing. We knew there was nothing like us, and we were happy about it because we knew that we were first. We did it all on purpose,” Tommy Davidson said (pictured below alongside his wife Amanda Davidson). “We knew that there was not a show where everybody gets to laugh: white, black, Asian, Latino—because we all laugh at the same things anyway. But finally, we had a show that represented everybody. So we knew if it got on the air exactly what it would do.”

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Keenen Ivory Wayans shared how they would have to trick the Fox network into signing off on culturally specific content that was, at the time, deemed inappropriate. They had to lean on the network's “cultural ignorance" to get the jokes they wanted in the final cut.

“Here’s the thing: it’s nice when they don’t know,” Keenen Ivory said. “So we used to have fun with censors. We had a couple of instances where what we would do is, we would put things in that we didn’t want to be in [the final cut], and we would laugh really hard at the table reads or the rehearsal, and the censor would get nervous and they would come in and say, ‘You can’t say that! You’ve gotta come up with something else.’“

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That tactic, Keenen Ivory continued, once helped them convince censors to replace “kayak city” with “toss your salad”—a story that led to what was likely the biggest laugh break of the 50-minute panel discussion. Hedley family sketches managed to sneak in Jamaican curse words like “bumboclaat” without the censors thinking twice of it. It wasn’t until Jamaican viewers wrote the network three or four episodes in, Grier recalled, that Standards began catching on. “So we’d already won by that point,” he said.



As we mentioned earlier, a show like "In Living Color" would likely have a hard time getting the greenlight today, but Keenen doesn't seem to think so.

When David Alan Grier was asked if “Men on…” could air on television today, he responded,

“I don’t think you can,” he said. “My personal politics, my personal knowledge of trans, gay, LGBTQ culture — I say that because I’m trying to get all the letters out — is different. You know, I have evolved from then. But back then, I would say there was never any malice in our portrayal of these gay men, at least from my perspective at that time. But it was very much of its time.”

“What I remember is it was very generational,” he added. “The younger gay community endorsed us, and the older, more conservative community was like, ‘You don’t talk about that.'”


Keenan jumped in and said:

“I think that the sketch could be done today,” Keenan responded. “I think that we have more information about gay culture, so maybe we could make it even funnier…but like David said, the whole intent of the show was to include everybody. We thought, ‘Everybody’s gonna laugh.'” He acknowledged that “you can only be as good as the time period that you live in with the information that you have,” however.

Check out their panel discussion below:

Photos: Backgrid/Splash/Getty

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