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In Living Color
In Living Color logo
Genre Variety, Sketch comedy
Created by Keenen Ivory Wayans
Starring see below
Theme music composer Bosco Kante
Opening theme "In Living Color" performed by Heavy D
Composer(s) Tom Rizzo
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 127 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Greg Fields
Les Firestein
Keenen Ivory Wayans
Pam Veasey
Producer(s) Kevin Berg
Robert Jason
Running time 22-24 min.
Production company(s) 20th Century Fox Television
Ivory Way Productions
Original channel Fox
Audio format Stereo
Original run April 15, 1990 (1990-04-15) – May 19, 1994 (1994-05-19)
Status Ended

In Living Color is an American sketch comedy television series, which originally ran on the Fox Network from April 15, 1990 to May 19, 1994. Brothers Keenen and Damon Wayans created, wrote, and starred in the program. The show was produced by Ivory Way Productions in association with 20th Century Fox Television. The show was taped before a live studio audience at stage 7 at the Fox Television Center on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

Other members of the Wayans family—Kim, Shawn and Marlon—had regular roles, while brother Dwayne frequently appeared as an extra.


Description and history

The series strove to produce comedy with a strong emphasis on Black subject matter. Its groundbreaking[1] sketch comedy helped launch the career of male comedians and actors Jim Carrey (one of only two White members of the original cast, then credited as "James Carrey"), Jamie Foxx (a future Academy Award winner, who joined the cast in the third season) and David Alan Grier (an established character actor, who had worked in Keenen Ivory Wayans' 1988 motion picture I'm Gonna Git You Sucka). Its Fly Girl dance troupe helped launch careers of future famous actress/singer Jennifer Lopez (who joined the show in its third season), choreographer Laurie Ann Gibson, choreographer Carrie Ann Inaba (who was a Fly Girl from 1990 to 1992), and future Academy Award Nominee Rosie Perez (the show's choreographer 1990 to 1992).


Pilot episode

For the first episode, an exotic-looking black-and-white logo was used for the opening credits. After the band Living Colour claimed the show stole the logo from them and threatened to sue, the logo was changed to one with rather plain-type letters of three colors. Both versions of the theme song were performed by the hip-hop group Heavy D & the Boyz. The logo and opening sequence was derivative of the Memphis Movement art style.

Live musical performances

In Living Color was known for its live music performances, which started in Season 2 with Queen Latifah as their first performer (appearing again in the third season). Some of the other music acts who performed on the show were Public Enemy, Kris Kross, En Vogue, Eazy-E, Monie Love, Heavy D, MC Lyte, Jodeci,Mary J. Blige, Tupac Shakur, and Leaders of the New School.

Departure of the Wayans

Keenen Ivory Wayans left the show in 1992 after the end of the third season, over disputes with Fox about the network censoring the show's content and rerunning early episodes without his consultation. Wayans feared that Fox would ultimately decrease the syndication value of In Living Color.[2] During the fourth season in 1992, he appeared only in the (1992-93) season opener, though he remained the executive producer and thus stayed in the opening credits until the thirteenth episode. Marlon Wayans left with Keenen. Shawn Wayans and Kim Wayans both left the show at the end of the fourth season. Damon Wayans left at the end of the third season to pursue a movie career, though he made a few "special guest appearances" in the fourth season.


Fox started censoring the scripts more after In Living Color produced a live Super Bowl halftime special (branded by the network as The Doritos Zaptime/'In Living Color' Super Halftime Party). During the "Men on Football" sketch, Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier ad libbed a suggestion that Richard Gere and track and field star Carl Lewis were homosexuals, much to Lewis' dismay. The programming stunt lured 20 million to 25 million viewers from CBS' telecast of the halftime festivities during Super Bowl XXVI on Sunday, January 26, 1992. Also, in the originally aired version of another sketch unrelated to the Super Bowl special ("Men on Fitness" – February 7, 1993), there was a simulation of Damon Wayans' character Blaine enjoying receiving facial ejaculation while being sprayed with a water bottle. These two segments have been cut from reruns and the DVD version.

When airing reruns on BET, most curse words (such as "ho" and "bitch") have been muted out. One line ("drop the soap") during the second "Men on Film" sketch was muted out by Fox censors before ever airing on TV for its implications of prison rape. The DVD version has the language intact (except for the "drop the soap" line), but numerous sketches have been cut, particularly the music video parodies due to copyright reasons.

On the May 5, 1990 broadcast, Keenen Ivory Wayans did a take-off on a Billy Dee Williams "Colt 45" commercial (in which the purpose of the beverage is to get your lady friend wasted) that ended with a woman (played by Kim Coles) passed out on her back on a dining table, and "Billy Dee" moving in on her unconscious body to have sex with her. The "Colt 45" sketch was seen only once during the original broadcast. The sketch was omitted from repeats because some felt it was making light of date rape.[citation needed] The Season 1 DVD set of ILC didn't include the "cut" sketch from the pilot. This skit was cut by Fox censors, and the necessary modifications were made to the master tape. But Keenen "accidentally" mixed up the masters, and the original master was broadcast. That segment has never been broadcast since, not even in syndication, on FX or BET. It has been replaced by "The Exxxon Family" (a fake promo for a sitcom about a clumsy Exxon boat captain) in syndication and DVD box sets.

Season 5

By the fifth and final season, none of the Wayans family had any involvement whatsoever with the show. The show's traditional reliance on the character-driven sketches featuring Damon and Keenan gave way to an increasing reliance upon walk-on cameos and guest appearances, including Nick Bakay, Barry Bonds, James Brown, Rodney Dangerfield, Sherman Hemsley, Biz Markie, Peter Marshall, Ed O'Neill, Chris Rock, Tupac Shakur and various stars of the NBA. Kelly Coffield, who, prior to Alexandra Wentworth's arrival in the fourth season was the lone white female cast member, left at the end of the fourth season. Jim Carrey, David Alan Grier, Tommy Davidson, T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh and Fly Girl Deidre Lang are the only cast members to remain on the show throughout all five seasons, although Carrey's presence during the fifth season was limited due to his rising movie career, while Davidson missed most of the fourth season for an unknown reason.


Where it was originally produced by 20th Century Fox Television on Fox, the series was in reruns on local affiliates and on the News Corporation-owned FX Network, where it was distributed by Twentieth Television.

Reruns of the show aired on BET from 2005-2008.

The Best of In Living Color aired on MyNetworkTV from April 16 to June 18, 2008. Hosted by David Alan Grier, it was a retrospective show featuring classic sketches, along with cast interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. The show aired on Wednesdays at 8:30 pm Eastern/7:30 pm Central, after MyNetworkTV's sitcom Under One Roof.

Popular recurring sketches



  • At the 2006 BET Awards when the show returned from one of its commercial breaks, the show's host Damon Wayans played a character very reminiscent to "Men on ..." critic Blaine Edwards.
  • In Living Color alums Damon Wayans, Jim Carrey, David Alan Grier, Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Lopez have all hosted Saturday Night Live:
    • Damon Wayans was a featured player on SNL in its 11th season (1985-1986); he was fired for playing a stereotypically homosexual cop (who sounded like his character from "Men on Film") on a sketch that didn't call for one. Though Wayans was fired, he returned to perform stand-up on the season finale hosted by Anjelica Huston and Billy Martin, and returned to host an episode from SNL's 20th season in 1995 (where he brought on two of his famous In Living Color characters: homeless wino Anton Jackson and gay film critc Blaine Edwards).
    • Jim Carrey auditioned to be one of the castmembers on the ill-fated 1980-1981 season, but was dropped in favor of Charles Rocket (who later appeared in the 1989 film Earth Girls Are Easy and the 1994 film Dumb and Dumber with Carrey). Carrey hosted the season finale of SNL's 21st season in 1996, where he impersonated Fire Marshal Bill during the monologue.
    • David Alan Grier first appeared on the season 20 episode as fellow "Men on Film" critic Antoine Merriweather. Grier hosted SNL on December 9, 1995 (season 21) and March 18, 1997 (season 22). Grier has also appeared on Saturday Night Live's rival show, MADtv, as Ed Bradley in a 60 Minutes sketch.
    • Jamie Foxx hosted SNL on January 8, 2000 (with musical guest, Blink-182), as SNL's first host of the new millennium. Foxx has also starred alongside two African-American male SNL cast members in other projects: Garrett Morris on The Jamie Foxx Show and Eddie Murphy in the 2006 movie adaptation of Dreamgirls.
    • Jennifer Lopez was a musical guest on SNL for the season 25 episode hosted by Alan Cumming (originally supposed to be hosted by Jon Stewart). Lopez was also the host and musical guest of her own episode in February 2001 (the episode was delayed due to an XFL game and had to be rerun three weeks after the original air date), which had a sketch where the Fly Girls from In Living Color (played by SNL castmembers Rachel Dratch, Jerry Minor, and Tracy Morgan) visit Lopez and accuse her of forgetting about her beginnings as a dancer. Lopez came back to host and be musical guest for her own SNL episode on February 27, 2010, making her the first Latina to twice host and be the musical guest for an SNL episode.
  • Jamie Foxx reprised his role as Wanda in a short segment at the 2009 BET Awards.
  • In Liar Liar, Jim Carrey reprised his "Fire Marshal Bill" character (albeit with no lines) in the background of one of the closing scenes.


DVD releases

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has released all five seasons of In Living Color on DVD in Region 1. Unfortunately the sets have been edited due to music licensing issues, resulting in some shows having entire sketches removed.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
Season 1 13 April 6, 2004
  • Commentaries on Select Episodes
  • "Back in Step with the Fly Girs" Featurette
  • "Looking Back in Living Color"
Season 2 26 September 28, 2004
  • Commentary by Kim Bass and Buddy Sheffield on selected segments
  • Season 2 Overview
  • Appreciating In Living Color
  • Notorious In Living Color characters
  • Trailer - Bill Cosby as Himself.
Season 3 30 May 10, 2005
  • Mad TV Trailer
Season 4 33 October 25, 2005
Season 5 26 April 11, 2006


  1. ^ Andy Patrizio (March 17, 2004). "In Living Color Season One: The groundbreaking show looks mighty good on DVD". Retrieved 2007-11-28. 
  2. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (2007-10-17). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present (9 ed.). Ballantine Books. pp. 661. ISBN 0-345-49773-2. 

External links


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