History In The Making—A Black Lady Sketch Show
HBO premiered its new 30-minute sketch series in early August last month, and it’s breaking down barriers and making history. A Black Lady Sketch Show, created by Robin Thede, centers around black women in a variety of different and hilarious scenarios, ranging from a “Bad Bitch Support Group” to a post-apocalyptic world.
Thede, comedian and host of the previously aired BET talk show The Rundown, is not only the creator of the show but is also the executive producer, alongside Issa Rae of Insecure. Thede is part of a team of writers that is led by Lauren Ashley Smith. Smith is the first ever black woman to be the Head Writer of a sketch television show. In addition, A Black Lady Sketch Show is the first show in history to have an all-black women’s writing room. The importance of this stems from the show’s core value: it is written by black women for black women.
In an interview with Vulture, Thede discussed the reality for black women writers.
“Shame on the industry if they say that there aren’t enough funny black women writers out there, because it’s a lie,” Thede stated. “I did not rely on agencies to find writers. I hire writers by word-of-mouth. I go to comedy clubs. Agencies always send the same half-dozen white dudes. Those guys will always find work.”
Besides being the first show with a black female Head Writer and an all-black women’s writing room, A Black Lady Sketch Show continues making history by hiring Dime Davis as the first black woman sketch director.
Representation matters immensely, especially in the comedic and entertainment industry. A Black Lady Sketch Show perfectly displays the viewpoint of the black woman from her own perspective, not in the eyes of—to be frank—a white man. The show continues to showcase the importance of representation by featuring a cast of all black women, the first sketch series of its kind.
The core cast consists of four hilarious, versatile black women: Ashley Nicole Black, an Emmy recipient for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special (Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner); comedian Quinta Brunson; Luke Cage’s Gabrielle Dennis; and, of course, the one and only Robin Thede. Aside from the main cast, A Black Lady Sketch Show features guest stars such as Angela Bassett, Laverne Cox, Kelly Rowland, and Yvonne Orji.
The sketches, while outrageous and comical, all touch on common themes relevant in today’s society such as dating, social norms, and religion. With five to six sketches in each episode, the show does a remarkable job at making sure each one is even more hilarious than the previous. In each sketch, the writing—amplified by the acting—is clever and has twists and turns throughout it, leaving viewers hunched over holding their stomach.
One sketch puts a twist on “Romeo and Juliet. In this version, “Romeo and Julissa,” two lovers are forbidden to be together because of the feud holding them apart: Nicki Minaj versus Cardi B. Another shows a courtroom filled only with black women, hence why the judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, bailiff, and stenographer all start cackling and singing, “Black lady courtroom!”
The jokes on A Black Lady Sketch Show also cunningly illustrate the challenges of being a black woman in America by acknowledging “society’s unfair expectations or unfair lack of expectations,” according to Vulture.
Thede has created something on a spectrum of its own and made history while doing so. It’s about damn time. Support and watch A Black Lady Sketch Show; the entire first season is available on HBO. (Not sponsored, just really passionate.)