After 27 years since the premiere of one of television's most notable sketch comedy shows, four members of the original cast of the Emmy Award-winning series In Living Color, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Tommy Davidson, and David Alan Grier, are bringing their "Off Color Comedy Tour" to Parx Casino on Friday.
Aside from the Fly Girls, who performed quick-stepped, hip-hop dance breaks during the show's opening, closing, and in between sets, In Living Color was known for its outrageous, slapstick-style sketches and for spawning some of today's comedic juggernauts like Jim Carrey and Jamie Foxx. "You better had come with it," Davidson said, describing the on-set dynamic. "We were like the Marines of comedy, like an elite force."
Keenen was approached by his brother Shawn and fellow In Living Color costars about the tour. "Young Shawn, David, and Tommy were all out on the road individually and they talked about it and then came to me," said Keenen. Because there was chatter about a possible reunion television show, he felt the tour would be a great testing ground. Davidson had grown tired of not being able to perform with his former costars. "Instead of waiting for a reunion television show, we can just get on the stage and do what we do best," he said
Shawn feels that the brotherhood of his former costars has remained strong over the years since In Living Color was on the air. "We're brothers. We're classmates. When I'm with [Keenen, Davidson, and Grier], I'm the little brother, still. When we're with Marlon [the youngest of the Wayans brothers], I get to bully him."
"I ain't telling you that!" Shawn joked when asked what he'd planned to talk about during his set. He went on to say that he'll be drawing from music, pop culture, and politics for material, similarly to Davidson, who says he plans to talk about Donald Trump, Barack Obama, the national anthem controversy, and other current events. Keenen plans to take a more practical route. "My stand-up is about my life," he said. "It's all family, kids, point of view, that kind of thing."
Davidson views the comedian's role as a simple one: to bring humor to the average person. "We're needed," he said. "We're like doctors, in a way." Keenen believes comedians are supposed to be truth tellers. "[Comedians] are the ones that will say what no one else will say," he affirmed.
To Keenen, everything is fair game in comedy, as long as it's funny. "If you have the best stage jokes, then you can make the joke," he says. "But if it's not funny, you're going to pay the price. The farther you go, the greater the risk." In tandem, Davidson's perspective of comedic boundaries opposes and complements his colleagues'. "I think now there are [limits]," Davidson said. "You have to be a little careful about what you say, because our country is going through a lot change."
Shawn's most coveted rule is to keep your circle small. Keenen takes a more philosophical approach by saying that he's learned how to "hold on to morality" and be accountable for his actions while engaging in business dealings. "Most of us come into this business with no formal background," Keenen said. "So it's literally all on-the-job training."
"I love that [Philly] is normal," said Davidson. "These are normal people that don't put on any airs. They're not trying to be anyone else. They're raw. They know it. And that's that."