(AllHipHop Features) Debuting two different shows on two different networks, within a week of each other, is major to say the least. It’s a feat that writers/actors Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin have managed to pull off without a glitch. They dropped South Side on Comedy Central (July 24th) and Sherman’s Showcase (July 31st) on IFC. The duo have creating comedy behind the scenes for awhile now but they are finally getting the shine that they deserved.
Diallo and Bashir met while freshmen in Harvard and have been bringing the funny as team ever since. Together they wrote some of the best sketches on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon including “Hubble Got You “and “The History of Rap.” In front of the camera, Diallo has starred on Marlon and Bashir is currently in the Netflix hit series Glow.
Guest stars in the first season of Sherman’s Showcase include Andrew “King Bach” Bachelor, Common, Morris Day, Tiffany Haddish, Lil Rel Howery, Quincy Jones, Mike Judge, Kenny and Keith Lucas, John Legend, Nigel Lythgoe, Curt Menefee, Vic Mensa, Tawny Newsome, Ne-Yo, Ray Parker, Jr., Mario Van Peebles, Damon Wayans, Jr., Marlon Wayans, and Bresha Webb.
Diallo and Bashir talked about the challenges of Black creatives in Hollywood, Black comedy, why rappers and singers think they can be comedians, and all the music and funny as hell skits coming on Sherman’s Showcase on AllHipHop.
AllHipHop: Some people may think you guys just showed up and got two T.V. shows popping in the same month. They have no idea of how you’ve been grinding for like 20 years. How did you come up with the concept of Sherman’s Showcase?
Bashir Salahuddin: We just wanted a show spoofing a variety show, talking about Black pop culture. Even with the first episode, we open with a song and dance. It just feels like classic variety show stuff. You want the audience clapping and singing along watching people dance and just doing everything they see going on stage. I think, in some ways, that's one of the things we're most proud of. Sherman is not trying to be cool like how sometimes comedy today is trying to be cool. Of course, you have moments that are cool as hell, but the goal of Sherman is not to be cool but to spend as much time as humanly possible entertaining the audience. I think that was sort of the thing that went into everything we did. Some of it's a little more cerebral, because Diallo and I think that Black people come in all shapes and sizes and we're not gonna sit here and say, “Black people on like this kind of comedy”, that's ridiculous. We're going to do what we like, because we're consumers of great comedy and we're fans of great comedy so we're recreating all the stuff we've loved over the past.
AllHipHop: The skits are hilarious. My favorite may have been when all the Motown artists trying to kidnap Berry Gordy. Dawg!!
Diallo Riddle: Hahahaha! One day in the writer’s room, we were talking about all Motown artists and I don't even remember who said it because it’s a good room. Like, it's one of those things where you don't necessarily remember everybody's joke, but I'll never forget, like, at some point in the conversation, it was like, “What if they were trying to get their money back?” What if it was like a heist movie like Oceans 11?
It was really easy to come up with a sketch where all the different artists are trying to get their money back from Berry Gordy. By the way, I think the fun thing about it, is you can just throw a lot of stuff at the wall, you don't have to justify saying, “Oh, this really happened.” There are no rules we can do whatever we think is funny, and as long as we can, you know, the one minute or five minutes can make a difference. Like we'll just, do it until it's not funny anymore, and then we'll jump out and get into something else.
Bashir Salahuddin: I think we were truly blessed that we get to hang out with some truly intelligent individuals. We'll get to talking about something but maybe they were talking about stuff too seriously, for too long before you know, somebody comes up with something, it's really funny. And the goal of Sherman’s Showcase is to take all those wonderful conversations about music and translate them into something that you can watch on your TV screen. When you watch the show, it’s almost like you're hanging out with me and talking about music.
On the show, you have so many artists come on. Phonte working on the music along with MC's Vic Mensa, Common, singers Ne-Yo and of course John Legend. How did you go about getting all of the artists?
Diallo Riddle: It was a Herculean effort on everybody's behalf this year reached out to some people, I reached out to our casting directors Lauren Grey and Rachel Tenner who reached out to a lot of people. There were just random people who helped us out. Sometimes it was John Legend reaching out to a friend. Many times, I’m gonna give her shout out here, our makeup artist Pamela Farmer knows a lot of people. She was like, “You want Charlie Wilson?”
Bashir Salahuddin: The way we do it is that we give artists what they want. one thing we learned from working with Jimmy Fallon was that he never had anybody come on and do a bit that they weren’t excited about. there's so many musicians who you know, you'll see it in their work just like a sketch on their album or they put like a music video that starts with three minutes of comedy sketch, you can tell they really want to show people their fun side, especially, you know, music sometimes it's so serious. It can even be ironic that you can't even make fun of yourself without people not getting the joke.
For example, with Ne-Yo, we showed him the costume and he made some changes. He did exactly what he wanted, and he got be really funny. Obviously on us for a lot of the comedy but also taking some big swings of it on his own.
A lot of musicians really do want to be funny, and they never get a chance to show it. You know, we have, you know, people like Questlove and we can kind of see their favorite ideas in there. John Legend who’s our Executive Producer, he loves being funny. He’s one of the few people, as talented as he is, does not mind making fun of himself and you realize, “You know what, this is like being with our boys at the lunch table in college and everybody making jokes.” Now we're just going to translate that into a T.V. show.
AllHipHop: How did yall hook up with IFC?
Diallo Riddle: I was watching IFC and they were doing a full episode on the Talking Heads documentary Making Sense. I saw that and immediately texted Bashir and said, “If they'll do this show, I know they’ll give a half an hour to that show is all about Black music and the last 40 years of pop culture.” This was the only meeting we’ve ever been in when the exec says, “We’re doing the show but tell me more.”
Bashir Salahuddin: It's so nice to be the place where they know they say, “You guys know what you know. You know to handle the Black music and you know how to handle comedy”, and they gave us the space and room. I think that’s all you want as a creative person. Space, room, and support is what we want most.
AllHipHop: Lastly, what do you guys want the audience to experience when they check out Sherman’s Showcase?
Diallo Riddle: I want everybody to be entertained. Our mission is always to be funny first, but it was kind of funny that Bashir and I like to be, especially in this space. I think that people sometimes say, “Oh, y'all, y'all writing Black nerd comedy.” I think we're just writing nerd comedy.
Bashir Salahuddin: Besides Wild N Out which is more improv and rap battles, there's not a lot of places right now where you have Black sketch comedy. They're some great shows that are about to start but right now, I think we'll be providing a place where you can have the whole family come sit around and laugh your ass off the same way that my family laughed at In Living Color. And I think that I feel lucky that we're able to provide that right now because our comedy doesn’t have rules to it.