BY COREY TATE
When you think of sketch comedy, you probably think of shows such as SNL and MAD TV. The sketch shows that have primarily black casts, such as, “In Living Color” are rarely mentioned when discussing the history of sketch comedy, even though these shows are equally funny, and created more impact than mainstream sketch shows. Recently, sketch comedy was taken to a new level of excitement when HBO premiered, “A Black Lady Sketch Show”, which is exactly what it sounds like – a cast of incredibly funny black women bringing you incredibly funny sketches from their unique perspectives. Comedy Hype caught up with ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’ cast member Gabrielle Dennis to get an exclusive scoop on the show and getting involved with the new series.
CH: You’re currently part of the exciting brand new sketch comedy show, “A Black Lady Sketch Show” on HBO. How excited were you when you found out that you’d not only be part of a show with an all-black cast but that it would also be on a large scale such as HBO?
GD: Honestly, it was very unexpected and out of the blue, but also very exciting. I know I’m not the biggest star in the world, but what most people don’t know about my career is that I started off doing stand up and sketch comedy, so this opportunity felt like everything came back full circle and I was able to use my comedy skill set again. Also, I knew the show was going to be special when the trailer was released and within the first hour, we had 1 million views on the trailer.
CH: When you found out that Robin Thede and Issa Rae were going to serve as executive producers for “A Black Lady Sketch Show”, did it make you feel more comfortable knowing that they were both amazing creators with great visions for comedy?
GD: I met Robin Thede about 10 years ago and when this opportunity came up she told me that I was on a shortlist of actresses that she wanted to work with. When Robin called me and explained the project, I completely fell in love with the concept and was on board from that moment on. I am a big fan of Robin, Issa Rae, and HBO so it was a no brainer that I had to say yes to this opportunity.
CH: Growing up, what were your favorite sketch shows to watch and are there any characters on those shows that you loved?
GD: Jamie Foxx on “In Living Color” was a huge inspiration to me in the way that he played characters in sketches. In my opinion, Jamie Foxx has the ideal career; from sketch comedy to his sitcom, to starting in blockbuster films, he’s just incredible. I also loved Jim Carrey on “In Living Color”, as Fire Marshall Bill. I remember trying to perfect that character as a kid and doing those iconic faces he would do. Honestly, the more strange and bizarre the character is, the more I love it.
CH: “A Black Lady Sketch Show” stars you, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, and Quinta Brunson. This cast that you’re part of is insanely talented individually, but when you come together, it’s like 4 superheroes teaming up. What was it like being on set every day? Did it feel like work or just lots of fun?
GD: It felt like work, but it was extremely fun work. We shot everything in about 5 weeks, so we worked really hard due to a short filming time. I couldn’t have asked for a better cast. Even the special guests were great to work with. I’m excited to do a second season and team back up with this amazing cast.
CH: Speaking of special guests for season 2, who are some people that you would love to work with on the show?
GD: There are so many people that I’m a fan of and would love to work with on this show. Regina Hall, Regina King, Gabrielle Union, and even Denzel Washington. Similar to when we had Angela Bassett and Patti Labelle on the show, I think Denzel would be hilarious in a sketch because no one would expect that from him. I just want to work with people who would have fun and give it their all.
CH: Your exciting new HBO series, Season 1 of “A Black Lady Sketch Show” is currently out now, what else should Gabrielle Dennis fans be looking out for?
GD: I’ll be returning on the next season on S.W.A.T as the Briana Harrelson character and that’s always fun, but other than that, there are some exciting things in the works that I will be revealing the details soon.
Watch ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’ on HBO, Fridays at 8 PM/11 PM.
BY COREY TATE