|Aired (HBO MAX)||May 5, 2023|
|Creator/Executive Producer||Robin Thede|
|Head Writer(s)||Chloé Hilliard
Angel Laketa Moore
This content contains pertinent spoilers. Also, images and text in this post may contain affiliate links which, if a purchase is made from those sites, we may earn money or products from the company.
How much is A Black Lady Sketch Show improvised?
There are constant bits happening, gags that feel on the verge of winking at the audience, breaking all performers involved. Based on the scrapped credit scenes and media interviews, whole portions could be unscripted. The improvisation is a strength and weakness of the show in that the sketches and scenes feel fresh and alive, but they can also be loose and distracting from the sketch’s initial premise. The improv seemed especially strong in “My Love Language is Words of Defamation,” as the back-and-forth between sketches is funny but veered away from the concept.
Sketch 1: Fresh to Def
What if there was a podcast dedicated to crimes against fashion? The concept is terrific, with opportunities to show, not tell. But the sketch is more interested in satirizing the loud interruptions of podcast commercials. By playing two different games at once, the comedy gets muddled. While I was more interested in the crimes against Black culture, in order for the intrusive commercials to work, the actual podcast had to be grim and serious to really let the fake commercials soar.
Sketch 2: Courtroom Kiki Part 3
“I move to strike…a pose!”
My favorite sketch in this episode. Black Lady Courtroom continues to surprise and surpass itself. Compared to the first Courtroom Kiki, the sketch gets to its premise quicker, the pace is faster, and saying Black Lady Courtroom every 10 seconds is still fun. The sketch is musical, gleeful, dancing to its own rhythm. Yvette Nicole Brown and Issa Rae know the energy needed for these sketches, and fit in perfectly. This is filled with one-liners, but one of my remaining favorites is “I post homemade food pics, and I LOSE followers!”
Sketch 3: Gladys and the Knights
“The only stable relationship she’s been in is with a horse.”
It’s this kind of silly pun title that keeps me laughing throughout the sketch. Gladys Knight leads the Knights of the Roundtable, a gossipy group unconcerned with protecting the people and more invested in spilling the tea. When A Black Lady Sketch Show embraces its inner theater geek, the laughs become especially inspired through costuming and Gabrielle Dennis’ over-the-top British accent.
Sketch 4: The Negger
“We’re dressed for Mary J. Brunch!”
Whenever A Black Lady Sketch Show allows a character to clown on everyone else, we can expect a row of those improvised one-liners. It works in this sketch because we expect Thede’s character to say something outrageous. But the sketch also flirts with two games with the repetition of the word “negger” followed by the sound of breaking glass.
Sketch 5: Spacing Out
“You need me to smack her ass?”
Chris is back and more non-committal than ever. While the sketch is less about the premise and more about the character, Chris’ recurring ability to never give someone what they want is more impressive than exciting. This one is another seemingly improvised bit that would work well on a live stage, but watching it on screen feels one-note.
Follow, Like, and Subscribe