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22 Things You Might Not Know About In Living Color

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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.

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11 Black Friday Purchases That Aren't Always The Best Deal
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Black Friday can bring out some of the best deals of the year (along with the worst in-store behavior), but that doesn't mean every advertised price is worth splurging on. While many shoppers are eager to save a few dollars and kickstart the holiday shopping season, some purchases are better left waiting for at least a few weeks (or longer).

1. FURNITURE

Display of outdoor furniture.
Photo by Isaac Benhesed on Unsplash

Black Friday is often the best time to scope out deals on large purchases—except for furniture. That's because newer furniture models and styles often appear in showrooms in February. According to Kurt Knutsson, a consumer technology expert, the best furniture deals can be found in January, and later on in July and August. If you're aiming for outdoor patio sets, expect to find knockout prices when outdoor furniture is discounted and put on clearance closer to Labor Day.

2. TOOLS

A display of tools.
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Unless you're shopping for a specific tool as a Christmas gift, it's often better to wait until warmer weather rolls around to catch great deals. While some big-name brands offer Black Friday discounts, the best tool deals roll around in late spring and early summer, just in time for Memorial Day and Father's Day.

3. BEDDING AND LINENS

A stack of bed linens.
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Sheet and bedding sets are often used as doorbuster items for Black Friday sales, but that doesn't mean you should splurge now. Instead, wait for annual linen sales—called white sales—to pop up after New Year's. Back in January of 1878, department store operator John Wanamaker held the first white sale as a way to push bedding inventory out of his stores. Since then, retailers have offered these top-of-the-year sales and January remains the best time to buy sheets, comforters, and other cozy bed linens.

4. HOLIDAY DÉCOR

Rows of holiday gnomes.
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If you are planning to snag a new Christmas tree, lights, or other festive décor, it's likely worth making due with what you have and snapping up new items after December 25. After the holidays, retailers are looking to quickly move out holiday items to make way for spring inventory, so ornaments, trees, yard inflatables, and other items often drastically drop in price, offering better deals than before the holidays. If you truly can't wait, the better option is shopping as close to Christmas as possible, when stores try to reduce their Christmas stock before resorting to clearance prices.

5. TOYS

Child choosing a toy car.
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Unless you're shopping for a very specific gift that's likely to sell out before the holidays, Black Friday toy deals often aren't the best time to fill your cart at toy stores. Stores often begin dropping toy prices two weeks before Christmas, meaning there's nothing wrong with saving all your shopping (and gift wrapping) until the last minute.

6. ENGAGEMENT RINGS AND JEWELRY

Rows of rings.
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Holiday jewelry commercials can be pretty persuasive when it comes to giving diamonds and gold as gifts. But, savvy shoppers can often get the best deals on baubles come spring and summer—prices tend to be at their highest between Christmas and Valentine's Day thanks to engagements and holiday gift-giving. But come March, prices begin to drop through the end of summer as jewelers see fewer purchases, making it worth passing up Black Friday deals.

7. PLANE TICKETS AND TRAVEL PACKAGES

Searching for flights online.
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While it's worth looking at plane ticket deals on Black Friday, it's not always the best idea to whip out your credit card. Despite some sales, the best time to purchase a flight is still between three weeks and three and a half months out. Some hotel sites will offer big deals after Thanksgiving and on Cyber Monday, but it doesn't mean you should spring for next year's vacation just yet. The best travel and accommodation deals often pop up in January and February when travel numbers are down.

8. FOOD AND SNACK BASKETS

Gift basket against a blue background.
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Fancy fruit, meat and cheese, and snack baskets are easy gifts for friends and family (or yourself, let's be honest), but they shouldn't be snagged on Black Friday. And because baskets are jam-packed full of perishables, you likely won't want to buy them a month away from the big day anyway. But traditionally, you'll spend less cheddar if you wait to make those purchases in December.

9. WINTER CLOTHING

Rack of women's winter clothing.
Photo by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash.

Buying clothing out of season is usually a big money saver, and winter clothes are no exception. Although some brands push big discounts online and in-store, the best savings on coats, gloves, and other winter accessories can still be found right before Black Friday—pre-Thanksgiving apparel markdowns can hit nearly 30 percent off—and after the holidays.

10. SMARTPHONES

Group of hands holding smartphones.
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While blowout tech sales are often reserved for Cyber Monday, retailers will try to pull you in-store with big electronics discounts on Black Friday. But, not all of them are really the best deals. The price for new iPhones, for example, may not budge much (if at all) the day after Thanksgiving. If you're in the market for a new phone, the best option might be waiting at least a few more weeks as prices on older models drop. Or, you can wait for bundle deals that crop up during December, where you pay standard retail price but receive free accessories or gift cards along with your new phone.

11. KITCHEN GADGETS

Row of hanging kitchen knives and utensils.
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Black Friday is a great shopping day for cooking enthusiasts—at least for those who are picky about their kitchen appliances. Name-brand tools and appliances often see good sales, since stores drop prices upwards of 40 to 50 percent to move through more inventory. But that doesn't mean all slow cookers, coffee makers, and utensil prices are the best deals. Many stores advertise no-name kitchen items that are often cheaply made and cheaply priced. Purchasing these lower-grade items can be a waste of money, even on Black Friday, since chances are you may be stuck looking for a replacement next year. And while shoppers love to find deals, the whole point of America's unofficial shopping holiday is to save money on products you truly want (and love).

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Food
The Origins of 5 International Food Staples

Food is more than fuel. Cuisine and culture are so thoroughly intertwined that many people automatically equate tomatoes with Italy and potatoes with Ireland. Yet a thousand years ago those dietary staples were unheard of in Europe. How did they get to be so ubiquitous there—and beyond?

1. TOMATOES

For years, the wonderful fruit that’s now synonymous with Italy was mostly ignored there. Native to South America and likely cultivated in Central America, tomatoes were introduced to Italy by Spanish explorers during the 1500s. Shortly thereafter, widespread misconceptions about the newcomers took root. In part due to their watery complexion, it was inaccurately thought that eating tomatoes could cause severe digestive problems. Before the 18th century, the plants were mainly cultivated for ornamental purposes. Tomato-based sauce recipes wouldn’t start appearing in present-day Italy until 1692 (although even those recipes were more like a salsa or relish than a sauce). Over the next 150 years, tomato products slowly spread throughout the peninsula, thanks in no small part to the agreeable Mediterranean climate. By 1773, some cooks had taken to stuffing tomatoes with rice or veal. In Naples, the fruits were sometimes chopped up and placed onto flatbread—the beginnings of modern pizza. But what turned the humble tomato into a national icon was the canning industry. Within Italy’s borders, this business took off in a big way during the mid-to-late 19th century. Because tomatoes do well stored inside metal containers, canning companies dramatically drove up the demand. The popularity of canned tomatoes was later solidified by immigrants who came to the United States from Italy during the early 20th century: Longing for Mediterranean ingredients, transplanted families created a huge market for Italian-grown tomatoes in the US.

2. CURRY

Bowl of chicken curry with a spoon in it

An international favorite, curry is beloved in both India and the British Isles, not to mention the United States. And it turns out humans may have been enjoying the stuff for a very, very long time. The word “curry” was coined by European colonists and is something of an umbrella term. In Tamil, a language primarily found in India and Sri Lanka, “kari” means “sauce.” When Europeans started traveling to India, the term was eventually modified into “curry,” which came to designate any number of spicy foods with South or Southeast Asian origins. Nonetheless, a great number of curry dishes share two popular components: turmeric and ginger. In 2012, traces of both were discovered inside residue caked onto pots and human teeth at a 4500-year-old archaeological site in northern India. And where there’s curry, there’s usually garlic: A carbonized clove of this plant was also spotted nearby. “We don’t know they were putting all of them together in a dish, but we know that they were eating them at least individually,” Steve Weber, one of the archaeologists who helped make this astonishing find, told The Columbian. He and his colleagues have tentatively described their discovery as "proto-curry."

3. THE BAGUETTE

Several baguettes

A quintessential Gallic food, baguettes are adored throughout France, where residents gobble up an estimated 10 billion every year. The name of the iconic bread ultimately comes from the Latin word for stick, baculum, and references its long, slender form. How the baguette got that signature shape is a mystery. One popular yarn credits Napoleon Bonaparte: Supposedly, the military leader asked French bakers to devise a new type of skinny bread loaf that could be comfortably tucked into his soldiers’ pockets. Another origin story involves the Paris metro, built in the 19th century by a team of around 3500 workers who were apparently sometimes prone to violence during meal times. It’s been theorized that the metro foremen tried to de-escalate the situation by introducing bread that could be broken into pieces by hand—thereby eliminating the need for laborers to carry knives. Alas, neither story is supported by much in the way of historical evidence. Still, it’s clear that lengthy bread is nothing new in France: Six-foot loaves were a common sight in the mid-1800s. The baguette as we know it today, however, didn’t spring into existence until the early 20th century. The modern loaf is noted for its crispy golden crust and white, puffy center—both traits made possible by the advent of steam-based ovens, which first arrived on France’s culinary scene in the 1920s.

4. POTATOES

Bowl of red, white, and black potatoes on wooden table

Historical records show that potatoes reached Ireland by the year 1600. Nobody knows who first introduced them; the list of potential candidates includes everyone from Sir Walter Raleigh to the Spanish Armada. Regardless, Ireland turned out to be a perfect habitat for the tubers, which hail from the misty slopes of the Andes Mountains in South America. Half a world away, Ireland’s rich soils and rainy climate provided similar conditions—and potatoes thrived there. They also became indispensable. For millennia, the Irish diet had mainly consisted of dairy products, pig meats, and grains, none of which were easy for poor farmers to raise. Potatoes, on the other hand, were inexpensive, easy to grow, required fairly little space, and yielded an abundance of filling carbs. Soon enough, the average Irish peasant was subsisting almost entirely on potatoes, and the magical plant is credited with almost single-handedly triggering an Irish population boom. In 1590, only around 1 million people lived on the island; by 1840, that number had skyrocketed to 8.2 million. Unfortunately, this near-total reliance on potatoes would have dire consequences for the Irish people. In 1845, a disease caused by fungus-like organisms killed off somewhere between one-third and one-half of the country’s potatoes. Roughly a million people died as a result, and almost twice as many left Ireland in a desperate mass exodus. Yet potatoes remained a cornerstone of the Irish diet after the famine ended; in 1899, one magazine reported that citizens were eating an average of four pounds’ worth of them every day. Expatriates also brought their love of potatoes with them to other countries, including the U.S. But by then, the Yanks had already developed a taste for the crop: The oldest record of a permanent potato patch on American soil dates back to 1719. That year, a group of farmers—most likely Scots-Irish immigrants—planted one in the vicinity of modern-day Derry, New Hampshire. From these humble origins, the potato steadily rose in popularity, and by 1796, American cookbooks were praising its “universal use, profit, and easy acquirement.”

5. CORN

Corn growing in a field

In the 1930s, geneticist George W. Beadle exposed a vital clue about how corn—also known as maize—came into existence. A future Nobel Prize winner, Beadle demonstrated that the chromosomes found in everyday corn bear a striking resemblance to those of a Mexican grass called teosinte. At first glance, teosinte may not look very corn-like. Although it does have kernels, these are few in number and encased in tough shells that can easily chip a human tooth. Nonetheless, years of work allowed Beadle to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that corn was descended from teosinte. Today, genetic and archaeological data suggests that humans began the slow process of converting this grass into corn around 8700 years ago in southwestern Mexico. If you're wondering why early farmers showed any interest in cultivating teosinte to begin with, while the plant is fairly unappetizing in its natural state, it does have a few key attributes. One of these is the ability to produce popcorn: If held over an open fire, the kernels will “pop” just as our favorite movie theater treat does today. It might have been this very quality that inspired ancient horticulturalists to tinker around with teosinte—and eventually turn it into corn

BONUS: TEA

Person sitting cross-legged holding a cup of green tea

The United Kingdom’s ongoing love affair with this hot drink began somewhat recently. Tea—which is probably of Chinese origin—didn’t appear in Britain until the 1600s. Initially, the beverage was seen as an exotic curiosity with possible health benefits. Shipping costs and tariffs put a hefty price tag on tea, rendering it quite inaccessible to the lower classes. Even within England’s most affluent circles, tea didn’t really catch on until King Charles II married Princess Catherine of Braganza. By the time they tied the knot in 1662, tea-drinking was an established pastime among the elite in her native Portugal. Once Catherine was crowned Queen, tea became all the rage in her husband’s royal court. From there, its popularity slowly grew over several centuries and eventually transcended socioeconomic class. At present, the average Brit drinks an estimated three and a half cups of tea every day.

All photos courtesy of iStock.

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