Saturday, September 24, 2022

IFC/John Legend’s ‘Sherman’s Showcase’: The Breakout Laugh of 2019

*Viewers and fans alike are in for a special treat with the July 31 release/debut of “Sherman’s Showcase,” a scripted (fictional) musical variety-sketch comedy from the brilliant minds of writing duo Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle.

The series sketch comedy, that was picked up by IFC and John Legend’s Get Lifted Film Co., is a ridiculously funny, 8 episode season showcase, that takes viewers through time via music and comedy.

Sherman’s Showcase is a spoof of legendary musical variety shows like, Soul Train, American Bandstand and/or Donny and Marie, that shaped not only musical acts in the 1970s and ‘80s, but also, paved the foundation for the music industry, in general.

Salahuddin, known from Johnathan Levine’s movie “Snatched”, Amy Schumer’s “American Express” and Jenji Kohan’s Netflix series, “G.L.O.W.,” plays host Sherman McDaniels in the series. His character is part Dick Clark, part Burt Sugarman and part, the king and the man, Don Cornelius. He is the proto-typical Variety Host. He is often wrong and often has the wrong opinion about anything new that he doesn’t quite understand, which helps the greatness of this comedy.

Diallo Riddle, an Emmy and WGA writer, actor, producer and showrunner, is known for his role as Stevie on NBC’s comedy “Marlon.” Riddle is also a member of the cast on NBC’s drama, “Rise” and Comedy Central recently gave a series order to “South Side,” which is written and produced by Riddle and his writing partners. Diallo plays Dutch, Sherman’s producer on the variety show and is most likely the “Ying to his Yang,” but obviously with a comedic twist.

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Diallo Riddle, John Legend, Bashir Salahuddin
Diallo Riddle, John Legend, Bashir Salahuddin

Together, Salahuddin and Riddle both are also known for their work as staff writers and performers on the Jimmy Fallon show. Some of their stand out segments include “Slow Jam the News featuring Barack Obama”, and the first three editions of “A History of Rap with Fallon and Justin Timberlake”. As can be seen by the breath of their works, this writing duo is not only funny, but also have some musical “chops” in their repertoires. They have been quoted as saying “People think of us as comedy guys, when in fact we’re really just frustrated rap-singers that never got signed to Murder Inc. But, now we finally have a platform for all the songs that were ever rejected in our career. We’ve always stayed music adjacent…from our early web series to Fallon, from Maya & Marty to endless award shows hosted by Drake, we have always tried to do what Christopher Guest, the Lonely Island and the Muppets do so well…but ‘black’. So, in the words of the great Chamillionaire, ‘they see us rollin’…they hatin’.”

This project was birthed from their creative minds and reminiscing on times they would get up on the Jimmy Fallon show in crazy wigs and sing. “Music and comedy are two of our favorite things”. They felt there had to be a version of a tv show where they got to sing and dance all the time. They wanted to incorporate their love for music, with their love of comedy. Years later, John Legend, who was a social friend of theirs & the IFC Network, home of a very specialized, smart, curated, well-shot type of humor believed in their vision enough to make it happen. John has said that through knowing them socially, he was aware of the great works they were doing and he and his company always want to partner with great creative people that have very interesting ideas and great stories to tell. When they came to him with this idea, he knew they’d be in. Frank Scherma, president of RadicalMedia, whose company is also executive producing this show, said “This show will bring families together in laughter. Who doesn’t want to laugh?”

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John Legend - sherman's showcase
John Legend

The show will showcase various faux music, dance and comedy acts that run different gambits, but will remind many viewers of shows families used to watch together and laugh and then talk about the next day at the office cooler and in school. The showcase spans many different eras because both Salahuddin and Riddle are students of comedy. They grew up inspired by the Jack Bernie’s, I Love Lucy, Peter Seller’s movies, The Simpsons and their own Chocolate News, so it made sense for them to incorporate all of these great comedic moments in time into some of their sketches. It is a chance to have fun in all of those eras. As self-proclaimed “nerds”, they often make jokes about history, they come up with alternate timelines to historical events; they try to insert themselves into history and imagine what it was like to be in the room when certain historical things took place and they want their viewers to feel like they too can be “a fly on the wall,” when many of these things took place. One sketch they filmed, takes place in the 1940s with Orson Wells making up stories and the chaos that ensues.

What is beautiful about this show, is the fact that it realizes that you can’t put people in a box. It will thrive on the fact that people of all ages like “good stuff” which you can’t quantify, but you know it when you see/hear it. The show will be a lot of fun for the viewers because it is a sketch format, which makes it more sharable and gives it potential for viral ‘hits,” so it can be digitized for social media and thus span any generation that is looking for a good laugh.

To us, after our set visit, speaking to the creators and being around all of the positive energy, while they were filming, it sounds like a cornucopia of awesomeness and we’re excited for its premiere on IFC later this year!

**Story and photos: Linda Antwi/

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