A Black Lady Sketch Show Is Groundbreaking and Funny AF
On Friday, HBO aired the first episode of A Black Lady Sketch Show, the magnificently titled “Angela Bassett Is the Baddest B****,” highlighting the comedic prowess of its core four: Ashley Nicole Black, Quinta Brunson, Gabrielle Dennis, and creator Robin Thede. The episode also brought in some amazing guest stars: Gina Torres, Angela Bassett, Natasha Rothwell, Laverne Cox, and others.
I’ve been interested in the sketch show since it was announced, and it needs to be mentioned that this show and its creator Thede have broken an incredible amount of ground in comedy. As was highlighted in their interview with A.V. Club, Thede was the first Black woman to lead a late-night writers room, the first Black woman to lead the writers’ room for the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2016, and is now the creator of the first sketch comedy written by and starring Black women.
Thede made sure that she would dispel any illusions that it is “hard” to find Black female comedy writers. She told Jourdain Searles at Vulture that she called up 24 black women comedy writers and met with them over the course of three days. She could only afford to hire six and had to narrow it down, but says “it was an incredibly hard decision because they could have all written amazingly on the show.”
There have been Black comedy shows before, but they have mostly highlight Black male talent over the years. Even on programs like Living Single where there were reoccurring Black female comedians, they were never the focus of the series. With A Black Lady Sketch Show, the goal is to spotlight Black female talent, but in ways that show Black women don’t only have to be one type of funny.
“My mantra is that it’s specifically cast, but it’s universally funny,” Thede said. “It’s about showing the diversity amongst Black women. We play so many types of characters. Between the four of us, we play 100 original characters. We play men, women, old people, aliens, all sorts of things.”
In this first episode alone I found myself cracking up at just how good all the women are at the physical comedy, but also going so deep into each character—and like all good comedy, being able to take some jabs at society. That’s why I love the “Bad Bitch Support Group” sketch so much, it hits all the marks of a good comedy. The cast is funny, Angela Bassett is Bad Bitch TM, but we also see the range of Black women on the show. Not only do we have Black women of all shades, but we have the Afro-Latina representation and Black trans woman representation with Amara La Negra and Laverne Cox respectively. Plus, it is always great to poke some fun at the ridiculous beauty standards of society, especially with Instagram.
A Black Lady Sketch Show airs every Friday on HBO.
(via Vulture, image: HBO)
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