We’ve always mentioned how much we love comedy and just the genuine great vibes it generally brings. Shoxmax have this for us today through their laugh-out-loud funny, not afraid to be controversial and unprecedented sketch comedy called A Black Lady Sketch Show. Currently streaming on the service, TV Guide calls it “unapologetically goofy”, but it’s also ambitious, setting its sights on nothing less than changing the world, one laugh at a time.
The six-episode HBO series is created by, written by, directed by and stars a stellar array of the most talented black women in American comedy. Creator Robin Thede (host of BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede and head-writer for The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore) executive produces, writes and stars, with Issa Rae (Emmy and Golden Globe nominee for HBO’s Insecure) producing and guest starring.
Each episode consists of four to six sketches framed within an ongoing end-of-the-world storyline that showcases the comedic talents of Thede and her core cast: Emmy winner Ashley Nicole Black (Full Frontal with Samantha Bee), Gabrielle Dennis (Insecure, S.W.A.T.) and Quinta Brunson (Quinta vs. Everything).
The all-star guest line-up is very impressive and includes Oscar nominee Angela Bassett, Emmy winners Lena Waithe and Loretta Devine, Golden Globe nominees Maria Gibbs and Jackée Harry, Emmy nominees Laverne Cox and Amber Riley, Imagen Award winner Gina Torres, Nailed It! star Nicole Byer, Grammy winner Kelly Rowland and even Grammy hall-of-famer Patti LaBelle.
The series made #18 on Rotten Tomatoes’ list of the best TV shows of 2019, with a 100% critics rating. It featured in Best of 2019 lists from AV Club to Los Angeles Times, Salon to Vulture.
From concept to the screen, American comedy has traditionally been overwhelmingly dominated by white comedians, usually male. Not only does A Black Lady Sketch Show blow that sky high, it also has the advantage that, because it’s all black and almost all female, it’s an excellent antidote to what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called “the danger of a single story”.
In the grand scheme of effecting major social change, it’s early days yet for Thede and her crew, but the show’s growing fandom online and HBO’s renewal for a second season are cause for celebration. Thede hopes it’s a sign of things to come. “We almost named it The Black Lady Sketch Show”, because that’s what it is,” she said at Essence Fest. “But then we settled on A Black Lady Sketch Show,” Thede said, emphasising the ‘A’. “We want to be one of many. This opens the door for many more to come.”