ABC News
ABC News

22 Things You Might Not Know About In Living Color

ABC News
ABC News

It has been 25 years since the debut of In Living Color, the sketch comedy series created by Keenen Ivory Wayans that won the 1990 Emmy for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series. The show launched the careers of Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, and Jennifer Lopez, and continually tested the patience of Fox and its censors. Here are 22 things you might not know about the series.

1. SIX WAYANS FAMILY MEMBERS APPEARED ON THE SHOW.

Keenen hired Damon, Kim, Shawn, and Marlon Wayans as cast members throughout the run of the series, while Dwayne Wayans was a production assistant and often appeared as an extra. Their other four siblings—Nadia, Elvira, Diedre, and Craig Wayans—did not participate.

2. I’M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA PROMPTED FOX'S INTEREST IN WAYANS.

After seeing Keenen's 1988 blaxploitation parody, I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, Fox's network executives told Wayans "that I could do anything I wanted, and that's what set the wheels turning," he recently recalled to Details. He decided he wanted to do his version of Saturday Night Live.

3. NETWORK EXECUTIVES WANTED TO DELAY ANY POTENTIAL OUTRAGE.

Despite initial assurances that they wanted to “push the edge,” Fox executive Peter Chernin told Wayans that the network wanted to take the “Men on Film,” “The Wrath of Farrakhan,” and “Homeboy Shopping Network” sketches out of the first episode, but assured him that they would run them later, once In Living Color had built up an audience. Wayans refused, and ultimately got his way.

4. FOX WAITED ONE YEAR BEFORE AIRING THE PILOT.

"Barry Diller was terrified of the show," producer Tamara Rawitt told Details. "He showed it to the NAACP. The NAACP was comprised of older members of the black community, and this was a hip, sassy, tongue-in-cheek show, so I don't think they got a lot of the humor." Before airing it, the network wanted to bring in members of organizations like the Urban League as consultants, but Keenen again refused.

5. JENNIFER LOPEZ WASN’T A FLY GIRL UNTIL THE THIRD SEASON.

Whereas Dancing With the Stars judge and choreographer Carrie Ann Inaba was a Fly Girl from the beginning and left at the end of season three, Lopez didn't make her In Living Color dancing debut until September 22, 1991, during the third season premiere. The same night, Jamie Foxx was introduced as a new cast member.

6. ROSIE PEREZ REPLACED THE ORIGINAL FLY GIRL CHOREOGRAPHER, WHICH CAUSED SOME TENSION.

Coming in before the third episode, Perez wanted the dancers to perform moves that went against their years of training. "There wasn't any fighting, but it was emotional for them," Perez recalls. "I was very young, so it took me a minute to digest it. I remember going up to Keenen's office like, 'They hate me!' He said, 'Just do your job.'" Perez remained there for four years.

7. HOMEY D. CLOWN WAS BASED ON PAUL MOONEY.

You may know the longtime comedy writer (who wrote for In Living Color) as the star of the Chappelle’s Show sketches “Ask a Black Dude” and “Negrodamus.” After the writers followed Keenen’s orders to mess with him, Mooney said, “Oh, homey don’t play that!” Damon Wayans and the writers worked from there.

8. THERE WAS AN OFFICIAL HOMEY D. CLOWN VIDEO GAME.

In 1993, Capstone came up with the MS-DOS point-and-click adventure. Players have to get Homey to a major television studio by the end of the day so that he can accept their offer of fame and fortune, with only “the streets of New York” standing in his way.

9. LARRY WILMORE WAS A WRITER ON THE SHOW.

The host of The Nightly Show was tapped to write for In Living Color by his brother Marc, who was a writer for the show turned cast member during the fifth and final season. Marc has been a co-executive producer on The Simpsons since 2005.

10. THERE WERE PLENTY OF FORMER AND FUTURE SNL STARS.

Damon Wayans was an SNL cast member during the show's 1985-1986 season, but was fired for ad-libbing during a live sketch. After Chris Rock left SNL, he appeared in six episodes of In Living Color, mostly as his character Cheap Pete from I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. Regular In Living Color director Paul Miller originally directed SNL for three years. As far as other SNL connections: Colin Quinn was a fifth season writer and Molly Shannon played an office trainee in a sketch two years before joining the NBC series, while Jim Carrey unsuccessfully auditioned for SNL three times before landing on In Living Color.

11. DAMON WAYANS WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR GETTING JIM CARREY.

Knowing Carrey from The Comedy Store and from working together on the movie Earth Girls Are Easy—Damon was Zeebo, Carrey was Wiploc—Damon strongly urged Keenen to hire him. It took a while to match Carrey’s financial demands, and Thomas Haden Church was almost cast instead before a deal was made.

12. CARREY’S INFAMOUS ASS-TALKING SCENE FROM ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE CAME FROM AN INCIDENT IN THE WRITERS ROOM.

Frustrated one day with Keenen’s constant rejections of pitched sketches, Carrey stood up and read a sketch of his from his butt, in Keenen’s direction. The two almost fought before Keenen walked out of the room.

13. MARTIN LAWRENCE DIDN’T PASS THE IN LIVING COLOR AUDITIONS.

In addition to Lawrence, Margaret Cho, and Susie Essman also auditioned but never made it on the show.

14. JOHN LEGUIZAMO TURNED THE SHOW DOWN.

John Leguizamo was another potential cast member that never came to be. "I wanted to do it, they wanted me to do it, but I got talked out of doing it," Leguizamo told Details. "You know your representation talks in your ear, and the whole thing gasses up your head. They're like, 'You're blowing up, John! You've got to have your own show, John.' Later Fox offered me my version of In Living Color, House of Buggin', which eventually became MADtv. But I was a huge, huge fan of the show."

15. THE FRENCHIE CHARACTER ORIGINATED FROM A NIGHT OUT WITH EDDIE MURPHY AND RICK JAMES.

Visiting his friend Murphy, Keenen discovered a closet full of cheap versions of Eddie’s red leather outfit from his stand-up special Delirious, sent from fans. Wayans thought it would be funny to put one on, as well as a Rick James wig, a gold chain with an F on it, and gazelle glasses, and go out clubbing. The night ended with Rick James inviting him to join him in his limo, where Keenen pretended to be Murphy’s cousin from Augusta, Georgia for the rest of the night.

16. DAVID ALAN GRIER LIKED TO TRIP UP DAMON WAYANS DURING THE "MEN ON FILM" SKETCHES.

Grier would purposely hide props from Wayans, then surprise Damon with them during tapings to get him to crack.

17. IT’S CREDITED WITH MAKING THE SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOWS ENTERTAINING.

Fox aired a Doritos-sponsored live episode of In Living Color during halftime of Super Bowl XXVI, causing some 20 to 25 million viewers to switch to Fox from CBS' presentation of the game. The official NFL halftime show was called “Winter Magic,” which consisted of a skating performance from Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill, and a song by Gloria Estefan, all with a winter season and Winter Olympics theme. Michael Jackson performed during intermission of the next year’s Super Bowl, and high-profile musical acts have headlined halftime shows of the big game ever since.

18. THE LIVE "MEN ON FOOTBALL" SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SKETCH CAUSED SOME TROUBLE.

After Wayans and Grier implied that Richard Gere and Carl Lewis were gay, both men got upset. Gere’s agent threatened a lawsuit, but nothing came of it. Lewis' situation was resolved following an apology letter. The “live” show was on a five-second delay (Keenen has said it was 30 seconds), but the censor that night did not edit out the jokes, because Lewis’ sexuality was “openly discussed” in Hollywood at the time.

19. ONE SKETCH AIRED ONLY ONCE, BY ACCIDENT.

Deleted entirely from all syndication and DVD versions, and never re-aired on network repeats, “Bolt 45” managed to see the light of day on May 5, 1990. A parody of the Billy Dee Williams commercials for Colt 45 beer was interpreted by Fox to be mocking date rape, and Keenen Ivory Wayans lost his argument that it was only mocking the beer. Wayans begrudgingly agreed to cut “Bolt 45” before Kim Coles’ character passes out on the table, but a network employee (according to Keenen) aired the wrong cut and was almost fired for it.

20. KEENEN QUIT WHEN FOX STARTED TO AIR REPEATS.

During the fourth season, Fox began to show episodes from previous seasons without permission, diluting the value of In Living Color before its upcoming syndication deals. Wayans was so furious that he hid a tape of a fully edited new episode above the ceiling panels in his office so nobody from the network could get to it. Eventually he gave up and left the set for good.

21. THE WAYANS FAMILY MADE AN ON-AIR PROTEST.

Damon and Marlon Wayans were free to leave with their brother, but Shawn and Kim stayed because they remained under contract. So they and other cast members expressed their displeasure with the situation by wearing black shades and not participating in Jamie Foxx’s Christmas number at the end of the first episode following Keenen’s departure.

22. THERE WAS GOING TO BE A SERIES REBOOT.

Both old and new cast members were set to star in a reboot of the series, only for the project to be canceled in 2013. Keenen said the reason for the cancellation was because he didn’t believe a full season’s worth of quality material was possible. However, a comedian who was set to become one of the new cast members said that Damon Wayans changed his mind and decided not to come back, leading to the shutdown.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Shout! Factory
10 Surprising Facts About Mr. Mom
Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory

John Hughes penned the script for 1983's Mr. Mom, a comedy about a family man named Jack Butler (Micheal Keaton) who loses his job. To ensure their three kids are taken care of, his wife, Caroline (Teri Garr), goes back to work—leaving Jack to fight off a vacuum cleaner and learn why it's never a good idea to feed chili to a baby.

In 1982, Keaton turned in a star-making role in Ron Howard’s Night Shift, but Mr. Mom marked the first time he headlined a movie, and it launched his career. Hughes had written National Lampoon's Vacation, which—oddly enough—was released in theaters the weekend after Mr. Mom. But Hughes himself was still a relative unknown, as it would be another year before he entered the teen flick phase of his career, which would make him iconic.

In the meantime, Mr. Mom hit home for a lot of viewers, as the economy was on the downturn and more and more women were entering (or reentering) the workforce. But some people think that the movie's ending—which sees the couple revert to traditional gender roles—sidelined the movie's message. Still, on the 35th anniversary of its release, Mr. Mom remains an ahead-of-its-time comedy classic.

1. IT'S BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

Mr. Mom producer Lauren Shuler Donner came across a funny article John Hughes had written for National Lampoon. Based on that, she contacted him and the two became friends. “One day, he was telling me that his wife had gone down to Arizona and he was in charge of the two boys and he didn’t know what he was doing,” Donner told IGN. “It was hilarious! I was on the floor laughing. He said, ‘Do you think this would make a good movie?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, this is really funny.’ So he said, ‘Well, I have about 80 pages in a drawer. Would you look at it?’ So I looked at it and I said, ‘This is great! Let’s do it!’ We kind of developed it ourselves.” In the book Movie Moguls Speak, Donner mentioned how Hughes “had never been to a grocery store, he had never operated a vacuum cleaner. John was so ignorant, that in his ignorance, he was hilarious.”

The players involved with the movie told Donner and Hughes they thought it should be a TV movie. Hughes had a TV deal with Aaron Spelling, who came aboard to executive produce. “Then the players involved were upset because John was writing out of Chicago instead of L.A.,” Donner said in Movie Moguls Speak. “They fired John and brought in a group of TV writers. In the end, John and I were muscled out. It was a good movie, but if you ever read John’s original script for Mr. Mom, it’s far better.”

2. JOHN HUGHES REJECTED THE IDEA OF DIRECTING MR. MOM.

Stan Dragoti ended up directing the film, but only after Hughes turned it down, because he preferred to make his movies in Chicago, not Hollywood. “I don’t like being around the people in the movie business,” Hughes told Roger Ebert. “In Hollywood, you spend all of your time having lunch and making deals. Everybody is trying to shoot you down. I like to get my actors out here where we can make our movies in privacy.” Hughes remained in Chicago and filmed his directorial debut, Sixteen Candles, there.

3. MICHAEL KEATON GOT THE ROLE BECAUSE OF NIGHT SHIFT.

In 1982’s Night Shift, Keaton’s character works at a morgue and starts a prostitution ring with co-worker Henry Winkler. Donner had an agent friend, Laurie Perlman, who represented the not-yet-famous actor. She contacted Donner and pitched Keaton to her. “’Look, I represent this guy who is really funny. Would you meet with him?’" Donner recalled of the conversation. "So I met with him. Usually I don’t like to do this unless we’re casting, but I met with him because she was my friend. And then she said, ‘You have to see this movie Night Shift that he’s in.’ So I went to see Night Shift, and midway through I couldn’t wait to get out of that theater to give Mr. Mom to Michael Keaton. Fortunately, he liked it."

Keaton told Grantland that he turned down one of the main roles in Splash to play Jack Butler. “I just remember at the time thinking I wanted to get away from what I’d just done on Night Shift,” he said. “I thought if I do it again, I might get myself stuck. So then Mr. Mom came along. So I said no [to Splash] so I could set up this framework right away where I could do different things.”

4. THE FILM BROKE NEW GROUND.

Teri Garr, Michael Keaton, Taliesin Jaffe, Frederick Koehler, and Martin Mull in Mr. Mom (1983)
Shout! Factory

In 1983, more women stayed at home than worked, so it was a novelty for a man to be a stay-at-home dad. Today, an estimated 1.4 million men are stay-at-home dads, and 7 million men are their children's primary caregiver. “Mr. Mom became part of the vernacular,” Donner told Newsweek. “Mr. Mom represented a segment of men who were at home dealing with the kids who, up until then, really hadn’t been heard from. That’s what really told me about the power of film, because it spoke for a lot of men. It also helped women, because I think that women sometimes, if you’re a housewife, you’re not really appreciated for what you do. This sort of made women feel better about what they did because they knew that men were understanding it.”

5. TODAY, “MR. MOM” IS CONSIDERED A PEJORATIVE TERM.

More than 30 years after the film’s release, stay-at-home dads feel the term “Mr. Mom” should die. The National At-Home Dad Network launched a campaign to terminate the phrase and instead have people refer to men as “Dad.” In 2014 Lake Superior State University voted to banish “Mr. Mom” from the lexicon.

“At least, the pop-culture image of the inept dad who wouldn’t know a diaper genie from a garbage disposal has begun to fade,” wrote The Wall Street Journal, after declaring “Mr. Mom is dead.”

6. TERI GARR DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS A MESSAGE MOVIE.

The movie redefined gender roles, but when the producers pitched the premise to Garr, they hid the plot reversal. “They just told me it was about a guy who does the work that a woman does, because it’s so easy,” she told The A.V. Club. “And I went, ‘Oh, yeah. Ha ha.’ It’s so easy. All the women I know who stay home and take care of their kids, they go, ‘Oh yeah, this is easy.’ Hmm.”

7. MARTIN MULL IMPROVISED THE “220, 221” LINE.

The quote everyone remembers from the movie comes from Jack, holding a chainsaw, standing next to Ron Richardson (Martin Mull) and discussing what kind of wiring Jack will use in renovating the house: “220, 221, whatever it takes,” Jack says.

“We’re doing the scene and it was okay,” Keaton told Esquire. “And I remember saying to the prop guy, ‘Go find me a chainsaw.’ When he comes back with it, he says, ‘You wanna wear these?’ And he holds up some goggles. I go, ‘Yeah.’ You know, they make me look crazy. And when Martin shows up, I know I should look under control, I’m not sweating it. I’m a dude. So we’re standing there, Martin pulls me aside and says, ‘You know what you ought to say? When I ask about the wiring, you oughta just deadpan: ‘220, 221.’ I died. It was perfect. I may have added ‘whatever it takes.’ But it was his.”

“That was a little ad-lib that we just threw in, but every carpenter or construction person I’ve ever worked with, they’re always quoting that line from Mr. Mom,” Mull told The A.V. Club.

8. MR. MOM OUTGROSSED HUGHES’S OTHER 1983 SUMMER MOVIE—VACATION.

Mr. Mom only opened on 126 screens on July 22, 1983, but managed to gross $947,197 during its opening weekend. Once the film went wide a month later to 1235 screens, it hit number one at the box office and spent five weeks at the top. By the end of its run, the film had grossed just shy of $65 million, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of 1983 (just between Staying Alive and Risky Business). National Lampoon’s Vacation, Hughes’s other film that summer, came out July 29 and ended its theatrical run with $61,399,552 (at its height, it showed on 1248 screens). Vacation finished the year in 11th place.

9. THE MOVIE LED TO HUGHES BEING CALLED “A PURVEYOR OF HORNY SEX COMEDIES.”

During a 1986 interview with Seventeen magazine, Molly Ringwald asked the writer-director why he never showed teen sex in Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club. “In Sixteen Candles, I figured it would only be gratuitous to show Samantha and Jake in anything more than a kiss,” he said. “The kiss is the most beautiful moment. I was really amused when someone once called me a ‘purveyor of horny sex comedies.’ He listed The Breakfast Club and Mr. Mom in parentheses. I thought, ‘What kind of sex?’ Yes, in Mr. Mom there’s a baby in a bathtub and you see its bare butt.”

10. MR. MOM WAS MADE INTO A TV MOVIE AFTER ALL.

In the beginning, producers wanted Mr. Mom to be a TV movie, not a feature film. But a year after the film came out in theaters, ABC produced a TV movie called Mr. Mom, with the same characters and premise. Barry Van Dyke played Jack and Rebecca York played Caroline. A People magazine review of the movie stated: “They and their three kids are immediately likable … But it goes downhill from there as the script lobotomizes all its characters. Here’s a textbook case in how TV takes a cute idea—and a script that does have some good lines—and leeches the wit out of it.”

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Central Press/Getty Images
Ernest Hemingway’s Guide to Life, In 20 Quotes
Central Press/Getty Images
Central Press/Getty Images

Though he made his living as a writer, Ernest Hemingway was just as famous for his lust for adventure. Whether he was running with the bulls in Pamplona, fishing for marlin in Bimini, throwing back rum cocktails in Havana, or hanging out with his six-toed cats in Key West, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author never did anything halfway. And he used his adventures as fodder for the unparalleled collection of novels, short stories, and nonfiction books he left behind, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea among them.

On what would be his 119th birthday—he was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899—here are 20 memorable quotes that offer a keen perspective into Hemingway’s way of life.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."

ON TRUST

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."

ON DECIDING WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

"I never had to choose a subject—my subject rather chose me."

ON TRAVEL

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."


Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. [1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTELLIGENCE AND HAPPINESS

"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."

ON TRUTH

"There's no one thing that is true. They're all true."

ON THE DOWNSIDE OF PEOPLE

"The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."

ON SUFFERING FOR YOUR ART

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

ON TAKING ACTION

"Never mistake motion for action."

ON GETTING WORDS OUT

"I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast—talk them or write them down."


Photograph by Mary Hemingway, in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP

"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"

ON FINDING STRENGTH 

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

ON THE TRUE NATURE OF WICKEDNESS

"All things truly wicked start from innocence."

ON WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

ON THE DEFINITION OF COURAGE

"Courage is grace under pressure."

ON THE PAINFULNESS OF BEING FUNNY

"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."


By Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. - JFK Library, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON KEEPING PROMISES

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

ON GOOD VS. EVIL

"About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."

ON REACHING FOR THE UNATTAINABLE

"For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

ON HAPPY ENDINGS

"There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios