David Peisner Talks In Living Color in New Book!
David Peisner is the author of the new book Homey Don’t Play That! the story of in Living Color and the black comedy revolution. Based on the hit 1990s sketch comedy show, In Living Color. The book features interviews from the show’s most iconic actors as well as members of the crew. I sat down with him to see what inspired him to write the book, his relationship to show, and some of his favorite moments!
Pete: What inspired you to write a book based on In Living Color?
David Peisner: I was a big fan of SNL growing up but In Living Color was so fresh to me. I was working on a story about it in 2015 and realized the influence of the culture, where Black culture went from obscure to mainstream.
P: How long have you been working on this book?
DP: The research started in 2015 but I didn’t start principal work on it in 2016 a little over a year.
P: Which former ILC cast member was the most interesting to interview?
DP: Interviewing Jim Carey was great, he was soft-spoken but had a lot to say and had an admiration of his time on the show. Keenen was also interesting; Tommy Davidson was open about how he was treated like a second banana but he stuck around with the show for all 5 season.
P: What are some interesting behind the scenes stories that may shock fans?
DP: There are interesting stories on how the show almost never happened, Keenen mentioned about how after 9 months of shooting the pilot Fox felt the show was too Black. They also thought the show might offend Black people. Keenan went into a focus group with five big suits telling him they were asking how ppl feel about the show and he responded with how the show was going to be revolutionary in a funny way not in a militant way; There was friction between Jim Carrey and Keenen, during a table reading when it was time to read his part Jim stuck his ass in Keenan’s face and read his lines from his ass. This inspired a running gag in the Ace Ventura movies.
P: What are some of your favorite skits?
DP: Early Homey the Clown sketches; they are funny but there is a lot of hard truth buried in those; The Brother’s brothers they were really political but funny. When working on the book I went back to rewatch the shows and many don’t hold up however the Brother’s Brothers still bite today by poking fun at Uncle Toms.
P: What were the challenges in getting this book complete?
DP: It’s a ton of work, there are two big challenges interviewing over 100 people and a lot of them, were hard to find; It was also hard to get in touch with the big stars of the show. A more interesting thing about it is I’m a white guy writing about Black culture and asking what right do I have to sell this story; However it’s been 25 years and no one has ever seized the opportunity; However, there were writers who felt the same about writing jokes about blackness despite being white
P: What is the show’s link to hip-hop bringing hip-hop to the mainstream?
DP: The show featured several Hip-hop acts and bringing them to primetime network TV so it can reach people who aren’t in LA or NY. But the show itself featured a lot of Hip-hop culture in the skits. At its height the show it pulled in as many as 20 million networks
P: What is your favorite literary genre to read?
DP: I have been reading a lot of contemporary fiction, but it’s a bit all over the chop, some of it’s for work but some of it’s for fun. I don’t really read much fantasy
P: What is an underrated book you enjoy?
DP: The book I give people is called White boy shuffle by Paul beady; I remember reading it back in the 90’s when it came out, it’s really funny and really smart he has a great way with language.
P: What can readers take away from the book?
DP: I hope people see it as being a way to understand that moment in time, it’s quite entertaining, it tells the history of the show and how we got from Richard Pryor to Kevin Hart; There’s a whole comedy lineage and it gets to this weird period with creators like Hudlin, Spike Lee, Keenan and it caused a huge shift in comedy
p: What other projects do you have in the works?
DP: I work mostly as a freelancer, I don’t write books often. This is my second book, Professional Idiot I wrote with Steve-O from Jackass.
P: How can readers keep up with you?
DP: Twitter: @DavidPeisner | FB: David Peisner | W: djpeisiner.com
Homey Don’t Play That! the story of in Living Color and the black comedy revolution is available now in all retail outlets.