When something resonates with Black people, it becomes a source of comfort, and when it’s incredibly familiar and can make us laugh, it’s gold.
A Black Lady Sketch Show came to us in 2019, and after my friend and co-host of Reely Melanated Ashlee put it on my radar, I wondered what divine sorcery was unleashed upon us. Here was a show filled with Black women comedians, horror and sci-fi-tinged skits, a poppin’ theme song (“Hot Girl” by Megan Thee Stallion), and laughs that made my face hurt. From the infamous Black Lady Courtroom (clap, clap!) to a Pattie Labelle serenade during a break up, to the wraparound story of a group of black women, THE final girls, bunkering down together after the world ends, comedy from a Black woman’s perspective proves it’s here to stay.
The show was created by Robin Thede, a versatile comedy writer who had her own vehicle on BET called The Rundown with Robin Thede from 2017-2018. She has also written for the likes of Chris Rock and Jamie Foxx and was the head writer for the White House Correspondents Dinner and the Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Her brilliant brand of quick-witted comedy is realized with an equally brilliant team of writers and actors. Lauren Ashley Smith, Akila Green, Ashley Nicole Black, Amber Ruffin, Holly Walker and many more write with such a range of experience and backgrounds, the material seems endless. They also enlist multi-disciplined performers like Gabrielle Dennis, Issa Rae (who is also an executive producer), Nicole Byer, plus veteran comedians David Alan Grier, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Garrett Morris. There’s also a delicious amount of surprise guests like Angela Bassett, Jackée Harry, and more.
In Season Two, we get new sketches, another theme song I dare you not to bop to (“Fine Azz” by KaMillion), plus ongoing sagas of our favourite characters like the non-committal Chris (played by Thede), and Trinity the Spy (played by Black). We get more laughs, more comedy chaos, and more bloopers post-credits – a common courtesy when a show is THAT funny. We also have the additions of Laci Mosley, who hosts a podcast called Scam Goddess that got me through many a commute in the before-times and Skye Townsend, the daughter of comedy great Robert Townsend who shows she has the comedy chops to stand on her own. These versatile women are joined by guests Gabrielle Union (Being Mary Jane, Breaking In), Jesse Williams (A Cabin in the Woods, Random Acts of Violence), Kim Wayans (In Living Color), Wunmi Mosaku (His House, Lovecraft Country), to name a few.
The AAFCA had a roundtable sit-down with the women from the show. The conversation was filled with laughs, passion and the revelation that these performers and creators want to bring joy and celebrate Black women. They prove that a full cast and crew of Black women and Black people are not only possible but incredibly successful. I am literally beside myself with joy, giddy and a bit verklempt when talking to Robin Thede, but it all turns out in the end. Check it out here:
It’s a show that’s for Black women by Black women, a show that hears us and has the inner knowledge to make us laugh at ourselves when there is so much to cry about. A Black Lady Sketch Show premieres on April 23 on HBO and HBO Crave in Canada.