'Sherman's Showcase' Creators on Bringing a Moment of Levity With Their 'Spectacular' Special (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
Corey Nickols/Getty Images
After an acclaimed first season, Sherman’s Showcase is back with a one-hour special, “Black History Month Spectacular,” premiering on Juneteenth. The IFC sketch comedy series created by and starring Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle honors African American and black icons of the past and present with a hilariously unapologetic episode in honor of Black History Month. While not specifically about the events of June 19, Riddle tells ET that its debut couldn't be more timely. “With everything going on in the world, what better time for the Spectacular?” he says, acknowledging the continuing protests and growing support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“If our role on June 19th this year is just to bring a little bit of levity, a little moment of happiness and joy into people's lives because they thought we did some stuff that was funny, then I'm very comfortable with that,” Riddle continues.
“Black culture has always been like a little oasis for us. No matter what's going on in the world, we’ve always been able to come together and, you know, entertain each other, laugh with each other, cry with each other, but come together and do that. That's always been part of our history,” Salahuddin says, promising that this special won’t bring about any tears.
In fact, it’s bringing together special guest stars, like Black Thought, Jemele Hill, John Legend, Lil Rel Howery, Mario Van Peebles, Michael Ealy, Phonte Coleman, Questlove, Terrence J and Vic Mensa to pay tribute to black culture with comedy and music.
Pulling together such an eclectic group of activists, actors and performers was a mix of strategy and luck. “It’s literally a different story for every single person,” Riddle says of getting everyone to come on, whether it was getting in touch with someone through their hair and makeup team or randomly hanging out in the dressing room, like it was for Ealy. “We were like, ‘Hey, by the way, do you want to shoot something? And he was like, ‘Yeah, I’m up for it.’ So we wrote something on the spot,” Salahuddin reveals.
Perhaps, the only unexpected moment is an appearance by Vanderpump Rules stars Tom Sandoval and Tom Schwartz, who pop up in a few sketches to play cops. “By the way, who knew that would be in the news this week? I didn't even see that one coming,” Salahuddin says, referring to the controversy surrounding the reality show after multiple cast members were fired for racist behavior.
“We were really thrilled to have the Vanderpump guys on,” Riddle adds. “I think that the cool thing about the Toms is that not only are they just decent dudes but the fact that they would come on a black show and play police officers shows you that they have a little bit more perspective than others might have and that others would think that they might have.”
But Riddle admits that not everyone worked out. “There was a roll on the Spectacular, and I won't say which part, but we actually wanted somebody really bad. And the changes that they would require -- because I guess they are now a newborn Christian -- they were not changes that we wanted to make. So we had to walk away from that.”
While that person didn’t work out, Sherman’s Showcase is officially coming back for a second season of six all-new, half hour episodes in 2021. What those episodes will look like is still to be determined, but the special is something they enjoyed doing. “I think that we will do more of them,” Riddle says. “The opportunity to do something based around a theme was a lot of fun.”
At the end of the day, their series is “unlike anything else on television,” Salahuddin says. “And so our hope is that by making something that’s not like anything else, it would give it longevity… I do think the fact that we really stuck to our guns and made something unique, will give it longevity and my instinct is that Sherman’s is going to be around for a very long time.”